Monday, July 6

The Do-It-Yourself Writers’ Retreat

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Writers’ retreats can be an inspirational and motivating experience, but not every writer has the money or freedom to attend one. But with a little planning and creativity, you can create the writing retreat experience yourself in your home or close by. Hold a solo retreat, or host one for a few writer friends for a more "retreat-y" experience.

For a do-it-yourself retreat, the goal is to create time and space to write, inspire, and motivate yourself. Avoid anything that's going to hurt that goal, and create something you're comfortable with where you'll be able to thrive.

Sunday, July 5

Writing Prompt: The Holiday Chain Story

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

For some holiday weekend fun, this week’s prompt is a chain story! I’ll write down the first line, someone else will comment and build off that line. Next commenter will build off that line, and so on.

In the event of two commenters posting at the same time and sending the story in different directions, just pick the line you like best, or try to incorporate both if can.

This probably wasn’t what the founding fathers had in mind.

Share in the comments!

Friday, July 3

Oh, Woe Is Me: Giving Your Characters a Goal

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week's Refresher Friday takes an updated look at the importance of character goals and how to find the right ones for your characters.

I've talked before about a few key elements in plotting, and one of them was characters. Characters drive plot, because they want something badly enough to act to get it.

What they choose to do is going to create the plot. Why they choose to do it will create the stakes. Together, characters, stakes, and plot make readers want to read on. I've found understanding the why make it's a whole lot easier to figure out the what.

At the start of a scene, the character will be facing a problem. It might be the core of the story idea, or the first in a long line of things planned to resolve that conflict. They'll be facing a choice about that problem, because what they do needs to advance the plot, and choices are a great way to do that.

Thursday, July 2

How to Save a Bundle on Editing Costs – Without Sacrificing Quality

By Jodie Renner, editor & author; @JodieRennerEd

Part of the Indie Author Series

We indie authors need all the help we can get to produce a polished product worthy of competing well in the market place. Once you’ve revised your novel or short story a few times and have incorporated any input from trusted beta readers, it’s a good idea (essential, really) to get your manuscript edited by a respected freelance fiction editor, preferably one who reads and edits your genre.

Below you’ll find lots of advice for significantly reducing your editing costs, with additional links at the end to concrete tips for approaching the revision process and for reducing your word count without losing any of the good stuff.

Wednesday, July 1

Why "Start With the Action" Messes Up So Many Writers

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

If I took a poll for the most common writing advice, “start with the action” would make the list. Which it should, as it’s great advice. But it’s also like “show, don’t tell.” We know we ought to do it, but we don’t always know how, and those four words don’t help.

This can be especially hard on new writers, because they can feel like they’re doing everything right and not getting anywhere with their writing. “I do start with action,” they cry. “Can’t you see that car barreling off that cliff there? What do I have to do, blow up a planet?”

Maybe it’s the movie industry and all those summer blockbusters, but say “action scene” and most people are going to envision something Michael Bay-ish—car chases, fights, explosions, people in dire straits. Action equates to people in crisis, so “start with the action” often equates to “put characters in crisis.”

Tuesday, June 30

How to Punch Up Your Action Scenes

By Alex Limberg, @RidethePen

Part of the How They Do It Series

I'm a huge fan of action, both in movies and in novels. I love when things are happening fast and you don't know where it might go or what might happen next. But crafting a solid action scene takes skill, and a breakneck pace isn't always the best route to take. Alex Limberg visits the lecture hall today to share some tips on writing great action scenes.

Alex is the author of Ride the Pen, a creative writing blog dissecting famous writers (works, not bodies); his blog offers detailed writing prompts. Make the dynamics of your plot, description, character and dialogue terrific with his free e-book (download here) about “44 Key Questions” to test your story. Alex has worked as a copywriter in a Hamburg advertising agency and with camera and lighting in the movie business. He lives in Austria and has previously lived in Los Angeles and Madrid.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Take it away Alex...

Monday, June 29

Are You Looking for a Critique Group or Partner?

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

It's Crit Time Again!

A few years ago, I started a Yahoo Group called "Janice Hardy's Critique Connection" to help writers connect with like-minded folks looking for critique groups or partners. It's designed to help people find long-term, quality writing partners, not just places you can toss up your work and get quick feedback.

It's been six months since the last call, and I've been getting a lot of questions about critique groups again so it's a good time to re-open it for members. This is probably going to turn into an every-six-months thing.

Sunday, June 28

Writing Prompt: What’s Not Being Said?

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week’s prompt brushes up on our subtext skills.

Write a conversation between two people where their outward dialog isn’t what they’re really talking about, or what they actually want to say.

Share in the comments!

Saturday, June 27

Real Life Diagnostics: Does This Mystery Opening Work

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: Three

Please Note: As of today, RLD slots are booked through July 25. (There will be no RLD next week due to the holiday)

This week’s questions:

I always heard start with the action and since this is a mystery, I think the genre probably dictates that a body be found. I'm not sure if I have the right balance of action and background. Does the scene draw the reader in? Or do I need to bring more of the setting (a large, southern college) which will almost become another character in the story?

Market/Genre: Mystery

On to the diagnosis…