Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Aug 27-Sept 2, 2017

Here are your informal writerly learnings for the week 🙂

Kathryn Craft offers four tips for translating critique-speak 🙂 Writers in the Storm

Janice Hardy visits Writers in the Storm: six ways your setting can create conflict.

Julia Monroe Martin shares seven things she learned from wrecking her novel. Writer Unboxed

Tracy Hahn-Burkett gives a primer in outlining for pantsers. Writer Unboxed

James Scott Bell offers some tips on how to weave backstory into frontstory. Writer Unboxed

Steven James talks about telling the truth in fiction. Writer Unboxed

Natalia Sylvester explains how white writers can be better allies to writers of colour. Writer Unboxed

Jo Eberhardt compares authentic female characters to Hollywood’s passion for gender-swaps. Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland shows us seven ways to write thematically-pertinent antagonists. Helping Writers Become Authors

Later in the week, Kate explains why doubt is the key to flat character arcs.

Janice Hardy stops by Writers Helping Writers: why characters need choices in fiction.

Sara Letourneau continues her series on developing themes in your stories with part 12: the setting. DIY MFA

Ghenet Myrthil: five lessons I learned writing my first middle grade novel. DIY MFA

Tamara Linden presents five myths to plunder for ideas and inspiration. DIY MFA

Jeff Lyons guest posts on Jami Gold’s blog: don’t believe these writing myths, part 1.

What psychology says about the first page of your novel. Tamar Sloan for The Write Life.

Chris Winkle: when dark and gritty is just exploitation. Mythcreants

More Wordstock 2017 news from The Sudbury Star.

Peter Robb interviews Kate Heartfield for Artsfile.

Gear Bear says that in the genre’s new “golden age,” science fiction has won the war. Geekwire podcast.

Tolkien’s plant passion moves botanist to write Flora of Middle-Earth. David Fuchs for NPR.

Ursula K. Le Guin: on power, oppression, and freedom. Vox Populi

Robin Kirk explores epic fantasy and breaking the rules of infrastructure in the interest of speed. Tor.com

I hope you gleaned some writerly goodness from this curation.

Be well until Thursday, my friends!

tipsday2016

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Ad Astra 2016, day 2: A guide to submitting your short stories

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

Panellists: Bob Boyczuk, Gregory A. Wilson, Nicole Levigne, Kate Heartfield

NL: Read the submissions guidelines of the publications. Read the publication to get a feel for the kind of story they publish.

GAW: Don’t undersell or oversell your story. Don’t lie. What’s really important is the excellence of the work. Would you overlook stories just because they haven’t followed guidelines?

NL: We read everything. We give feedback, even if it’s just one sentence. One query that got to me used parenthetical snark. After noting that he’d conformed to the guidelines, he went on, in parentheses, to say that he didn’t understand why his story had to formatted in any particular way given today’s technology.

GAW: Someone who goes on and on about their experience may be an asshat. If you receive any feedback, it’s a win. You don’t have to follow the advice unless you see a pattern forming, though.

NL: Rejection often speaks more to fit versus quality of the story or the writing.

GAW: Don’t argue with the editor.

KH: You don’t have to respond to the rejection, even if it’s a nice one.

BB: You can use it if you meet in person, though. “You gave me some encouraging advice. Thank you.”

KH: If you talk to other writers, you learn that rejection is the default. Fantasy and Science Fiction (F&SF) gets over 1,000 submissions a month.

GAW: Don’t overlook anthology calls. Most of my publications have been in anthologies. The idea that anthologies don’t make a lot of money isn’t accurate. It depends on how it’s launched and the audience.

NL: For Second Contacts, the theme was 50 years after first contact. That’s not a theme you’d see in a magazine.

GAW: Athena’s Daughters was an all-female effort. Authors and editors were all women. Apollo’s Daughters was pro-feminist and had women editors, but the writers were men.

Q: How do you find anthologies?

