Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Aug 4-10, 2019

You’ve worked hard this week (so far). Reward yourself with some informal writerly learnings.

Jael McHenry: it’s always in the last place you look. Donald Maass considers persuasion.  Then, Kathryn Craft wants you to give your reader an experience. David Corbett has a conversation with Zoe Quinton about developmental editing. And Kathryn Magendie writes about becoming a rogue planet (when you lose your publisher). Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland shares part two of her five character arcs at a glance series: the three negative arcs. Helping Writers Become Authors

Abigail K. Perry looks at characters in terms of grit, wit, and it. Slush Pile Survivor

C.S. Lakin explains when telling, not showing, emotion is the right choice. Writers Helping Writers

Leanne Sowul: what writing can do for you. DIY MFA

Jenna Moreci lists her top ten worst dystopian tropes.

Sangeeta Mehta interviews Sarah LaPolla and Kim Lionetti for Jane Friedman’s blog.

Chuck Wendig: on writing from a place of fear vs from a place of love. Terribleminds

Reedsy offers a guide to fantasy subgenres.

Chris Winkle: filling in your story’s middle. Then, Oren Ashkenazi relates six common forms of bad writing advice. Mythceants

Jami Gold: when writing advice goes wrong.

Robert Lee Brewer looks at the difference between it’s and its. I know, seems basic. Doesn’t mean I don’t make the mistake from time to time. Reinforcement is always good. Writer’s Digest

Richard Lea and Sian Cain pay tribute to Toni Morrison, who died August 6, at the age of 88. The Guardian

Dwight Garner honours Morrison as a writer of many gifts who bent language to her will. The New York Times

There were so many more tributes, this humble curation would have been huge. I just chose a couple.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you found something of value.

Until Thursday, be well, my writerly friends!

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Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, June 23-29, 2019

Welcome July! We’ve finally hit summer up here in northeastern Ontario. And it was just Canada Day (yesterday)! It’s time to celebrate with some informal writerly learnings 🙂

CanadaDay

Nathan Bransford explains how to handle multiple protagonists in a query letter. Later in the week, he shares a list of character strengths and weaknesses.

Julie Duffy says, creation is messy—and that’s okay. Barbara O’Neal is writing the next book. John J. Kelley lauds stories that liberate. Writer Unboxed

Abigail K. Perry examines James Scott Bell’s signpost scene #12: mounting forces. Brenda Joyce Patterson takes a deep dive into historical poetry. DIY MFA

Lisa Hall-Wilson wants you to make your setting real with strategic description. Tasha Seegmiller explains how to survive a writing crisis. Laura drake talks ideation: where do ideas come from? Writers in the Storm

Jenna Moreci lists ten reasons you’re not “making it” as a writer.

Again, Alexa Donne riffs on a similar theme: five reasons fiction writers quit.

K.M. Weiland shares four ways to write gripping internal narrative with the help of a brave critique volunteer. Helping Writers Become Authors

What does “plot reveals character” mean? Jami Gold has the answer.

Orly Konig proposes mind mapping as a pantser’s path to plotting. Fiction University

Oren Ashkenazi looks at six stories that focus too much on side characters. Mythcreants

Molly Templeton: YA Twitter can be toxic, but it can also point out real problems. Buzzfeed

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you found something you need to help move your current creative project forward.

Until Thursday, be well, my friends!

Tipsday2019

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 🙂

Tipsday2019

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

Here we are. How is it already the third week of February? Console yourself with some informal writerly learnings *hugs*

Louise Tondeur guest posts on Jane Friedman’s blog: the myth of plan first and write later (or, you never only write one way).

Rheea Mukherjee joins Writer Unboxed: writing characters who are “smarter” than you.

Kathryn Craft: your story’s valentine to the world (AKA, your query, synopsis, and pages). Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland critiques a brave writer’s work to show how paragraph breaks guide the reader’s experience. Helping Writers Become Authors

September C. Fawkes says, look forward, not backward, to pull your reader in. Writers Helping Writers

Margie Lawson stops by Writers in the Storm to help you put fresh faces on the page.

Sara Letourneau offers some further reading on the theme of family. DIY MFA

Becca Puglisi visits DIY MFA: five vehicles for showing emotion.

