Monthly Archives March 2013

Great Stuff for Writers, March 28 & 29, 2013

Guess everyone wore themselves out with all that Great Stuff they wrote earlier in the week. That leaves us today with a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT (as you can see below), a good piece on effective dialogue, and one more piece on movies, and how books become movies.

ANNOUNCEMENT

Great Stuff is changing again. As I get closer to the launch of my debut science fiction novel, The Eternity Plague, I’ve come to realize I need to start writing more about it. Also, I’ve been neglecting my Critique Technique posts, and I need to reactivate them too.

So, starting next Monday, Great Stuff for Writers will switch to a once-a-week format...

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Great Stuff for Writers, March 26 & 27, 2013

Turn on your Observer to watch out for coincidences, more bad ebook deals (this one from Amazon, if you can believe it), and whether ebook gift cards are a good idea for your book. There’s all that and more in today’s Great Stuff.

CRAFT

Barbara O’Neal (@barbaraoneal) writes about Cultivating The Observer, that part of our writer selves that does just two things: notice and record. Notice as much as possible of the details around us, and record them for later use in our writing. Her Writer Unboxed piece is full of examples and illustrations of The Observer at work. Is yours?

What a coincidence! Well, no, not really, but Katie Weiland’s (@KMWeiland) vlog about Your Secret Weapon Against Story Coincidences might just come at a time when it’s just what you needed to read. Or not...

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Great Stuff for Writers, March 23-25, 2013

Just a light reading list for you today but of course every one’s got value: the keys to writing in general and short stories and screenplays in particular, the role of the reader, and how to work well with a graphic artist. It’s all Great Stuff. Enjoy!

CRAFT

If you’ve ever wondered How to Write a Short Story (and who hasn’t, if you’ve tried?), James Scott Bell’s (@jamesscottbell) piece on The Kill Zone is an excellent discussion of what makes a short story different from a longer work, besides length (duh!). The answer his “boys in the basement” came up with after a friend asked Bell the question, is that “a short story is about one shattering moment,” which can be internal (emotional, psychological) or external. So can’t a novel also have a shattering moment? Of course...

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Great Stuff for Writers, March 21 & 22, 2013

Variety in your writing life. Rachelle Gardner advocates it and we’ve got it: craft-wise, business-wise, life-wise, even wise-cracking-wise. Great—even wise—tools for your toolkit.

CRAFT

Allison Vesterfelt (@allyvest) guest posts on Jeff Goins’ blog with the question, Is Your Writing Timeless? Yes, she really does mean, is your writing dealing with issues that will still matter a long time from now? Now, that seems like a tall order, a task reserved for “literary” fiction and not for the other genres that are too often dismissed as “mere entertainment.” Yet non-literary fiction can certainly deal with questions of how people deal with big issues in their lives—mortal or psychological danger, loneliness, fear, conflict—without descending into plotless maundering...

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Great Stuff for Writers, March 19 & 20, 2013

Holy hotcakes, Batman! Check out the Great Stuff we’ve got today! The first three posts qualify as Extra-Great Stuff in my mind, and the others are none too shabby themselves. Check ‘em out.

CRAFT

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s excellent Your Story Opening: Shock vs. Seduction on Jane Friedman’s blog opens today’s Great Stuff, and what an opening it is. This excerpt from her book Fine-Tuning Fiction actually starts with a brief discussion of pace and who drives it—antagonist early, protagonist later—then gets into those two types of openings. The shock opening grabs the reader’s interest and attention right away...

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Great Stuff for Writers, March 16-18, 2013

Primarily a business focus in today’s articles but Kristen Lamb’s funny piece on not being a social media tools tool is a nice counterpoint.

CRAFT

James Scott Bell’s (@jamesscottbell) The Perils of Pure Pantsing on The Kill Zone could also be titled “In Praise of Structure.” Note that that’s structure with a u, not stricture with an i. Late in the post, Bell writes that structure “helps readers feel what you want them to feel” (italics his). I compare structure to the bare scaffold of a building. It defines the general shape but says nothing about where the doors and windows will be, the number, shape, or size of the rooms, or what the exterior will look like. That’s where the architect’s art comes in...

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Great Stuff for Writers, March 14 & 15, 2013

It’s the Ides of March—beware! It’s about to be St. Patty’s Day—rejoice! (But don’t drive afterwards.) Some big news about Google Reader, in case you hadn’t heard, along with our usual supply of Great Stuff.

CRAFT

I’ll let you in on a secret. When Lisa Cron (@lisacron) asks, Does Your Protagonist Have Amnesia?, she’s really asking about you, not your hero(ine). Why? Because, she says, that character’s past is her prologue, what leads to the change she needs to make over the course of the story. If you’ve forgotten to develop the critical details of that past (and not the 1,000-question list of irrelevant details some writing teachers advocate), you won’t know the how and why of the past that makes that change critical...

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Critique Technique, part 1 of many

INTRODUCTION: Several years ago I started a series of posts on how to critique other writers’ work (and your own) on the Cochise Writers blog. Now that I have my own web site, I’ll be moving those posts here, to the Critique Technique page, in the order they were originally published. Herewith, without further editing, is the first post of that series.

A while back several members of this august group (come to think of it, we just might have started this in August–of last year) came up with a list of questions we could/should ask ourselves as we were reading each others’ work. We’ve shared it with other members of the Cochise Writers but why keep the good stuff to ourselves? (And besides, the list gives me weeks and weeks worth of blog material!)

So, without further ado, an introduction to...

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Great Stuff for Writers, March 12 & 13, 2013

Whoa! Is today a double, or even triple, unlucky day: 3-13-13? Not a bit! In fact, it’s your lucky day with the Great Stuff that’s waiting for you below, including news of a major shift in Random House’s proposed ebook contracts and 11 steps to creating a good looking CreateSpace POD book.

CRAFT

Keith Cronin (@KeithCronin) advocates a learning technique that a writer friend of mine swears by: Be a Copycat. Note that that’s copycat, NOT plagiarist. The idea is simple: by copying—word-for-word—particular passages—the opening scene, a chapter, the climax, whatever—of the work of an author whose work you admire and respect, you will gain insights into how they did what they did that you never would have simply by reading the same work...

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Great Stuff for Writers, March 9-11, 2013

Whew! All caught up. Had a good weekend at the Tucson Festival of Books, but leaving the house before 6:15 in the morning and not getting back until late that night doesn’t leave much time for reading blogs or writing about them. No matter: we’re back on schedule.

CRAFT

Motivation-reaction units.” Sounds like parts from a rocket engine, doesn’t it? Katie Weiland (@KMWeiland) says no, that phrase is just another way of describing the cause-and-effect sequence that defines each event in a story. The cause is some kind of outside stimulus. The effect is the reaction—well, three reactions, actually: feeling and/or thought, physical action, speech...

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