GAW: Duotrope, Ralan, and Submission Grinder are your main resources.

NL: Duotrope is a for-pay service, but they tweet, so follow them on Twitter.

Q: Do you always get a response?

KH: Yes.

NL: If they don’t, it will be stated in the guidelines.

KH: Some editors will let you know you’ve made it to a second round. This is awesome news.

NL: For magazines and anthologies that use Submittable, you can track your submissions, which is useful. If you submit to Lightspeed, just watch your email. They respond at light speed, too.

GAW: It depends on the magazine’s internal process.

NL: Simultaneous submissions are fine for most publications. Read the guidelines, though. They may specify otherwise. Never send multiple submissions (that’s more than one story at once to one publication). Don’t resubmit, or submit another story unless you are asked to do so.

GAW: If you get a request to revise and resend, take advantage of it.

NL: There’s no guarantee they’ll accept it, even if you do, though.

KH: We should talk a bit about contracts, at least in the high level sense. A contract follows acceptance. They’ll usually ask for first North American rights for print or online, whatever format the publication is in. There will be a reversion clause to specify when rights will revert to the author. Payment conditions will also be specified. Check to see how long the publication has exclusivity.

NL: Have a writer friend read it over.

GAW: Check out the Writer Beware web site for fraudulent publishers.

And that was time.

There’s only one more Ad Astra session for me to report on and then I’m moving on to sessions from the Canadian Writer’s Summit 🙂

See y’all on Tipsday!

Have a fabulous weekend!

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, May 22-28, 2016

Another wonderful week of writerly goodness!

Roz Morris helps writers avoid this plotting pitfall when writing drafts at speed. Nail Your Novel.

Everyone’s getting into video. Should you? Jane Friedman on Writer Unboxed.

Barbara O’Neal makes the case for journaling. Writer Unboxed.

Dan Blank advises you to invest in yourself. Writer Unboxed.

John Vorhaus tells us how to write like the Buddha. You guessed it. Another great post from Writer Unboxed.

Lawrence MacNaughton guest posts on Janice Hardy’s Fiction University. Five questions you need to ask if your story is stuck. Later in the week, Janice is back with how to keep your characters compelling beyond the first draft.

Angela Ackerman explains how to deepen your protagonist by challenging her moral beliefs. Writers helping writers.

Sara Letourneau offers part six of the developing themes in your stories series: the inciting incident. DIYMFA. Later in the week Amy Bearce shares five marketing tips for introverts.

K.M. Weiland also wrote about theme this week: how to create a complex moral argument for your story’s theme. Helping writers become authors.

Chris Winkle shares seven great sources of conflict for romances. Mythcreants.

Steven Pressfield offers his advice on drafting: cover the canvas.

Nina Munteanu shares part two of her writer-editor relationship series: five things writers wished editors knew—and followed.

Marcy Kennedy guest posts on Christine Frazier’s Better Novel Project: five times Katniss nailed deep point of view.

Kameron Hurley confesses that she’s thought about quitting . . . but, don’t quit.

Over on Tor.com, she shares an excerpt from the recently released Geek Feminist Revolution. It’s awesome. You should read the post. And then you should buy the book 🙂

All of us toilers need reminders like this: Rick Riordan on his ‘overnight’ success. It’s from 2007, to give context.

Emma Straub was born to be an author. Alexandra Alter for The New York Times.

Kim Vandels shares the secret to writing great science fiction. The spinning pen.

Airship Ambassador interviews Kate Heartfield about her story “The Seven O’Clock Man” in the Clockwork Canada anthology.

BookBaby offers some tips on how to promote your science fiction on social media.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is an Indigogo success story. The Guardian.

Mental Floss explains why reading makes you a better person with an infographic 🙂

Leila Fadel reports on the delicate task of restoring one of the world’s oldest libraries. NPR.

Louisa Young grew up in J.M. Barrie’s house: we longed for Peter Pan to come for us. The Guardian.

