Tuesday, October 13

The Revision Decision

By Lucienne Diver, @LucienneDiver

Part of the How They Do It Series

I'm a big fan of revisions. I love seeing a rough draft of a novel blossom into something deep and compelling (and cringe when the opposite happens). Revisions aren't everyone's favorite thing, but they're a critical part of any writer's process. Lucienne Diver takes the podium today to share more thoughts on why this is so important.

Lucienne Diver is the author of the popular Vamped series of young adult novels (think Clueless meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and the Latter-Day Olympians contemporary fantasy series, featuring a heroine who can, quite literally, stop men in their tracks. Long and Short Reviews gave it her favorite pull-quote of all times, "a delightful urban fantasy, a clever mix of Janet Evanovich and Rick Riordan." Trickster Blood, a prequel story to the Latter-Day Olympians series is a **free** read, just out, and the fifth novel, BLOOD HUNT, is forthcoming October 27th. Other series titles: BAD BLOOD, CRAZY IN THE BLOOD, RISE OF THE BLOOD and BATTLE FOR THE BLOOD.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Indie Bound

Take it away Lucienne...

Monday, October 12

NaNoWriMo Prep: Planning Your Novel’s Beginning

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week, let's look at planning your novel's beginning. If you're writing a 50K-word novel (even if there are plans to flesh it out to longer after the first rough draft), your opening is going to run about 12,500 words, or roughly 25% of the book. If you're doing a half novel, you'll be around 25K words, maybe fewer if your word count is under 100K. Just look at your target word count and do the math. (And bear in mind these are all general guidelines, not hard-and-fast rules)

Within this opening you’ll find:

1. A likable or compelling protagonist
2. An interesting initial problem to solve
3. What life is like for the protagonist
4. The introduction of the other major characters in the novel
5. The inciting event
6. The beginning’s crisis that triggers the protagonist to act toward resolving the core conflict of the novel

Sunday, October 11

Writing Prompt: The Skill Builder: Crafting Unique Dialogue

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week’s prompt focuses on an exercise designed to work on a particular skill or technique, such as a POV exercise or character builder. Today’s skill: Dialogue.

Turn the below description into a scene using mostly dialogue to differentiate the speakers. You may use tags and limited stage direction, but try to use more dialog than narrative, and make the individual voices specific to the characters.

Three people are discussing an upcoming event. One person is nervous about it, another is excited about it, and the third person wished they didn’t have to attend. Use three different ages for the characters (one young, one middle-aged, one elderly) and a mix of genders. Set the scene in an outdoor setting. All other details are up to you.

Share in the comments!

Saturday, October 10

Real Life Diagnostics: Would You Keep Reading This Short Story?

Critique By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Real Life Diagnostics is a weekly column that studies a snippet of a work in progress for specific issues. Readers are encouraged to send in work with questions, and I diagnose it on the site. It’s part critique, part example, and designed to help the submitter as well as anyone else having a similar problem.

If you're interested in submitting to Real Life Diagnostics, please check out these guidelines.

Submissions currently in the queue: Two 

Please Note: As of today, RLD slots are booked through October 24.

This week’s questions:

1. Am I starting the story to early? Right now it goes: Fire extinguished, call from ex-wife to place urgency on time, little girl confronts him. Would it be better to start at the moment the girl asks him to save the teddy bear?

2. Since most of my opening is narration I tried to inject some of the character's voice in the opening line so it's not a complete surprise when internalization starts (at the end of my submission; when he nudges his helmet up off his forehead). Is this a good idea? Also, is it ok for narration to sound clean and concise while voice is more casual?

3. Overall does this opening work/ would you read on?

Market/Genre: Short Story

On to the diagnosis…

Friday, October 9

You Look Familiar: Four Tips on Adding a New Twist to an Old Plot

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week's Refresher Friday takes another look at ways to turn a well-used idea into something fresh and original. Enjoy!

