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1. Spicing Up Your Prose Part 2 of 6

This week, we continue to add delicious rhetorical devices to your prose spice shelf.

Asyndeton omits conjunctions and speeds up the sentence using three or four beats.

Dick ran, laughing, hysterical, howlingfrom the library.

Balance offers two propositions of equal value joined by a comma or semicolon. The second half mirrors the first half but changes a few words.

Dick asked not what Jane could do for him1, but what he could do for her2.

Chiasmus repeats a sentence or clause but reverses the order in the second half.

When the water gets rough, the rough get in the water.

Chronicity moves the sentence backward or forward in time using connectors such as: after, before, during and until.

BeforeDick would agree to enter the library, before he would agree to read the book, he insisted that Jane go home.

Conduplicato repeats a key word from the base clause to start the next sentence or clause.
                
Dick was hard to love, hard tohate.

Consecutive clauses reveal a series of actions or thoughts.

Dick ran through the hall1, up the stairs2, skidding around the corner3, breaking into the library4 in time to hear Jane scream.

Epanelepsis repeats the same word or phrase at the beginning and end of a clause or sentence.

Dayfollowed day, week followed week, and Jane still had no answer.

Epistrophe repeats the same word or phrase at the end of successive phrases, clauses, or sentences. It carries emotion.

Jane charmed him, confused him, and consumed him.


Next week, we will contine adding spices to your prose shelf.

For the complete list of spices and other revision layers, pick up a copy of: 

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2. Adding Depth

Adding more scenes is not the same as adding depth to your story. 

http://scotteagan.blogspot.com/2014/07/adding-depth-to-your-stories.html

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3. Indiana’s Autumn Leaves

IMG_5079.JPG


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4. No Fee: Real Simple Life Lessons Essay Contest

Real Simple’s Life Lessons Essay Contest

Prize: $3,000.00.
Entry fee: $0.00.
Deadline: 09-18-2014.

WRITING CONTEST WEBSITE

Real Simple magazine is seeking entries for its annual Life Lessons Essay Contest, which awards $3,000 to the writer who has written the best essay of non-fiction. Second-place wins $750, and third-place wins a $500 cash prize.

The theme is on sharing a “Eureka!” moment–a powerful thought that made you suddenly realize that something or someone had contributed to the happiness and/or success in your life.

To enter, submit online a nonfiction essays of no more than 1,500 words. The editors of Real Simple will judge all entries according to the these rules: novelty, creativeness, writing style, and relevance of theme.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Contest, opportunity, Places to sumit, publishers, Win, writing Tagged: A Eureka Moment, No fee Contest, Non-fiction, Real Simple Essay Contest

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5. Writer Wednesday: Frequently Asked Questions

I've decided to add a Frequently Asked Questions feature on my website and blog as part of my Press Kit. So today, I'm asking for your help. What questions would you like me to answer? It can be anything about my writing or my books.   Things like when I started writing, how I choose my genres, why I span age groups. Whatever you'd like.

Okay, you can ask me some silly questions too. Why not? I have a few quirks I'm willing to share for your amusement. Maybe I'll answer those as part of a vlog for fun. Sound good? 

You're up. Leave me your questions in the comments. I won't answer them there though. I'm compile a list and share all the answers once I've finished. Thanks!

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6. When Do Writers Stop Writing?

erikaphoto-45When Do Writers Stop Writing? by Erika Wassall

So we’re writers… right?

We write…

And we write…

And then we write some more.

The problem is, sometimes it’s hard to STOP writing and say… okay, it’s done.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean “Done” as in you’ll never alter anything about it ever again. My title is of course not realistic. We never stop writing. And we’ll revise again and again with editors or agents.

But at some point, we have to decide, it’s ready to be submitted.

This is tough for a lot of us. We may have been working on something for years, and it’s evolved, morphed and been not just revised but re-envisioned (a term I took from Jill Corcoran’s videos) so many times. And each time, it’s become better, stronger and more complete.

