Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Aug 18-24, 2019

Ack! We’re in the last week of August! The weather’s still holding though. I, for one, am going to extend summer for as long as I can.

Whether you’re heading back to school or work, take some time to enjoy these informal writerly learnings 🙂

Vaughn Roycroft talks story endings: happy or sad or something else? Kathleen McCleary considers the values of good fiction. Writer Unboxed

Christina Delay extolls the power of the writing tribe. Then, Jenny Hansen covers the writer hierarchy of needs. Margie Lawson wants you to strive for excellence by using what you learn. Writers in the Storm

K.M. Weiland: how to tell if your story has too much plot, not enough character. Helping Writers Become Authors

Joanna Penn interviews Cat Rose about being a creative introvert. The Creative Penn

Roz Morris offers seven swift storytelling hacks for backstory, description, dialogue, exposition, point of view, and plot. Nail Your Novel

Victoria Mixon takes a different approach to character motivation. Then, September C. Fawkes shares four keys to a powerful denouement. Writers Helping Writers

Jenna Moreci compares static and dynamic characters.

Abigail K. Perry delves into James Scott Bell’s eleventh signpost scene: lights out. Brenda Joyce Patterson takes a deep dive into playwriting. Then Bethany Henry offers five tips for creating engaging characters. DIY MFA

Janice Hardy explains how to write a scene (and what qualifies as a scene). Fiction University

Jami Gold hopes you take a leap of faith in fiction and in life.

Oren Ashkenazi analyses seven stories with contrived character conflict. Mythcreants

William R. Leibowitz details his research for his latest novel: using facts as the base of science fiction. Writer’s Digest

Laurie Penny says, we can be heroes: how nerds are reinventing pop culture. A story about stories, fanfic, structure, the hero’s journey, and awesome. Wired

Thanks for visiting. I’ll be back on Thursday with some thoughty links for you.

Until then, be well.

Tipsday2019

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Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, May 19-25, 2019

Another week, another batch of informal writerly learnings.

Vaughn Roycroft explains what makes a story epic … to him. Barbara O’Neal wonders, are you making writing harder than it needs to be? Heather Webb: protecting your creative mindspace. Writer Unboxed

Fae Rowan is soldiering on. Writers in the Storm

K.M. Weiland shares 20 of the most instructive quotes about writing. Helping Writers Become Authors

Victoria Mixon is contrasting and condensing characters: two sides of the same coin. Writers Helping Writers

The Tale Foundry looks at Sir Terry Pratchett’ unifying voice.

 

Allegra Huston stops by Jane Friedman’s blog to share the two basic rules of editing (and one rookie mistake).

Pamela Taylor is creating authentic character details: names. Research is fun! Then, Gabriela Pereira interviews Jodi Thomas: turning characters into people. DIY MFA

Chris Winkle helps you understand appropriative worldbuilding. Then, Oren Ashkenazi warns against seven ways writers sabotage beta reading. Mythcreants

Jami Gold explains how pacing helps readers care about our characters.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you found something useful.

Be well until thoughty Thursday!

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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, June 24-30, 2018

It’s time for your weekly dose of informal writerly learnings.

/rant on/

I’ll start off on a negative note. Harlan Ellison died last week, but I have purposefully not posted about it or shared any posts about it on social media. Though he was influential in the science fiction universe and wrote much that is considered objectively great fiction (he was even a consultant on my favourite series ever, Babylon 5), I have never read any of his work. I wondered why that was and realized that I instinctively disliked the man in the interviews in which I saw him. Since, I have learned that he was a universal asshole and a misogynist prick. The incident with Connie Willis at the 2006 Hugos was just one, very public incident. For the record, I may read his work someday, but regardless of what I think of the man as a writer, I will always think of him as a poor example of a human being. I don’t care what his damage was, to be honest. It’s no excuse. We must do better, be better, than the pathetically low bar he set.

/rant off/

Now, on to the good stuff.

Patrice Williams Marks stops by Writer Unboxed: what is a sensitivity reader, and can I become one?

Susan Spann says, fear is a liar. Inspirational. Writer Unboxed

Barbara O’Neal considers light and dark, and writing with duende. “Duende is the dark magic, the force of Other, that enters the work and turns it from something interesting, maybe even really good, into something transcendent. It is born of the knowledge that death walks among us, that sorrow will mark you with her handprint, that we are all doomed to be forgotten.” Yum!  Writer Unboxed

Heather Webb wonders, is juggling multiple writing projects at once is exhausting or a bright idea? Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland: writing as the art of thinking clearly in six steps. Helping Writers Become Authors

Victoria Mixon: five advantages of rereading.

