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

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, May 17-23, 2020

Another week of #pandemiclife, another batch of informal writerly learnings.

Before we get to those, though, here is my weekly update:

Though Ontario’s efforts at “reopening” have been cautious, numbers of confirmed cases have increased. Some of this is to be expected, but testing has not kept up. The federal government is trying to get the tech companies on board to have 1 tracing app across platforms (Android and Apple). While Phil and I did take my mom and Torvi out for an afternoon of physically distanced fun at his sister’s (she’s worked hard on her back yard this year, increasing the size of her patio to accommodate a gazebo, making a proper fire pit, and various planter boxes) we were careful to stay two metres apart.

Phil made a couple of yard games, a set of lawn dice for outdoor Yahtzee and a Finnish game called mölkky. I’ll let you look the latter up on the interwebz 🙂 We played a couple games and had an enjoyable afternoon.

Onto the curation!

K.M. Weiland strikes a balance between creativity and distraction: 13 tips for writers in the age of the internet. Helping Writers Become Authors

Janice Hardy is clarifying ambiguous pronouns. Then, Orly Konig wants you to organize the chaos using these five revision tips for pantsers. Fiction University

Gabe lists the four questions every pitch must answer. Bookish Pixie

Marjorie Simmins offers an excerpt of her Q&A with Lawrence Hill: memoir beyond the self. Then, Susan DeFreitas returns with part seven of her developing a writing practice series: engrained. Jane Friedman

Shaelin finishes her series on developing a novel: creating a writing plan. Reedsy

E.J. Wenstrom lists ten ways to connect with readers while physically distancing. And here’s my latest column: mythic storytelling with the tarot, part three. In which I create an outline for a fantasy story using the tarot. Jason Jones shares five tips to get your book on local media. DIY MFA

Dave King goes into the woods. Barbara Linn Probst is learning from Pinoccio how to create a character who’s fully alive. Writer Unboxed

Christina Delay thinks you might as well jump—into the third act. Writers Helping Writers

Ellen Buikema takes a look at body language in writing. Writers in the Storm

The Take looks at the girl next door.

Jami Gold explores the spectrum of third person point of view. Then, she helps you develop a powerful point of view.

Chris Winkle explains how to plot a series. Then, Oren Ashkenazi considers the world building of The Expanse. Mythcreants

Kelly Grovier: the women who created a new language. BBC

Deborah Dundas: Amazon hurt them. The lockdown hurt them. Now there’s a painful loss in court. Canada’s book biz — authors, publishers, retailers — is hunting for a new business model. The Toronto Star

Thank you for visiting. I hope you’ve found something to support you with your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe!

Tipsday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, April 12-18, 2020

I hope everyone is staying safe and keeping well. Here’s your weekly dose of informal writerly learnings to help fill some of your time (I know you’re all doing what you can to keep yourselves occupied).

Helen J. Darling says that if you’re finding it hard to write, try keeping a pandemic journal. Sara Farmer considers fiction from Daphne du Maurier to Megan Abbott: the gothic horror of womanhood. Later in the week, Gabriela Pereira interviews Jeff Garvin about dismantling the stigma of mental illness. DIY MFA

Lori Freeland helps you understand point of view: P-O-What? Writers in the Storm

K.M. Weiland explains how to get some writing done: discipline vs. enthusiasm. Helping Writers Become Authors

Jim Dempsey offers a simple guide to symbolism in stories. Kathleen McCleary wants you to fuel your writing with feeling. Barbara Linn Probst shares five ways to light the spark of a novel. Writer Unboxed

Sacha Black wants you to breathe life into your prose with the sense of touch. Writers Helping Writers

Specificity and concrete language. Shaelin Writes

Susan DeFreitas shares part three of her developing a writing practice series: important.  Then, Mathina Calliope reveals the easy-to-fix tense problem that might be tripping up your readers. Jane Friedman

Jami Gold explains the difference between passive and active voice: was and not was. Later in the week, she wonders if pandemic anxiety is forcing everyone to count their spoons.

Chris Winkle breaks down act 3 of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Then, Oren Ashkenazi looks at six magic systems that need stricter limits. Mythcreants

Writing fight scenes. Hello, Future Me

Chuck Wendig writes about being broken in half but wanting to be whole. Terribleminds

Steve Toase confronts the default: portraying homelessness in fantasy and science fiction. Tor.com

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you take away something that will support your current work in progress.

