Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Oct 4-10, 2020

Now that we’ve entered month seven of the pandemic, we have to balance self-care with medical compliance. Be kind to yourself and nurture your creativity with some informal writerly learnings.

Black and Indigenous lives matter. All lives cannot matter until Black and Indigenous lives matter.

Wear your masks. Maintain physical distance. Get your flu shot as soon as you can. Sacrifice now (and really, it’s not that much of a sacrifice) will mean that fewer people have to contract covid-19 and fewer people have to die from it. Compliance is not a violation of your rights. It is respect for your fellow human beings.

Princess Weekes critiques Antebellum and movies about slavery in general. Melina Pendulum

Abigail K. Perry does another Story Grid scene analysis: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows. Erin Tyler shares five tips for writing about family dynamics. DIY MFA

Joanna Penn interviews K.M. Weiland about outlining your novel and filling the well. The Creative Penn

Over on Helping Writers Become Authors, K.M. points out the link between your story’s first and third plot points.

Jenna Moreci shares her top ten tips for killing off characters.

Janice Hardy shows you what makes a good beginning (if you’re struggling with yours). Then, she explains what makes a good middle (beware of getting stuck in the mud). Fiction University

Leslie Vedder shares three tips for cutting your word count (without giving your whole story the axe). Jane Friedman

If you’re not sure about NaNoWriMo, Shaelin looks at the pros and cons. Reedsy

Therese Walsh: the edge of now, and its gift for writers. Then, Donald Maass discusses timeless endings. Kathryn Craft lists five ways paragraphing supports story. Writer Unboxed

The girly girl trope, explained. The Take

Chris Winkle lists five signs your story is classist. Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes the Star Trek series finales, from worst to best. Mythcreants

Jill Bearup explains why a corset stopping a knife strike (ala Enola Holmes) is plausible.

Words with lost meanings (AKA that word you keep using. I don’t think is means what you think it means). Merriam-Webster

Petra Mayer: amidst global troubles, the MacArthur “Genius” Grant winners provoke and inspire, including N.K. Jemisin, Jacqueline Woodson, and Christina Rivera Garza. NPR

Emma Reynolds reports that the 2020 Nobel Prize for literature awarded to Louise Glück. CNN

Thank you for stopping by. I hope you took away something to support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe, my writerly friends.

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Sept 20-26, 2020

Here we are at the end of September. Where has the month gone?! Console yourselves with some informal writerly learnings.

First: Black and Indigenous lives matter. All lives cannot matter until Black and Indigenous lives matter.

There’s some debate about whether we’re into the second wave here in Canada. We’re seeing infection numbers in several provinces that haven’t been seen since the beginning of May, most of them in younger people. We’ve had 9 new cases in Sudbury in September. It may not seem like a lot, but the fact that the recent cases are community spread from unknown contacts is concerning. I’ve downloaded the government’s covid tracking app even though I hardly leave the house these days.

Anti-mask protests are on the rise. As the government faces a non-confidence vote (we do NOT need an election in the middle of a pandemic), CERB and EI ERB have ended and new transitional benefits through Employment Insurance are being established. The uncertainty is distressing. I won’t mention the distress I feel over the situation in the US. I try not to watch a lot of news. Overwhelm is a thing.

Wear your masks. Wash your hands. Maintain physical distance. Please.

Let’s get to the links:

Vaughn Roycroft: sustaining hope is an artist’s specialty. Then, Julie Duffy wants you to craft titles that hook readers and optimize success. Heather Webb is managing expectations, one book at a time. John J. Kelley: am I still a writer (if words evade me)? Writer Unboxed

Princess Weeks covers the fiery history of book banning. It’s Lit | PBS Storied

K.M. Weiland advises you to use slang in dialogue sparingly. Helping Writers Become Authors

Tim Hickson tackles Dark Lords! Hello, Future Me

Lisa Hall-Wilson helps you use deep point of view in limited third person. Later in the week, Ellen Buikema outlines the journey of writing historical fiction. Writers in the Storm

Jenna Moreci shares her best tips for writing women.

