Dedications (they’re what you need)
KJ Charles on book dedications.
And of course you can use a dedication to settle a score as Alfie Kohn does in No Contest: The Case against Competition:
“Let me note, finally, that most of the research for this book was done in the libraries of Harvard University, the size of whose holdings is matched only by the school’s determination to restrict access to them. I am delighted to have been able to use these resources, and it hardly matters that I was afforded this privilege only because the school thought I was someone else.”
Deadline Diva: the Pain and the Pleasure
Tessa Shapcott on the power of deadlines.
Deadlines. If you work in the book publishing industry, either as a writer or an editor, you can’t avoid them. If you’re contracted to write by an imprint, you’ll have delivery dates that you’re legally obliged to meet; if you’re self-published, you’ll most likely set yourself a goal to meet the most advantageous sales window. If you’re an editor, you’ll be juggling a number of authors and titles, and therefore different production schedules and publication dates. Yup, deadlines are things you just can’t avoid.
What We’re Really Asking For When We Ask For Writing Advice (*includes picture of hot guy(s))
Christopher Rice about blogging writing advice.
Before I go any further, let me bottom line a few things for those of you who won’t have the patience for all the jokes I’ve stuffed into the following paragraphs. It’s very to hard to make a practical and pragmatic list of writing tips because when people ask for writing advice, they’re usually asking two questions – 1. What will make me a “real writer”? and 2. What will make me “a success”? Unfortunately, it’s impossible for any writer to answer either of these questions, ever, under any circumstances, especially if the person asking is someone the writer doesn’t know very well.
Can I Have 15 Minutes of Your Time?
Donna Cummings on the Romance University blog talks about how just 15 minutes of work can be effective progress on your story.
“Wow, how am I expected to handle that? It’s huge.”
“Massive. I’ll bet it’s even bigger than you thought it would be.”
“It is! There’s no way I can do this. It’s impossible to even try.”
“It’ll work. Trust me. Just take a deep breath.”
It’s obvious from this conversation that I’m talking about. . . Wait. You thought it was–NO! I’m talking about revisions.
Anachronism and Accuracy: getting it right in historical novels
KJ Charles on researching for historical fiction.
Slang, mindless jargon and dead metaphors (phrases whose origin has been forgotten) are particularly dangerous because they date language yet they’re so easy to use without thinking. A recent BBC drama set in 1950 referred to people working ‘twenty-four/seven’. In 1950? And your Victorian hero cannot ‘kick start’ the heroine’s moribund lace-making business because that’s a phrase that comes from motorbikes. You might as well have him reboot it.
The solitude of writing. Please send Prince Charming…
Jane Lovering on the need to peace and alone time for writers.
Writing. It isn’t just another word for sitting alone in a room making paper unicorns, staring out of the window and wondering what’s for dinner you know. It’s a Real Thing. And, increasingly, it’s a real thing that demands quiet, contemplation, chocolate and Being Left Alone sometimes for quite dramatically long periods of time.
Are Your Stakes High Enough?
Janice Hardy on how to make sure the outcome of the story matters and the difference between plot stakes and personal stakes.
There are different levels of stakes, however, and what will grab readers and keep them on the edges of their seats isn’t always what we’d expect. The end of the world feels like the highest stake of all, but readers know the world isn’t really going to end, so it’s rarely a credible threat. Death of the protagonist is another seemingly high stake, but again, very few protagonists actually die.
Length and form in genre storytelling
Sunita on Dear Author on the often divisive and hotly debated subject of serialised fiction.
But the vast majority of comments on the review were negative about the book, the format, the idea of serials more generally, and even toward Meljean. That took me aback, especially the author-directed criticisms, since if anyone has earned the right to experiment with story forms because of past performance, it’s this author. She’s written very high-quality books that respect genre boundaries while exploring them to the fullest, and she takes all kinds of worthwhile risks in her writing. For me, following her to the serial format is a no-brainer even if I weren’t predisposed toward the form.
The Logline–Who Needs It? How Can I Write One?
Whitley Gray breaks down how to write the perfect log line for your story.
Otherwise known as the “elevator pitch,”—something you might pull out when you have a captive audience, such as an editor while attending a conference—the logline is a twenty-five to thirty word summary of your story. It needs to indicate the main characters, the conflict, and the story question.
Starting the Story “In the Action”—Understanding “In Medias Res”
Kristen Lamb talks about how starting with the actions doesn’t have to mean a gunfight or an explosion.
In medias res quite literally means “in the middle of things.” This is a literary tactic that has been used since the days of Odysseus. It is a tactic that forces the writer forward, to begin the story near the heart of the problem.
Ah, but this is where we writers can get in trouble. I see writers beginning their novels with high-action gun battles, blowing up buildings, a heart-wrenching, gut-twisting scene in a hospital or at a funeral, all in an effort to “hook the reader” by “starting in the middle of the action.” Then when they get dinged/rejected by an agent or editor, they are confused.
And to finish with the funny this month – the “silly articles about Romance” workout from Smart Bitches Trashy Books.