Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, June 2-8, 2019

Here’s a nice bundle of informal writerly learnings for you 🙂

Jael McHenry is making room for silence. Nancy Johnson: what white writers should know about telling black stories. Donald Maass explores the myriad ways in which mystery shapes your story (and returns to the pithy one-word titles). Cathy Yardley offers a snapshot of her writing process. Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland explains how to write interesting scenes. Helping Writers Become Authors

James Scott Bell wants you to stay thirsty. Writers Helping Writers

Sara Letourneau is identifying themes in poetry. Laura Highcove wants you to reclaim your agency from writer’s block. Then, Charlene Jimenez describes the five people fiction writers need in their lives. DIY MFA

Jenna Moreci rails against her ten most hated hero tropes.

Fae Rowan suggests these six f-words to create compelling characters. Writers in the Storm

Tara East guest posts on Joanna Penn’s blog: how overwriters can reduce their word count. The Creative Penn

Emily Wenstrom suggests several different tools to track world building in a fantasy series. Writer’s Digest

Chris Winkle explores five relationship dynamics for stronger romances. Then, Oren Ashkenazi explains five ways terrain affects fantasy battles. Mythcreants

Hank Green shares eight things he wished he’d known when he wrote his first book – vlogbrothers

Nathan Bransford thinks this Roald Dahl video is everything. I so love process-y stuff 🙂

And Catherine Ryan Howard shares her process (in parts—more to come): the BIG IDEA.

I hope you enjoyed this curation and found something for your current of next creative project.

Come back on Thursday for your weekly dose to thoughty!

Until then, be well, my writerly friends 🙂

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Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, July 22-28, 2018

Give yourself the treat of informal writerly learnings on this last day of July 🙂

Jane Friedman excerpts from Diana Kimpton’s Plots and Plotting on her blog: how to skillfully use subplots in your novel.

K.M. Weiland shares four steps to turn an idea into a story that rocks. Helping Writers Become Authors

Anne Greenwood Brown explains how to write emotional scenes when you’d really rather not. Writer Unboxed

Heather Webb encourages you to build a world, hook a reader. Writer Unboxed

Joanna Penn interviews Samantha Keel about writing effective injuries for your characters. The Creative Penn

Kathryn Craft: our capacity for brilliance. Writers in the Storm

Rachael Stephen: how to punch perfectionism in its dumb face.

 

Leanne Sowul is writing for life. DIY MFA

Brenda Joyce Patterson explores voice across genre: by any other name. DIY MFA

Laura Stradiotto interviews Gail Anderson-Dargatz: overcoming the fear of writing. I attended her workshop on Saturday—stellar! The Sudbury Star

Jeff Vandermeer shares his views on the art and science of structuring a novel. Electric Lit

Anne Quito: the graceful restoration of a 200-year-old serif typeface reveals the problem with digital fonts. Quartzy

Hope you found something to move your craft forward.

Come back on Thursday for some thoughty.

Until then, be well, my friends.

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Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, April 1-7, 2018

Were you looking for these? Your informal writerly learnings are here!

K.M. Weiland helps you decide between plain prose and beautiful prose. Helping Writers Become Authors

Jane Friedman returns to Writer Unboxed: a smarter author platform for the digital era of publishing.

Nathan Bransford offers a guide to social media for authors. Later in the week he offers tips on how to regain your concentration.

Emily Wenstrom explains how to use Twitter hashtags for writers. DIY MFA

Porter Anderson delves into author pay and publishing profits. And then, he looks at the success of Canada Reads as PBS announces a similar competition.

Valerie Francis joins Joanna Penn on The Creative Penn to discuss how to write a scene the Story Grid way.

Donald Maass takes a non-linear approach to middle scenes. Writer Unboxed

Sonja Yeorg is resurrecting a shelved manuscript. Writer Unboxed

Jo Eberhardt talks art and social change. It’s a ripping awesome post. Writer Unboxed

Tamar Sloan is deepening character complexity with the help of psychology. Writers Helping Writers

Angela Ackerman examines the destructive power of the lie your character believes. Writers Helping Writers

Jami Gold offers some suggestions to help you create a compelling, but quiet, black moment.

Heather Webb shares a writer’s lessons in failure. Writers in the Storm

Do the thing? Chuck Wendig offers a helpful (and hilarious) FAQ. Terribleminds

Kristen Lamb brings the LOLZ with her post on diagnosing the real writer.