Chris Winkle: optimizing your story ideas for stronger engagement. Then, Oren Ashkenazi reveals six mistakes that can kill a great plot. Mythcreants

Chuck Wendig says, your ideas aren’t that interesting. This is less about making you feel bad than about making sure your ideas don’t take the place of, like, actual writing. Terribleminds

In honour of Valentines, Jenna Moreci offers her top ten tips for writing sex scenes. [Features discussion of sex and sexuality. Yeah. Even so, had to be said.]

 

Krista D. Ball rants: why is AUTHOR NAME taking so long to write their next book? This made me wonder if these impatient readers think they own writers? At the cost of $10 to $20 per book? Really? Gear down, people. Reddit

Later in the week, an 11:45 pm amber alert (and subsequent rescind after midnight) in Ontario resulted in a strange outcry of people who didn’t want their sleep disturbed, even after they learned that the child featured in the alert had been murdered. Seriously? Disturb me all night, every night, if it saves a life.

On that boggling note, I leave you until Thursday, when you can come back for some thoughty.

Until then, be well, my friends.

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Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Jan 20-26, 2019

And here we go with another week of informal writerly learnings!

Janice Hardy offers this Sunday writing tip: make sure your chapter endings hook your reader. Later in the week, Becca Puglisi explains how to use vocal cues to show hidden emotion. Then, Janice returns with three mistakes to avoid when creating stakes in your story. Fiction University

Leigh Medeiros considers writing and time management: a dispatch from the kitchen sink. Writer Unboxed

Sonja Yoerg praises one of our tools of the trade: whiteboard wonders. Writer Unboxed

Heather Webb shares some truths about the publishing industry you can only learn in the trenches. Writer Unboxed

Keith Cronin: my ongoing feud with Billy Joel. A bit click-bait-y, there. This is really about how to write good dialogue. Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland explains how to create your perfect writing process. Helping Writers Become Authors

Angela Ackerman stops by Jane Friedman’s blog. The inner struggle: how to show a character’s repressed emotions.

Anne Pisacano interviews Lori Henriksen on how she uses the tarot in her creative process. Writers in the Storm

Tamar Sloan stops by Writers Helping Writers to explain the key components of a compelling character according to psychology.

Jami Gold wants to help you find your story’s essence.

Mira Singer: making sympathetic antagonists and why Thanos wasn’t one. Then, Oren Ashkenazi covers six more common storytelling problems in new manuscripts. Mythcreants

Andrea J. Johnson shows you the five steps to creating characters of colour. DIY MFA

Why Science Fiction Authors Need to be Writing About Climate Change Right Now. Charlie Jane Anders for Tor.com

And that was tipsday for this week. Come back on Thursday for a little bit of thoughty.

Until then, be well, my friends, and keep writing!

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Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Feb 4-10, 2018

Here, once again, are your informal writerly learnings!

Jessi Rita Hoffman stops by Jane Friedman’s blog to help you prune hedge words and inflation words from your writing.

K.M. Weiland offers four tips for writing to your right audience. Helping Writers Become Authors

Jael McHenry: on commitments, participation, and the writing community. Writer Unboxed

Donald Maass shows you what happens when worlds collide. Writer Unboxed

Nancy Johnson joins the Writer Unboxed team: the question your novel answers.

Gabriela Pereira takes her turn in the Writers Helping Writers coaching corner. Writing by design, part two: pattern and repetition.

Back on DIY MFA radio, Gabriela interviews Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi: understanding the emotional wound.

Kristen Lamb: great stories are addictive by design.

Janice Hardy offers seven tips for creating believable fantasy and science fiction worlds. Fiction University

Fae Rowan shares a simple tip to help get rid of saggy middles. [But … will it work on ma belleh—lol?] Writers in the Storm

Jami Gold looks at the editing process and what every writer needs to know to improve.

Backtracking a bit to give you episode 1 of Ask a Puppet (Mary Robinette Kowal). Seriously hilarious.

 

Mary Robinette Kowal shares her writing process in honor of her birthday.

Roz Morris shares three paradoxes of a slow writing process. Nail Your Novel

Chuck Wendig: yes, you can hiss without sibilance. Terribleminds

Breaking their usual pattern of constructive critique, Oren Ashkenazi reviews five novels with strong throughlines for Mythcreants.

Shane Koyczan – Resolution

 

Jessica Stillman: why you should surround yourself with more books than you’ll ever have time to read. Inc.

