Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Where's the Beef? The Reporter Shows the Writer the Meat of the Story

by Brandy Dolce 

After college, I accepted a news reporter position at a large New Jersey newspaper. It took a while, but I learned to be less flowery when reporting on a robbery and tax evasion. As a news reporter, I’d get my story from cops, townspeople, politicians, educators and victims. I wrote in perfect sequence, describing the event and than dotting the rest of the story with “voices” or quotes from the people involved. A reporter must remain unbiased. I admit it was very difficult for me to do so. I am human after all.  I’d get so…emotional.
Hey, Fiction Writer. You’re staring at this white screen like it’s a barren wasteland.  Yeah, I know it’s intimidating. But does this lonely glacier have the potential for life? Hell, yes!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Three Cosmic Rules of Writing

by Dennis Palumbo
As a veteran writer and a licensed psychotherapist specializing in writers' issues, I know enough to know there aren't any rules when it comes to writing.

Except for the following, which I modestly call the Three Cosmic Rules of Writing. I'm serious. Learn these simple rules, then burn them into your hearts and minds. It couldn't hurt. 

When the Plot Refuses to Thicken

It's time to play the 'Maybe' game
by Brandy Dolce

Many of us have come to that place in our writing where the story is supposed to get more interesting, but instead throws itself off a cliff to certain death.
So how do we thicken the plot?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Write a Book Scene by Scene

A Different Approach to Writing Stories
by Marg McAlister 
Not everyone can start writing a novel at the beginning and work straight through. Some authors prefer to pour energy into writing good scenes, then link them up later. For authors who hate to plot, but love to lose themselves in writing story scenes, the 'scene by scene' method is an inviting way to produce a finished novel. Note that this method does not give writers permission to produce sloppy fiction. It simply means that they can hit the ground running by immersing themselves in writing good scenes at the beginning, then tweak later - when the book starts to take on a life of its own.

TV Script-Writing Trick Helped Organize YA novel

By Alan Gratz

Flipping wistfully through a travel guide to Japan, I came across a photo of a man in a kimono throwing out the first pitch at a 1915 Japanese baseball tournament. 1915? I thought American GIs had introduced the sport during the Allied Occupation after World War II. I learned instead that Japan had baseball as early as 1872. The end of the samurai era had overlapped the beginning of the baseball era. Baseball? Samurai? This could be the idea that would get me published! There was only one problem: how to manage the mountain of research it would take to write it.

40 Twitter Hashtags for Writers

by Simon Kewin
If you use Twitter, you’re probably already familiar with the idea of hashtags. These are simply a way of categorizing particular tweets by including within them a keyword prefixed with the hash or “pound” (#) symbol. So, for example, tweets containing writing advice will often contain the “#writetip” tag. The point of this is to make it easier to find all tweets containing writing advice : you just search for “#writetip”. Similarly, you could find a stream of publication tips by keeping an eye on tweets with “#pubtip” in them.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

How Not to Create a Villain

by Anne Marble 
Villains aren't as important to the romance novel as the hero and heroine, but in many stories, they are crucial. The villain's actions can drive the he
ro and heroine to succeed against all odds, force them to make difficult decisions, even drive them apart for a while. However, romance writers walk a delicate tightrope when creating villains. If your villain is dull, the readers won't be all that interested in your story, even if your hero and heroine are wonderful. On the other hand, if the villain is too interesting or has too many scenes, he might distract the readers from the hero and heroine -- and they should always be the main focus of a romance novel.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Anne R. Allen's Blog: 12 Do's and Dont's for Introducing your Protagonist

Great advice from Anne R. Allen! Had to post it here for quick reference!

One note of caution: these are rules for the final draft. When you’re first diving into a novel, you’re not introducing your characters to a reader; you’re introducing them to yourself. All kinds of information about your MC will come up, like she eats cold pizza for breakfast, grew up next to an adult book store, and feels a deep hatred for Smurfs. This stuff will spill out in your first chapters. Let it. That’s the fun part. But be aware you’ll want to cut most of the information or move it to another part of the book when you edit.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Agents, Aspiring Authors & Eloisa James

Note: I wrote this in 2005 when I worked as an advice columnist for the Asbury Park Press. I updated some of the writing resources though - I couldn't help it!  

