- Solving problems. Worrisome plot issues, tricky scenes, and questionable threads can be examined and resolved when we're not staring at the computer screen.
- Choreographing future scenes. What will be the beginning, middle, and ending of the scene? What will be the goal and conflict of the characters? These details can be worked out away from the writer's chair.
- Collecting character quirks. When we're out and about among living, breathing people, we have access to limitless character traits worth stealing.
- Gathering setting details. Parties, ceremonies, restaurants, malls, theme parks. These events and places are ripe with setting information. If we keep paper and pen with us at all times, we can scratch down sensory details for later use.
- Ideas for the next project. Ideas swirl through our heads when we're performing menial tasks away from our manuscripts. All we need to do is reach out and grab them, saving them for when we're ready to plot the next book.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Writing when we're not writing
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Inspiration for Writers--5th Grader Style
- The cotton ball is to remind you to use soft words with each other.
- The chocolate Kiss is to comfort you when you are feeling sad.
- The sticker is to remind you that you should stick together and help each other.
- The penny is to remind you that you are valuable and very special.
- The rubber band will remind you to stretch the possibilities and try new things.
- The star is to remind you to shine and always do your best.
- The tissue is to remind you to help dry someone's tears.
- The toothpick is to remind you to pick out quality friends along the way.
- The eraser is to remind you that we all make mistakes--it's ok to start over.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Is your story worth saving?
- Beta readers. We're too close to our own work, and it becomes impossible to separate the "what were you thinking?" moments from the "wow, this is good" moments. Plotting & pacing issues, inconsistencies, and unnatural dialog might become white noise to the writer, but beta readers will point this out. A life saver indeed.
- Patience. This is the tough part. I want my story to be perfect right now. Levine reminds us that no book is perfect, even those currently sitting on shelves (although some are darn close). And there's no rule that says the 5th, 7th, or 18th draft must be the draft. If we're patient, the true story, the one that was meant to be told, will come to fruition.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
CRACK the CODE Winner!
Winning Code: 84-12-88
Congrats goes to Sarah Templeton who successfully CRACKED the CODE at The Bookshelf Muse, winning a copy of PLOT & STRUCTURE (Bell)! Please contact me as soon as possible so I can get your prize to you! Thanks everyone for playing along & helping to celebrate a great writing community. :)
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Must writers be natural storytellers?
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Cool Critique Prizes!
- 12 generous writers.
- A formidable steel vault packed with prizes.
- A time locked sensor.
- And you...with a code.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Writers--appreciate your growth
- Adverbs--replace or delete
- Avoid info dumps
- Don't begin each sentence or paragraph with the same word
- Restructure clunky sentences
- Avoid beginning the story or scene too soon
- Each scene must have a purpose
- Find and replace addictive words
- When reading other books, pay attention to story structure
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Revision--The Long View
- It makes you a better writer. With each revision session you learn more about your craft, and the next time you write you'll write stronger.
- It marks you as a professional. Editors and agents who see your work ethic will be more certain of your ability to produce good books.
- It builds confidence and encourages you to stretch your horizons.
- It is its own reward. When you've put in good, solid revision time, you rest easier at the end of the day.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
What to look for in an agent--guest post by Raquel Byrnes
A killer strikes. A love rekindled. A life-altering choice.
PURPLE KNOT by Raquel Byrnes
Welcome, writers. Today I'm honored to feature a guest post by author Raquel Byrnes, whose book PURPLE KNOT just released June 3rd. Woo hoo!
Raquel tackles the subject, "What to look for in an agent." Take it away, Raquel!
What to Look for In an Agent
Agents are people and as such, they vary from micro-managers to the other end of the spectrum. One thing to help you decide what you to look for in an agent is to look at yourself and how you work.
- Do you need hand holding?
- Do you hope for a movie-esque relationship where they call you up at night with a great idea?
- Do you see an agent as a sort of mentor or teacher?
- Do you want them to help you with your manuscript because it needs an overhaul?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you don’t need an agent. You need more time. You see, agents take you on spec. That is, they don’t make any money unless they sell your book. So when looking for an agent, make sure that YOU’RE what THEY’RE looking for in a client.
Once you feel you’re ready to query, there are a few things to keep in mind that will help you separate the honest, reputable agents from the scoundrels.
- Agents do not charge you money. Period. Not for a reading fee or a submission fee or anything else.
- They do not say they will take you if you use their editorial services. Reputable agents with connections to an editing service let you know about that relationship up front. And whether or not you use their service should not affect your submission with them.
- You can check their track record on Publisher’s Marketplace or similar sites. If they are successful and have been in the business a while, then it will show.
- If their commission is outrageous, more than 10-15% domestic, or they penalize you for being new by charging a higher commission, then walk away.
Where do you find a great agent?
One of the best places is to meet them face to face at a conference. My own agent has said that he finds 80% of his clients during sessions at conferences. This is a wonderful way to dialogue with an agent about what to expect, how they handle client questions, and what level of interaction you are looking for.
Websites like Query Tracker, a free database of literary agents and publishers, is a fantastic place to start when you’re ready to submit your query. Finding an agent is a long process, but worth it when you connect with the right one. As a wise person once pointed out…publication isn’t a selection process, it’s a survival process.
Writers, please feel free to stop by and visit Raquel during her blog tour, happening now through July 4th. Click here for more information about PURPLE KNOT, including the book trailer and an excerpt.
Raquel, I think I speak for everyone when I say, "Congratulations!"
Raquel Byrnes lives in Southern, California with her husband of sixteen years and their six children. She considers inspirational fiction a wonderful way to minister to others. She writes romantic suspense with an edge-your-seat pace. Her first book the Shades of Hope Series, Purple Knot, releases on June 3rd from White Rose Publishing. You can visit her at her website: www.raquelbyrnes.com and her writing blog, Edge of Your Seat Romance.