Janice Hardy offers a recipe for writing a great scene. Fiction University

Nathan Bransford explains how to use hopes and dreams to make characters come alive.

The “fridged woman” trope, explained. The Take

Sara Farmer interviews Sheena Kamal. DIY MFA

Andrea Dorfman and Tanya Davis created this poetic short film (riffing off their earlier collaboration, How to Be Alone): How to Be at Home. National Film Board of Canada

And, just because it was so lovely, here is How to Be Alone:

Chris Winkle: it’s time to throw out The Hero with a Thousand Faces. While controversial (or maybe just provocative), I always appreciate the opinions and analysis of the team at Mythcreants. HwaTF was never intended to be a writing guide. It has to be said. Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes the good and bad climaxes of Marvel’s phase 2.

Thank you for visiting and I hope you took away something to support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe!

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Sept 13-19, 2020

It’s another tipsday, your opportunity to catch up on some informal writerly goodness.

Black and Indigenous lives matter. All lives cannot matter until Black and Indigenous lives matter.

And in the midst of the pandemic and ongoing demonstration, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg dies. Such a blow for equality and justice. I hope her last wish can be honoured and her absence on SCOTUS won’t be filled until after the US election.

We’re seeing a bump in infection rates and we’re being told to brace for a second wave. This was something epidemiologists predicted could happen, way back in March. People tend to forget this. Despite what a certain president says, we will not have a vaccine that’s widely available before next year.

Wear your masks. Maintain physical distance when possible. Get your flu shots when they become available. Take care and stay safe.

Onto the curation:

K.M. Weiland: the crucial link between your story’s inciting incident and its climactic moment. Helping Writers Become Authors

C.S. Lakin explains how your premise determines your characters. Live, Write, Thrive

Shaelin has a chat about writing selfishly. Shaelin Writes

Eldred Bird says that a great story is like music to the eyes. Then, Barbara Linn Probst explains why your book matters. Later in the week, Jenny Hansen explains why storytellers are the most powerful people in the world. Writers in the Storm

Lucia Tang promotes the art of the constructive critique. Elizabeth Spann Craig

Meg LaTorre lists 17 things she hates to see in romance. iWriterly

Dave King helps you manage your cast. Then, Barbara Linn Probst shares road, neighbourhood, sky: a three-layer approach to writing a novel. Writer Unboxed

Lucy V. Hay shares awesome writing tips from six famous writers. Writers Helping Writers

Jenna Moreci shares her top ten tips for writing fight scenes.

Lauren J. Sharkey talks dollars and sense. And, my latest Speculations: how the NASA-SpaceX collaboration can inspire your writing. Sara Farmer interviews Adam Smyer. Later in the week, Lynne Golodner shares five tips for narrowing your focus. DIY MFA

Susan DeFreitas shares three common issues with early drafts. Jane Friedman

Chris Winkle lists seven ways jokes can sabotage your story. Then, Oren Ashkenazi sheds light on how Le Guin laid a shaky foundation for Earthsea. Mythcreants

Waubgeshig Rice launches his new column at Open Book: stories of the North.

Thanks for the visit. I hope you found something that will support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe, my writerly friends.

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Aug 2-8, 2020

Black lives matter. Indigenous lives matter. All lives cannot matter until Black and Indigenous lives matter. These aren’t just words. They’re fundamental truths.

I just have to sigh and shake my head. Every “plan” for returning to school is so sketchy … I can’t even. And collectively, the US has just broken five million—FIVE MILLION—cases. The president is finally trying to behave like he cares. Sometimes. But it’s so clear he’s just gesturing emphatically because the election is coming up.

I won’t waste more words we’re all living in/though this nightmare. We know the score.

Let’s proceed to the informal writerly learnings.

