Saturday, July 12, 2014

Real Life Diagnostics: Turning Infodumps Into Drama

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 blog. 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: Three (+ two resubmits) 

Please Note: As of today, RLD slots are booked through August 2. The Sunday diagnostics will shorten that some if my schedule permits, but I wanted everyone to be aware of the submission to posting delay.

This week’s questions:

This opening paragraph seems so different to others I have read, is it too informative? Should I be more vague or even cryptic? As an opening paragraph can it work?


Market/Genre: Young Readers Historical Fantasy

On to the diagnosis…

Friday, July 11, 2014

Wanted: One Character Willing to Work With No Questions Asked

Molly Quinn, the perfect Aylin
By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week's Refresher Friday takes a revised peek at my character-developing process, with a few added tips on how to adapt this to your own process. Enjoy!

For a lot of writers, the character comes to them first. They hear this person’s voice in their head, dream about them, and then they find their story. For me, it’s different. I usually find the problem first, then find someone whose life I can make miserable.

Because of this, my characters rarely start a novel fully developed. I usually only know the bare bones of their past, how they got to be where they are, what they like and dislike. The plot is the crucible I toss them into to get to know them. How they react to problems is what tells me what I need to know to write them.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Basics of a Social Media Launch Party

By Jordan McCollum, @JordanMcCollum

Part of the Indie Authors Series

For independent authors, launch parties are fun, but online and social media launch parties can be much more effective at getting the word out—especially when you team up with other authors.

To throw a social media launch party, you need a social media presence: a Facebook page, a Twitter account, etc. Much like a real-world party, you need to pick a date and time and advertise it, spreading the word as widely as possible, preferably at least a week in advance. I put a note about the party in my blog tour for the book the week before the party.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Having Trouble Plotting Forward? Try Plotting Backward

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

For some writers, beginnings are a breeze. They know exactly where their story starts, but the plot gets a little fuzzy the closer it gets to the end.

Other writers know exactly how their story will end, but have trouble finding the right place to start to get them there. They slog through beginning after beginning until they stumble across the right one.

If your beginning is giving you plotting headaches, try jumping ahead and working backward.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

5 Essential Questions to Ask When Writing Your Protagonist

By Bridget McNulty, @bridgetmcnulty

Part of the How They Do It Series


No matter what your writing process, at some point you're going to have to develop your protagonist. Please help me welcome Bridget McNulty to the lecture hall today, to share five questions that will help you figure out who this all-important character really is.

Bridget published her first novel, Strange Nervous Laughter, in South Africa in 2007 (with Struik) and in the USA in 2009 (with Macmillan). She has just completed her second novel, Life in six courses. She's also the founder of Now Novel, an easy to use motivational online writing course.

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

Take it away Bridget...

Monday, July 7, 2014

Are You Showing or Telling Your Internalization?

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

From the mailbag...
Do you have a post on showing while writing internalization? I'm having a hard time with this and was hoping you could help. Thanks.
When writers worry about showing, not telling, we typically think about the descriptions--the explanations of backstory, infodumps, and the mini-history lessons that "tell" readers what they need to know. But telling can also occur in a character's internalization.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Ready, Set...Where's the Action? Keeping Informative Scenes Tense

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week's Refresher Friday takes an updated look at actions scenes and how to make the most of them. Enjoy!

You hear it all the time. Make it active. Start with the action. Make sure your characters act. But we've all written scenes where we have to convey a lot of information and there is no action to speak of. We know we can't just flop the info out there and get away with it, so what can a writer do? How do you convey all that information and still keep the scene tense?

I like the layer technique.

On the first draft, I just write what needs to be said and don't worry that it's probably a pretty boring scene. It's critical information, and what matters at this stage is getting it in there.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Seek and Destroy: Using MS Word’s “Find and Replace” to Save Your Sanity

By Dario Ciriello

Part of the Indie Authors Series


You know the problem: you have a story or novel with a lot of fancy formatting in it, and when it comes to prepping it for print or digital publication, you find that scores, even hundreds, of items will need reformatting. A novel, perhaps, which you’d written for submission to agents and publishers following the old industry protocol of underlining words to indicate italics; or—as has happened to me more than once—a long ms. in which some of the quotes are curly and others straight. You reach for the bottle...

Fortunately, help is at hand. Using MS Word’s Find and Replace feature in conjunction with nonprinting character codes, you can quickly and easily carry out global fixes on just about any formatting problem you’re likely to face.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

How POV Can Solve Your Writing Troubles

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Pulling from the archives today, cause it's just one of those weeks. Enjoy! 

I’m a firm believer that understanding point of view (POV) can cure most common writing problems, and help writers avoid the newbie mistakes we all stumble over at the start. It's a versatile tool that does more than just help us pick which pronoun to use. It allows us to put ourselves in someone else’s head, empathize with them, and see the world through their eyes even if that world is very different from our own. It’s what lets us be storytellers and not just someone who plops details on a page in a logical order.
Here are five common trouble spots and how POV can help fix them.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Should You Follow the Siren Song of a New Idea?

By Dori Kleber

At some point, just about every writer is tempted by a new idea, and many succumb to its seductive ways--sometimes with less-than-stellar results. Please help me welcome Dori Kleber to the lecture hall today, to share some thoughts on those shiny new ideas, and whether or not you should chase after them.

Dori is the author of the picture book MORE-IGAMI, forthcoming from Candlewick Press. She's been writing for more than twenty years, first as a journalist, and later as a business copywriter. Today, she writes picture books and middle-grade fiction.

Take it away Dori...