Category Great Stuff for Writers

Writers’/Critique Groups: Right for Every Writer?

My writers’/critique group, the Cochise Writers’ Group, has been going through some changes lately and that’s gotten me thinking about critique groups in general: their puCritique grouprpose, size, makeup, and so on. This post starts an occasional series as I collect my thoughts and observations about them.

One of the most argued about questions in writer-dom is whether writers should join critique groups or not. There are some people who are absolutely certain they know what the right answer is for everyone. Multi-published author Dean Wesley Smith is death on writers’ groups. I guess he had a bad experience with one once, but if he did, that’s not a sufficient reason–not a reason at all, really–to declare all groups bad all the time for all writers.

Here’s the thing...

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Great Stuff for Writers, June 24, 2013

Major changes coming again to my Great Stuff posts. Starting next month, I’m going to again scale way back on these posts, for a lot of reasons:

  • Technical buffoonery on my part that made the Twitter links back to them produce “page not found” errors that I didn’t know about (but should have). I know better now.
  • Time. This is the main reason. It just takes too much time to produce these posts in the current form.
  • Others are doing it better. They have bigger audiences. Another reason why my time isn’t being well spent on these posts.
  • I need to rethink my social media involvement, such as it is.

So, July 1st, when Google Reader dies, is a good time for a reevaluation and restructuring on these posts. What will that be? Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, here’s the Great Stuff for Writers from...

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Great Stuff for Writers, June 17, 2013

Quite a collection in today’s Great Stuff. There’s the Hero’s Journey, Niccolo Macchiavelli, who was probably not a hero, Aunt Edna, who might or might not have been one, and a cadaver or two. All in the service of writing. Plus foreign rights agents, dirty talk, and much more. Dive in!

CRAFT

Gregory Ciotti’s (@GregoryCiotti) Copyblogger post, What a Notorious 16th-Century Philosopher Can Teach You About Content Marketing Today, might seem to have nothing to do with creative writing, given that its target market is the business blogger. That seeming would be wrong. Niccolo Macchiavelli’s The Prince was controversial, sure, and it’s the book he’s most remembered for, but what’s important to us short story and novel writers is how he used controversy to stir—and maintain—inte...

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Great Stuff for Writers, June 10, 2013

From characters to research to finding an editor to doing your own editing (both necessary!), to more besides, we’re covering quite a waterfront today. Let’s dive right in.

CRAFT

An editorial style sheet isn’t something most writers pay attention to, do, or even know what it is. Rachelle Gardner (@RachelleGardner) makes a case for creating one in How to Create a Style Sheet for Your Manuscript. The bottom line for this thing is consistency—in spelling, grammar, punctuation, relationships, physical characteristics, basically anything that you could not keep straight over the course of writing a novel. And which, count on it, some reader will catch.

Donald Maass (@DonMaass) draws an analogy between your characters’ journey through a story and his own family’s hikes in and map study o...

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Great Stuff for Writers, June 3, 2013

Heroes and protagonists, money matters, freelance editors, and Google+: you’ll find all that and more in today’s Great Stuff. Let’s get started, shall we?

CRAFT

Do “hero” or “heroine” mean the same thing as “protagonist?” In Why Your Protagonist Might Not Always Be Your Hero, Katie Weiland (@KMWeiland) explains the distinction and how you can identify who the protagonist really is. (Note that this character is not necessarily an anti-hero, either.) Katie suggests that you ask three questions to identify your protagonist:

  • Who is most important to your plot?
  • Who has the most dramatic character arc?
  • Who has the most at stake?

Katie also continues her Most Common Writing Mistakes series with A Surefire Sign You’re Over-Explaining...

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Great Stuff for Writers, May 27, 2013

Today is Memorial Day in the United States, one of the two holidays (two!) in which we honor and remember our military personnel, those serving today and those who have served in the past, especially those who were injured or killed in combat. As a veteran myself, I’ll be participating in a ceremony this evening. Courage in the face of mortal danger and sacrifice to it have long been—and should be!—staples of literature. James Scott Bell’s (@jamesscottbell) Of Miracles, Sacrifice and Story speak to this better than I can, so that’s where we’ll start this week’s Great Stuff.

And to my brothers and sisters in arms, thank you.

CRAFT

Nancy J. Cohen (@nancyjcohen) offers a veritable plethora of tips on how to make On-Site Research trips worth your time and expense...

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Great Stuff for Writers, May 20, 2013

Wow! TONS of Great Stuff this week, in just about all categories. Titles, critique groups, emotions, made-up words, publishing paths, “scarcity thinking,” and dogs reading books! Even a traditional/self-publishing poll. Something for everyone.

CRAFT

Right up there with a great cover, a great title is critical to getting a potential reader to consider your book. That’s why Katie Weiland (@KMWeiland) provides 17 Steps to a Reader-Grabbing Title. Seventeen sounds like a lot, but she breaks them into 5 elements, 7 questions to ask, and 5 brainstorming tips, to make them easy to digest.

There are writers out there who hate critique groups. HATE ‘em. Sometimes there’s plenty of reason to. But sometimes not. Kris Montee, one of the sister pair who write as PJ Parrish, discusses this in

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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.

CRAFT

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...

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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.

CRAFT

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 s...

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Great Stuff for Writers, April 29, 2013

Frantically trying to get caught up after spending the last 3 days volunteering with the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, something I do every year to honor the memory of a friend of mine who was killed in the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building here. I’ve been a part of the event every year, as a volunteer, runner, or both, and this year was even honored with a profile interview in The Oklahoman, the city’s newspaper, even if the writer did misspell my name.

But enough of that! This is a writing blog! There’s lots of Great Stuff included this week: foreshadowing, characters who pop, pitching, the benefits of writing short fiction, book marketing, the value of reviews, burnout, learning from writing, and even some fun: one 2-year-old’s takes on books based on their covers...

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