K.M. Weiland shares five ways to help writers during the pandemic (plus giveaways to get you started). Helping Writers Become Authors

Science fiction that imagines a future Africa – Nnedi Okorafor. TED

Jeanette the Writer shares tips for editing our bias: how to refer to race in literature. Later in the week, Becca Puglisi helps you choose the right job for your character. DIY MFA

Jenna Moreci lists ten toxic attitude you need to drop as a writer.

Elizabeth Huergo considers Goya’s “The Dream of Reason Produces Monsters.” Donald Maass discusses suspense. Later in the week, Cathy Yardley considers writing with mental illness. Writer Unboxed

Jodi Turchin explains how to drive through the muddy middle of your novel. Fiction University

Lisa Hall-Wilson offers tips on how to research mental health and trauma for your characters. Writers Helping Writers

Nathan Bransford says, there’s no excuse for not knowing where your book fits in the market.

Chris Winkle counts down 12 signs a storyteller is building romantic and sexual chemistry. Then, Oren Ashkenazi compares the climaxes of all nine Star Wars movies. Mythcreants

Angela Ackerman stops by Jami Gold’s blog to explore love, work, and office romance.

Princess Weekes and Lindsay Ellis consider what War and Peace has to offer. It’s Lit | PBS Storied

Cynthia Barounis is choosing love over eugenics. JSTOR Daily

Karen Fricker and Carly Maga clarify Jesse Wente’s goal as new chair of the Canada Council for the Arts: to do less harm. The Toronto Star

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you took away something to support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe, my writerly friends.

Tipsday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, July 19-25, 2020

Black lives matter. Indigenous lives matter. All lives cannot matter until Black and Indigenous lives matter.

The biggest covid concern of the moment is school reopening. I really think that they need to stay virtual and that employers and the government need to collaborate to support parents who need to stay home for their school-aged children. The economy is still in bad shape and will continue to be for some time. There are signs of recovery, though. Getting kids back to school and risking them and their teachers and everyone they might come into contact with is not the answer.

Yes, virtual learning is hard. Yes, all learners will not excel in a virtual environment. Yes, it requires more of students and parents. And yes, I do not have kids, nor am I an elementary or high school teacher, but some of my best friends are teachers and I’m listening to their concerns. As the old saw goes, I’d rather be safe than sorry. Covid is not going away tomorrow.

On that cheerful note, please fortify yourself for another week of #pandemiclife with these informal writerly learnings.

Jan O’Hara shares a plotstorming technique. Then, Barbara O’Neal explains how to write during a pandemic even if it feels like you can’t. Later in the week, Heather Webb says, writers, pay yourself first. Keith Cronin has a great writing craft recommendation: the guy who wrote Fight Club just kicked my ass. Writer Unboxed

Princess Weekes offers an introduction to Afrofuturism. It’s Lit | PBS Storied

K.M. Weiland offers four questions that will help you avoid plot holes. Helping Writers Become Authors

Jenna Moreci offers her top tips for self-editing.

Angela Ackerman suggests a secret weapon for characterization: the character’s job. Then, Ellen Buikema is creating memorable animal characters. Writers in the Storm

Chrys Fey explains how to create a free book trailer using Adobe Spark. Fiction University

Ginnye Lynn Cubel shares five tips for a mindful writing practice. DIY MFA

Bunny lists seven reasons storytellers should consume bad stories. Then, Oren Ashkenazi examines six sexist themes from the early Wheel of Time books. Mythcreants

Paul Graham explains how to do what you love. Very though-provoking essay.

The Irish language and beauty. Dónall Ó Héalaí | TEDxBerkeley

Joi-Marie Mckenzie lists the 50 most influential books by Black authors in the past 50 years. Essence

Cinema’s racist history. The Take

Amy Sackville: I am not reading. I am not writing. This is not normal. The Guardian

Nathan J. Robinson parses the issue of J.K. Rowling and the limits of imagination. Again, this article discusses TERF-dom. Please avoid if you are triggered by that material, but it is a very considered and thoughtful take. Current Affairs

Thank you for stopping by, and I hope that you found something to support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe!