Dheolos and Worldbuilding Magazine are creating a mountain setting. Mythcreants

Nina Munteanu explores how the women of The Expanse are changing our worldview.

Dan Koboldt is putting the science in your fiction. Writer’s Digest

And some writerly news from the north:

My friend and vice-president of the Sudbury Writers’ Guild Vera Constantineau is interviewed for The Northern Life about her new short story collection Daisy Chained.

Another friend and SWG member Rosanna Micelotta Battigelli announces pre-orders for her first novel, La Brigantessa, forthcoming from Inanna Publications this September.

And that was Tipsday.

Be well until Thoughty Thursday comes around to herald the weekend 🙂

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The Writing Excuses Retreat, part 2

Copenhagen and day at sea

In this instalment, I’m covering days two and three of the Writing Excuses Retreat (WXR) Baltic cruise.

On day two, I was up fairly early, mostly because I hadn’t yet fully adjusted to the time change. Then again, daylight savings messes me up twice a year and the two times I travelled west, I never adjusted to the time change at all. I just got by on a sleep deficit for the week I was in Vancouver and Calgary, respectively.

It was a good thing, though. Day two was our day in Copenhagen and I had a tour to catch.

We went straight to the Little Mermaid. The Little Mermaid has always been one of my favourite Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales. This is probably due to the 1975 animated version narrated by Richard Chamberlain. It was faithful to the tale Andersen popularized, including the attempted murder of the Prince and suicide of the heroine.

LittleMermaid

Of course, I know it’s a terribly misogynist tale that entrenches some vile stereotypes of feminine agency, or the lack thereof. But it’s still one of my favourites.

Fountain

We then stopped at the Fountain of Gefion, the goddess who created Denmark. The Swedish king Gylfi promised her all the land she could plough in a night. She turned her four sons into oxen and the land she ploughed was thrown into the sea to become Denmark. Next to the fountain was the oldest Anglican Church in Denmark.

Christianborg

From there, we visited the Christianborg Palace courtyard (our tour did not go inside) and saw the opera house, the canal, and the new incinerator. Our tour guide proudly pointed out that Copenhagen imported garbage to incinerate from all over the EU and that 100% of private residences ran on renewable energy.

canal

Interestingly, the new incinerating facility was built like a mountain and the plan is to have a ski hill on its slope. Denmark is a flat land and citizens have to travel elsewhere to ski.

Next, we toured the royal reception hall. Though once the place of all royal business, the hall is now only used to entertain visiting dignitaries.

Some intriguing facts about Queen Margrethe: she’s an artist. Under a pseudonym, she illustrated an edition of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. She designed one of the carpets in the reception hall. For her 50th birthday in 1990, the queen was presented with 17 surrealist tapestries depicting the history of Denmark.

Tapestry

My picture does not do the tapestries justice. They were breathtaking. My favourite room in the reception hall.

Well, I was rather fond of the library, too.

library

The history of the Danish kings (either Christian or Frederick) reads like Game of Thrones. Our tour guide intimated that George R.R. Martin drew inspiration for some aspects of Westeros from Danish history.

The tour returned to the Fantasia just after noon and I had time to grab lunch before John Berlyne’s presentation on the purpose of an agent.

JohnBerlyne

Then, Aliette de Bodard presented Worldbuilding in the Smallest Parts and it was time for dinner.

That night, I was seated with other attendees, but our table was short one. At the table next to us, one lone participant sat. We asked him over, but he was waiting for his spouse, so two of our table went to join him, instead. And it wasn’t too long before another table of two was asked to join us. Yes, it was musical chairs night, but it was one of the best evening meals I had with the two Sarahs and the two Laurens 🙂

Unfortunately, that was also the night my throat got sore, heralding the cold that was to become known as Cruise Crud. I’m still clearing out the trachea, three weeks later … at the time, I thought it was just the wine and the continual gales of laughter.

That night, we once more passed under the Øresund bridge, but I didn’t get another picture.

On day three, we crossed the Baltic heading toward Stockholm, Sweden.

I just want to digress for a moment. I’d never been on a ship the size of the Fantasia before. Sure, I spent many summers on my uncle’s houseboat. Yes, I’ve been on ferries like the Toronto Island ferry and the Chi-cheemaun. I was fairly confident that I wouldn’t be sea sick, but I had no clue.

