Great Stuff for Writers, May 13, 2013

A double-13 day today, but you should feel lucky because there’s so much Great Stuff waiting below. Techniques for getting started or keeping going, for pulling in the reader, setting mood, and more. News about Smashwords and indie publishing. Making better use of social media generally and Goodreads and Twitter in particular. Even a link to an old video game based on The Great Gatsby! Check it out.


Just in case you don’t already have enough to read, or you’re looking for something specific that you haven’t found yet, Katie Weiland (@KMWeiland) lists 10 of My Favorite Writing-Craft Sites. Two you see mentioned a lot here—Writer Unboxed and The Creative Penn—are on the list, plus others I hadn’t heard of.

Not only is James Scott Bell (@jamesscottbell) an excellent writer, he’s an excellent teacher. In 11 Keys to Making a Novel a Page Turner, he examines, of all things, a 1953 novel by John McPartland (Never heard of him? Neither had I. Or Bell) titled Big Red’s Daughter and uses what he learned by doing so to show how McPartland used basic techniques to suck Bell so deeply into the story he forgot he was reading. Isn’t that what we all want to happen to our readers?

Katie’s back with the next installment of her Most Common Mistakes series, this time on The Do’s and Don’ts of Dialect. More than just a list of do’s and don’ts, Katie explains why each is what it is, and following those thoughts will keep your reader engaged in the story, rather than in trying to translate the gibberish of phonetically spelled out dialect.

Despite the title, Jan Drexler’s (@JanDrexler) Are You In the Mood? has nothing to do with either sex or waiting for the muse. It’s about setting the mood for a particular scene in a story through the use of both word choice and sentence length. Simple but effective advice.

Most of Boyd Morrison’s (@boydmorrison) Hunting Down the Muse would fit better down in Writing Life but there’s a little technique called The List of Twenty for generating story ideas near the end of the piece that’s very crafty—in more ways than one—and that’s why I’ve put the post here. Ella Mei Yon (@EllaMeiYon) takes a similar list-based approach in Finding a Way In in Glimmer Train, via Jane Friedman’s blog.

Professional editor Dave King introduces some much needed sanity into the craft with Rules and Tools on Writer Unboxed. His core point is that guidelines followed too closely—as iron-clad rules, in other words—are more likely to hurt than help your writing. Treat those guidelines as tools, and use the right one for the job at the right time, and they will help.

In Zest + Small Things = Great Writing, Elizabeth Sims (@ESimsAuthor) discusses how focusing on small pieces of your overall story—one detail that isn’t yet fully developed—can be the door to greater or continuing enthusiasm (zest) for the enterprise of writing: for not only getting the writing done, but getting it done well.


If you’re an ebook author, you either know about Smashwords, the free ebook formatter/distributor, or should know about it. One of the service’s best features is that it allows you to create reduced-price coupons for your books when they’re sold through the Smashwords site (but only there, unfortunately). K.S. Brooks shows how to set this up in Getting the Most Out of Smashwords on Indies Unlimited, courtesy Joel Friedlander.

Also courtesy of Joel is Mark Coker’s (@markcoker) New Smashwords Survey Helps Authors Sell More Books, the blog version of a presentation he’s made recently at the RT Booklovers convention in Kansas City and the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation conference in the Oklahoma City area. Bottom lines (pun fully intended): a $2.99 price points for indie-published books sells better than others (except free) but $3.99 produces more income, certain book lengths (~110,000 words) sell better than others, and there’s a power-law distribution of ebooks, just as there is of traditionally published. This is a long piece, and the slide show on Slideshare is 74 slides, but it’s well worth your time if you’re considering indie publishing.


Martina Boone’s (@MartinaABoone) Four Questions to Define Your Social Media Presence on DIY MFA should probably be required reading for anyone who’s just beginning to dip their toes into the social media waters or anyone who’s dissatisfied with their social media presence. He four questions center around goals, inspiration, viability, and enjoyment. Those things aren’t new but deserve repeating and refreshing. I’m marking this as a favorite.

Last time I mentioned an article by Mayor Lan on making the most of Goodreads. Unfortunately, it assumed you already had an account and knew the basics. Along comes Kimberley Grabas (@KimberleyGrabas) to the rescue with How to Market a Book and Strengthen Your Author Platform with Goodreads on Your Writer Platform, courtesy Joel Friedlander. This long but thorough article takes you through the basics of getting set up and working on this important site. Another definite keeper.

If you’re not totally down with Twitter, you may not know the etiquette for retweeting someone else’s tweets. Annie Neugebauer (@AnnieNeugebauer) to the rescue with Everything You Need to Know About the Retweet on Writer Unboxed. For just one example, did you know that there are proper and improper ways of adding your own comment to a retweet? To learn the whole panoply of do’s and don’ts, check out her post.


Nathan Bransford’s (@NathanBransford) wry How to Do Your Chores in 12 Easy Steps begins with “Start a novel.” Enough said. *grin*


There aren’t many video games based on great literature but Robert Bruce (@robertbruce76) has found one for Nintendo that dates back to the 1980s! Yet there’s a playable version of it available on line. Check it out via Gatsby for Nintendo, Old Sport!

2 comments to Great Stuff for Writers, May 13, 2013

  • Martina boone  says:

    What a great list! I’m honored to be in such august company, and look forward to checking out all the recommendations!

    • Ross Lampert  says:

      Thanks, Martina. Hope you find the other material useful. I know your material will help me.

Thanks for leaving a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.