Tipsday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, June 28-July 4, 2020

Black lives matter. Indigenous lives matter. All lives cannot matter until Black and Indigenous lives matter.

Because the only restaurant service other than take out currently allowed in our city is on a patio, local restaurants have been erecting patios all over the place, even getting exemptions from the municipal by-laws to create patio spaces on sidewalks. The complication, of course, is that people with disabilities, of which there are many living in the downtown core where most of these patios are popping up, are now having to use the street and risk what traffic there is, to move from place to place.

Yes, our economy needs to recover, but not at cost to the disadvantaged members of our community.

We have to commit to using the disruption of covid-19 to recover in a sustainable and respectful way. This is our chance to change our society for the better.

Thanks for your attention. Here are your informal writerly learnings for the week.

The Take takes on the white savior trope.

Natalie Hart is gaining wisdom and whimsy from the natural world. Donald Maass: we are unsafe. Then, Bryn Greenwood is on the way to Jerusalem (not quite what you think). Barbara Linn Probst clarifies that it’s not write what you know, but write from what you know: cooking life into fiction. Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland examines the three stages of a writer’s life and how your age affects your writing. Helping Writers Become Authors

Jenn Walton wants you to write outside your comfort zone. Then, Bronwen Fleetwood wonders, is this a YA thing? On pay rates, racism, and toxicity in publishing. DIY MFA

Elizabeth Hartl shares some tips for overcoming imposter syndrome. Writers Helping Writers

Jenna Moreci returns with ten more tips for evoking emotion in your writing.

Jami Gold provides five ways to climb the learning curve.

Chris Winkle shares lessons from the terrible writing of Eragon’s sequel. Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes five stories that killed the wrong character. Mythcreants

Writing the morally ambiguous character. Shaelin Writes

Anthony R. Cardno interviews Nisi Shawl for Pride Month.

20 Canadian books for kids and teens to read for National Indigenous History Month. CBC Books

Thank you for stopping by. I hope you took away something to support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe!

Tipsday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, June 14-20, 2020

Black lives matter. Indigenous lives matter. All lives cannot matter until all Black and Indigenous lives matter. I don’t have a huge platform, but I’ll make use of it as I can to keep this message front and centre for my readers. I’m still listening. I’m still learning. And I’m still trying to do better.

Meanwhile, reopening continues, to more or less success, given the area/province/state. They’re discovering people who’d apparently recovered from covid getting sick again two months on. Worldwide, the number of cases continue to increase. This thing is a beast.

Let’s get to the informal writerly learnings.

Vaughn Roycroft: regarding privilege, empathy, and voice. Writer Unboxed

A Black booktuber shares her experience. Click through to her other videos and to the resources in the notes. Silence is complicity. Listen. Do the work. Don’t stop. Bookish Realm

And if you’re a booktube fan, legitimately commit to diversify your viewing and support some of these lovely people. Google is a thing you can use. Besides, like one video and YouTube will generally cue up three similar vids for you to check out.

Nic Stone: don’t just read about racism—read about Black people living. Cosmopolitan

Black Lives Matter. How can I help? Jenna Moreci

John Peragine helps you harness the power of pronouns (part 1). Then, Lori Freeland says, write your story forward. Writers in the Storm

Joanna Penn interviews Kris Spisak about self-editing your novel. The Creative Penn

K.B. Owen visits Elizabeth Spann Craig’s blog: writing real-life historical characters.

Sangeeta Mehta interviews Stefanie Sanchez von Borstel and Leslie Zampetti about writing, pitching, and promoting in the age of coronavirus. Jane Friedman

Lucy V. Hays explains how to avoid a half-baked idea. Writers Helping Writers

Kristen Lamb explains how you can use the Johari window to understand and harness the character blind spot.

Nathan Bransford: the climax should resolve your character’s desires.

Shaelin explains line editing (with examples). Reedsy

Rochelle Melander helps you revise your book for word choice. Fiction University

The Take considers the tomboy trope.