We could go on with that forever, and it would just keep getting better… right?

But there is a line. There comes a point where we have to make the leap of faith and start submitting our work. Sometimes easier said than done.

I can’t tell you when your work is done. I’m not sure anyone can. Some people are lucky, they can just “feel it”.

Me? Sigh. I wish.

Not at all. I’m ALWAYS left thinking… maybe one more person’s critique will help, or maybe one more re-write of the this paragraph will be even better!

I like to have a checklist. It gives me a good basis for being sure I haven’t missed anything major:

1) First round of revisions – this is usually checking for consistency and flow, because my first drafts are a bit… rough.

2) Time off – serious time off, usually a month

3) The big change – almost all of my manuscripts have at some point had some major change or revision that has made things click. Some have had more than one. For me, it’s an important part of my process.

4) More revisions and feedback from other writers and people I trust.

5) Falling apart at some point and thinking it’s not any good. For me, if this hasn’t happened at least once, I’m not done. This usually leads to another short spurt of time off, a week or so of ignoring all writing-related thoughts.

6) The writer in me wins out and I dive back in.

Then I usually sit here in this stage for a while, bouncing around in revisions, critiques, thoughts etc. Problem is: me? I could sit here forever. At some point, I just have to pull the darn trigger!

If I can look back and know that I did right by myself and the story I have to tell, it’s time to start narrowing down the list of agents I’m going to target.

Plus, at this point, I usually have a few new ideas percolating in the brain, so they’re a good distraction to keep myself from revising that sentence just one more time.

Am I saying this is a good checklist for other people?

NOT AT ALL.

I think everyone’s checklist/process is different. But I do think it can be helpful to have some sort of checklist in your mind, to go through whatever steps you need as a writer and individual to make your manuscript the best it can be.

I have one final step after the checklist. This is usually the only way I’ve ever able to draw that intimidating line of saying IT’S READY NOW:

Create a deadline!

I can never quite get to the point where I say, “It’s done NOW.” But I AM able to say, “It’ll be done in a month.” And then stick to that.

And then I have to just tell myself, that’s it. It’s ready. I have to trust myself and commit that that’s my Final Answer.

An exciting time for sure, but finishing a manuscript and sending it out into the world often holds it’s share of anxiety of uncertainty. But it’s an important part of the process and guess what…

… your manuscripts deserve it!

Thanks Erika for another valuable post.

Erika Wassall is a writer, a farmer and a liver of life. She is a member of SCBWI and a proud Mad Scientist, bringing science experiments right into children’s classrooms, and hearts. She has a small farm in New Jersey with sheep, chickens, pigs and vegetables. Check out her new website at www.TheJerseyFarmScribe.com where as a first generation farmer, she often takes the long way, learning the tricks of the trade on The Farm. On her website is also The Shop page with tips and a free Q/A from her husband’s mechanic shop, and The Writer page where she shares stories, experiences and characters from the heart. Follow her on Twitter at @NJFarmScribe. She’d love to hear from you!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, inspiration, Process, revisions, Tips, writing Tagged: Erika Wassall, Guest Blog Post, When to Stop Writing

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7. Stone Journey. (The Clare Poem)

Ireland April 2012 101.jpg 25 small

Stone Journey

(The Clare Poem)

 

What is it, Anu?

This water pouring across the plain

Of Desmond to the sea.

Down the limestone steps of karsted hills.

Through furrowed fields and into the wild Atlantic’s glare,

Below the sculpted cliffs of Clare.

Rushing now with meter in our steps.

Gunneling. Running, and forever onward.

Why me? Why did you love me back there?

Why did you hide our passion in your shawl?

Why did we venture into the race?

Water and the speed of foam still fill our space.

What made us one within our wetness?

Ferdiad, and the hounds of love

Came bounding out of me and down the craggy slope.