Joanna Penn interviews Michaelbrent Collings about writing with depression. The Creative Penn

Nathan Bransford explains how to list your publishing credits in a query letter.

A.K. Perry continues her exploration of James Scott Bell’s signpost scenes: trouble brewing. DIY MFA

Ambre Dawn Leffler shares five tai chi and yoga techniques to help with writer focus. DIY MFA

Gabriela Pereira offers six writing exercises to fuel your creativity. Writer’s Digest

Jami Gold breaks down the revision process, so you can improve your storytelling.

Lisa Granshaw offers an oral history of Babylon 5, the beloved TV novel that showed us a different way to tell a science fiction story. SyFy

Thu-Huong Ha: No mas, say the writers. How bilingual authors are challenging the practice of italicizing non-English words. Quartzy

MTV’s Decoded with Franchesca Ramsey – six phrases with racist origins.

 

Jessica Leigh Hester: why medieval monasteries branded their books. Atlas Obscura

Arika Okrent presents the curious origins of 16 common phrases. Mental Floss

And that was Tipsday for this week.

I hope all of my Canadian friends had a LOVELY Canada Day long weekend (today will have been our Tuesday-that-feels-like-a-Monday) and that all of my friends in the US will have an equally enjoyable Independence Day holiday.

Be well until Thursday rolls around and don’t forget to come back for some quality thoughty.

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Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Jan 3-9, 2016

Victoria Mixon returns to Writer Unboxed with this post: four Post-its over our desks.

K.M. Weiland continues her Most Common Writing Mistakes series with part 47: Ineffective setting descriptions.

Communication as a literary theme: a case study, by Gabriela Pereira for DIYMFA.

Chuck Wendig advises: be the writer you are, not the writer other people expect you to be.

Donald Maass writes about tension versus energy for Writer Unboxed.

Kameron Hurley explains why she doesn’t want to be called talented.

Delilah S. Dawson writes about prepping for winter and the seasonal depression that comes with.

Jerry Jenkins shares his guide to how to become and author.

Deena Nataf offers a great trick to sort who from whom. The Write Practice.

Beware of this scam on YA authors by people posing as Penguin Random House employees. Bookish Antics.

David Gaughran identifies several Penguin Random House imprints that are still doing business with Author Solutions.

Joseph Boyden appointed to the Order of Canada. CBC.

The Complete Deaths is a new play that compiles all of the deaths in Shakespeare’s plays in one gory spectacle. The Telegraph.

A brief history of books that don’t exist. Literary Hub.

Harlan Ellison, the author who wrote in bookstore windows. Mental Floss.

The Ottawa Citizen posts its list of the 16 (Canadian) books to watch for in 2016.

Mental Floss lists six book festival towns for you to visit.

The Guardian lists its top ten modern medieval tales.

Tom Waits reads Charles Bukowski’s “The Laughing Heart.”

 

Here’s a new Outlander trailer to see you through #droughtlander.

W00t!

Come back on Thursday for your weekly dose of thoughty 🙂

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Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Nov 16-22, 2014

Roz Morris has some excellent thoughts on choosing a title for your book. It’s more important than you think.

On finding your theme with K.M. Weiland. Guess what? It comes down to your character’s arc 🙂

How your editor can irritate you, and why that’s a good thing. Anne R. Allen with Judy Probus.

Victoria Mixon outlines the three vital steps to creating your protagonist.

Dave King is back on Writer Unboxed with another Buffy-inspired post: Everything I need to know about character, I learned from Buffy.

Jamie Raintree shares three strategies to stay motivated on long-term projects. Thinking through our fingers.

The seven roles of the healer archetype, on the Better Novel Project.

Julie Sondra Decker explores what happens while you wait. In propinquity.

Margaret Atwood came to Sudbury to celebrate her birthday last week. It’s the last time she’s going to make the journey, so we made a thing of it 🙂 TVO’s Steve Paikin (also Laurentian University chancellor) interviewed her.

And then the CBC’s Jessica Pope got a little Atwood action as well.

Ursula K. LeGuin at the National Book Awards. The New Yorker.

And the video:

 

Ursula K. LeGuin interviewed in The Paris Review.

Outlander’s Gaelic coach offers a crash course. Scotland Now.

Billy Boyd sings “Last Goodbye” for the final Hobbit movie. Entertainment Weekly.

Cary Elwes shares twelve Princess Bride Secrets. LA Weekly.

Seven strange and wonderful fan theories about fantasy and science fiction. i09’s Toybox.

See you on Thoughty Thursday!

