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Archive for the ‘Craft’ Category

no-dumping-safety-sign-pv13-500x500Whether you write long or short forms, one of the trickiest things about fiction (and some non-fiction) is conveying background information. Too little information loses the reader through confusion; too much loses the reader through sidetracking (or boredom).

Once again, Jami Gold comes through with some concrete suggestions (complete with examples) for finding the difficult balance between “Huh?” and “TMI!” The technique discussed in her July 4 blog post has to do with point of view, which is brilliant because readers experience stories through the characters. Even a story with an omniscient narrator connects with readers via the characters.

So take some notes and tuck them away for the next time you’re revising or beta-reading. As helpful as it is to know what’s wrong, it’s even more helpful to have an idea about how to make it better.

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Recycle001With Earth Day looming, it’s only fitting that Maja Todorovic of Business in Rhyme should remind us of the Three Rs of Writing:

Reduce: Take an old draft or something that doesn’t quite work; cut out all the stuff you don’t like; make something new out of what remains.

Reuse: Take old books, magazines, junk mail, grocery receipts – anything with words; cut or tear out words or phrases that strike you; arrange them into a poem, a paragraph, an outline, whatever.

Recycle: Find something you wrote a long time ago, when you were in a different state of mind; turn prose into poetry (or vice versa), rewrite it in a different voice, change 1st person to 3rd (or vice versa), revise the bejeezus out of it – use your old work to inspire something new.

(Reminder: There are still ten days left in National/Global Poetry Writing Month. It’s not too late to get your poetry on!)

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Irish novelist Catherine Ryan Howard (a.k.a. Catherine Caffeinated) is nearing the end of a blockbuster blogging bonanza to generate excitement for the North American release of her suspense/thriller, Distress Signals, on 2 February. Her blog is an excellent source of information and ideas about getting published as she has experience with both traditional and self-publishing.

Earlier this week she posted a thoughtful discourse about receiving and responding to editorial feedback, which led me to search the blog’s archives for previous posts about editing. To save you the trouble of a similar search, here’s an annotated list of relevant links.

Why hire an editor?
https://catherineryanhoward.com/2013/03/28/why-hire-an-editor/
Guest post that explains how editing is not about whether your writing is good but about making sure you put your very best work out there.

Structural editing for self-publishers
https://catherineryanhoward.com/2013/04/04/structural-editing-for-self-publishers/
Guest post with useful information about structural (also called developmental) editing and suggestions for how to stay on budget without forgoing necessary feedback.

Copy-editors: what they really do
https://catherineryanhoward.com/2013/10/15/copy-editors-what-they-really-do/
Guest post that describes copy-editing as both comprehensive and indispensable in preparing a manuscript for publication.

Proofreading explained
https://catherineryanhoward.com/2013/10/17/proofreading-explained/
Guest post that explains how proofreading differs from other stages of manuscript preparation, with tips about ways to make the most of this highly specific editorial function.

How do you know when editorial feedback is right?
https://catherineryanhoward.com/2017/01/23/how-do-you-know-when-editorial-feedback-is-right/
A frank discussion of the joys and agonies of the editing process.

Be sure to look through the comments that follow these posts as well, because they contain pertinent questions and further discussion.

Here’s to always putting forth the very best work we can!

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New year, old story

dec-2016It’s a new year, but I want to pass along some ideas from the tail end of the old year. ECWG member Tom Zumwalt writes about writing on his blog, and his 13 December 2016 post contains some wonderful observations.

The image of plot as a river really resonates – it may be slow or fast, murky or clear, winding or direct, filled with obstacles, branches, pirates, or crocodiles. It carries the characters (and ideally the reader) to a place they weren’t before, and nothing is exactly the same when they arrive as it was when they departed. This can be a terrific tool for mapping out your plot or for assessing what you’ve already written: do we get lost in that tributary? Are there too many rapids, or not enough? Does the whole thing move along so slowly that everyone abandons ship and drowns out of boredom?

But the river – the plot – is simply a vehicle for the characters. Without them, we never embark on the journey. They are the only reason we care about the river. With the right characters, even the most placid river will not be boring, because they will do stupid or brave or terrifying or outrageous things on the way, and we will be riveted.

So heed Tom’s call: create characters we cannot look away from and send them down the river.

http://writefromthegitgo.blogspot.com/2016/12/look-out-rock.html

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November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

“So what does that have to do with me?” you ask. “I write poetry/essays/greeting cards/short stories/fortune cookies/memoir/cookbooks/etc.”

Point well taken. But you are a writer, correct? And people all around the world are gearing up to engage in a massive frenzy of writing, creating all sorts of activities and events and infrastructure to support the work of writing for 30 whole days.

So drop the novel bit. Drop the national bit, too. Let November be your WriMo, your Writing Month. Write whatever you want. Write something different every day, if you want. Be part of that river of creativity that is about to be unleashed.

Just write.

wrimo-short-scroll

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Now that the weather here seems to have settled into an unmistakably summer pattern, it’s easy to lose energy and momentum. I don’t know about you, but the heat just saps all my energy, mental as well as physical. So I was quite happy when a post from Carol Tice (of Make a Living Writing) popped up in my reader with the subtitle, “18 Ways to Jump-Start Your Creativity.”

http://www.makealivingwriting.com/original-18-ideas-jump-start-creativity/

No matter what kind of writing you do or where in the process you are, something on this list is certain to breath a little fresh air into your work. Number 11 (Collect and compare styles) and Number 15 (Copy and substitute) appealed to me right away, as I’ve been trying to do more reading of late.

Whichever of these suggestions might speak to you, don’t be afraid to modify them to meet your goals or needs – after all, getting creative with the list is a perfect way to jump-start your creativity.

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Fifteen days of Lexington Poetry Month have passed; fifteen days remain. That’s plenty of time to take part in wonderful poetry events happening all over town this month and even write some poetry of your own.

To give yourself a leg up, try this: make a list of five things you’ve seen in the past 24 hours. Write a poem (or short story, book chapter, flash, whatever) that includes each of those five things. (Derived from a prompt posted by Bianca Spriggs on the Accents Publishing Blog.)

Happy writing!

 

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