I made it there with you.

We thunder downward and pour out into the plain below.

Anu and I. Loins locked together in the flow.

Karsts bear hard around us. They crack and crumble.

Crushing anything that ventures in their space.

But we have courage. We have the inner power,

Of mystery with the magic, now dark within the glens.

Together we take this solid sight.

And out-pour each other in the stoney forms of our delight.

Denis Hearn 2013

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8. The Ripple Effect of Your Writing

     by Sally Matheny

     
Think of the all the things you wrote in the past few days. Grocery lists, work assignments, or perhaps even a complaint letter to a company. Without a doubt, many of us typed messages from our computers and cell phones. It’s rare a day goes by without us writing something. Quite a bit of that ends up in a trashcan or in a mysterious, technical hole known as the Cloud.

    


     Today, why not compose something more enduring? Words so moving they do not melt into oblivion, but stir a tide of encouragement in another person’s soul. Inspiring words so powerful, they swell into action. Consider the ripple effect of such writing.

     My husband and I recently attended a Steven Curtis Chapman concert. While Chapman is the most awarded artist in Christian music with almost 11 million albums sold, he is not immune to the pains and heartaches of this world. However, he clings to the Truth, which is why hope and joy resonate in the words he writes and sings.

     Chapman’s latest album, The Glorious Unfolding,is definitely touching many lives. We met a young woman named Cindy at the concert. She shared with me how Chapman’s music recently affected her life.

     Cindy shared that just five days prior to the concert, she was on her way to the hospital to visit her ailing father. While in route, she heard Chapman’s song, The Glorious Unfolding play on the radio. During her visit at the hospital, her father left his earthly home to live forever in his heavenly one. I began to offer my sympathy but Cindy nodded quickly. She wanted to tell me more.

Steven Curtis Chapman
(compliments of Wikipedia)
     Upon leaving her father’s deathbed in the hospital, Cindy returned to her car. Turning the key, ignited The Glorious Unfolding playing once again on the radio. God continued to comfort her throughout the week. On the day of her father’s funeral, Cindy, once more, overheard Steven Curtis Chapman singing his words of comfort and hope in The Glorious Unfolding.

    If I understood her correctly, she did not see the music video written for this song until after all the previous events had occurred. Imagine her joy-filled amazement as she watched the video’s story unfold about a young woman’s journey following her father’s death.

     There’s no way Steven Curtis Chapman can know the ripple effects his songs will have when he first writes them. He only knows to write what he knows to be true and to do it the best way he knows how.

     I love when people use their talents to honor Christ and point others to Him. I’m thankful for song artists like Chapman and for the writers of movies such as Fireproof, Courageous, and God’s Not Dead. Authors’ words like those of C.S. Lewis and Charles Spurgeon continue to inspire generation after generation.

     Perhaps you’re muttering to yourself that you’re not an award-winning wordsmith. My friend, you’re not thinking about the right kind of rewards. Just as the words in songs, movies and books make lasting impressions upon people, so can your words.
     
     Don’t you have a letter or card tucked safely away because you cherish the words written inside it? Unless you’re a pack rat, it’s not the card that simply says,

Thinking of you.

Love,
Joe

     It’s the one that someone has given great care expressing his thoughts. He's taken time to share what’s in his heart with you.

     If you want to write a song, a movie, or a book that will change the world, or perhaps change just one life, I’m rooting for you. The world needs more people writing and producing products with a Christian worldview.
      
     But God did not create everyone to pen products like these.  However, He will use the words of all His people—the elderly man on the bench, the young teen standing in line, or even the little child in your lap to encourage others.


     He wants each of us to use our words for building up, not tearing down. Negative and hurtful comments have a ripple effect as well. Words aimed at a target audience seeps out of them and onto innocent bystanders. 

     The words we choose represent God or they don’t.