Q: I recently finished writing a fiction novel and was wondering how to go about getting it published.
Sue, 30, West Long Branch

A: I was very excited to receive this question because it gave me the perfect opportunity to interview New York Times best-selling author, Eloisa James. Her first book was picked up by Harper Collins - something that was accomplished with the help of an agent. How? The agent submitted James' book to a few publishers, a bidding war ensued, and voila! Eloisa James was in print.
(Sigh). Sounds like a fairy tale, right? 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Story Beginnings

by Lucienne Diver

Everyone knows that a good opening can make or break a submission. With busy agents and editors getting literally hundreds of submissions a week, you want to be sure to grab their attention right away and never surrender it. I hear far too often in pitches, “but the story really starts….” In the famous words of Lewis Carroll, “Begin at the beginning and go on until you come to the end, then stop.” It seems so obvious, and yet, beginnings are not always so easy to identify. Do you start with murder or motive? Action or voice? Scene-setting or dialogue?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What 'Art of War' Can Teach Us About Plot and Characterization

by Brandy Dolce

It's the motivator by which Sun Tzu’s "Art of War" remains a permanent fixture on my desk. I've employed his basic principles throughout my journalism career - in my news stories, advice column and magazine articles, as well as in the manipulation of certain repugnant individuals. And I continue to use them as I work toward the completion of my first YA manuscript.

Why? Because Sun Tzu was a master deceiver, a manipulator of pawns. He played on his enemies' weaknesses, surprised them when they thought they couldn’t be misled, and offered them what they wanted only to snatch it away and entrap them. "Art of War" is a veritable gold mine for those, like myself, working to structure an exciting plot line. How? Because plot, like warfare, is the Tao of deception! Below are some of Sun Tzu's battle principles as they pertain to the art of storytelling.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Creating Character Emotion

by Pepper Basham

Good mornin’ all.

Pepper here, and I’m currently going through a great DVD series by famous scriptwriter and speaker, Michael Hauge. It’s called The Hero’s Two Journeys and is filled with fantastic info I want to share with you guys.

First of all, I’d like to ask you a question. 
Why do you read fiction? I mean, really. Bare bones answer.

If you’re really honest, one of the reasons you and I read fiction is to experience adventures we don’t experience in the everyday. To become emotionally involved in a story. To escape into someone else’s journey.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Story-Starters: Ten Ways to Jump-Start Your Plot

by Anne Marble

Coming up with new story ideas is important to any fiction writer. Many writers no shortage of ideas for stories -- their problem is coping with having too many ideas. If you're like most writers, you probably have notebooks or computer files swarming with ideas. Yet sometimes, you reach that point where none of the stories in those swarms are right for you. Here are ten steps to help you generate new story ideas. Even if you don't wind up writing stories this way, you will still have fun!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

How to Write the End of Your Novel

by C. Patrick Schulze
When I finished my first manuscript, low those many years ago, I hit the enter key a few times, center aligned my text and typed, “The End.” The problem? I’d completed my NOVEL but not my story. I had yet to learn how to write the ending to a novel, and didn’t realize it doesn’t matter how your novel ends as much as where it ends.
Yes, to finish a novel is one trick, but to end your story is quite another. There are certain aspects to the ending of your novel that should be taken into account before you stop writing. For example, have you used one of the four unacceptable endings?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Stephen King Says: Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully in 10 Minutes

Written by Stephen King

I. The First Introduction

THAT'S RIGHT. I know it sounds like an ad for some sleazy writers' school, but I really am going to tell you everything you need to pursue a successful and financially rewarding career writing fiction, and I really am going to do it in ten minutes, which is exactly how long it took me to learn.

It will actually take you twenty minutes or so to read this essay, however, because I have to tell you a story, and then I have to write a second introduction. But these, I argue, should not count in the ten minutes.

K.M. Weiland: Why You Need a Premise Sentence

All stories begin with a premise (a battle in space, two people falling in love, a dog getting lost). But, often, our original conceptions are hazy and unformed. Sometimes, they’re not even a premise, so much as the what-if question that will lead to a premise. What if a little boy’s brain grew too quickly for his body to keep up? (Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card.) What if an orphan boy was given a fortune by an unknown benefactor? (Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.) What if an assassin was hired to kill himself? (My own Behold the Dawn.)

What-if questions are hugely powerful. But if we don’t refine them into full-blown premise sentences, we’re not taking full advantage of them.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Plot: The Hero's Journey

Thanks to C. Patrick Schulz and his great blog for shining a light for those of us still stumbling along in the dark. I reposted an excerpt of one his recent posts below because it's very helpful to me in outlining my plot and guiding my characters. Oh, who am I kidding; they guide me.
In any case, The Hero's Journey portion of his latest post is wonderful. Read his fantastic blog here
The Hero’s Journey has twelve situations your hero must face. This generates a plot and forces a story to pop out as if by osmosis. The novel is much more difficult, but the story, well, that’s easy. Here are the twelve steps to the Hero’s Journey.