Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Jan 21-27, 2018

Get your informal writerly learnings right here!

K.M. Weiland looks at the words that changed your life and how that helps you discover what made you a writer. Helping Writers Become Authors

Emily Wenstrom shows you how to kickstart 2018 with an author website audit. DIY MFA

Gabriela Pereira interviews Joe Fassler for DIY MFA radio.

Lila Diller lists five types of books writers should read. DIY MFA

Lisa Cron stops by Writers Helping Writers to pose this question: what does your protagonist want before the story starts?

Elizabeth Huergo: woke writing. “… we shouldn’t wait to write and ask questions until we have lost the ability to do both …” Writer Unboxed

Barbara O’Neal explains what writers do in times of trouble. Writer Unboxed

Heather Webb writers about harnessing the kinetic energy of writing—and what happens if you don’t. Writer Unboxed

Jenny Hansen: what kinds of social media posts go viral? Writers in the Storm

Janice Hardy explains the difference between a scene and a sequel. Fiction University

Rachael Stephen shows you how to organize your novel using a bullet journal.

 

Jami Gold: romance and the language of consent.

Oren Ashkenazi lists five good stories that turned creepy. Good points all. Though I enjoyed some of the shows mentioned, it was an eye-opener to realize how deeply ingrained misogyny is. As writers, we should aim higher, strive to do better. Mythcreants

Jane Hirshfield explains how the liminal frees us from the prison of self (excerpted from “writing and the threshold life”). Brainpickings

David James Nicoll is fighting erasure: women SF writers of the 70s, A through F. Tor.com

I’m absolutely devastated by Ursula K. Le Guin’s death. It was to be expected, but, as other authors have pointed out, she could have died at 108 and it still would have felt too soon.

Here are a few of the slew of tributes:

The Handmaid’s Tale season two trailer.

 

Be well until Thursday, my friends!

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Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Sept 10-16 2017

And now … it’s time for your informal writerly learnings for the week.

Jane Friedman answers the question, what’s more important, author websites, or social media? Then she follows up with this post: social media for authors is the toughest topic to advise on.

Jami Gold visits Writers Helping Writers: translating story beats into any genre.

Abigail K. Perry: three major roles of minor characters. DIY MFA

Audrey Kalman shares five tips for processing a negative critique. DIY MFA

Slipping this in here because its (kind of) related. Jenna Moreci with part two of her beta reader process:

 

Brenda Joyce Patterson offers tips and techniques for training your writer’s brain. DIY MFA

Kermeron Hurley talks about creativity and the fear of losing the magic.

Laura Drake explains how to survive a confidence crisis. Writers in the Storm

Sierra Godfrey and Kasey Corbit share three steps for using the tarot for your writing. Writers in the Storm

Janice Hardy guest posts on The Write Practice: why your story conflict isn’t working (and how to fix it).

Kathryn Craft: say a little less; mean a little more. Writer Unboxed

Porter Anderson shares some news you can use (and some you shouldn’t). Writer Unboxed

Kim Alexander helps you put the fan back in fantasy—and get past ye same olde same olde. Kristen Lamb’s blog

Chris Winkle offers some insight into creating an eclectic magic system. Mythcreants

Oren Ashkenazi lists six common problems with long series (and how to fix them). Mythcreants

Anjali Enjeti explains why she’s still trying to get a book deal after ten years. Both heartbreaking and hopeful. The Atlantic

Kim Fahner pays tribute to Gwendolyn MacEwen on Many Gendered Mothers.

The CBC invites you to discover the best in Canadian Indigenous writing.

How to rescue a wet book (!)

 

Mandalit del Barco interviews Marie Lu for NPR.

Jo Walton: Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The Day Before the Revolution” as a moment in a life. Tor.com

Robert Minto wonders, what happens when a science fiction genius starts blogging? New Republic

Abiola Oke interviews Nnedi Okorafor for Okay Africa.

I hope you found something you needed in this curation.

Come back for Thoughty Thursday 🙂

Until then, be well, my friends.

tipsday2016

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, May 21-27, 2017

Another week of informal writerly learnings? Get set to open your goodie bag 🙂

K.M. Weiland debunks five misconceptions about writing. Helping Writers Become Authors

Later in the week, Kate posits that great comedy is meaningful, and shares four tips to help you make it so.

Kathryn Craft reviews the decade in publishing. Writers in the Storm

Kimberly Brock says, you’re writers, not waiters. Writers in the Storm

Jane Friedman advises on how much you should personalize a query letter.

Elizabeth Huergo pays tribute to C.D. Wright: songs and their landscapes. Writer Unboxed

Heather Webb teaches a survey course in time management: writing through our busy lives. Writer Unboxed

Dan Blank says, if you want to be successful, surround yourself with success. Writer Unboxed

Jamie Raintree: let your writing process be your own (and how to discover it).

Bonnie Randall gets into character minutiae and seemingly irrelevant details. Fiction University

Stacy B. Woodson shares her fantastic experience at Malice Domestic 2017. DIY MFA

Jami Gold challenges us to deal with character stereotypes.

