Great Stuff for Writers, March 30-April 1, 2013

Welcome to the new and improved, or at least changed, version of Great Stuff for Writers! We’ve got 10 terrific posts on character development (and bumping them off), publishing and publicity tips, book design hints, and some thoughts on the life of a writer. Enjoy!

CRAFT

I’m not a fan of the 20- (or 200-) questions approach to character development, but thriller writer Tom Pawlik (@TomPawlik) offers 9 Ingredients of Character Development, centered around using the word character as the mnemonic for the ingredients. Maybe it’ll work for you.

Speaking of characters, what happens if they refuse to do what you want them to? That’s great! James Scott Bell (@jamesscottbell) provides sound advice on The Kill Zone on how to Let Your Characters Live and Breathe, particularly for those of us who are dedicated outliners.

“Kill your darlings.” Gabriela Pereira (@DIYMFA) writes on Writer Unboxed that Killing Your Darlings in Not Enough! What does she mean? Not to just kill off a favorite character, or to delete too-darling writing, but to have the faith that removing anything that isn’t the best for the story simply makes room for that which is better. And then do it.

BUSINESS

Amazon Acquired Goodreads. That’s the title of Nathan Bransford’s (@NathanBransford) Friday article, sharing what had previously appeared on CNet and Publisher’s Lunch. Amazon and Goodreads spin this as a good thing for both companies and for readers—natch. But did the 800 pound gorilla just put on weight?

Looking for reviews for your ebook or self-published book? Thanks to Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman), there’s 10 ways to find reviewers for your self-published book by D. Raphael on the Empty Mirror (@emptymirror) blog. Raphael actually lists 11 ways, many of which have multiple parts, and that’s after sections on “What to do” and “What not to do” when approaching potential reviewers. Very valuable.

Unless you’re already successful (and maybe even if you are), you’re likely looking for ways to get more traffic at your or your book’s web site. Thomas Umstattd, Jr., (@ThomasUmstattd) provides 10 Ways Proven to Draw Readers to Your Novel’s Website on Author Media. Alternate endings, fan art, selling signed copies are just three.

Whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, you might worry about unintentional copyright infringement versus what’s called “fair use.” Bernard Starr (@starrprobe) interviews intellectual property lawyer Paul Rapp on the topic in Legal Issues in Self-Publishing: What Authors Need to Know on the HuffPost Books blog. Now, an interview on a blog isn’t the same as official legal advice, so if you’re worried, best talk to an IP lawyer.

TECHNOLOGY

Got 45 minutes? Joanna Penn (@thecreativepenn) discusses Book Design Elements and Interior Formatting With Jane Dixon Smith in a podcast. If you don’t have that much time, Joanna highlights the key points of the conversation, with lots of links in the body of the post.

THE WRITING LIFE

If you’ve been writing for any time at all, you’ve had those days when the idea of sitting down at the computer makes you sick. In Why You Need to Be Excited About Every Single Thing You Write, Katie Weiland (@KMWeiland) explores the legitimate and illegitimate reasons why now might not be the right time to write this particular story and what you can do to bring the thrill back.

Failure is an uncomfortable topic, yet we know it’s a part of the writing business and life in general. That’s the theme of Matt Appling’s (@matttconp) guest post on Jeff Goins’ blog, Art & Failure: Why the Two Go Together. One’s attitude about failure is critical: if you’re able to learn from it (if it didn’t kill you), you have the opportunity to get better, to do better than you did the time before. “Fail better,” in other words, until you succeed.

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