Happy New Year! Despite the usual madness of Christmas I still found some great things to read. Sharing them with you is a nice first post of the year.
The Mouth on this One
Mark Henry on the Romance University blog about finding your writer’s voice.
Each time my mother reads one of my books, I hear a variation on this phrase, “Why can’t you write something nice…a sweet romance?” That’s a good question and if I could stop rolling my eyes at her over my coffee cup, I could answer…also there’s pouting—the less you know about that the better. The answer is obviously that I can produce a romance. In fact, I have, my romantic comedy with demonic transplant organs and amateur surgery PARTS & WRECK is available this week. My issue is around the word “sweet.”
Why You Should Burn Your NaNoWriMo Novel
Philip Overby on Mystic Scribes blog with a provocatively titled post about how you decide the fate of your NaNoWriMo novel – or any draft really.
Maybe the best answer would be to burn the screeching banshee of a manuscript and hurl it back into the swirling abyss where you jerked it out one painful, gut-wrenching word at a time.
Yes, I said burn it. Throw it away. Hide it. Delete it. Whatever.
The fat lady’s warming up: the importance (?) of series
Erica Hayes wonders why the constant call for ever book to turn into a series.
Lately it seems readers have insatiable appetites for series. Especially in contemporary, where we’re seeing loads of related titles, featuring brothers, cousins, townsfolk, platoons, secret societies, stamp collecting clubs – whatever connection the author can find.
All About Sales: a rant
KJ Charles about the attitude that caring about sales is selling out.
But the fact is: Yes, it is about sales, because sales are people reading my books, as author or editor. Sales are royalty cheques that will cover my childcare costs while I write in the afternoons. Sales are paying a good designer to do a great cover. Sales are my salary as an editor. Sales are what allow me to make a business case to publish the author’s next book. Sales may be what allow me to rejig my life to more writing and less paid work, rather than stealing writing time from my sleep and my family.
Why You Shouldn’t Worry About Copyright — And Focus on Craft Instead
Kathryn Goldman talks about how you might be worrying too much about the wrong thing.
There are only so many ways to depict common themes
Perhaps you’ve written a gritty coming-of-age story about a young man whose tumultuous upbringing exposes him to a life of crime and violence which he is able to overcome. It’s about life in a hardened inner-city neighborhood, complete with drug corners, intimidating dealers, crack houses, prostitutes and chases with the “five-oh.”
When You Have Editorial Differences
Excellent post from Lynn Price about how to deal with having a difference of opinion with your editor.
So you’ve signed the contract, the ink is dry, and now your book is in editing. Yay! Welllll…maybe. There are times when authors will have differences of opinion with their editor, and this can either go well or make you want to mainline Drano. Let’s face it, there are few authors who agree with every suggestion their editors bring up. Ten years in the biz has afforded me all kinds of experiences in the editor chair, so I thought I’d offer some perspective that may help you when your manuscript is under the bright lights.
7 Ways to Create Conflict in Your Novel
Janice Hardy on the Romance University blog about how to up the conflict.
2. Offer an impossible choice
Choices move the plot, but impossible choices make the protagonist work for it. When there’s no clear answer, and both choices have terrible consequences, readers know something about the story is going to change and the stakes are going up–two solid ways to keep readers hooked.
“Listen to the Silence” Combatting distractions and keeping the focus on your writing
Paula Mingle talks about how to get control of the distractions and get the real work done.
I was reaching for my iPod at the gym to adjust the volume, and it hit me. I am never (well almost never) without access to the internet. I sit, walk, work out, wait in line, eat, even watch TV with some device delivering a song, book, website or other social media. I check and re-check email, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Goodreads, blogs, forums—you name it. My mind, instead of being allowed to rest, wander, daydream, or engage my subconscious, is continually bombarded by noise and information of one kind or another.
The Truth About Typos and Why You Keep Missing Them
Why proof reading your manuscript is so hard.
When you are proofreading your post, you are falling victim to what Chabris and Simons call the “illusion of expectation.” Your brain is wired to find what is expected: an error-free post. Basically, your brain is on auto-correct, so you actually do not see the typos. They are invisible.