Tipsday

The Next Chapter: September 2014 update

So here we are at the beginning of October, my favourite month, not in least because Samhain (Hallowe’en) was my hatch-day (and yes, I’ve heard them all and would proudly claim to be witch, werewolf, vampire, or anything else you’d care to call me).

September was an interesting month.

I made further progress on Gerod and the Lions. Total word count on the project is 21,423 words, just over half-way for an MG novel, which this is supposed to be. I’m no longer on track to finish by the end of the year for reasons I’ll tell you about shortly, but I figure I’ll be done the first draft in January or February of 2015. Not bad.

I finished mapping and reverse engineering Figments (finally!). One thing I’ve learned from this project is that reverse engineering is tough.

When I worked backward through my plot for Initiate of Stone earlier this year, I was working with a seventh draft. I’d already completed a lot of the structural reorganization that reverse engineering might have indicated was necessary. Though I fine tuned a lot of foreshadowing and really tightened things up, there wasn’t a lot of tearing apart and putting back together.

With Figments, there was. Figments is a first draft, a NaNoWriMo first draft, at that. I’m not ashamed to admit that I lost my way a few times. I ended up listing events in reverse chronological order and then reorganizing them into Victoria Mixon’s holographic structure. In made my head spin.

Another thing I’ve decided is that I’ll head back to the computer for my mapping. It’s just a lot easier than rewriting everything out by hand. The reverse engineering, though, has to be done by hand. It really puts you in a different headspace.

Having accomplished the Figments mapping and reverse engineering, I’ve moved onto Apprentice of Wind. That will take me a while to get a handle on as well. It might as well be a first draft, though I went as far as draft four with IoS and AoW as one honkin’ monster of a novel 😛 I have subsequently changed enough in IoS and cut up parts of AoW that it really is like starting from scratch.

The other thing I started on this month is reworking IoS. I still have betas outstanding, but my writer’s head had to go there. I haven’t gotten very far, just a few chapters, but I think it’s going well. I have enough distance from the novel that I’m seeing a lot of things more clearly than I had before.

This isn’t to say that the outstanding betas work over the last year and a bit has been for nought. I still want to see what you recommend. I’m not above going back and changing even more. I just had to get at it.

I can finally tell you about my mysterious short(-ish) story tale. I had submitted it to Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine in response to a special call out by C.C. Finlay in the first part of August.

I received word on September 21st that he wasn’t taken with the story (though it was a very nice rejection—thank you!). So, I promptly revised to try and fix what may have been the dear thing’s flaws and sent it off to Writers of the Future.

In reviewing my previous submissions to that contest, I realized that my honourable mention from 2011 was for the same story that I eventually revised and submitted to On Spec: “Downtime,” which should be out in the fall 2014 issue (I’m still so excited about that).

Can’t wait to get my paws on my contributor’s issue. Sorry, drooling there a bit.

Other On Spec news: they won an Aurora Award! W00t! Congratz! So pleased for them. Chuffed even.

Also, Bastion Science Fiction Magazine, the online publication that accepted “The Broken Places” back in June, has become an Amazon bestseller. More W00t! and Gratz! to the good people at Bastion.

Though I decided not to move forward with my self-funded leave this fall, I’ve decided that I still want to attempt to do NaNoWriMo again this year. Yes. That’s while working the day job. Yup. I’m certifiable.

I had considered taking a blogging holiday for a month, and it may come to that if I can’t manage my time and get the words down, but I’d prefer to keep to three posts a week: Tipsday, Thoughty Thursday, and my WWC2014 reportage.

In the last month, you may have noticed that I haven’t posted a lot on Sundays. I’ve found that to be a wonderful gift for the writing side of things. This weekend is an exception. You’ll find out later in my second post of this particular Sunday.

The other thing I’ve tried in the last couple of weeks is to prepare my Tipsday and Thoughty Thursday posts on Sunday and just post them on the appropriate weekday. I think between giving myself Sundays, prepping the weekday posts, and then focusing on my NaNo project to the exclusion of most other creative endeavours for the month, I’ll be able to hack it.

Of course, November will be the acid test. I’m also heading down to Toronto for a couple of days for a Humber School for Writers workshop on November 6 and 7. I just can’t help myself. I have to try.

I’ve already been doing some research on my idea and I’ll be working on a rough outline and further research this month. It’s the strength of this idea that has convinced me to make this crazy NaNoWriMo commitment.

I’ve also joined Jane Ann McLachlan’s street team I’ll talk a bit more about street teams in a future post. Her next novel, a YA science fiction, will be coming out soon. Much excitement there!

So, here’s how September’s numbers worked out:

September's writing progress

A total of 13, 218 words. Modest, but reasonable.