Judith Shulevitz reveals the Bröntes’ secret for The Atlantic.

The teaser trailer for Disney’s live action version of Beauty and the Beast. I’m looking forward to seeing what Emma Watson does with Belle 🙂

 

Here’s the Ghostbusters UK trailer.

 

The Little Prince is coming to Netflix August 8 🙂

 

Laura Prudom explains how Outlander created its most powerful and devastating episode yet. Variety.

And that was Tipsday.

See you Thursday. *waves*

Tipsday

Ad Astra 2016, day 1: The influence of Shakespeare on science fiction and fantasy

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

Panellists: Kate Heartfield, Arlene F. Marks, Kate Story

ShakespearePanel

AFM: Shakespeare’s plays were, in his time, entertainment and education. They’re lessons in history, then and now. They also were some of the earliest examples of genre. Hamlet is, in part, a ghost story. MacBeth can be seen as urban legend. A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream is fantasy.

KS: Shakespeare needed to make a living. That’s why he wrote. He was a great enabler of public discourse.

KH: You don’t have to go far to find gender queer characters in Shakespeare.

AFM: The Hogarth Shakespeare series from Penguin Random House is asking well-known authors, like Margaret Atwood, to re-imagine his plays. That’s the brilliance of Shakespeare. You can put any one of his plays into any era or milleu.

KH: A lot of adaptations of his work are coming out because it’s the 400th anniversary of his death.

KS: My father was a scholar in Newfoundland. We had a cultural renaissance in the 60’s and 70’s and we started to make some connections. Maybe we have something to offer to the tradition. I think the spirit of Shakespeare’s time was close to Newfoundland’s now. Shakespeare has always been there and has always been an influence. Shakespeare’s women were far more realistic than the women characters of many modern playwrights.

[Kate then performed the monologue from her story in Carbide Tipped Pens, edited by Ben Bova and Eric Choi. It was a variation of Romeo and Juliet, set in space. She’s currently working on the stage play. I just sat back and enjoyed 🙂 ]

Ian McKellan said in an interview, “Where in the modern world would it be so wrong for two people to fall in love?” It resulted in a 70’s production of Romeo and Juliet set in Belfast.

AFM: In Shakespearean times, it was forbidden for women to go in stage. All women’s roles were played by men, or, more often, boys. The audience was very demanding. If they didn’t like a play, or the actors, they brought rotten vegetables to throw.

KS: He was asking the audience to be clever, to know it’s a man playing a women, pretending to be a man. It engaged the audience, drew them in.

AFM: It’s the fiction of the people. The only publisher that approaches this today is Harlequin, who would hold regular “reader appreciation” luncheons to meet their most popular authors. In Shakespeare’s day, there would be nobles and prostitutes in the same audience. It was whoever had the money to pay.

KS: It was nuts for the theatre. A sixth of the population of London would attend the performances.

KH: The culture of fandom/fanfic has a lot in common with the culture of Shakespeare. There’s nothing more Shakespearean than fanfic. Most of Shakespeare’s plays were drawn from earlier works. He borrowed liberally from Ovid.

Q: Shakespeare’s plays address universal themes. The more popular ones get done. Some might say overdone, but the historical plays are ignored.

KS: My theatre did a gender-swapped Taming of the Shrew.

KH: The film industry has done a better job. My Own Private Idaho, The Hollow Ground series, Looking for Richard.

AFM: A Thousand Acres was the story of King Lear. Shakespeare was brilliant of using every member of the company. There were often comic actors. Characters like Falstaff were written for them. If there were acrobats, he’d give them something to do. They had to be very practical in terms of costuming for these reasons.

KH: Titus Andronicus and Troilus and Cressida were essentially horror. Shakespeare was a great worldbuilder. He was consistent in terms of how fairies, spirits, and witches behaved. His idea of Titania was dark, but comic. Fairies had an alien sense of good and evil.

AFM: He built on the motivations of all his characters.

And that was time.