Chris Winkle gets facetious: if stories treated straight couples like they treated queer couples. Then, Oren Ashkenazi considers five over-burdened stories and how to fix them. Mythcreants

Thanks for the visit. I hope you found something to support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe, my writerly friends.

Tipsday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, June 7-13, 2020

Black lives matter. Indigenous lives matter. All lives cannot matter until Black and Indigenous lives matter.

Trans women are women. Trans men are men. Trans non-binary folks are non-binary folks.

These pandemic times are increasingly complex ones. Protests against anti-Black racism and anti-Indigenous racism continue even as the world begins to “reopen.” Black and Indigenous people continue to suffer from and die because of police violence but, as has been pointed out, police violence is only the symptom. Institutionalized racism is the virus that must be eradicated.

Here in Canada, the RCMP has recently done an about face, first denying their endemic racism, and then admitting it and committing to do better. In the meantime, Indigenous and Black lives continue to be threatened.

People across the publishing industry—across all media, in fact—have been fired for their racism. Various governments are seriously considering defunding their police. Monuments to white supremacy are falling.

And TERFs who expose their prejudices are being publicly and thoroughly schooled.

The world is still in chaos. But with the continued protests, change is coming. I continue to hope and to support efforts to achieve reform and justice. I continue to listen and learn, because there’s so much I don’t know, and I want to do better.

Onto the informal writerly learnings!

Why poetry is so important/powerful/relevant right now. “Hollow” – Bristol’s City Poet, Vanessa Kisuule.

Jenny Hansen lists the eight Cs of character development. Writers in the Storm

Nya Wilcox busts six writing excuses and explains how she wrote—and published—a novel at the age of eleven. Helping Writers Become Authors

Jane Friedman recommends questions to ask your publisher before you sign the contract.

Laura Highcove offers an introduction to writer’s intuition. DIY MFA

The Take explains the superhero genre.

Jami Gold helps you make the right impression with character introductions. Writers Helping Writers

On her own blog, Jami shares four further tips for making the right impression for your characters.

Jenna Moreci offers her first ten tips for evoking emotion through your writing.

Jim Dempsey is writing and hiking. Kathryn Craft shares six ways to add a dash of foreign language. Then, Laurie R. King helps you keep your series fresh. Writer Unboxed

Janice Hardy reveals the hidden danger backstory poses for writers (and it’s not what you think). Fiction University

Nathan Bransford: listen to your characters, but don’t let them run away with your story.

Hard worldbuilding vs. soft worldbuilding. And yes, Tim does discuss Harry Potter as an example of soft worldbuilding, so be warned if J.K.’s recent TERF-dom is offensive or triggering for you. Hello, Future Me

Chris Winkle is judging what backstory to keep and what to let go. Then, Oren Ashkenazi lists what does and doesn’t make a signature weapon cool. Mythcreants

And that is tipsday for this week. Thank you for visiting, and I hope you found something to support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe. Be willing to listen, learn, and do better.

Tipsday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, May 31-June 6, 2020

Black lives matter. Indigenous lives matter. All lives cannot matter until Black and Indigenous lives matter. I’m listening, I’m learning, and I’m trying to do better.

2020 has been an apocalyptic year between covid-19, George Floyd’s murder, and the resulting fed up protests. Last week I was mired in despair, complicit in my silence, and deeply aware—and ashamed—of my white privilege.

I’ve read Black authors, Indigenous authors, and authors of other cultural backgrounds. I’ve taken a few Writing the Other courses. I’ve long thought that Canada’s greatest shame was our treatment of Indigenous peoples, but I hadn’t realized the hateful legacy of Canada’s treatment of Black people. I’m deeply grateful to the Black writers who’ve published insightful articles in the Canadian media during the last week (I’ll share some of them on Thursday and in ensuing weeks).

I have hope, though, because all four officers involved in George Floyd’s murder have been charged, even though it took some time to happen. I have hope because of all the protests, not only across the US, but also across Canada and all over the world, in which white and black protestors have stood, or knelt, side by side, demanding change.

