August Links

9 Story Openings To Avoid, Part 2
Kristin Nelson & Angie Hodapp continue their series on Nelson Agency blog.

Your opening pages might be in trouble if…

#2) Your novel opens with White Room Syndrome.

In other words, you may have succeeded at putting at least one character on the page, and maybe some sort of action, too, but you’ve forgotten to share any details about your setting. Does your opening scene occur inside or outside? At night or during the day? In cold weather or hot? Where is your character, what’s nearby, and how does this environment affect him or her in this scene? Omit such details, and your reader has no choice but to imagine that your story is taking place in a “white room.”

And Part 3!

Six Bad Arguments Against Social Justice in Speculative Fiction
Oren Ashkenazi on the Mythcreants blog.

Watching the diverse casting of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the amazing intersectionality of Zootopia, it feels like we’re finally making progress on the front of social justice in storytelling. People are realizing that stories and the lessons they teach mean something. But no matter how much progress we make, some naysayers will try to hold us back. They make the same arguments over and over again about how social justice is bad or just doesn’t belong in storytelling. Fortunately, they’re wrong, and knowing their arguments in advance will help you explain why. From YouTube comments to uncomfortable Thanksgiving dinners, these are six of the most common arguments people make against putting social justice in stories.

5 Steps to Surviving Your Copy Edit
By Jessica Strawser on Writer’s Digest blog.

You might think that editors who are also writers aren’t at all bothered by being edited.

The truth? We understand the importance of being edited probably more than some other writers. We also know going in how key it is to choose our battles, and might feel more comfortable deferring to an edit or, conversely, stetting (the copy editor’s term for negating) one we feel strongly about.

But are we immune to the sting that can come with seeing our pages bleeding red?


Five Ways to Restore Tension
By Chris Winkle on the Mysthcrants blog.

Getting your audience to the finish line requires bait at every step. That bait is the tension created by your opening plot hooks – problems that need solving or questions that haven’t been answered. Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for that tension to drop in the lulls between high-conflict scenes. When it does, your audience might walk away from your work. Use these techniques to insert more tempting bait during those low points.

What people always say to Writers
By Tom Hockness on his Idle Blogs of an Idle Fellow.

The most common is, ‘Are you published?” like it’s something that inevitable happens to every writer. Of course you want to grab them by the lapels and scream ‘D’you have any fucking idea how hard it is to get published?’ It’s not something you choose as an option at A-level . If I was published I would be (even more) unbearable, and you’d not be able to enter my house due to piles of unsold copies of the novel. Plus, you WOULD have known about it. If the blanket promotional bombing across all platforms of social media hadn’t reached you, the airborne banner advertising and T-shirt emblazoned with I’M PUBLISHED! would have.

When the Creative Process Stops Processing
Diana Copland in an Outside the Margins post on Prism Book Alliance blog.

For a while there, I was afraid I’d never have another new book coming out at all! I learned some valuable lessons about grieving this past year, at least my grieving process. I lost my mom and dad within eighteen months of each other. I’d lived with them for about four years before that, helping to take care of them. Mom was 83 and Dad 85 when we all moved in together, and I was chief cook and bottle washer and chauffer. Dad had a minor accident and he handed off the driving duties, and some days Mom just didn’t feel like cooking. This was all fine. I loved them, and I didn’t mind helping.

Writing groups – the good, the bad and the career-destroying
Aleksandr Voinov on his blog about his experience of writing groups.

t’s one of those truisms that writers are “solitary creatures”, as we’re all really quite introverted (exceptions prove the rule). However, many writers though will open up and get quite animated when put into a room with other writers. Sometimes, alcohol is involved, and in the case of some meetings, a healthy dose of airing out dirty linnen, gossip and snark over whoever is currently seen as the “darling of readers” – ie, everybody who sells more copies/has better reviews, etc.

Real on the Internet
An Outside the Margins post by Anna Zabo, on Prism Book Alliance.

I’ve been thinking about names, genders, what we see of authors online and in public and what we don’t see—both online and in public.

Certainly m/m (and the Internet in general—this is not an issues specific to only m/m) has had its share of people who present themselves as something they are not so they can prey on others. Or try to get ahead. Or just to be shitty to other people.

But when it comes to authors and their online presentation verses their “real-life” presentations, there are complexities there that I’m starting to see.

Women, Work, Creativity, Leisure and Time. Because Time is a Feminist Issue
By Kelly Diels

I’d recently inhaled I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time in which author Laura Vanderkam presents time-diaries from successful women in order to extract life lessons and extend lifelines. Her book offers hope and hard evidence that we harried women types actually have a lot more time than we think. Determined to harness that hope for my own nefarious book-writing purposes, I followed-through on her advice to map where I’m spending my days and by extension, my life – that Annie Dillard is a goddamned guilt trip and don’t let anyone tell you different – by measuring my time baseline. I downloaded an app to my iPhone and tracked a week of my minute-by-minute time.

In Defense of Villainesses
By Sarah Gailey, on the

She’s fabulous.

Her hair is done. Her makeup is flawless; her coat, luxurious. She’s single. She’s thin or she’s fat or she’s muscular or she’s old or she’s young but she’s never ever cute or soft or scared of you.

She’s hungry. She wants money, and she wants more luxurious coats, and she wants power. She wants to sit in the chair that is currently occupied by whoever’s in charge, and she doesn’t want to wait for the world to give her that throne. She doesn’t have time for that. She’s not going to wait. She’s going to take it.

In Love with Digital People
A guest post by Sandra Schwab on All About Romance, about creating covers with digital models.

After all, it was on Twitter that friends talked me into writing a historical romance set in ancient Rome. Please note this is what happens when you mention on social media that you live near a reconstructed Roman auxiliary fort at the Upper Germanic Limes: your friends think you’re super-qualified to write Roman romance, and because you don’t want to disappoint them, you buy oodles of new research books and—oh, well, stock photography for the cover.

Have you ever tried to find stock photography for a historical romance set in ancient Rome?

Let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty.

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