Tag Archive | writing tips

Writing a Memoir? Read This First

Some key information for people thinking of writing their memoir and trying to figure out if they want to sell it to a publisher or to indie publish.

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Memoirs are designed to share your experiences with the world. However, this makes them incredibly hard to market if you aren’t a celebrity, influencer, or…

Source: Writing a Memoir? Read This First

 

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Getting To Know Your Characters

Michele Regnold’s posts talks about about getting to know your characters by interviewing them. This is definitely a worthwhile exercise. If you want to read a book on the subject, I enjoyed Taking Your Characters to Dinner by Laurel A. Yourke.

Here is another idea from Tracy Helixon: https://www.mvwg.org/blog/getting-to-know-your-characters-through-monologue


 

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The Value of Percolation for Writing

I totally agree with Jyotsna Sreenivasan about the time needed to let story ideas percolate. (Remember our parent’s old coffee pots – percolators – that had that little glass nob on the top that, as the coffee was brewing, it would spirt up into that little glass nob. It told the coffee drinker that their morning wake up was brewing.)

I’ve even heard a writer friend say she goes to bed purposefully asking a story question, looking for sleep to help answer the question. Some people like to take walks outside to let the great out there push out the cobwebs to let other ideas in.

I personally haven’t had sleep or walks help me much. I generally get ideas after I’ve read, listened to, or watched particularly good writing. It doesn’t have to be anything related to what I’m writing about, because all good writing resonates, and it will remind me of how to make my own writing resonate too.

But most any time away from the keyboard or writing pad will help your mind mull over your writing without you even having to think about it directly.

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Setting an idea or draft aside for “percolation” allows the brain’s subconscious to arrive at insights while we’re busy with something else.

Source: The Value of Percolation | Jane Friedman

Making Story Structure Your Own 

Story structure is always something that seems to come up repeatedly over time among writers. K.M Weiland recently read “Wild Mind” by Natalie Goldberg (1990) and Natalie doesn’t use the word in same way most of use do. But the topic brought up some new thoughts on the subject for K.M. you might find interesting.

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Here are a five important questions you, as a writer of fiction, can ask yourself to help you in making story structure your own.

Source: Making Story Structure Your Own – Helping Writers Become Authors

How to Make Your Character’s Choices More Difficult 

Stories – fiction or nonfiction – run on conflict and tension. And how do you create conflict and tension? One way is to give the characters hard choices.

Here’s how to make your character’s choices more complex to help you create tension and stakes in your story.

Source: How to Make Your Character’s Choices More Difficult – Helping Writers Become Authors

 

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Chekhov Never Said That – Writing Tip

Daniel David Wallace shines a bit of light (pun intended) on the advice “Show, don’t tell” writers often hear. (link to post is the image and below)

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Sorry! Chehkov never said “Show, Don’t Tell”

Source: Chekhov Never Said That

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The Link Between Your Story’s First Plot Point and Third Plot Point 

If you are a plotter (a writer that likes to work on your plot usually via an outline before you start writing), or a plotter once the whole thing is written (using the exercise to make your story as strong as it can be), then this post, along with the others that K.M. Wieland has written (or will write) will be very helpful.

I liked I liked her line: The First Plot Point may take the protagonist to a new place, but the Third Plot Point makes him into a new person.

K.M also has a great archive of movie and some book plot points that can help you when you’re struggling with your own manuscript.

Thanks K.M.!

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Deepen your understanding of story structure by examining the parallel functions of the First Plot Point and the Third Plot Point.

Source: The Link Between Your Story’s First Plot Point and Third Plot Point – Helping Writers Become Authors

Characterization Through Dialogue

This is something that I see debated often and probably will continue to be a topic of discussion; I think because there isn’t any one right answer. Odd characters are fun to write so writers like to create them. And odd character often speak in odd ways. Or if you’re trying to portray a certain group or character by their/the character’s speech pattern, trying to make them stand out, dialogue is one way to do that.

But as K.M. Weiland notes in the post below, if you use slang, or even odd speech ticks, I agree, that a little goes a long way. Part of the reason for this is you don’t want the reader to stop and have to really look at a word(s) to try and interpret what you’re trying to say. Text should flow easily through the readers mind. An odd word here and there probably isn’t an issue, but if you make the reader stop too often, they may decide they need to unload the dishwasher instead of continuing to read your book!

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Authors need to get the nuances of slang in dialogue right, because smart readers will always recognize phony speech patterns.

Source: Slang in Dialogue: Use It Sparingly – Helping Writers Become Authors

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12 Ways to Be an Invisible Writer 

Are you an “invisible writer”?

What does it mean to be invisible as you write? Or more accurately, as the post notes, what does it mean to be invisible as you edit. Don’t worry about these 12 things as your creating your story. It is something to look at once you’re done with your first draft, during the rewrite process. Actually, farther in on the rewrite process.

When I’m editing a client’s manuscript, this is something I see fairly often and a surefire thing to diminish the reader experience. I get push-back sometimes when I make suggests to change some of these things, and I can’t make someone make a manuscript change that they don’t want to make. I know sometimes it feels like you have to explain everything to the reader – to make sure they understand – but most times being less obvious is better. (Like, less is more.) Readers like to figure things out on their own. I know I do.

Of course, It’s easier to see when I haven’t written the piece myself. Harder for me to see in my own writing – which is another reason to always have someone else edit your story, someone who knows what to look for such as an editor or another writer.

Take a look at Tim Storms 12 things…

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Once the author becomes visible, the enchantment of the story dissolves. These 12 things can ruin the illusion for the reader. Become an invisible writer.

Source: 12 Ways to Be an Invisible Writer | Craft Articles

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Your Writing Community 

from mythic scribes

In Jane Friedman’s blog, Susan DeFreitas writes a guest post on the advantages of a writing community to spur your writing and support you when you need it most. I think even more so, a writing community makes you a better writer, especially if you’re able to connect with a critique group of good writers. Remember, you’ll only be as good as the best writer in your group, so choose your group wisely.

Do your critique members have a published book(s)? How well does that book(s) do in the reviews? Of course, your critique mates don’t all have to be published authors, but someone who has made it through the whole process (traditional or self-publishing, it matters not) will know more about the craft than someone who hasn’t.

And you’ll always learn something by reading and commenting on someone else’s work, in addition to reading the comments of other on that same piece.

And if you join a group that doesn’t seem to be working for you, politely bow out. You’ll be doing everyone a favor. No one does good work if they don’t want to be somewhere.

But where to find a critique group?

Ask around, of course. Look on facebook in your area. Join online writing groups and ask if anyone has an opening in their critique group. Ask on Linkedin writers groups. Ask at writing conferences (when those are a thing again – Ug!). I’m sure there are Instagram writers groups too, though I’m not on Instagram so I have no clue. I know you can find writers on twitter. Most of my writing friends are on twitter. I would suggest looking for a group that is writing in your genre, but maybe that is obvious.

Take a look at Susan’s post and she what wisdom she has to share.

Hang in there, everyone!

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Don’t feel like you have to go it alone—others are on the same journey, ready to offer encouragement and applaud your hard-earned victories.

Source: Developing a Writing Practice, Part 2: Community | Jane Friedman 

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