I understand it is only a beginning and that we cannot ease the pressure on our elected officials until true and lasting change occurs. But I have hope.

Now, onto the informal writerly learnings.

Therese Walsh: the ourstory of now (BLM). Don Maass: the quest in the quest (BLM). Jael McHenry is getting comfortable with failure. Writer Unboxed

David Chariandy in conversation with Lawrence Hill.

K.M. Weiland shares 11 exercises to enhance your visual storytelling skills. Helping Writers Become Authors

Jami Gold explains the point of foreshadowing. Later in the week, she suggests how to format unusual dialogue.

Jeanette the Writer: even MS Word says two spaces after a period is an error. Gabriela Pereira: this needs to be said (BLM). DIY MFA

Janice Hardy explains why you should tighten your novel’s narrative focus. Fiction University

Kristen Lamb says, unforgettable characters are fashioned from damaged pieces.

Michelle Barker warns of the dangers of anecdotal writing. Writers Helping Writers

Jenna Moreci discusses the worst friendship tropes in fiction (starting at 3:22).

Mira Singer analyzes three genre-defining books with underutilized tropes. Then, Oren Ashkenazi examines six characters with poorly handled arcs. Mythcreants

Chi Luu: the linguistic case for shit hitting the fan. JSTOR

Thank you for stopping by. I hope you were able to find something to support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe. Whatever your lane (education, support, donate, protest) become part of the solution. And vote with your conscience. We need to put pressure on our politicians to make change stick.

Tipsday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, May 24-30, 2020

Welcome to June! However you’ve been weathering the pandemic, I hope you’re keeping safe and well. It’s time to reward yourself with some informal writerly learnings.

But first, my brief weekly update.

#Pandemiclife continues, and I’ve heard some confirmation that my employer will keep up to 90% of staff working from home. So, I’m here for the long haul, as expected. I’m also just coming off two weeks of virtual training and entering into two more. In recent years, training of any kind has exhausted me. Virtual training brings its own complications. Still, I seem to be doing a decent job. The feedback has been positive, in any case.

The added distress of violence against people of colour here in Canada and in the US is depressing. It’s reprehensible and I keep hoping—naively—that we’ve grown past such hateful conflicts. My faith in the human race is crumbling.

Here are some good words from some good people (we can take some comfort in that):

Abigail K. Perry demonstrates a Story Grid scene analysis of Giver of Stars. Then, Brenda Joyce Patterson promotes writing small in viral times. Later in the week, Sacha Black shares five ways to improve your description. DIY MFA

Sacha Black drops by Writers Helping Writers, too: three ways to differentiate your characters.

Shaelin explains how to discovery write your novel. Reedsy

Laurie Schnebly Campbell considers the pros and cons of writing a series. Then, Lisa Hall-Wilson offers three exercises to help you dive deeper into character emotions. Writers in the Storm

K.M. Weiland devotes this week’s post and podcast to an editing Q&A. Helping Writers Become Authors

How to stay motivated as a writer. Reedsy

September C. Fawkes stops by Elizabeth Spann Craig’s blog: how to write subtext.

Jessi Rita Hoffman discusses the problem of self-conscious writing: do you torture your metaphors? Jane Friedman

Janice Hardy shares a handy checklist to strengthen the narrative drive in your scenes. Then, Swati Teerdhala explains when to tell rather than show. It’s such a delicate balance! Fiction University

Robin LaFevers wants you to break through writer’s block. Writer Unboxed

Jenna Moreci helps you set the scene.

Jami Gold: what do readers want from a story’s POV? Then, she explains that word choice is about more that picking the right word.

Chris Winkle shares six character archetypes for love interests. Oren Ashkenazi facetiously lists seven reasons it’s definitely okay to ignore storytelling rules. Mythcreants

Thanks for visiting. I hope you took away something to support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe, my friends.

Tipsday2019