The truth is, I barely felt the ship’s movement. When we departed or approached a pier, yes. The ship had to employ engines on the sides of the ship. There’s not enough pier to glide in like a smaller ship might. So the ship moves parallel and sidles up. That’s when you feel the chop.

So I’m happy to say my constitution did not let me down. In that respect, anyway.

I got to sleep in a bit on day three. Not that I actually did, but I didn’t really have anything to get up early for. Every morning, the instructors gathered for office hours, but I didn’t have any specific questions to ply them with … yet.

After the breakfast buffet, I headed down to the breakout session. I was group cake, but I’d signed up for the lightning readings in the afternoon and attended Mary Robinette Kowal’s foreshortened How to Present workshop which was squeezed in at the beginning of the breakout session.

MaryRobinetteKowal

Then, I hung out until my one-on-one with Tempest, which was scheduled in the middle of the breakout session. Day three was my first real opportunity to do any writing and the first day I felt like my body had adjusted to being seven hours in the past 😉 I lugged my laptop around with me so I could use what opportunities I could.

WesleyChu

Back to the buffet for lunch, and then it was time for Wesley Chu’s Deep Dive into Action presentation, which was followed by the lightning readings, at which I believe I acquitted myself well.

Afterward, Margaret commented that she wanted to read the novel when it came out. I think I blushed. The reading was from a short story, but I guess that’s just more confirmation that my story ideas tend toward novel-length projects.

There were a lot of interesting pieces and I’m looking forward to reading some of the resulting projects, whether story or novel, as well 🙂

Day three was the evening of the costume contest. I didn’t have room to pack one, but there were some very clever costumes. Ann Tagonist and Professor Tagonist had the pages of a book incorporated into their costumes. One young man was the Excuses Monster, onto which people were invited to write their writing excuses on Post-its and stick them to his cape.

There were a number of flappers and a number of Regency costumes. Waldo and Carmen Santiago made an appearance, as did Nanny Og.

masquerade

That night, I sat at Mary’s table at supper. It was another night of fascinating conversation at which I got to regale the group about my malignant hyperthermia (Google it).

The Cruise Crud was blossoming, so I once again called it a night after supper.

And that’s where I’m going to pause in my tale.

Next weekend, we enter a new month and it will be time for my Next chapter update.

I’ll pick up with our arrival in Stockholm on the weekend of the 9th.

Until my next blog, be well, be kind, and stay strong, my friends 🙂

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, June 11-17, 2017

A smaller trove from the Tipsday vault this week.

Jane Friedman coaches you on how to immediately improve your query letter’s effectiveness.

K.M. Weiland shares five ways to write a (nearly) perfect first draft (and why you should try). Helping Writers Become Authors

Later in the week, Kate shows you how to use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to improve your characters.

Piper Bayard discusses the art of physical surveillance. Writers in the Storm

Emily Wenstrom answers the question, can Facebook ads really boost your author platform? DIY MFA

Oh yeah. It’s me. Talking about time travel. DIY MFA

And so I had to cram this in here: Natalie Zutter wonders, is time travel is science fiction or fantasy? 🙂 Tor.com

Gabriela Pereira interviews DIY MFA columnist and romance author Robin Lovett for her podcast. Now I have an earworm … Let’s talk about sexy, baby / let’s talk about you and me … 😀

Becca Puglisi demystifies worldbuilding. Writers Helping Writers

Remember that post I shared a couple of weeks ago that Foz Meadows took exception to? Yeah, well Janice Hardy takes on the topic, too: why you shouldn’t write every day. Janice makes some points that I seriously considering. I do work a day job and I regularly face burnout because I write like a maniac when I’m not working. Food for thought. Fiction University

Oren Ashkenazi lists five tropes that make a villain look incompetent (and how to avoid them). Mythcreants

Jenna Moreci: how to choose an editor.

 

Joanna Penn interviews Dan Blank on changes in the publishing industry and launching non-fiction books. The Creative Penn

Claire Light reviews WisCon, the world’s preeminent feminist speculative fiction convention. Literary Hub

Foxy Folklorist, Jeana Jorgensen, explains why the translation of the fairy tale collection you read matters. Patheos

And that, my friends, was you informal writerly learnings for the week 🙂

Come back for some thoughty on Thursday, and in the meantime, be well.