There are more contradictions in publishing than words, and one of the more frustrating ones a trying-to-get-published writer faces is the old, "I want something fresh, but the same as what's selling" conundrum. But how do you know what's fresh and what's the same old, same old? And harder still, how do you put that fresh face on your "been-there-written-that" story?

Any plot can be made fresh with a new twist. It's our jobs as writers to put the brain cells to work and think up those twists. It also helps to remember that many well-loved genres or story types, are fun because the reader can see the end coming a mile away. My love of underdog sports movies is a classic example. I know the underdogs are going to win, but I'm on the edge of my seat anyway, and I cheer when they do win. The journey with new characters I can root for is what makes this type of story fun for me.

Thursday, October 8

Prestigious Institutions: Always In Your Best Interest?

By Julie Musil, @juliemusil

Part of the Indie Author Series  

I’m reading a fascinating book--David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell. The subtitle says a whole lot: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. Yes, it tells the familiar story of David and Goliath, but it takes a different approach. It tells how the very thing that makes a giant a giant might also be their weakness.

In one chapter, the author tells the story of the Impressionist artists who birthed Impressionism. Wikipedia describes Impressionism as “a 19th-century art movement that originated with a group of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence during the 1870s and 1880s.”

Wednesday, October 7

Just Say No to Writing (When You Need to).

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

There are times in a writer’s life when writing needs to take a back seat to life. We have obligations, crises, or just too much on our plates to deal with and something has to give. Because writing is so important to us, we often feel guilty for setting our work aside, and push ourselves beyond what’s smart (or comfortable) to maintain our writer’s schedule.

For some, we’re up against hard deadlines and we have no choice but to struggle through it. An editor or agent needs our manuscripts, we have a release coming up, or we have events we must attend and prepare for. Or, writing is our main source of income. Much as we might wish we could, putting writing on hold is not an option.

Tuesday, October 6

Exercises To Help You Create FICTION not FRICTION

By Bonnie Neubauer, @NeuBon

Part of the How They Do It Series

Every writer gets stuck at some point. Sometimes our writing stalls because we can't figure out a plot point, other times our lives have gotten complicated and it blocks our creative flow. Whatever stops us, we lose our creative momentum and the words fail us. Bonnie Neubauer visits the lecture hall today to share some tips on getting past these sticky moments and jump-starting our writing again.

Bonnie is the author of four writing prompt books: The Write-Brain Workbook Revised & Expanded, Take Ten for Writers, 303 Writing Prompts, and The Write-Brain Workbook (original). She is also the creator of Story Spinner, a hand-held and digital tool for generating millions of creative writing exercises. You can try it for free at www.storyspinner.com. On her website, www.bonnieneubauer.com, you will also be able to download more sample pages from her writing books to keep your FRICTION at bay.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound

Take it away Bonnie...

Monday, October 5

NaNoWriMo Prep: Planning Your Novel

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy
It's that time of year again!

Writers all over the world are gearing up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), so it's time to break out the prep guides from the archives for those about to dive into the writing frenzy. If you're not doing NaNo, this is a good overview of what goes into a novel, so you'll likely find some helpful tips as well. And if you're looking for a handy guide to the whole novel-planning process, I suggest taking a peek of my book, Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure, with ten self-guided workshops and over 100 exercises designed to guide you from idea to a solid novel plan.

This week, let’s focus on the overall plotting of your novel, so the rest of your planning month will be productive. If you decided to do NaNo, I gather you already have an inkling of the novel you want to write. If you don’t, then I’d suggest starting here for some brainstorming ideas  or looking at the bigger story picture here before diving into today’s article.

Sunday, October 4

Writing Prompt: There's No Way That Would Actually Work.

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy 

This week’s prompt is a free write, so take the line below and run with it. It doesn’t have to turn into anything, just let the words flow and see where they go.

Continue this opening sentence:

There’s no way that would actually work.

Write as much or as little as you’d like.