     Sometimes it’s easy. Other times it’s difficult. That’s why we need God’s help. Like Steven Curtis Chapman, your words must be sincere. Work hard to encourage others when you write.

Express love.

Offer forgiveness.

Give hope.

     Splash your words in such a way they bring joy as they skip across the page. What you write may create a ripple effect more beautiful than you ever imagined.




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9. An interesting slant on backstory

I came across a cartoon that I think you’ll enjoy. It deals with flashbacks as a way to talk about what backstory can mean in terms of whether or not you can kill off a character in a story. Here’s a sample of a couple of frames:

Toon panels

For what it’s worth.

Ray

© 2014 Ray Rhamey

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10. Laying the Groundwork for a Series

If I had a series about, well, series, I’d make a few key points. Namely, there’s my old yarn about writing your story as having “series potential” instead of REQUIRING a three- or five- or nine-book contract to execute your idea properly. We’re not in the Harry Potter boom years anymore, nor are we deep in a recession, but the market is still risk-averse. And signing up a debut writer for one unknown book, let alone three unknown books, represents a potential opportunity, sure, but also a big potential loss for the house. Basically, you’re in a much stronger position if you write one amazing manuscript with “series potential” (a few threads left open and the suggestion of future adventures that could be exploited) and then have the publisher asking you for a sequel, than you would be if you were the one needing multiple books to get your story told.

Now, how do you leave those threads open in a way that keeps your sequel options open while letting your manuscript seem whole enough to stand alone? Ah, now this is a good question. First, I would recommend that no more than three threads be left open. And they should be subplot threads with maybe one main plot thread, not all main plot threads. Your job is to resolve most of those by the end of Book 1. If you’re ending on a cliff-hanger or you’re leaving the main plot undecided, you’re not paying attention to everything the current market is telling you about sequels.

If, however, you haven’t entirely resolved one character’s problem, and your protagonist is still wondering about a certain element of the subplot, and the ending feels buttoned-up but you’ve hinted at the potential that everything could go to hell in a handbasket at some point in the future, then you’re doing it right. Future threat that may or may not come to pass is compelling enough to use as a launching-off point for a sequel. Present threat that’s not resolved slaps your reader in the face after they’ve spent four hours reading your story with a, “Yeah, you’ll have to buy the next installment and find out.”

Another thing I’ve noticed in a few manuscript is that seemingly random details are planted that stick out like a sore thumb. They have little bearing on the story that we’ve been reading so far. What gives? Invariably, the writer admits that they are “seeds being planted for the sequel.” This balances on the razor’s edge between “smart” and “silly.”

Let’s say that you are definitely planning a sequel if only someone would give you one, so you’re sneaking things into the manuscript that will only make sense once you get to execute the second (third, fourth, fifth, etc.) parts of the story you’re envisioning. That’s fine. To a point. But if the last third of your book starts to read like the prologue to Book 2, you’re in trouble with the reader. “Why are we spending so much time talking about something that has no precedent in the entire story I’ve just read?” they’ll wonder.

Balance is key to most things, in life and in fiction. Plant some details, leave some threads. But stick to your principles and your duties to the reader. Finish up the story you’ve invited them to read. That is first and foremost. Once you have a really solid resolution, then you can plant a few seeds. If you never get to do that sequel, they will be nonsense at worst, and not many people will notice. But if you’ve gone overboard and every second page hints at something that has no bearing on the present denouement, you’ve overstepped your bounds.

 

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11. Adding New Ideas vs. Knowing When to Streamline

Writing Life Banner

by

Susan Dennard

I received an awesome question post in my forum last week, and I thought I’d answer it today. :)

I thought my first novel was done except for proofreading, after being through many CPs and two passes with a professional editor I hired. Now that I’m about 25% into its sequel, I keep discovering new things about my characters that I’d like to go back and put in the first one as a connecting detail or foreshadowing. This is for characters, but for places too, because my trilogy is fantasy and I get more awesome ideas about the various cultures and places as I write more.