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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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Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, March 12-18, 2017

This week is filled with informal writerly learnings 🙂

K.M. Weiland shares five rules that will help you write a sequel. Helping Writers Become Authors

Becca Puglisi adds another entry to the character motivation thesaurus: pursuing justice for oneself or others. Writers Helping Writers

Jami Gold returns to the Writers Helping Writers coaches corner: what does it mean to raise the stakes?

Jami follows up on her own blog with three steps that raise your story’s stakes. And later in the week, she posts about balancing rules and voice.

Lisa Cron offers some ways pantsers can use the Story Genius method. Writers in the Storm

David Corbett: emotion vs. feeling. Writer Unboxed

Annie Neugebauer suggests changing up your reading patterns to gain more. Writer Unboxed

Dan Blank shares some great social media tips for writers on The Creative Penn.

Sara Letourneau continues her developing themes in your stories with part 9: the midpoint. DIY MFA

Stacy Woodson looks at mysteries, thrillers, and suspense: does the label matter? DIY MFA

Gabriela Pereira interviews Ben Blatt for DIY MFA radio.

Rachael Stephens shares her new favourite plotting method: Dan Harmon’s Plot Embryo.

 

Dimitra Fimi: inventing a whole language. The Times Literary Supplement

Chris Winkle lists five worldbuilding mistakes to avoid. Mythcreants

Jenna Ireland: racism in a fantasy landscape.

Kobo interviews Margaret Atwood on woman-crushes, feminism, and advice for her younger self. Medium

In the wake of his passing, Richard Wagamese: what it means to be Ojibway. Anishnabek News

Michael Moorcock: what is the new weird and why is weird fiction so relevant to our times? The New Statesman

What “White Rabbit” really meant (with an awesome, vocal-only track). Dangerous Minds

Wil Jones thinks this literary map of the world is simply brilliant. The Indy 100

Cracked lists 21 movie lines nobody actually says. Several commenters have refuted this, but they say these things because they’re said in movies …

Elodie shares one-sentence summations of every literary genre. Sparklife

Angela Watercutter presents the “Jane Test,” a new way to tell if your scripts are sexist. Wired

Patricia Cornwell unmasks “Jack the Ripper.” Tom Bryant for The Mirror.

Beth Elderkin shares the new Wonder Woman trailer: how the girl became the legend. i09

Katharine Trendacosta shows us the latest American Gods trailer. i09

And, phew. We’re done.

Come back on Thursday for some thoughty.

And, in the meantime, be well.

tipsday2016

WorldCon 2016: The art of worldbuilding

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: Peter Tieryas, Carrie Patel, Luke Peterson (moderator), Amanda Downum, Greg Bear

Worldbuilding

Joined in progress …

GB: Edgar Rice Burroughs was the first worldbuilder. He delved into culture and economics. Read Olaf Stapledon’s Star Maker.

LP: Where do you start?

AD: Use the character as the starting point. Develop the city, country, and world around them. Move outward to weather and so forth.

CP: Ask, what does the society value most and what does it fear the most?

PT: If you see a movie with a good story but bad effects, it’s ok. A movie with good effects but a bad story is just bad.

GB: I work from the top down. Sometimes a complete vision of the world will take years to form.

LP: How much do you need to know?

GB: I’m an English major.

CP: You don’t need to tell your readers everything. What’s important to the story you’re telling?

AD: Have a friend ask random questions and build your world or research based on that.

PT: sometimes the best research is done by people who have no expertise.

AD: Find someone who doesn’t read your genre. That’s the acid test.

LP: How do you set your limits? When do you stop?

AD: It’s hard to tell. When you’re drafting, it’s okay to leave some things undefined for later. Get the bones of the story down first.

CP: You might have to dive back in, mid-draft, if you write yourself into a situation only worldbuilding can get you out of.

PT: Hitler exempted artists, and later scientists, from war. It was dark material I had to research for my book. I didn’t want to continue, but I needed to get a grip on the story.

CP: Does the research or detail of the world tell the reader something about the character or the plot? If not, it shouldn’t be in there.

And that was time.

Next week, we move from worldbuilding to alienbuilding 🙂

Be well until then, my writerly friends, and work to make your dreams come true.