Kristen Lamb reveals how shame is at the heart of good fiction.

Will Hindmarch explains how to give great notes a writer can use. Magic Circles

Nina Munteanu gives you the tools you need to make a believable world.

Writer and geologist Alex Acks examines Arakkis, Tatooine, and the science of desert planets. Worldbuilding advice from Tor.com.

Jo Walton looks at genre fiction’s obsession with Belisarius, with a lovely recommendation for Guy Gavriel Kay’s Sarantium novels. Tor.com

Darlene Naponse is a Reveal – Indigenous art award Laureate.

Emily Temple curates some pearls of wisdom—on writing and life—from Jamaica Kincaid in honour of her 68th birthday. Literary Hub

These are old human themes: Margaret Atwood on the enduring power of The Handmaid’s Tale. CBC

James Whitbrook watches the new Game of Thrones trailer. i09

I hope you’re having a lovely week.

Be well until next I blog 🙂

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WorldCon 2016: Nifty narrative tricks

Disclaimer: I am not perfect and neither are my notes. If you notice anything that requires clarification or correction, please email me at melanie (dot) marttila (at) gmail (dot) com and I will fix things post-hasty.

Panellists: Jo Walton, Mary Robinette Kowal, Steven Gould, James Patrick Kelly, Elizabeth Bear (moderator)

nifty

Joined in progress …

EB: It’s not all about creating an engaging character.

MRK: People want the familiar and the strange. So, a familiar emotion with a strange activity, for example.

JPK: Before you write, walk into your character’s room, their car, their locker. In describing these places, you find stuff you can use later in the plot.

JW: Characters are something I could write well before I could do anything else (dialogue, description, etc.) I decide that this is the story I am telling and this is how I’m telling it.

EB: You have to figure out what makes the character someone readers want to spend time with. Give them a goal. Give them agency. Give them something, or someone, to love.

SG: If you want to show how a technology works, show it when it breaks down. Added benefit: it frustrates your character, it’s a setback.

MRK: They need to have a sense of their own competence, or lack thereof.

EB: Add conflict.

MRK: Action is reaction. That’s something from theatre. Map out the easiest path to the character’s goal and then deny it. Conflict is not necessarily a fight scene.

JW: A character desperately needs a bathroom. Everything they say and do will be coloured by this desire. If a character is making dinner, discover everything in the course of that day-to-day action. Including backstory this way becomes seamless. There has to be a sense of jeopardy, but it doesn’t have to be a battle for life and death at every turn.

JPK: You want to have conflict everywhere, but it all has to relate to the plot. Keep an eye on your main conflict. It’s a through line. From the beginning to the middle, it’s a one way door. The same goes for the middle to the climax. There’s no going back.

MRK: The stakes must be personal and specific to the character.

JW: Unless you can make the reader care about the character in jeopardy, it won’t work.

MRK: Focus indicates thought. Everything has its own breath and rhythm. Pacing can be controlled by how long the character’s attention lingers. [Mel’s note: Mary then removed her boots and demonstrated what she was talking about in a tour de force of shoe puppetry. I wanted to take a picture, but couldn’t tear myself away from the spectacle—it was that AWESOME!]

JW: Pacing is one of the strongest indicators of genre.

JPK: When I was at Clarion, they didn’t have the money to make a copy of every story for every participant, so one copy of each was posted in the hall. If you look at a piece of writing and you see solid blocks of text, you probably need to break it up. A story needs to breathe and so does the reader.

JG: I think of it in terms of pixilation, granularity. If you increase the resolution, you increase the pacing.

EB: One common misconception is that starting in medias res means starting with a blood bath. The reader has to care about what happens to you characters.

JPK: Another common failing is not having a denouement.

JG: Being too coy with the reader, or telegraphing everything.

MRK: If you include too much backstory, try getting deeper into the point of view character.

JW: A lack of description results in too much fuzziness. Either the character, or the world, is not in focus.

And that was time.

Next week, I will be writing my first next chapter update of 2017 (yay—crazy Kermit arms) and then I’ll return to WorldCon reportage. And, of course, in the meantime, you can expect more great curation on Tipsday and thoughty Thursday.

Happy Chinese New Year!

And be well until I see you next 🙂

WorldCon 2016: Mythology as the basis for speculative fiction

Disclaimer: I am not perfect and neither are my notes. If you notice anything that requires clarification or correction, please email me at melanie (dot) marttila (at) gmail (dot) com and I will fix things post-hasty.

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Panellists: Ada Palmer, Jeffrey Cook, Sheila Finch (moderator), David Farnell, Katie Daniels

SF: Joseph Campbell said that myth and metaphor are the language of dreams. How important is myth in speculative fiction?

JC: The basis of myth is exploration and explanation.

KD: Myth is what endures.

DF: Myth is the story. Science is the vehicle. Even hard science fiction follows mythic patterns.

SF: It’s easy to see the hero’s journey play out in fantasy.

AP: At one point in Jo Walton’s The Just City, a Platonist explains a spaceship to aliens. Myth helps us conceive of alien concepts and means of communication.

JC: Useful myths are universal. They allow us to understand other cultures.