The problem is when can I “stop” world building? Should I write and edit the entire trilogy before self publishing the first one or just publish the first one now because it’s ready. When I’m working on the other two, I’ll just have to delete some of my new ideas I guess? Because the first one will already be out in the world, unchangeable.

How do you deal with this when you have a traditional contract for only one book, not knowing if your editor will want to buy or publish the rest of the series as you envision it?

Okay, let’s break this down into two separate questions.

When to Stop Adding Ideas

It’s funny that this question–When can I stop world-building?–came RIGHT at a time when I’m struggling with a similar issue. I have so many new ideas! I want to squeeze them all in HERE and NOW and into THIS WORLD…

Well, there is a breaking point and there is such a thing as too much. And in all honesty, a tight book that gets complex without getting unwieldy and that wraps up in a great big AHA! of meeting threads–those are the books that readers love most. (An excellent example is the Harry Potter series: lots of threads and characters and world details, but it never bogs down the reader. Best of all, everything comes together for a truly spectacular ending.)

So how do you know if you’re only complicating things by adding more?

For world-building: If you have extraneous details that don’t actually add to the story or need to be there for the plot’s sake, then you might want to cut out some histories and details. A few subtle elements can absolutely enhance the story–little details make a world feel real. But if you worry you have too many details or so many settings that the reader is getting whiplash…Well, you might want to take a look at the world-building.

For characters: If you’re having a hard time incorporating characters into a scene, then maybe they don’t need to be there. I totally made this mistake with Strange & Ever After–I wanted to have Laure join Eleanor and the Spirit-Hunters in Marseille and Egypt. But it got so unwieldy! Having to find ways/reasons for every character to speak and act in group scenes? I just kept forgetting characters were even there. Obviously, I solved this problem by leaving Laure in Paris and then trying to keep each scene focused on only a 1-3 characters at a time.

For plot threads: If, at any point, you have to start writing a really complicated, info-dumpy type scenes in order to wrap up and connect all the threads, then you might have too many plots twining through your book. I am SO guilty of this in Strange & Ever After, and I’ll talk more about that below. :)

The key is, in my opinion, to getting a streamlined book is to:

1. Work with what you already have when trying to connect scenes, characters, places, and events. Sometimes little throwaway comments from earlier chapters or books can become AWESOME plot points or props.

2. If you can’t work with what you already have, try to instead to TAKE AWAY. Maybe some detail or thread is actually clogging you up rather than giving you the freedom to move forward. Thought it sometimes requires rewriting, it’s often better to simplify than to complicate–unless, of course, the book is already super simple. Then you might want to…

3. Add in those new ideas and see/feel how it works. If you can tell that it’s just opening up too many new story questions or story directions, then maybe you shouldn’t add it. But you can always weave it in, try it out for a few chapters, and then decide.

Writing an Entire Series Upfront

Now, onto the other part of this question: If self-publishing, should you write and edit the entire trilogy before publishing the first? If traditional publishing, how do you deal with new ideas and being confined to what’s already in the world?

Goodness, I can tell you from experience that writing a sequel once the earlier books are published/unchangeable is REALLY HARD. Holy crow, it’s hard. You write yourself into unforeseen corners and you can’t go back to tweak things in earlier books.

Or, you’ll have the AWESOME ideas that you just love and that resonate so much with you…but that you can’t introduce because they really should have been introduced in the already-on-shelves book 1.

Or, if you’ll discover in your third book (as I did) that everything you’d kinda-sorta thought would tie up DOESN’T–at least not in a way that resonates with you. Now you’re stuck adding all sorts of little details and backstories that you really wish you’d dropped into earlier books. For example, in Strange & Ever After, I introduce the idea of gods and other creatures from the spirit realm. I REALLY wish I could go back to Something Strange & Deadly and weave in just a few hints that gods are coming up…But alas, the first books were already published.