WorldCon 2016: Beyond—fantasy creation for the bold

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: Kate Elliot and Ken Liu

kateelliottkenliu

My apologies for the picture, Kate. this was actually the better of the two I took 😦

Joined in progress …

KE: People who live in the tropics tend to have darker skin. Those in northern countries are pale. It’s a specific adaptation to their environment.

KL: My book is not an Asian epic fantasy. It’s a reinterpretation of the Han Dynasty. I defined what it means to be Chinese in my world and purposefully varied the appearance of my characters. What does it mean to be a Han Chinese? Ultimately culture is how they define themselves, not by appearance. That’s [definition by appearance] a western-centric notion.

KE: The Mali from my spiritwalker series has eight or nine ethnic groups. They identify by where they live. Ethnicity is fluid. As writers, we have to think about our choices.

KL: The shape of the eye is not a defining feature.

KE: In any culture, you’re going to have sub-cultures develop. A static culture is a dead culture. Every empire is made up of many ethnicities interacting with the dynamics of assimilation, resistance, centre/periphery. These are character and plot dynamics.

KL: Cultural change is good for building a plot. All cultures are not equal. People adapt differently to their circumstances. Build a richer world. Show the dominant culture being challenged by another.

KE: Writers bring their ideas of what cultural changes matter. The Silk Road wasn’t an actual road. It was a chain of stops on a trade route.

KL: Transformative ideas are themselves transformed in the process of their transmission from culture to culture. Christianity in South America is different than the European tradition. Buddhism is different in India, Tibet, China, Japan, and Korea. Religion interacts with political power.

KE: The way they infiltrate through social strata is also different. Ptolemaic Egypt was actually more influenced by Macedonia and Greece. The native Egyptians were marginalized and had their own traditions. One of the best ways to research a historical time period is through art history.

KL: “We have not changed” is a common cultural narrative. Why do they need to insist on that cultural story?

KE: The centre of an empire will have one narrative and peripheral societies will have other narratives unique to them. Look at the Aztecs. The conquerors write history. Find stories on the peripheries.

KL: When writing an epic fantasy based on an historical culture, respect the intellect of the people of the past. The Ancient Romans were as cynical as we are.

KE: People don’t believe the same things in the same ways.

KL: The western bias is that cultures that lacked science must have been stupid.

KE: The history of technology is fascinating. Look at the geographical impact. Where do they live? Whether the society was coastal or land-locked makes a difference in what might otherwise be common myths and legends, like flood stories.

KL: Consider you narrative space and language as a part of worldbuilding. There are two layers of understanding, the linguistic, and the folk/colloquial. Power and self-image are parts of contextual identity.

KE: Language sticks around like an artefact. European place names that were derived from the Celtic tribes remained even though the culture was marginalized.

And that was time.

Next week: We’ll delve into class and equality in fantasy and science fiction for my final WorldCon report of the year. I’ll continue them in January, after my next chapter update for December and my year-end wrap up. And of course, Tipsday and Thoughty Thursday will continue 🙂

Hope you’re enjoying time with your family and friends, whatever holiday you celebrate.

Be well!

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, September 6-12, 2015

May I present your Writerly Goodness for the week:

K.M. Weiland continues her most common writing mistakes series with part 44: too many participle phrases.

Katie encourages writers to let Toy Story show you the key to subtle character development.

Vaughan Roycroft has series aspirations and looks at Robin Hobbs’ Assassin series in this post: Drawn to the long arc.

Porter Anderson refers to Roz Morris and Joanna Penn’s posts in this piece for Writer Unboxed: Looking for truth in the time of hype.

Writing begins with forgiveness: Why one of the most common pieces of writing advice is wrong. Daniel José Older for Seven Scribes.

The creative life interviews: Laura Belgray and talking shrimp. Anna Lovind.

New Zealand bans award-winning teen novel after outcry from Christian group. Really, Kiwis? I thought we were past this kind of stuff. The Guardian.

Then again . . . Henrietta Lacks biographer, Rebecca Skloot, responds to concerned parent about ‘porn’ allegation. The Guardian.

A new Author’s Guild survey reveals that the majority of authors are earning below the poverty line. Publishers Weekly.

Mike Hernandez writes about constructing cultural taboos in this helpful worldbuilding post for Mythcreants.

Helen Maslin presents her top ten literary castles and country houses. The Guardian.

Hope the week started off well.

I’ll see you with a load of thoughty videos on Thursday 🙂

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