Next week: The do’s and don’ts of writing erotica (oh, my!).

CanCon 2015 day 2: Magic and magical systems

Panellists: Leah Bobet, Kate Heartfield, Jim Davies, Leah Petersen

KH: Why do we choose to systematize magic?

LP: There are so many ways to approach it. I think the goal is to bring something unique to readers. Generally, epic fantasy means systemic magic.

KH: Have reader expectations changed over time?

LP: If you know what you’re aiming for, you have to dig in.

JD: In Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz, magic is inexplicable. It’s more wonderful because it’s not explained. Observation yields magic. Understanding saps magic of its wonder. The best solution is to have your magic system generate questions in the reader.

LB: Where do you want to go today? Patricia McKillip is more mystical. Lev Grossman is more systemic. Your story is going to dictate the nature of the magic in it. Magical realism liberated the idea of what magic could be. I could be organic. You need the right tool for the job. People read books for different reasons. Is the reader looking to be challenged or are they looking for the familiar?

JD: I read role-playing game books for pleasure. I had trouble getting through Harry Potter because I felt that there wasn’t anything that couldn’t happen.

LB: Authorial fiat may damage your world building drastically. You might end up with one foot on the cliff and one foot in the air.

KH: The question asked in Grossman’s The Magicians is, who gets to have the magic? Harry Potter never explored that question. How do modern authors address this?

LP: In a book I’ve read recently, every culture within the world had its own magic.

JD: The charm of hidden world stories like Harry Potter is that it could be happening right now. Writers could also be lazy.

LB: Some magic systems play with magic and class. Scarcity implies privilege. What would it be like to be special? Knowledge can be magic. Music can be magic. If magic is important in your story can the average person get it? I am special – magic is internal and only the gifted can access it. This thing is special – the magic is external and anyone can use it. Our systems are a reflection of our enthusiasms as authors.

LP: Increasing diversity means that everyone looks at magic differently.

KH: A great example of that is Aliette de Bodard’s House of Shattered Wings.

LB: In The Shadow Speaker, the pathways to knowledge are difficult.

Q: Can magic and technology work together?

LP: Yes. Look at the Powder Mage trilogy. As technology increases, so does magic.

LB: Elizabeth Bear had one of her characters use divination by MP3 shuffle. That would be cool – an app for magic.

KH: Steampunk conflates technology and magic.

Q: How do you decide that the story you’re writing needs magic?

LB: I had an idea for magic using resonance and chords. It was cool stuff theory. Editors make you justify your bullshit, though.

KH: You have to get into the how of it. Science and technology is to science fiction what magic is to fantasy, generally speaking.

LP: I had to think about how the magic in my story world worked, but do my readers really need to know this?

Q: How quantified does the system have to be?

LB: Theme can be your guide. Like Water for Chocolate used food magic. In [Gabriel Garcia] Marquez, the landscape is magic. In The Cooler, the magic was the character’s ability to dampen luck.

JD: How systematized is systematized? Even if you use spells, unpredictable results may render the magic non-systemic.

LB: Magic cooking would be yummy.

Q: When do you go subtle and when do you sensationalize?

JD: Stage magicians are sensational. People who want you to think they have power work more subtly.

LP: It will depend on the story.

LB: If everything is at a 10, they everything is really at a 1.

Q: Can you talk a little about consequences?

LB: Magic can have social consequences, sour relationships. It can be small, cumulative things. Check out Resurrection Man.

KH: The magic user can get to a point where they’re forever changed by the magic. In The Fisher King legend, the king is linked to the land, so the consequences are not just for him, but for all his people.

LP: The price could be to lose your generative ability. You’re sterilized as an initiation. It’s all up front.

JD: In The Runelords, the cost of magic comes from someone else.

LB: For Ged, in the Earthsea trilogy, the cost is his morality.

And that was time.

Next week: Blood spatter analysis (!) A constable from the OPP explains how it’s really done 😉