So if you can (and if you intend to definitely self-publish the whole trilogy), I actually think you can benefit from writing all the books at once. Not only does this allow you to really build your story and streamline it, but it also allows you to publish the entire series at once (which works very well in the self-publishing world).

However, if you ARE confined to writing only one book at a time, I urge you to follow the steps I list above: work with what you already have, take away aspects, or add new ideas with heaps of caution. Will you be stuck scratching your head and screaming at the already-in-stores book for not being changeable? Probably, but that doesn’t mean writing sequels after earlier books are finished is impossible. (And perhaps my post on planning a series will help!)
Ask Sooz a Question

If you like what you read here, consider signing up for my newsletter, the Misfits & Daydreamers or swinging by my For Writers page!

SusanDennardBefore she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor, Susan Dennard traveled the world as marine biologist. She is the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series as well as the forthcoming Witchlands series (Tor, 2015), and when not writing, she can be found hiking with her dogs, exploring tidal pools, or practicing her tap dance shuffles. You can learn more about Susan on her blogTwitterFacebook, or Pinterest.

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12. Author Spotlight on: Laurisa White Reyes

Today I’m really excited to welcome Laurisa White Reyes to the blog. I met Laurisa a few years back at a writing retreat, soon after her first novel, The Rock of Ivanore, had been picked up for publication by Tanglewood Press. Of course she was pulsing with excitement and we all wanted to sit next […]

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13. Monday Mishmash: 8/25/14


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. My Mom's Birthday!  Today is my mom's birthday! Happy birthday, Mom! You're the best mother, friend, and beta reader I could ever ask for.
  2. Booking Events  I'm booking author events for the fall. I've got at list of signings planned and I will start working on booking school visits soon. :)
  3. Perfect For You Pre-order  Perfect For You is now up for pre-order and it's only $2.99! I'm excited. You can order it here.
  4. Perfect For You Release Day Blitz  In addition to the blog tour, there will be a release day blitz for Perfect For You. Want to sign up? Click here.
  5. Curse of the Granville Fortune Blog Tour Signups  The Curse of the Granville Fortune Blog Tour will run from October 20 to November 2. If you'd like to sign up, click here.

    That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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14. Writing Mistakes

Ten things that will make an editor stop reading your manuscript.

http://www.elawreads.com/blog/2014/7/15/finishing-the-hat-ten-things-that-make-an-editor-stop-reading-your-manuscript

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15. Unworkshop

Wouldn't it be great to escape for a few days to just write? Oh, do I have a place for you! You won't have to cook a single meal, it's tranquil, there's wifi, AND it's affordable.

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16. Interesting blog posts about writing – w/e August 22nd, 2014



Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last week:

Who Can Effectively Challenge Amazon in the Book Business? (Jane Friedman)
http://janefriedman.com/2014/08/21/challenge-amazon/

The Perfect Title (Mary Keeley)
www.booksandsuch.com/blog/perfect-title/

Narrowing the Gap (Terry Odell)
http://bloodredpencil.blogspot.com/2014/08/narrowing-gap.html

In obscurity, butterflies (Jennifer R. Hubbard aka writerjenn)
http://writerjenn.livejournal.com/393462.html

How Technology Affects the Way We Write (Dean Fetzer)
http://litreactor.com/columns/how-technology-affects-the-way-we-write

Dealing with Reader Expectations (Stina Lindenblatt)
http://querytracker.blogspot.com/2014/08/dealing-with-reader-expectations.html

You’ve Got the Power (Rachelle Gardner)
www.booksandsuch.com/blog/you-got-the-power/

Finding Your Voice (Clare Langley-Hawthorne)
http://killzoneauthors.blogspot.com/2014/08/finding-your-voice.html

Kill Your Darlings? (Elle Carter Neal)
http://bloodredpencil.blogspot.com/2014/08/kill-your-darlings.html

The Six Archetypes Every Novel Needs (Bill Ferris)
http://writerunboxed.com/2014/08/16/the-six-archetypes-every-novel-needs/

Back It Up (Joe Hartlaub)
http://killzoneauthors.blogspot.com/2014/08/back-it-up.html



If you found these useful, you may also like my personal selection of the most interesting blog posts from 2013, and last week’s list.