7,921 on the blog, 5203 on GatL, and a scant 94 on my longish short story (that was after removing and rearranging several hundred, but I never count negative words).

So that was my month in writing.

How have your projects been shaping up? Please share in the comments. I love hearing about your yummy, yummy words.

The Next Chapter

The next chapter: June 2014 update

Hey all!

I must say that June was a blockbuster month for me.

It started with the publication of my science fiction short story “The Broken Places” being published in Bastion Science Fiction Magazine. Still so excited about that.

I attended June’s @M2the5th Twitter chat with Roz Morris, focusing on her Nail Your Novel series. I’m learning quite a bit from these, and though we cancelled July’s because, Independence Day, we’ll be getting back to our monthly schedule in August.

A comment on last month’s update had me a little concerned about what my readers might be taking away from these posts. It seems May’s update was taken as a warning about social media. If the warning was timely and helpful, great, but it’s not the message I hoped to convey.

I have now finished reading my ARC of K.M. Weiland’s forthcoming Jane Eyre: Writer’s Digest Annotated Classics. I’ll be posting a review later in the month, so stay tuned for that.

The adjustable desk is working out very well, and I’m now standing for longer between rests. At work, I read a post from a learning and development blogger in which he discussed his experience with his standing desk, which he described as continual fidgeting.

He uses a kitchen stool to take a periodic break from standing and has discovered that he can’t write while standing (!) Thankfully, that hasn’t been my experience.

CanWrite! 2014 was a great time, as usual. I’ve been blogging the panels, sessions, and workshops I’ve attended on a weekly basis.

Another piece of exciting writerly news arrived when I returned home from the conference: another speculative short story, “On the Ferry,” made it into the top ten in the When Words Collide writing contest.

This means I’ll appear in their chapbook anthology, In Places Between, though I’ll have to wait until the conference to find out if I’ve placed. Still. Squee-worthy.

Last month, I had a blogging disruption around the arrival of my desk and spent most of my non-blogging writing time working through Initiate of Stone, all of that work in long hand. Though I completed a lot of work on IoS, I wasn’t able to capture a word count from it.

In last month’s update, I mentioned I would be getting back to countable writing.

June's writing progress

June’s total word count: 18,471!!!!!

13,425 of those words were on my blog, but 5,046 were written in Gerod and the Lions. I set myself a goal of 5k for the month on that project, and I made it. The draft is now just over 10k words and I’ll have a workable draft by the end of the year 😀

I only just started working on Figments (my NaNo project from last year) as I had worked on IoS last month. In all fairness, I have a little more to do with Figments than I had to do on IoS.

First, I’m mapping it. This is something I picked up from reading Donald Maass’s The Breakout Novelist. For each chapter, I list the title, page count, word count, the first and last lines (both hooks, one to draw the reader into the chapter and the other to propel the reader onward), the purpose of the chapter, in story terms, the internal and external conflicts, and finally, what changes for the story, and for the POV character as a result of the chapter.

These are actually from several separate exercises in Maass’s workbook, but I’ve cobbled them together to create my map. These are like index cards and I can rearrange them as needed when I work on the structure of the story. I can see where I might have to divide longer chapters, and fairly easily pick out plot points, pinch points, reversals, etc.

Once I get the mapping done, I’ll fiddle with Figments’s structure and tighten things up, work through a beat sheet ala Roz Morris, and finally reverse engineer the plot with Victoria Mixon’s holographic structure.

June has taught me that I can’t draft one project and then work by hand on another project simultaneously. I’m going to try alternating and see how that goes.

And that is all the Writerly Goodness I have for you tonight.

How are your works-in-progress coming, my friends?

Coming up this month: An interview with author and editor Mat Del Papa on his new anthology Creepy Capreol, I take another shot at the writing process blog hop, the review of Katie’s book, more CanWrite! reportage, and a couple of poems with creation stories.

The Next Chapter

The next chapter: May 2014 update

This is going to be a short update.

May's Word Count

All of the new words I produced this month were from blogging (7503), even though I didn’t blog for a whole week because of chaos. It was good chaos, but nonetheless.

I worked on revisions for the short story I submitted to Bastion Science Fiction Magazine, “The Broken Places,” at the beginning of the month, but that was actually trimming and, just for sanity’s sake, I’m not counting negative words.

By the way, the story is now in the June issue, available online here: Bastion Science Fiction Magazine. You can also get a single issue through Amazon, a subscription through Weightless Books, or just donate to a cool publication.

*Hint, hint. Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink.* Bastion is also a great place to submit if you’re into that speculative fiction stuff 🙂

Needless to say, there is much happy dancing on Marttila Drive.

