Great Stuff for Writers, May 8, 2013

Hey! What happened to Monday? I was traveling, that’s what. And Tuesday? Trying to catch up. And Wednesday? STILL trying to catch up. I’m almost there. So, herewith is an abbreviated and tardy version of Great Stuff: outlining and word choice and beginnings and endings; branding and Goodreads and mastery and saving your work on the cloud.


If you’re an outliner, you understand that your outline is a fixed thing, graven in stone. In What Comes After Once Upon a Time, Robert J. Sadler describes how a little item he threw into a story, not thinking it was going to turn out to be important, instead became a key element in getting his latest novel to its conclusion by a path he never intended. But he trusted his storyteller’s instinct and good things happened.

We all know that we should only use the best words in our writing. See Ernest Hemingway. Poets and their close kin song writers know this better than novelists do. So Joe Moore’s (@JoeMoore_writer) tribute to the just recently passed George Jones, What novelists can learn from song writers, is no surprise but makes the point with economy and clarity.

Super-agent Donald Maass (@DonMaass) has a brief but excellent piece on Beginning and Ending on Writer Unboxed. The beauty of this piece is its simplicity: the story begins when the protagonist knows something’s changing; it ends when they know that the change is complete and they’ve entered a new world.


Okay, so we’ve all heard about needing to have an “author brand.” What the heck is that? Melissa K. Norris (@MelissaKNorris) explains it in Why Ignoring Your Author Brand is Career Suicide (now that’s a headline that’ll catch your attention!) and goes on to offer a link to a brand development workbook if you subscribe to her and partner Janalynn Voigt’s newsletter.


To be honest, Goodreads has been a mystery to me. I have an account but haven’t spent enough time there to understand the site. So along comes Mayor A. Lan (@TheSavvyIndie) to The Creative Penn, where he provides The Ultimate Guide To Goodreads for Authors, and this is a gold mine. Lan lays out the half dozen capabilities Goodreads provides to its registered Goodreads Authors, including the ability for readers to see excerpts of your ebook, buy copies, write reviews, participate in giveaways, and more. I’m marking this post as a favorite to come back to.


Now, this is HUGE. What would happen if your computer crashed? Or was stolen? Or run over by a dump truck? Think it can’t happen? It can and it does to someone every day. EVERY day. So Rachelle Gardner (@RachelleGardner) offers two sets of tools for protecting your work in Never, Never, Never Lose Your Work! First,  use a service like Mozy or Carbonite to do regular (like multiple times a day) backups. Second, use a service like iCloud or Dropbox to hold all of your important files—on the cloud (storage on the web) instead of on your hard drive.


Here’s a thought that can be both depressing and encouraging, depending on how you want to approach it: “mastery is an asymptote…you can get closer and closer to it, but you can never reach it.” That comes from an interview with Daniel Pink (@DanielPink) done by Ken Coleman and included in Jeff Goins’ (@jeffgoins) Everyone’s an Expert, But Not Everyone Is a Master. I take this as good news: one can always get better if you’re willing to do the work.

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