If you have a particular favorite among these, please let the author know (and me too, if you have time).  Also, if you've a link to a great post that isn't here, feel free to share.

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17. Spicing Up Your Prose Part 1 of 6

Variety is the spice of life and these rhetorical devices sound like exotic spices. We know how they taste but have forgotten the names.


These spices should be sprinkled in carefully. They enrich a sentence or paragraph when you want a little punch. You shouldn't overwhelm the reader with them and should be mindful of clichés. You earn a gold star for using them effectively. You earn two gold stars if you remember their names.

Abstraction advances a proposition from generic to specific.



Jane opened the book1, a thick tome2, a collection of poetry3.


Alliteration repeats initial consonants in consecutive or grammatically corresponding words.


Jane opened the diary, the wild, wishful, window to its owner's soul.

Amplification repeats a word or phrase, adding more detail to emphasize a point.



Jane wanted to deny the truth, the truth about the diary1, the truth about the ghost2, the truth about herself3.

Anadiplosis repeats a word that ends a phrase, clause, or sentence at the start of the next.



Jane opened a book. The book was a collection of poetry, poetry that made her blush.

Analogy compares two things that are alike and is more clinical than a simile. It can use: also, and so on, and the like, as if, and like.



Jane was drawn to Dick1 like a humming bird to nectar2.

Anaphora repeats the same word or words at the beginning of each successive clause or sentence. There are at least three or four beats. You can separate the beats with other sentences but they should be in the same paragraph. The last beat should be in the last sentence of the paragraph.

She should have ignored the diary. The truth was too horrible to acknowledge. She should have burned it. She should have escaped while she still had the chance.

Antithesis connects two contrasting propositions, usually in parallel clauses or sentences.



Jane knew he loved her and she knew he hated her.

Assonance repeats similar vowel sounds in successive clauses or sentences.


The rain on the plain drove Jane completely insane.

Next week, we will continue to add spices to your prose shelf.

For the complete list of spices and other revision layers, pick up a copy of: 

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18. Picture Book Techniques for Novelists

Many of the lessons learned in writing picture books are also applicable to writing novels. 

http://taralazar.com/2014/07/08/using-picture-book-techniques-in-novels-by-anna-staniszewski/

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19. Good for the Brain

Want to help your students focus better during independent writing time? A recent NY Times piece by Daniel J. Levitin may hold the key to making this happen in your classroom.

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20. Reading Fuels Writing

Need some inspiration to write? Fall into a great book and read like a writer!

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21. Revealing Backstory while Avoiding the Info-dump

