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.


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. Copying, especially if you do it by hand rather than on the keyboard, slows you down so you can examine things like word choice in a way that mere reading doesn’t. Musicians and painters do similar things; why shouldn’t writers?

Katie Weiland (@KMWeiland) offers some interesting and valuable advice in 3 Ways to Make Your POVs Equally Interesting. Why would you want to do that? Think about it: if your story has two POV characters and one isn’t interesting, what’s the reader going to do? Skip ahead, right? But how do you know which character they won’t like? You won’t; that’s another reason why each character needs to be interesting. So besides “equally” and “interesting” as two to her tips, the third one is to make good use of cliffhangers to keep readers interested, even if they’re reading about another one at the moment.


This is nice to see but it’s important that writers not get too swell-headed over what’s just transpired. Victoria Strauss (@victoriastrauss) reports today on Writer Beware® (and this also appeared in Publisher’s Lunch): Random House Announces New Terms at Digital Imprints Hydra, Alibi, Loveswept, and Flirt. Space doesn’t permit a complete summary of everything Random House changed in their proposed contract but they changed a lot. Will writers think the revisions are everything they wanted? No, but the options are better, there’s much more transparency regarding who pays what when, and more clarity on rights reversion. Random House has done the smart thing by listening to its critics and responding responsibly to them. They could have made other choices.


So you’ve decided you want to self-publish a hard-copy book and you’ve heard about Amazon’s CreateSpace option. Is it hard to turn your manuscript into a book with them? Dean Fetzer (@deanfetzer) of British publisher GunBoss Books provides his Top 10 Tips For Self-Publishing Print Books On CreateSpace on The Creative Penn. While posts like this have appeared before, what I like about these (11, actually) steps is that Fetzer appears to cover the basics in a clear, step-by-step process without getting too far down into the details, but when you need details, there are links to posts that provide them. I’m marking this one to refer back to in a few months when I get ready to POD print.


Sophie Masson’s (@SophieMasson1) Writer’s Guides of the Past is the sort of thing only we writers would find “fun,” but then collectors in other pursuits do exactly the same things. Sophie tells of the writing guides she’s collected, dating from as far back as 1890, all the way up to the 1950s, and offers quotes that show how much some things have changed and how much some have remained the same.

Feel free to share this Great Stuff with your writer friends. It’s there for all to grow from.

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