Tuesday, September 1

How to Be Your Own (First) Manuscript Doctor

By Nancy Raines Day

Part of the How They Do It Series

Being able to look at your writing critically is a valuable skill. Some of us come by it naturally, but most of us need practice or guidance to know what to look for to turn our first drafts into final drafts. Nancy Raines Day visits the lecture hall today, to offer that guidance on how to be our own book doctors.

In addition to authoring numerous children's books, Nancy writes for educational publishers and consults on picture book texts for members of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Her first children's book, The Lion's Whiskers: A Ethiopian Folktale, was hailed by the New York Times as one of five notable picture books of the year. She earned a BA in journalism from the University of Michigan and an MA in literacy journalism from Syracuse University. A member of the Authors Guild, Day lives with her husband and three cats on St. Simons Island in Georgia. Nancy is celebrating the "book birthday" for her hot-off-the-press picture book, What in the World? Numbers in Nature today! Learn more about her books: Bookshelf: By the Numbers and at Simon & Schuster.

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

Take it away Nancy...

Monday, August 31

Fix Your Reader’s Pet Peeves: Stereotypes and Characters

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Several weeks ago I asked everyone to share their reading pet peeves, and you did (thanks, guys!). It was interesting to see how many similar annoyances cropped up, as well as some I’d never have considered.

For the first installment of the “Fix Your Reader’s Pet Peeves” series, let’s tackle stereotypes and characters, as this was a biggie for nearly every responder.

Although there were multiple specific peeves, one thing was very clear—poorly crafted characters bugged a lot of readers, especially when writers rely on cliches and stereotypes to create them. Since characters are the reasons most readers read, this can kill your novel. Let’s look at some ways to avoid creating bad characters.

Sunday, August 30

Writing Prompt: Going Up?

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week’s prompt is a photo prompt. Write whatever comes to mind, be it a description, a story, or even a poem.

Write something inspired by this photo. 


Share in the comments!

Saturday, August 29

Real Life Diagnostics: Are These Native Words Confusing?

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: Five

Please Note: As of today, RLD slots are booked through October 3.

This week’s questions:

1. Does this introduction of my third viewpoint character make it sound like the story is starting over again or like a new story is starting? [Something that I'm obviously trying to avoid as I first introduce each of the three POV characters. Note: Imani, the second POV character introduced, is mentioned in this first sentence. But the first POV character introduced, Longo, lives in a different locale and their stories don't cross over until much later.]

2. Are the words from the character's native language and the names of minor characters confusing or clunky in this passage?

Market/Genre: YA Historical Fantasy

On to the diagnosis…

Friday, August 28

Upcoming Writing Workshops From Janice Hardy (North Georgia and Seattle Areas)

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

It's a fun and busy fall this year, and I'm presenting three workshops in September and October. If you're in the North Georgia (Cumming/Dahlonega) or Seattle, WA areas and are looking for some nice and meaty workshops to dig into, give one (or all) of these try.

The workshops are all half days, and include: Get Ready for NaNoWriMo! Novel Planning (also open to those who just want a fun novel planning workshop even if they aren't doing NaNo); Bringing Your Novel to Life, which covers tips on various writing techniques and tips; and How Point of View Can Improve Your Writing, an in-depth workshop on one of the most powerful tools in your writing toolbox.

Thursday, August 27

Fool's Gold: Why You Should Ignore Trends and Write What You Want

By Dario Ciriello

Part of the Indie Author Series

Drinking the Kool-Aid 

The myth that anyone can predict what will sell and what won’t may be the greatest single factor that traditional publishing and Hollywood studios have in common. Of course, they’re drinking the same Kool-Aid, a shimmering, banknote-green variety especially favored by the bean-counters and marketers whose influence in the creative world has grown out of all proportion to their usefulness. And—if you’ll forgive a madly muddled metaphor—the sooner writers see that this emperor not only has no clothes but was never really an emperor in the first place, the sooner they’ll throw off their shackles and find true happiness.

Wednesday, August 26

Kill Your Darlings—Unless You Can Give Them Goals

By Bonnie Randall 

Special Guest Author 

We all have those scenes, right? We love ‘em, but they really don’t serve a justifiable purpose. I’ve had many, but am considering one I really loved; it lived in my notebook almost since the conception of my novel. It was one of those ‘Aw, that’s so sweet’ scenes, one that made my tummy all a-flutter.

Except fluttering tummies don’t exactly turn pages. They just sort of…well, sit there.

Tuesday, August 25

Sleeping With the Enemy: Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone

By Amy Christine Parker, @amychristinepar

Part of the How They Do It Series

I'm delighted to welcome Amy Christine Parker back to the lecture hall today, to share a story that ought to help writers who are struggling with a book that wants to kill them. Just about every writer I know (myself included) has faced this at some point, and Amy has some great advice on dealing with it--as well as preparing for it.

Amy is the author of the critically acclaimed young adult novel, GATED, a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers and a nominee for the 2016 Sequoyah Award as well as its sequel, ASTRAY, which was released in August 2014. Currently Amy is working on her third book for Penguin Random House Children’s Books, SMASH and GRAB, which is scheduled to release in May 2016 and ORPHAN CITY for Adaptive Studios releasing late 2016. She writes full-time from her home near Tampa, Florida, where she lives with her husband, their two daughters, and one ridiculously fat cat.

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

Take it away Amy...

Monday, August 24

Don’t Know How to End Your Scene? Here’s Why.

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Last month, I had a Real Life Diagnostic question on not knowing how to end the scene. Coincidentally, a few days after that, I ran into the same problem with my own WIP. Luckily, I knew right away what that meant.

I didn’t really know what the goal of the scene was.

The nature of any scene is to illustrate some aspect of the story and move the plot to the next turning point. This is why scenes have goals—to drive the plot forward. Other things can and do happen in a scene, but at the core is that plot-driving goal and the struggle to achieve it (goal + conflict).

Sunday, August 23

Writing Prompt: The Back-to-School Chain Story

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week’s prompt is a chain story! I’ll give you the first line, and someone else comments and builds off that line. Next commenter will build off that line, and so on. With students all over going back to school the last few weeks (or upcoming weeks for some), let try something academically themed.

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.

No one would believe it, but the teacher was absolutely…

Let the fun begin.

Share in the comments!