E CE Miller shares 21 love letters by authors to inspire you on Valentine’s Day. Bustle

Ryu Spaeth: an education through Earthsea. New Republic

Michael Blanding reports on how plagiarism software unveiled a new source for eleven of Shakespeare’s plays. And no, before the histrionics start, Shakespeare did not plagiarize. The New York Times

Jill Lepore explores the strange and twisted life of Frankenstein. Amazing. Truly. The New Yorker

Krista D. Ball revisits Joanna Russ’s “How to Suppress Women’s Writing” after 35 years. Thought-provoking and anger-inducing. Reddit r/fantasy

Jamil Smith writes about the revolutionary power of Black Panther. Time

I hope your week got off to a great start. Be well until Thursday 🙂

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Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, June 18-24, 2017

The informal writerly goodness was plentiful this week 🙂

Jane Friedman: when you’re successful, lots of people ask for your help. You have to decide who deserves it. Then Claire McKinney visits Jane’s blog to explain the difference between a press release and a pitch (and why you need both). Later in the week, Jane tackles permissions and fair use.

K.M. Weiland helps you make the most of the five stages of the writing process. Later in the week, Kate returns to offer four reasons you should outline your setting. Helping Writers Become Authors

Vaughn Roycroft is heartened by Wonder Woman—making the case for sincere storytelling. Writer Unboxed

Dave King: two coins in the hundred. Writer Unboxed

Dank blank shares four ways to beat frustration in your writing career. Writer Unboxed

Heather Webb says failure is a four letter word (in writing). It’s also a necessary part of the journey. Writer Unboxed

Chuck Wendig offers his signature advice on writing scenes: Aaaannd, scene! Later in the week, Laura Lam visits Terribleminds: I am on so many government watchlists.

Leanne Sowul offers four rules for eliminating distractions and cultivating deep work. DIY MFA

Brenda Joyce Patterson joins the DIYMFA team: opening doors through poetry and short fiction.

Gabriela Pereira interviews Lisa Preziosi about writing a modern day fairy tale for DIY MFA radio.

Janice Hardy shares her brainstorming process in her birth of a book series. Fiction University

Jennie Nash drops by the coaches corner on Writers Helping Writers: how to boost your self-editing superpowers.

Angela Ackerman shares ten ways to show character emotion. Writers Helping Writers

Jami Gold muses on the writer’s heroic journey.

Cait Reynolds takes over Kristen Lamb’s blog and offers you some advice on research for historical fiction. Plus, she’s hilarious!

Jenny Hansen shares five things the family road trip taught her about editing. Writers in the Storm

Oren Ashkenazi lists six ways rapid communication changes a fantasy setting. Mythcreants

Brian Dillon analyzes Virginia Woolf’s wonderful, beautiful, almost failed sentence. Literary Hub

Andrew O’Hagen wonders if social media will kill the novel. The Guardian

The second Game of Thrones trailer has been released!

 

I hope you’ve found something to feed your muse in this lot, or at least something to tame your inner editor 😉

 

Be well until Thursday!

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The next chapter: February 2017 update

And here we are at the beginning of a new month.

It’s been a month of big decisions and rearranging goals and priorities.

First, the good news.

After discussing the issue at length with Phil and Mom and some of my writer friends, I’ve made the decision to go to WorldCon 75 in Helsinki, Finland … and I’ve registered for the Writing Excuses cruise that immediately precedes it!

You can’t see me right now, but I’m so excited and nervous (it will be my first time to Europe) I’m vibrating on a higher level. I might be worn out before August even gets here.

Though travel arrangements are still in flux, and we haven’t even gotten to leave requests at work (which is always a concern), I’ve made the leap. I’m confident the net will appear.

I’ve also joined the DIYMFA team as a semi-regular genre columnist. My genre? Fantasy and science fiction, of course 🙂 This is another squee-worthy achievement and I hope I can live up to the DIYMFA brand.

Finally, I’m on the program committee of the Canadian Authors Association.

Add that to my newsletter-er gig with the Sudbury Writers’ Guild, and ye olde day job, and my schedule is getting pretty full.

Writing-wise, I’ve finished drafting Wavedancer and am now moving on to the mapping.