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

Tipsday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, March 22-28, 2020

I hope you’re all keeping safe and well.

I’m now working from home and only leaving to walk the dog. Phil continues to be our designated shopper. We’re all remaining as isolated as possible given the circumstances.

While you’re at home, you might have the time to catch up on your informal writerly learnings.

Julianna Baggott is creating in the time of quarantine. Liz Michalski: sea glass. Heather Webb says, the beauty is in the words. John J Kelley: for the love of Moira—the arc of a memorable character. Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland touts the power of hopeful stories in a stressful time. Helping Writers Become Authors

E.J. Wenstrom explains how authors can build a true community of fans. Later in the week, Savannah Cordova lists five signs your story’s structure needs work. DIY MFA

Shaelin shares six ways to improve your craft. Reedsy

Barbara Linn Probst visit’s Jane Friedman’s blog to explain the when, why, and how of peer critique and professional editing.

Lisa Hall-Wilson explains how to write compelling emotional triggers. Ellen Buikema explores white space on the page. Writers in the Storm

The Take takes on the weird girl trope.

Chris Winkle helps you make the most of your narrative premise. Then, Oren Ashkenazi explains why zombies aren’t a good pandemic parallel. Mythcreants

Meg LaTorre shares ten fantasy tropes she loves. iWriterly

Jami Gold explains how point of view affects dialogue.

Nina Munteanu: dreams and perceptions and “the other.”

Robert Lee Brewer clarifies fable vs. parable vs. allegory. Writer’s Digest

Adrienne Westenfeld recommends the best books for distancing yourself from reality right now. Esquire

Open Culture introduces us to the world’s first author: the Sumerian High Priestess Enheduanna.

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

Until Thursday, be well!

Tipsday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, May 5-11, 2019

I hope everyone had a marvelous Mother’s Day. Looking forward to Victoria Day long weekend here in Canada 🙂 In the meantime, please enjoy your weekly batch of informal writerly learnings.

Greer Macallister says, history wasn’t white, so historical fiction shouldn’t be either. Kathryn Craft shares six tips for creating good bridging conflict. Juliet Marillier introduces you to the writer’s dog. David Corbett shares what teaching in prison is teaching him. Writer Unboxed

Critiquing an excerpt from a brave volunteer, K.M. Weiland reveals eight quick tips for show, don’t tell. Helping Writers Become Authors

Emmanuel Nataf stops by Elizabeth Spann Craig’s blog to explain why science fiction is needed now more than ever.

Jenna Moreci returns with more dialogue advice.

 

Janice Hardy: how a limited vs. tight point of view can confuse writers. Fiction University

Marc Graham guest posts on The Creative Penn: becoming a story shaman.

Meg LaTorre visits Writers Helping Writers: how should I publish my book?

Piper Bayard considers backstory: the more I know, the less you have to. Writers in the Storm

Chris Winkle wants you to understand character representation. Mythcreants

Elizabeth Winkler: was Shakespeare a woman? The Atlantic

Florence + the Machine: Jenny of Oldstones (from Game of Thrones).

 

And that was tipsday for this week.

Come back on Thursday to add some thoughty into your life 🙂

Until then, be well!

tipsday2016

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Apr 7-13, 2019

Happy Tuesday! Time to reward your hard work this week with some informal writerly learnings.

Rheea Mukherjee explains what it’s like to be the bi-cultural writer. Jim Dempsey helps you discover your characters’ goals. Sarah Callender asks, so you think you can write? Kathryn Craft encourages you to use short story collections as novel prompts. Writer Unboxed

James R. Preston has a conversation about pushing the envelope of first person. Becca Puglisi discusses first pages and character emotion. Julie Glover shares ten things she learned from ten years of writing. Writers in the Storm

K.M. Weiland: what is the relationship between plot and theme? Helping Writers Become Authors

Sara Letourneau provides some exercises for exploring the theme of family in your writing. Later in the week, Jeanette the Writer looks at five famously rewritten novels. DIY MFA

Jami Gold is worldbuilding a series but writing without a plan.

Oren Ashkenazi analyses six unsatisfying character arcs. Mythcreants

Nina Munteanu explains how walking in nature helps her write.

