Writing Resources 20 July 2013

Writing Resources 07202013Here you will find a selection of the best of the blogsphere from the past week. Grab your coffee, straighten the glasses or spritz those contacts and above all – enjoy.

Highly Recommended Read

Peter Suderman (Slate): Save the Movie! Excerpt: “When Snyder published his book in 2005, it was as if an explosion ripped through Hollywood. The book offered something previous screenplay guru tomes didn’t. Instead of a broad overview of how a screen story fits together, his book broke down the three-act structure into a detailed “beat sheet”: 15 key story “beats”—pivotal events that have to happen—and then gave each of those beats a name and a screenplay page number. Given that each page of a screenplay is expected to equal a minute of film, this makes Snyder’s guide essentially a minute-to-minute movie formula.

Inform & Inspire

Jami Gold: Are You Sharing Your Gifts? Excerpt: “I’ve been thinking lately about what it means to have gifts. We all have some sort of gift, some talent or skill we’re better at than most. More importantly, I’ve also been thinking about what we should do with our gifts.

Lauren Sapala: Protect Your Boundaries, Feed Your Writing. Excerpt: “When writers resolve to make more time for creative work, we frequently choose the strategy of setting up guard against distractions. But after a while we let down our guard, because it’s exhausting to keep fighting off every distraction as if it’s yet another mosquito. And everyone suffers from this approach. You feel harassed, and your family and friends feel deprived. It’s also very likely that your writing ends up feeling like more of a burden than a source of joy. However, we can shift our strategy.

Anne R. Allen: Are Your Dreams Standing in the Way of Writing Success? 5 Dreams That Can Interfere With Your Goals. Excerpt: “What’s the difference between a dream and a goal? Short answer: reality. A dream is a creature of the imagination, full of sparkles and rainbows and magic. It’s our castle in the air where we live our fantasy lives. We all need them. But we also need to recognize them for what they are. A goal is something doable. Like getting a college degree, saving enough money to go to a writers conference, or finishing that novel.

Lessons from ThrillerFest

August McLaughlin: What’s REALLY Thrilling About ThrillerFest: Fabulous Authors Weigh In! Excerpt: “Rather than share my own ThrillerFest experiences this year, I thought I’d give you a glimpse through the eyes of some of my favorite attendees. I’m so honored to share their thoughts, and hope you’ll not only read their words, but visit their websites. I suspect that you’ll be grateful you did.

Bess Weatherby: Alone, We Stand Together: Lessons From ThrillerFest. Excerpt: “In just about every panel discussion and interview, from the newest authors to the most seasoned, I kept hearing a simple theme reiterated. There were thriller writers, cozy mystery writers, debut authors and authors with twenty-five books under their belts, but they all kept coming back to a similar point: a writer is never not a writer. That’s what separates us from, well, everyone else. And that’s why we need each other.


Ava Jae: Writing a Novel in 15 Steps: From Initial Idea to Querying. Excerpt: “While every writer works a little differently, I’ve decided to share my general process from start to finish to give you an idea as to what usually goes into polishing a novel to completion—at least, how I handle it.

Jordan McCollum: 5 Steps to Better Character Arcs. Excerpt: “Character arcs, or internal character journeys, are integral in fiction. While it might not be strictly necessary in building a book that works, an effective internal journey helps to create fiction that resonates with readers long after the events of the plot are forgotten. Of course, anything that powerful can be very tricky to execute. These five steps to better character arcs outline the easiest, most basic things you can do to start showing your characters’ growth.

K.M. Weiland: Should You Ever Redeem Your Bad Guys? Excerpt: “We talked last week about how readers love awesome, larger-than-life good guys. Today, I want to flip that on its head and talk about bad guys. In our quest to create realistic characters, we’re going to want to give our bad guys just as many redeemable traits as we give our heroes faults.

Ali Luke: Do You Head-Hop? Getting Third Person Point of View Right. Excerpt: “One common mistake that fiction-writers make with point of view is head-hopping while writing in the limited third person. In case that sounded like gobbledygook, let’s get some definitions pinned down: Third Person – using he or she (“I” is the first person). Point of view (“POV”) – the perspective from which you’re writing. It’s easy to understand point of view when you have a first person (“I”) story – but it can be trickier to get your head around it in a third person one. There are two key types of third person narration, omniscient and limited, and I’m going to go through each before I give you an example of head-hopping.

Chuck Wendig: 25 Things To Know About Your Story’s Stakes. No Excerpt: Just go read this. *smile*

Writer Support

Kristen Lamb: The Single Largest Cause of Writer’s Block–Might Not Be What You Believe. Excerpt: “Today, I’d like to talk about the single greatest reason for writer’s block (aside from laziness and fear, but we can chat about those another time). I spent years as an editor, and I believe I’m a pretty good one. I’ve taken stories that were train wrecks and helped the author create a best-seller. Editing is a skill, but it’s a different skill from creating. For instance, a person who restores historical houses isn’t necessarily someone who can draw a blueprint and build a new house. The restorer looks to the bones of the house and fixes what’s already standing to help create what the owner envisions.Same with editing. There is less creating and more reverse-engineering.

Jami Gold: 5 1/2 Steps for Making Feedback Work for Us. Excerpt: “If we want to improve our work, we first need to have beta readers, critique partners, and/or editors provide feedback. Second, we have to evaluate our writing based on that feedback. Maybe we’ll slap our forehead and say “duh” to their comments. Maybe we’ll ignore their suggestion and instead just tweak our writing to fix a confusing plot point or character motivation. Maybe we’ll decide their misunderstanding is exactly what we wanted and not change a thing. Regardless, unless feedback is deliberately mean and destructive, it’s always a pointer that something is less than ideal for that reader. And that can be crazy-making unless we make that feedback work for us. Let’s take a look.

