When Stories Go Bad: what to do with a flatlining MS.
KJ Charles about how to rescue a story in trouble.
So you need a brutally honest beta reader or crit partner that you can trust to say, ‘Mate, this is just not that good.’ That way you can believe them in the unlikely event they tell you it’s great. (They won’t. It sucks. Sorry.) It is very hard to be that beta reader, and if you have one, take them out to dinner or something and assure them you still love them. You should.
I-SPY: Choosing a pen name
Clare London considers the various issues around choosing a pen name.
Remember, you’re going to be answering to this pen name for (hopefully) the rest of your life. Maybe you want to keep your “real” first name so you don’t have to train yourself to be called by a second name. Or maybe you’ve always wanted a new name and now’s your chance!
I kept my first name – and yes, it’s amazing how useful that is when people call to you in a group setting e.g. at a conference.
19 Questions to Ask (and ask again) about Voice
Emma Darwin about choosing the voice of the narration for your story.
Either way, the voice of the narrative will be formed by who the narrator is, and so by your thinking about characterisation-in-action. But even when you have found a voice for the narrative, how do you keep it strong, and consistent, in the long haul? Characters change – change is the motor of storytelling – but how do you make sure that the voice or voices change convincingly, and don’t just lapse into the bland default that you’ve taken such trouble to get away from?
Is Writing a Hobby or a Profession for You? Why Either Path Can be a Good Choice.
Anne R Allen about choosing which writing path is right for you.
If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to become a successfully published author, it’s a good idea to consider first what that means to you.
What is your personal definition of success?
Do you want to be a professional writer or a hobbyist?
Working Out Your Writing
Hansel at the Romance University blog about how establishing a writing routine when you are new, or coming back from a break from writing is a lot like establishing an exercise routine.
was frustrated with my writing as well as my lack of motivation for getting myself back to the gym. These were both things I did routinely every day of the week but one. A few months back I looked at the wall of machines at my local Planet Fitness the same way I did at the words “Chapter 1” staring back at me from my iMac. With fearless abandon. I knew I could handle it and hang in there for the long haul. A couple of weeks ago I wasn’t sure I could do either.
The Secret to my Success
Josh Lanyon spills the beans on how he got where he is today and what lessons you can learn from his journey.
1 – Write the best possible book you have in you. Publish every three months. In the short term, quantity counts. In the long term, quality. If you want your writing career to last more than a decade, take the time to write quality stories. Write them as fast as you can without sacrificing quality. You need about four “big” releases a year. More than that and you’re probably cutting corners somewhere. (I should probably qualify that a “big” release doesn’t refer to word count. It refers to how much promo effort you’re going to give to it.)
Fast Drafting – what I learned from my first Nanowrimo
Liam Livings did his first NaNoWriMo in 2013 – and did fantastic! Here’s what he learned from it and his advice.
Write through the blocks. If you’re stuck on scene put XXXX that’s my code for ‘need to come back here and fix something’ write THEY HAVE AN ARGUMENT whatever needs to happen, and move onto the next scene you can write, the next scene you have excitement to write.
Query Letters: What Agents Love And Loathe
Agent Helen Zimmerman with some tips on query letters and how not to destroy your book’s chances with one!
Don’t spend the first two sentences writing about how you know how busy we are and thanks so much for taking the time. Ugh. Just get to the point!
Lower Your Standards: getting through the book’s babyhood
KJ Charles on how accepting less than perfection helps you battle through a first draft – and incidentally, bringing up children.
‘Lower your standards’ got me through early parenthood. The house did not fall down, nobody got cholera, the kids survived and so did we. We lowered our standards, and cleared up later, and you know what, it’s worked out pretty well.
Research Part Two: Too Deep
Sam Starbuck on not letting research take over your story.
It’s easy to go down the rabbit-hole when you’re researching, especially on the internet. It’s called “wikiwandering” — looking up one thing you need to know, and ending up reading about ten thousand things you didn’t need to know but suddenly desperately want to know. It happens on Wikipedia, but most infamously on the TV Tropes website, and other sites like Cracked.
Trust Me, You Need a Good Editor
Rachelle Gardener on what a good editor will do for a good writer.
I was excited to read this book—a memoir—and it started out promising. But it quickly devolved into a self-focused, rambling hodgepodge of preaching interspersed with bragging. I did finish the book (luckily it was rather short) but I ended up with strongly negative feelings toward the author. Since this was a memoir, I doubt that’s what the author was going for.
Six Pieces of Bad Advice New Writers Need to Ignore
Anne R Allen on some of the bad advice new writers hear and why it is wrong.
And for some reason, everybody who’s ever watched Oprah (or Richard and Judy in the UK) thinks they know all about what it takes to be a professional writer. Tell somebody you write and you’ll immediately get lots of clueless advice from the “civilians” around you—from your family to your hairdresser to that know-it-all guy at work.
But the truth is, writing for a living is hard. If you love it, that won’t stop you for a minute, but if you believe there are shortcuts, you’re going to be awfully disappointed.
Finish with the funny!
Author reviews his own book that hasn’t been released yet.
Patrick Rothfuss concludes that his book must be popular with time travellers, given the number of reviews it’s got on Goodreads before he’s even finished the edits.
This is strangely reassuring, as it lets me know that, eventually, I do finish my revisions, and the book turns out good enough so that I still have a following out there in the big ball of wibbly-wobbly…. timey-wimey…. stuff that I like to think of as the future.