Embracing Challenges by Toni Blake
Toni Blake on Romance University talks about how she rose to the challenge of writing a series she never planned to write.
So I got a new attitude. I approached the change as a challenge, and the truth is, writers need new challenges from time to time. From the outside, switching from stand-alone stories to a series doesn’t look like a big deal, but for me, it truly changed everything about the way I approach a book – it was recreating the wheel. But I decided to embrace the challenge – which was to write books within certain new parameters not of my choosing, and still find a way to make them books of my heart, each and every one.
50 cliched dialogue to ban from your script
Useful for novelists too. Excuse me while I scour all of my works in progress for these.
Great lines can outlive a movie and transcend its story, no matter how good or bad it was. Great lines make their ways to playgrounds and office spaces, become private jokes that can cement friendships for decades and become cultural symbols for generations. Cliched Dialogues? Not likely, and if so, for all the wrong reasons.
Show Don’t Tell: The Case For Story-Showers Vs. Storytellers
Oh no, I hear you say, not “show don’t tell” again! But Neal Litherland on The Literary Mercenary has a nice take on it.
I’ve seen some terrible shit as an editor. Stories with plot holes big enough to accommodate a longshoreman’s forearms, characters so shallow they had “no diving” tattooed on their foreheads, and honest-to-gods villain monologues have all made their way across my desk. If I had to pick the one thing that keeps coming back like a monster movie slasher though, it’s writers who didn’t get the “show, don’t tell” memo. Rather than just complain about a problem though, I want to try and help writers of all levels stop being storytellers, and start being story-showers.
The Mouse That Roared—Invasion of the Micro-Trend & Why Indies Hold Increasing Power
Kristen Lamb on one of the many ways publishing is changing.
Big publishing has a number of limitations. First, their size. Second, massive overhead. Third? 20th Century thinking. They have to find the mega-trend to stay in business, but what does this mean in a marketplace that is rapidly shifting to micro-trends?
NY is less able to spot the micro-trends, because in a world of algorithms, numbers and spreadsheets, one relies on the past to predict the future. Business is always looking backward in order to move forward. It’s like trying to drive our car using the rearview mirror as the main guide. Says a lot about where we’ve been, but gives limited information as to what’s ahead.
The Rules of Writing…and Why Not To Follow Them
Anne R Allen on why all those “rules” for writing you’re always reading on the internet should be taken with a big pinch of salt.
The “secret writing rules” are the ones you hear at conferences, critique groups, and forums: the ones people say you MUST follow to be a successful novelist—although as an avid reader, you somehow never ran into them before you started writing.
Jamie pointed out that nobody knows where these rules come from, or why so many great books have become classics without following a single one.
Should You Eliminate “Was” From Your Writing? Why Sometimes “the Rules” are Wrong.
And to lead on from the last one – Anne R Allen goes into more detail about one of those rules of writing.
As soon as you joined your first critique group, found a beta reader, or joined a creative writing workshop, somebody no doubt lectured you about avoiding the word “was.” In fact, you were probably admonished to eliminate all forms of the verb “to be” from your fledgling prose.
The Experience of Editing (with glossary)
KJ Charles talks about her experience of being on the other side of the editing equation after years of being an editor.
Regular readers will know that I am both an editor and a writer. I have spent eighteen years tweaking* people’s manuscripts. (* See Glossary.) However, I am a novice at being edited, and I have just had my first major line-editing experience. Imagine a desolate post-nuclear wasteland of shattered buildings and shambling undead. Then imagine that’s your MS after the copy editor’s comments.
4 Tips for Making Your Writing Resolutions Stick
Resolutions are easy to make and easy to break too. Check out to tips to make you more likely to keep them.
78%. No, that’s not the amount of Americans who’ve vowed to disown at least one member of their family during the holiday season. It’s the percentage of people who, according to a recent study, end up failing to keep their New Year’s Resolutions. For scribes like us, this statistic is especially fraught. Sure, everyone else plans to do general things like lose weight, learn a new skill, or give back to the earth by turning at least some of their bongs into bird feeders. But for so many of us writers, when we make plans for the coming year it’s personal; so much of who we are is what we do.
Funny Finish – Novelist Error Messages.