This is a bit of a change for me. In the past, I’ve left the mapping for my first revision pass, but I want to keep the novel fresh in my mind as I map this time. What’s happened in the past is that the first revision pass has ended up being primarily about the mapping because I’m reading to refamiliarlize myself with the story. Not much actual revision happens.

By mapping it out before I let the draft rest, I hope to be able to dive into more substantial structural issues with the first true revision. We’ll see how this tweak to my process works out. So far, I’m liking it, because I’m making notes for the revision and cutting extraneous stuff as I go. It’s so much easier when the story is still fresh in my mind.

I had hoped to make a mentoring connection to work on Reality Bomb, but this has not come to pass. There are some significant issues with the story and the science that mean research and rethinking. So I’m going to let that project simmer for a while longer while I conduct the requisite research and return to it later in the year with more objectivity.

I missed the first anthology call I’d identified for the year. I’d have had to write a new story for it and while an idea did eventually pop into my head, it was too late to execute. I’ve now identified several contests, magazines, and anthology calls that I’d like to try for, and I’ll see if I can’t organize myself to meet some of them at least.

Here’s how the numbers worked out:

Drafting Wavedancer – goal 14,000 words – actual 13,191 words

Blogging – goal 5,600 words – actual 4360 words

While I had planned to write a piece of short fiction, it didn’t work out because reasons.

Total writing goal for February: 19,600 words

Actual words written: 17,551

februaryprogress

Wavedancer worked out pretty much as I expected it would. The total draft is just over 100K words. I was able to wrap it up earlier than I thought, though, thanks to a number of days in January and February in which I wrote more than my daily goal of 500 words.

I don’t mind not having blogged so much. While I want to continue to curate and create useful content, I don’t want it to become a chore or to take over my creative time.

For the foreseeable, I’m going to be researching for RB, mapping Wavedancer, and working, yet again, on a brand new opening chapter for Initiate of Stone in preparation for another revision pass on that novel.

This time, I’m writing the first chapter out by hand and except for the major events, I’m going to abandon all past versions. We’ll see if this works. I’ve been too bound to what I’ve written and it doesn’t work. My unsuccessful queries and various first page/first 50 page critiques have all led me to this conclusion.

Actually, the conclusion was always there. I was just ignoring it. Delusional Mellie is delusional.

So there may not be a lot of actual words counted for the first part of March because it’s too labour and time intensive to capture hand-written work.

I’m also going to revise a piece of short fiction for a contest. It’s another problematic piece that may require a return to the drawing board.

Long story short, all this experimentation and process tweakage has meant a substantial reorganization of my writing goals for the year. I’ve shuffled and we’ll see how things go.

In other aspects of this writer’s life, the sun is finally coming out. Literally. It’s been a dull and gloomy winter up here in northern Ontario and, as a result, a lot of us are experiencing more-than-usual levels of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). I’m feeling better than I have in a long time and I thank Sol.

I’ve also been experiencing persistent health issues due to being a woman of a certain age. I think that, too, is working itself out. Finally. I still have a referral to a specialist this month and I’m going to keep it. I still want to explore my options in the hope of maintaining my recovered health.

Phil’s doing well, and is still planning to tackle further renovations this year. Exactly when these might happen is up for discussion, but, as he often reminds me, he’s not getting any younger.

It looks like problems with the pay system at work are not going to be resolved in time for me to consider a self-funded leave in the spring. So I’ll defer it, and puppy plans, until the fall (again).

But I have a lot of good stuff to look forward to in the meantime: Story Masters in May with Donald Maass, James Scott Bell, and Christopher Vogler, a possible workshop with Gail Anderson-Dargatz or CanWrite! in June, and Writing Excuses and WorldCon in August.

And, of course, lots of writing in between.

Next week, I’ll be resuming WorldCon 2016 reportage. This should continue on the weekends until sometime in April and then I’ll have a bit of a break until my next workshop, conference, or convention. I might fill it up with some series discoveries or movie madness posts.

Until next I blog, be kind, be strong, and be well.

The Next Chapter

The next chapter: March 2016 update

In my 2015 year-end update, I said that 2016 would be the year of revision. To this point, I’d only ever revised the one novel, Initiate of Stone. I revised IoS eight times and I recently got a few ideas on how to improve it further as a result of my first run through of Apprentice of Wind.