Jenny Hansen: 10 Power Tips for Building a Great Critique Group. Excerpt: “Some people have asked me what makes a great critique group. Sharla Rae has been on the critique group track longer than I have and she wrote a great post about forming a critique group: How to Find Your Dream Team. Today I’m focusing on how to give and receive feedback in a way that’s constructive and nourishes the insecure artist inside of every writer.

Roz Morris: 4 low-cost ways to get writing tuition if you can’t afford an editor. Excerpt: “Every week I get emails from writers who want help but can’t afford the cost of an editor. And I can see why. Good editors cost a big chunk of money and the job can’t be done cheaply. I don’t think seriously committed writers assume anything otherwise. But sometimes, the writing world can seem like those schools where rich parents hothouse their kids by hiring personal tutors. If you don’t have the spare dollars, will you be left behind? Not necessarily. Many of the writers I know never hired editors, yet we earned our spurs somehow. And you can still learn the way we did. It still works.

Ari Marmell: Ask a Published Author: “How much research do I have to do for my novel?” Excerpt: “At the end of the day, you’re an author. You’re not a physicist. Or a historian. Or a programmer. Or a military tactician. There are people who have spent lifetimes studying these topics. No amount of research is going to let you get all the details right that they might have. If you try, you’ll drive yourself crazy, or never start writing in the first place.

Industry Awareness

David Gaughran: Penguin Random House Merger Helps Author Solutions Exploit Writers. Excerpt: “Penguin and Random House officially merged on July 1 creating the largest trade publisher in the world. This merger has given fresh impetus to one of their subsidiaries to scam unsuspecting writers – Author Solutions, the largest vanity press in the world. One of my blog readers, who will remain nameless, has forwarded me emails from an AuthorHouse sales rep touting that company as the “self-publishing wing” of Penguin Random House…

Brad Frazer: Is It Fair Use? 7 Questions to Ask Before Using Copyrighted Material. Excerpt: “Authors create copyrights when they express their ideas into or onto a tangible medium. This means the author has the right to make copies of the work; the right to create derivative works; the right to distribute copies of the work; the right to publicly perform the work; the right to display the work; and, in the case of sound recordings, the right to perform the work by means of a digital audio transmission.


Susan Spann: Do You Need a Literary Executor? Excerpt: “An author’s estate plan may simply transfer ownership of copyrights to one or more named beneficiaries (or “heirs”), who then will own and manage the rights directly. When heirs have the proper business skills to manage copyrights, this is often the simplest and most cost-effective choice. But problems arise when heirs lack the business savvy to manage copyrights properly or when more than one heir is named.

K.M. Weiland: Crowdsourced Editing: The Future of Self-Publishing? Excerpt: “Could the next logical step be “crowdsourced” work? Specifically, could we, as authors, tap into these same networks for help with the more mundane and time-consuming (and expensive) tasks like cover design, book layout, and editing? I decided to put this question to the test, in at least a small way…

Penny Sansevieri: Keys to Understanding Amazon’s Algorithms. Excerpt: “When you’re looking for better ranking with Google, most search engine optimization (SEO) experts will tell you to look at keywords and tags as well as on-and off-page SEO factors. The same is true for Amazon though there is one additional component Google does not have: categories. For this piece, we’ll dig into two main elements of Amazon ranking: keywords and categories, both of which can greatly affect your page/book exposure.”

Social Media

Kristen Lamb: Are You Alienating Fans on Facebook & Fracturing Your Platform? Excerpt: “Writers are NOT salespeople and marketers. We aren’t. If we were AWESOME at sales, we’d be in SALES. Sales pays way better than playing with our imaginary friends and hoping we create something others want to read. In fact—and I might be going out on a limb here—I would wager most of you are not thinking, “Well, I’m only doing this writing thing until I can land my dream job in sales.”

Also see Kristen’s follow up post: The Power of Facebook, Friendship & Why We Shouldn’t Use a Nail Gun to Slice a Pork Roast.

Phi Tran: Potluck is a New Social Network That Encourages Sharing and Discovering Links. Excerpt: “Some of the best things on Facebook are actually links to other websites. At least, that’s the component of social network that the makers of Potluck are hoping to ignite. The new social network is going mobile re-framing social engagement through discovery. Think Pinterest but just links.

About Gene Lempp

Gene Lempp is a writer blending elements of alternate history, the paranormal, fantasy, science fiction and horror for dark and delicious fun. He unearths stories by digging into history, archeology, myth and fable in his Designing from Bones blog series. “Only the moment is eternal and in a moment, everything will change,” sums the heart of his philosophy. You can find Gene at his Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, WANATribe, Google+, Pinterest and StumbleUpon.
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4 Responses to Writing Resources 20 July 2013

  1. Cate Russell-Cole says:

    Gene, thanks! Lauren’s post was awesome and has really encouraged people.


  2. Jenny Hansen says:

    I’m just now getting to this amazing goodness and I swear, I don’t know how you manage to gather up the precise posts I need every week. Can I just say THANK YOU for doing that? And for including one of mine in the mix?? You are awesomesauce, dude. Pure awesomesauce…

  3. Pingback: Mind Sieve 7/22/13 | Gloria Oliver

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