KD: We may have to define most useful. Are we talking about Prometheus or Jason and the Argonauts?

AP: The most useful myths can invoke craftsmanship, finesse.

DF: Do tropes emerge from myths? If you’re writing about Japanese mythology, it’s helpful to dig into the literature and not restrict yourself to what you see in manga.

SF: Jung said that myth conveys a sense of the numinous. They say something different to each person.

DF: Here’s one Japanese myth: the weaver goddess and a cowbird fall in love and stop doing their respective jobs. The Emperor of Heaven separates them, but allows them to reunite in the rainy season. It’s very Romeo and Juliet.

Q: 2001 and Star Wars are myths in their own rights.

AP: Some myths are devoid of awe. Others are full of it. Myths are the metaphysical reality of a world.

Q: What are some of the main themes of myth?

DF: How to deal with death.

JC: A quest of favours. [Mel’s note: In order to achieve the story goal, the protagonist must provide each character who helps her with something they want or need. Things generally get more complicated, and more humorous, as the story progresses, and the series of favours can even be a chain, with the satisfying of one favour being dependent on all the others before. Sometimes the favours cannot be granted until the ultimate goal is accomplished, and then everything falls into place.]

AP: Look for the big questions. Why is there evil? What is death?

And that was time.

Next week: Oceans, the wettest frontier.

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Aug 28-Sept 3, 2016

We are once again full of the informal writerly learnings.

K.M. Weiland offers six reasons you need to make way more writing mistakes.* Helping writers become authors

Kate returns later in the week with more lessons from the MCU. This time it’s all about backstory, the number one key to relatable characters.

Ollie, as transcribed by his human, James Stack, prefers to frame rejections as declines.* Sir Oliver of Skygate Farm

Regine Ward shares seven common truths that will help writers handle rejection productively. Live, write, thrive

On the other side of the coin, Pamela Hodges shares six ways to let go of past writing and tackle something new. The Write Practice

Kellie McGann: why we write. The Write Practice

Kassandra Lamb offers four ways to add depth to your stories on Jami Gold’s blog.

Gabriela Pereira interviews Delia Ephron on DIYMFA radio. On Friday, Emily Wenstrom shares her top five takeaways from the Writer’s Digest Conference.

Victoria (V.E.) Schwab: this book is broken and other things I tell myself while writing.*

Anna Elliott shares four ways to recapture the joy of writing.* Writer Unboxed

Last week’s Spark in the summer replay was episode 299, which features an author who live-streamed the writing of a book, and an interview with David Mitchell on how Twitter played a role in the creation of his novel, Slade House. Awesomesauce. CBC

Nora Jemisin (N.K. Jemisin): I would just love to write and not have everything turn into a political battle. David Barnett for The New Statesman.

The Library of America will publish Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Complete Orsinia. David Streitfeld for The New York Times. The actual title of the article is misleading, implying that Le Guin is denying that she’s a science fiction author (something of which she’s accused other writers in the past). Not so. She’s tired of the epithet being used as a reason to exclude writers of excellence from the literary canon. As she says, she won’t be pushed out. Kudos!

Locus interviews Kelly Robson.

And then, THIS: On being a late bloomer.* Kelly Robson in Clarkesworld. Really, I want to give this article ALL THE STARS. I think Kelly single-handedly saved me last week.

Christine Schrum: what growing up in sulphur city taught me about beauty.* Latitude 46  We’re still strange children, by the way.

Julie Czerneda posts on The Black Gate about the challenges of living a #rurallife.

Beth Cato explains why we need more trans heroes in genre fiction. The MarySue

A Writing the Other Roundtable: how to stay in your lane.

 

John Scalzi asks some special guests to post about writing the other. Whatever

Jim C. Hines says, don’t look away: how we fight sexual harassment in the science fiction and fantasy community. i09

Jo Walton writes about science fiction, innovation, and continuity. Tor.com

Meir Solovichik gives us some insight into the secret “Jews” of The Hobbit. Carnage and Culture

You have to read this letter Josh Corman wrote when uncomfortable parents asked his school to ban The Handmaid’s Tale. Bookriot

Jessica Stillman reports on more evidence to support the link between reading and empathy. Inc.

Jake Parker: finished, not perfect.*

 

Another brilliant entertainer, gone 😦 i09’s Germaine Lussier revisits five of Gene Wilder’s defining film roles. Note: If the video isn’t in the frame, scroll back to see it.

Shakespeare and performance. Oxford University Press.

 

Outlander has cast Lord John Grey. Entertainment Weekly

Netflix announced that they were renewing Stranger Things on Tuesday last week. On Wednesday, the creators shared this first teaser for season two. They had no idea what was in the pipe, no, they didn’t 😉 Katharine Trendacosta for i09.

Tim Stack has additional details about season two on Entertainment Weekly.

Writers Relief celebrated National Dog Day with pictures of these book-loving hounds.

*posts that comforted me this past week.

I hope you’ve found some comfort here as well 🙂

Have an awesome week until Thursday and then come back to fill up on thoughty!

Creative sustenance. It’s what I’m all about.

Tipsday