Jenna Moreci updates her list of the top ten worst romance tropes.

 

For balance, Jenna also shares her ten favourite villain tropes.

 

Jessica Leigh Hester: for centuries, know-it-alls carried beautiful, miniature almanacs wherever they went. Atlas Obscura

Nicola Davis reports on the latest research indicating that Beowulf was the work of a single poet. The Guardian

Alison Flood: “extraordinary” 500-year-old library catalogue reveals works lost to time. The Guardian

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you found something to feed your creative process or craft.

I invite you to return on Thursday for some thoughty inspiration.

Until then, be well!

tipsday2016

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Mar 17-23, 2019

Here is your weekly batch of informal writerly learnings. Enjoy 🙂

K.M. Weiland wants you to find your thematic principle. Helping Writers Become Authors

Vaughn Roycroft, inspired by Jo Eberhardt’s last post, writes about layers of antagonism and why you should embrace them. Dave King: the lessons of genre. “In fact, here’s a dirty little secret: literary fiction often behaves like just another genre.” Julie Carrick Dalton looks at novel writing intensives as an alternative to the MA. Stephanie Cowell explores her novelist’s journey: the ghost worlds within me. Writer Unboxed

Chris Winkle: narrating a close point of view. Mythcreants

Chris Winkle produces the next instalment in the goal-oriented storytelling series: novelty. Then, Sara Letourneau has a helpful strategy if you’re struggling with flashbacks: try using the PAST method. Writers Helping Writers

Lisa Cooper Ellison offers a primer on schmoozing for introverts: how to network like a pro. Then, Barbara Linn Probst stops by to talk about beta readers: who, when, why, and so what? Jane Friedman

Mary Robinette Kowal shares some great advice for debut authors: so, you’ve been nominated for an award …  She follows up with another pithy piece on status and hierarchy shifts. Check out the series navigation links. This stuff is GOLD.

Helen J. Darling is helping you build your publishing team: your cover designer. DIY MFA

Alexa Donne muddles through the middle.

 

Janice Hardy digs into her archives for this fun test to check your scene’s narrative drive. Fiction University

Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes (better known as Bayard & Holmes) help you figure out which firearms can’t be silenced. Then, Margie Lawson drops by to discuss creating compelling cadence. Writers in the Storm

Angela Ackerman visits Jami Gold’s blog: creating characters who clash.

Jenna Moreci helps you identify your category (not genre).

 

Bryan E. Robinson, PhD shares eight ways to stay mentally fit and mindful during the writing process. Writer’s Digest

Nina Munteanu: surfing Schumann’s wave and catching the ion spray. Everything in life is vibration.

And that was Tipsday.

Hope you found something that will take your craft to a new level. Come back on Thursday for some thoughty.

Until then, be well!

tipsday2016

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Mar 10-16, 2019

Another week, another bunch of informal writerly learnings 🙂

There’s not as much as usual, because last week’s Facebook outage sacrificed a whole day’s worth of curation. Sorry, but it’s still the easiest way for me to track my online reading.

Nina Munteanu explains how to stoke the scintillation of inspiration.

Julianna Baggott offers three clues that you may be a more productive writer. Kathryn Craft tells you when to let go of your original inspiration. Writer Unboxed

Christina Delay wants you to invite creativity through meditation. Writers in the Storm

K.M. Weiland says that plot, character, and theme are the greatest love triangle of all time. Helping Writers Become Authors

Elisabeth Kauffman answers a question about character description and POV. Stephanie Jo Harris shares five tips for fearless writing. DIY MFA

Chris Winkle answers a writing question: how do I keep my non-productive immortal race from becoming problematic? Then, Chris teams up with Oren Ashkenazi: five ways your characters can acquire magic. Finally, Oren tackles five more underpowered antagonists. Mythcreants

Jami Gold talks about story threads and fixing the rips in our stories. Victoria Mixon explains how to layer character for believable fiction. Writers Helping Writers

Alexa Donne tries to help you figure out if you’re a good writer.

 

Mary Hynes: when hope is “punk” and grudge is forgiveness. “Tapestry” on CBC.

Ben H. Winters wonders what the make-believe bureaucracies of science fiction say about us? The New York Times

And that was Tipsday. Come back on Thursday for some fuel for your thoughts.