In the first few days of March, I finished that first review of AoW. I’m going to return to it again, but this time, as I mentioned last month, I’m going to apply what I hope to be improvements to IoS and then move on to AoW.

My idea is to reinforce my voice over the two novels, which is quite different to the other novels I’ve drafted so far. Most of those are in a modern setting. Urban fantasy of various stripes. Though I’ve worked with IoS for so long, when it came to reviewing AoW, because I’d drafted the five other novels in between, I found I’d lost touch with the voice of the series and its characters.

We’ll see how that turns out, later in the year (I hope).

YTDProgress

Year Goals and Totals page

The current draft of AoW stands at 119,590 words. So 120K, which is reasonable for an epic fantasy.

I then moved onto Figments, my YA urban fantasy. It’s considerably shorter, nineteen chapters, and 53,536 words. I know I’ll have to punch that up a bit, but I have a number of ideas to make that happen.

Both of these novels were drafted, let to sit, printed out, read through, mapped, let to sit again, read through again, and then reviewed. I just changed some of the major things, POV, character deletion, consistency over the novels (in the case of AoW), and notes for future revision.

I don’t think I’ll need as many drafts of either AoW or Figments as I needed with IoS to finish them to my satisfaction.

I’m trying something different with Marushka, which I moved on to in the last few days of March.

My revision plan so far has been to review a chapter a day, which was challenging for AoW and Figments, because a number of the chapters of both were several thousand words long. I often found myself up until midnight on a weekday trying to get my work finished before I went to bed.

Marushka was the first novel I drafted using Scrivener and it really changed the way I drafted. The chapters are comparatively tiny (1000 to 1500 words so far) but there are a lot more of them (54).

I didn’t print Marushka out. I didn’t read it through or map it. As I review each chapter, I’m reading it through for the first time and mapping it as I go.

We’ll see if this is more or less productive than printing the draft out, and reading and mapping it out prior to my first run through.

I’m approaching this year of revision as an opportunity to experiment. My process is in continual evolution and, as I learn, from both success and failure, I’m seeing improvement in my process and in my writing overall.

I’m not looking for short cuts as much as efficiencies. I’m not doing any less work, I’m just doing it differently.

Again, we’ll see how it goes.

So here’s how the month breaks down.

MarchProgress

MarchProgress1

Want your own Writing and Revision Tracker? Visit http://jamieraintree.com/writing-revision-tracker

  • AoW – 7,334 words revised
  • Figments – 53,536 words revised
  • Marushka – 4,737 words revised
  • Blog – 8,436 words written.

I achieved 141% of my writing goal and 177% of my revision goal.

At this rate, I’ll finish the first run through on Marushka part way through May and move onto Reality Bomb and finally, Gerod and the Lions. Once I’ve got everything reviewed once, I’m going to take a break (which I tend to need in the summer months) and work on my outline for Mistress of Waves, the third book in my Ascension series and NaNo 2016 project 🙂

Then I’ll get back to deeper revisions until November arrives. I may not be able to conquer more than IoS/AoW. Maybe I make it as far as Figments.

Querying continues. I’ve not devoted much time to short fiction recently, though.

As far as conferences and conventions, I’m hitting Ad Astra (April 29-May 1), The Canadian Writers’ Summit (June 15-19, though I’ll only be attending June 17-19), and WorldCon, AKA MidAmericon II (August 17-21). I have paid my fees and reserved accommodation, but it’s all pending leave approval.

I’m holding my breath until I know it’s approved. Once it is, I’ll be able to book my flight to Kansas City.

My employer asks us to apply for leave every six months. We apply in March for the first half of the fiscal year, April to September, and in September for October through March. Approval is subject to seniority and operational demands (peak seasons).

I should know whether this first round of leave requests has been approved by the end of April.

My plans for fall and winter will have to wait on the approval of the second round of leave in October.

I’ll save those potential plans for a later update.

For the remainder of this month, I’ll be offering some Series discoveries posts (fall season, part two, mid-season follies, and anime) and at least one book review (Jane Ann McLachlan’s second Kia novel, The Salarian Desert Game).

As of Ad Astra, the convention reportage will resume.

So there’s lots of Writerly Goodness to look forward to, and of course, Tipsday and Thoughty Thursday curations will continue through the week.

In the meantime, break a bunch of pencils, you wonderful, creative people.

The Next Chapter