The biggest part of the non-blogging writing work I did was on Initiate of Stone. I executed my plan of going through and eliminating the one character, giving all her important bits and pieces to other characters, and making notes for the revisions. I also went through my novel in reverse order, using Victoria Mixon’s holographic structure.

This is a technique she recommends in her Art and Craft of Story, and after Roz Morris posted that she’s had to draft her scenes out of order for her latest WIP, Ever Rest, even working backwards, I had to give it a try.

It’s a very interesting technique, and allows you to make sure that plot events and foreshadowing are in their proper places. It’s great for consistency too. I caught a few things that I hadn’t taken into account writing forward.

In other news, my adjustable desk is working out great. If you haven’t been following, the arrival of the desk and the necessity of reorganizing my office to suit it was one of the reasons for my blogging vacation. I can stand for an hour and a bit before I have to sit down for a rest. I’m training myself up.

I’ve also purchase a summer membership for the yoga studio I’ve joined, and I’m hoping that the desk and the yoga will help me stave off future back issues.

Totally unrelated to writing, Phil and I had to purchase a new clothes washer this past week. Our’s was pooched. While at the store, Phil decided he also wanted an upright freezer. He was getting tired of losing stuff at the bottom of the chest freezer we had.

So that’s a chunk of change down the drain.

I tried to write a couple of non-speculative pieces this month, and my interest just wasn’t there. I had ideas, certainly, but the one contest required me to write from a prompt, which I’m not overly keen on. I couldn’t find one that really helped me get anywhere. The other would have been a non-fiction piece, or perhaps creative non-fiction, but again, the idea just couldn’t sustain me.

Sad but true. I guess I’m way beyond the SF/F pale. There are worse places to be. Trust me 🙂

Two opportunities came my way this month that I have to share.

The first kind of blew me away. K.M. Weiland emailed me and asked me to read and review her new book, The Writers Digest Annotated Jane Eyre. Of course I said yes! I love Jane Eyre and have read the book a couple of times. Plus, I’m really attracted to the way Katie analyzes a piece of fiction. It didn’t hurt that she said she respected my opinion (head inflating, unattractively).

So far, it’s great, and I’m learning a lot about how to read as a writer.

It’ll be out July 19th. Watch for it.

The second opportunity came in another email, this one from someone I’d recently started following on Twitter. A Rewording Life, is Sheryl Gordon’s project in honour of her mother, and all those afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease.

She’s recruiting logophiles and creative, wordy people of all stripes to contribute a sentence to her book. I did, and my word was psychopomp 🙂 A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Alzheimer’s research. Check out her site. Follow her on Twitter @ARewordingLife.

And here I thought this was going to be a short post 😛 I am a wordy girl!

This month, I’m moving on to work on my other two completed (more or less) drafts as I did with IoS this month. The Canadian Authors Association’s CanWrite! Conference will be June 18-22, 2014. I hope to bring back lots of Writerly Goodness from that event.

I’m going to try to get back into the fiction writing swing of things. Most of my ideas these days are trending novel length, though. Maybe I’ll just finish the draft of Gerod and the Lions before starting another new project. That sounds like a plan.

How are your projects going, my writerly friends?

The Next Chapter

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz May 18-24, 2014

Tipsday

Roz Morris responded to a writer in a bind. The result was this post.

If you’ve read Lifeform Three, you’ll find this Roz Morris post on the inspiration of the Surrey landscape interesting. If you haven’t read the novel, you’d better get cracking!

The Geeks’ Guide to the Galaxy interviews Mary Robinette Kowal. Listen to the podcast.

Speaking of podcasts, listen to K.M. Weiland’s fourteenth instalment in the Creating Stunning Character Arcs series. Or read the post. As you wish, dear reader.

The draws and drawbacks of success as an author from The New York Times.

Jan O’Hara tells us why our characters need to make tough choices. Writer Unboxed.

And yes! Now WU has its web issues sorted, here’s Lisa Cron’s wonderful post: What kindergarten got (and still gets) really, really wrong.

Three more things you need to know about exposition and telling by Victoria A. Mixon.

Agent Carly Watters has some advice for when you start comparing yourself to other writers.

Maggie Stiefvater writes about how her characters are not based on her experiences, but they answer the questions she asks in her head.

Tech Crunch interviews Hugh Howey.

The Paris Review resurrects their interview with John Steinbeck.

Anne Lamott on how to handle the haters. Brainpickings.

Two of my favourite Neils talk about genius. More Brainpickings brilliance.

Writers’ Relief offers five techniques to help turn short stories into novels.

The Bookbaby blog presents this interesting infographic about 24 books that predicted the future.

Enjoy, my writerly peeps 🙂