Until then, be well, my friends!

tipsday2016

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Dec 30, 2018 – Jan 5, 2019

It’s time to get your weekly dose of informal writerly earnings!

My latest column for DIY MFA came out on New Years Day! Why every writer needs a room of their own (even if it’s not a room).

Emily Wenstrom invites you to join the conversation on the digital platform of your choice. DIY MFA

Gabriela Pereira interviews David Morrell about crafting the Victorian novel for DIY MFA radio.

Chuck Wendig says, in 2019, you must persist, persist, persist! Terribleminds

Jenna Moreci compares the pros and cons of first person and third person narration.

 

Donald Maass: the inner/outer balance. Writer Unboxed

This year, Therese Walsh encourages you to pursue your contentment and your chaos. Writer Unboxed

Sophie Masson shares some book contract “red lines” from a recent presentation she gave on publishing contracts. Writer Unboxed

Annie Neugebauer: forest for the trees. Writer Unboxed

Jo Eberhardt says, follow your mountain. Writer Unboxed

Katrin Schumann says, your number one secret weapon is writing communities. Jane Friedman

Barbara Poelle answers another funny you should ask question for Writer’s Digest: why did my literary agent stop submitting my manuscript?

Bunny provides a field guide to six infectious YA clichés. Love the first image and caption. We see Bella (of Twilight), and the caption reads, what do you mean, I fit all six? LOL! Mythcreants

Jill Schlesinger: small bookstores are booming after nearly being wiped out. CBS

And so, this edition of tipsday comes to a close.

Be well until Thursday, when you can come back for a little thoughty 🙂

tipsday2016

Crafting the contemporary genre novel with Jane Ann McLachlan

It’s been a busy weekend for Jane Ann.

After a reading and book signing in southern Ontario Friday night, Jane Ann drove up to Sudbury for a book signing at Chapters.

I went out to visit her, say hi, and meet her daughter, Amanda.

Attracting a new reader

Of course, I have to buy some books as well <chagrin face>.

Jane Ann did well signing and selling 11 copies of The Occasional Diamond Thief, and practicing her schmooze 🙂

Today, she delivered a workshop on crafting the contemporary genre novel.

She started off with some resources.

Her top five blogs for writers:

Her top five writing craft books:

Her top five pieces of advice for beginning writers:

  1. Try writing poetry as well as prose,
  2. Read across genres and analyse what you read (the same goes for movies),
  3. Learn grammar and spelling; these are the tools of your trade,
  4. Join a critique group, and
  5. Think beyond the cliché.

Then, she asked us to provide the top five elements of a good story:

  • Conflict
  • Character
  • Goals
  • Stakes
  • Difficult obstacles

Then, Jane Ann discussed the story idea, which must contain,

  1. a universal theme
  2. an inherent conflict
  3. a perennial premise, which you have twisted to make it unique to your story
  4. gut-level emotional appeal

It should be stated in the following form: What if (protagonist) in (setting/situation) had (problem)?

The discussion progressed to world building and the inevitable research that must take place to make the story world believable, even if the setting is contemporary.

The caveat is that, having done all this research, the writer must then resist the temptation to display all this knowledge in the text of the novel. It’s called info-dumping.

Every story has to have compelling characters who have strong, clear wants and desires. We did another writing exercise, in which we defined our protagonists. Jane Ann advised that this process should be repeated with each of the main characters in the novel, including the antagonist.

We then looked at point of view (POV) and tense, and the considerations writers need to take into account when deciding whether their stories should be told in first person, present tense, as many young adult novels are written, or in deep third person, past, as many adult novels are written.

There was another exercise in identifying lapses in POV that was quite interesting.

Finally, Jane Ann shared with us her outline for novel writing, as well as a couple of other templates that could be used. She confessed to being on the pantsing side of writing, but that she’s never started writing a novel unless she had a clear idea of what the main plot points were.

At the workshop

Then, there was a drawing for two bottles of The Occasional Diamond Thief wine, books were bought, and a brief Q&A ensued where other issues were discussed as time allowed.

Unfortunately, I was so wrapped up in the activities and making notes . . . I forgot to take more pictures 😦

Overall, it was a great afternoon, but I think Jane Ann will be happy to get home and put her feet up 🙂 She’s one busy writer, promoting the heck out of her novel.