Category Archives: Writing

7 Stress-Free Ways to Handle Notes From Your Book Editor

Author Don Massenzio

7 Stress-Free Ways to Handle Notes From Your Book Editor

The day you’ve either longed for or dreaded has finally arrived.

You check your email and see a message from your editor with the subject: Edits Complete.

Your heart skips at least a beat as you scramble to save your edited manuscript to your computer. Then you open that just-received document, hoping to see the few things you missed so you can finally get to the next step of your publishing journey.

Except your expected quota of errors for your entire manuscript is already exceeded within the first five pages.

The longer you keep scrolling through your marked-up manuscript, the farther your jaw drops. Before even reaching the end, you close the document, slap your hand on your desk, curse your dog and swear that “this writing thing” is a frivolous waste of time.

Ten minutes later, you’re back at your desk, looking through your edits.

An optimistic thought passes…

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Serious Writers

The Intrepid Poet

Serious writers
Write
No matter what
A shopping list
Becomes an epic memoir
Of a lovers diet
A nutritious kiss
After a home cooked meal
Turns into a sonnet
Serious poets progress
No matter what
A skewed haiku
Becomes a translation
Of the moment
Nature springs forward
Echoing the word count
Of heaven’s might
Serious writers
Write

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Today’s Writing Tip

Marcha's Two-Cents Worth

laptop-3303835_1280 copy

Epilogues work well to cover “the rest of the story”, i.e, that which relates to proper closure of the plot, yet occurs after the story officially ends. Similar to prologues, epilogues can involve minor characters, or in some cases, someone who wasn’t in the main story at all. For example, it could be someone discovering years later what the effects were of your character’s actions. Sometimes they can even include hints of other stories to come, as opposed to closure.

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Today’s Writing Tip

Marcha's Two-Cents Worth

laptop-3253347_1280 copy

If your story needs some background information essential to the plot, but it doesn’t involve the main character, you can introduce it by using a prologue. That way you can start Chapter 1 with your protagonist, which you should always do, because it immediately tells your reader who the story is about. Otherwise, they’re going to wonder what happened to the character they “met” first and whose story your book is really about.

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Zadie Smith’s 10 Rules of Writing

Writer's Blog

zadiesmith5 Zadie Smith (Photograph: Francesco Guidicini)

In the winter of 2010, inspired by Elmore Leonard’s 10 rules of writing published in The New York Times nearly a decade earlier, The Guardian reached out to some of today’s most celebrated authors and asked them to each offer his or her rules. My favourite is Zadie Smith’s list — an exquisite balance of the practical, the philosophical, and the poetic, and a fine addition to this ongoing omnibus of great writers’ advice on the craft.

Smith counsels:

  1. When still a child, make sure you read a lot of books. Spend more time doing this than anything else.
  2. When an adult, try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would.
  3. Don’t romanticise your ‘vocation.’ You can either write good sentences or you can’t. There is no ‘writer’s lifestyle.’ All that matters is what you leave on the…

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The Benefits of Dictation

Story Empire

Hello Story Empire readers! I’d like to fly – at least when it comes to writing – rather than plodding along. There’s one tool I now use to do just that: Dragon Naturally Speaking.

Good thing you don’t have to train this dragon to dictate well.

When it comes to writing a book, there is a faster way without a huge expense which also feels like flying. In my last post, I described how I was working to clear my own logjam with available time and one of those changes was to spend a little money to address my constricted writing time. I purchased Dragon Naturally Speaking and set out to dictate so I could produce more words per hour than typing. To dictate well, it requires training Dragon – which sounds like the title of a couple of movies.

Training a Dragon is simple, especially when compared to the movie…

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The Types of Writing Advice You Should (and Shouldn’t) Take to Heart

Novelty Revisions

How do you know if the writing advice you’re being given is worth listening to?

Does it matter if someone is a published author or not?

Who is “qualified” to give the best advice?

These are all tricky questions. So here are some of the types of advice you’ll generally get about writing, who they tend to come from, and how to apply them (if at all) to your own writing life.

From a well-meaning acquaintance

“I never, ever do it that way. I always do it like this, and it’s definitely going to help you too.”

Unfortunately, there are a lot of (I suppose) well-meaning people out there who don’t know how to think outside their own mindset. They see the world only from their perspective. So even though they might want to genuinely help someone by offering advice, it’s usually very one-sided and closed-minded. But you should never…

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Writing to Give Shape to Our Lives

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

zz slavinBy Nancy Slavin

“I write because writing helps bring life into clearer focus and give shape to what I might otherwise experience as disconnected shards.”  – Joyce Thomas

I read the Joyce Thomas quote above in a 2011 issue of Poets & Writers and practically hummed out loud in my attraction to it. The urge to write for me is a primordial need to make sense of experiences that often happen in pieces. The way I make sense of the pieces is by creating the story, which hopefully turns out whole. Certainly in the case my daughter’s birth, the pieces of a fifty-four hour labor are disconnected, fragmenting more and more with each passing year, making me wonder which pieces are important enough to keep? And yet, long as the labor was and as bloody the outcome, I don’t use warfare metaphors to discuss that birth or write about my…

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Tension and Conflict. What’s the Difference?

KRISTINA STANLEY

Tension and conflict will keep your reader engaged in every scene. Knowing the difference and when to use each will drive your story forward.

Tension

Tension is the threat of something bad happening. This creates suspense.

Tension can be subtle or in-your-face.

Subtle Tension: Imagine one character is hiding a secret that could destroy his life and another character is about to accidentally spill the secret. The reader will feel the tension if you’ve set up the scene so that the reader knows the second character can’t keep a secret.

In-your-face Tension: A woman is thrown off a boat at sea. The tension comes if the reader cares about the character and wants her to survive. Or the tension could be she’s an evil woman who is about to destroy the world, and the reader doesn’t want her to survive.


Conflict

Conflict is the fight that is actually happening. A…

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Creating Tension in Fiction and Memoir

A Writer's Path

by Michael Mohr

One of the toughest things to do in fiction or creative nonfiction writing, in my professional opinion, is to create strong, believable tension. Without tension—between the protagonist and a villain, the protagonist and him/herself, the protagonist and the environment, etc—you really don’t have much of a story. And it’s unlikely readers will want to follow you far through the jungle of your narrative.

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