by Julie Eshbaugh

~~~

JulieInfo-dump. Just the name of this writing misstep telegraphs that it’s something to be avoided. For purposes of this post, “info-dump” refers to a section of narration inserted into a story that explains important backstory essential to understanding the current action. Here’s an example:

“Marie!” Peter held her at arm’s length so he could look into the face he had feared he would never see again. “I can’t believe it’s you! Where have you been?”

Marie told Peter how she had been captured by the Slugs, a society of subterranean warriors. She had stumbled upon their home while spelunking in the abandoned mines north of town. The Slugs had come closer to the surface than they usually dared in search of a missing key that they believed a renegade Slug had carried to the surface. The Slugs had interrogated Marie, and they’d injected her with a drug that altered her perceptions and memories. In the end they’d let her go, but only after she’d agreed to search out the Slug with the stolen key and return it to its rightful place underground. Before they let her go, though, they’d implanted a tracking device in her brain.

“See the scar?” Marie asked, pulling the hair back from behind her left ear.

An info-dump dropped right in the middle of things can hurt your story in many ways:

It stops the forward momentum. When I’m caught up in the midst of a great story, I want to be carried along toward the climax. An info-dump can interrupt that progress and slow things to a crawl.

It removes the reader from the world of the story. In the example above, the reader is pulled from the reunion scene between Marie and Peter, which, without the interruption, has the potential to be an emotionally strong scene.

It’s boring. The narrator takes over and resorts to “telling,” so instead of experiencing what happened to Marie, the reader learns it in a mini history lesson.

What can be done in a situation like this? Sometimes it’s not possible to “show” all the backstory. In this example, Peter may be the POV character, so the reader wouldn’t be able to know what was happening to Marie while she was suffering through her underground captivity. Still, this information is necessary to the story. The writer needs to find a way to share it without an info-dump.

Here are some techniques to consider:

Find ways to show some of the information, either at this point in the story or later. “The Slugs had interrogated Marie, and they’d injected her with a drug that altered her perceptions and memories.” This is the kind of information that could be shown in a multitude of dynamic ways. It could be shown right here through her interactions with Peter, or it could be woven in a bit at a time, until the characters and readers come to understand what has happened to Marie. This would also work with the tracking device in Marie’s brain. A headache could introduce this information, integrating it into the current action.

Dialogue can be used to convey backstory. All the information in the info-dump paragraph above could be shared by Marie through dialogue, while the story continues. Imagine that, just as Peter encountered Marie at the start of this scene, he was hurrying to get to a meeting with a reclusive scientist, who, before his abrupt retirement a year ago, was the country’s foremost expert on subterranean societies. Peter’s need to hear Marie’s story while simultaneously needing to hurry to his meeting would add action to the scene, as he drags her to his car, blurts out a quick explanation of where they’re going, and tries to concentrate on Marie’s harrowing story while speeding through yellow stoplights and weaving through traffic to meet the professor in time.

Tell the backstory in one big chunk, but weave it into the narrative in a way that interests the characters and the reader. In this example, Marie could tell Peter and the other characters her story as they sit around a campfire at night, or as they hike through the woods toward the very same mines where she was captured. With this treatment, the backstory becomes a story-within-the-story, allowing the writer to build suspense and tension so that the backstory maintains the same level of complexity and interest as the current events that surround it. A story-within-a-story can also help with world-building, if the culture of your story has traditions in place for passing down history or sharing myths and legends, such as through sonnets or songs.

What are your thoughts on these techniques? Do you have any other methods for sharing important backstory? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

 ~~~

Julie Eshbaugh writes fiction for young adults. She is represented by Adams Literary. You can add Julie on Goodreads and follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.

 

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22. KidLit Author Events Aug. 19-25

Things are a little quiet while we all gear up for getting back to school, but here are a couple of things worth spreading the word.

There’s still time to enter the 2014 Houston Writers Guild Fall Contest! Entry fee $35 for fiction/nonfiction. $25 for poetry. Open to all writers, regardless of publishing status. Winners will be announced at the annual Fall Conference. $75 prize awarded to first place in each category. Entering is easy. For more information visit http://houstonwritersguild.org/contests. Deadline is September 1. Stay tuned to their facebook page for information on the Fall Mini Conference on November 8.

August 23, Saturday
10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. TAKING OFF by Jenny MossSPACE STATION SCIENCE by Marianne Dyson
Clear Lake Freeman Library
Multi Author Event

Marianne Dyson and Jenny Moss  will join fourteen other authors for a day of celebration at the Clear Lake Freeman Library 50th Anniversary Event. Panel discussions and presentations by local authors will cover topics such as, “Finding Your Own Voice”, “What’s new in Publishing/Self-Publishing” and “How I Got Published” just to name a few. Representatives from four of the library’s book groups will be here so you can meet with and learn more about them. Ten percent of the proceeds from book sales will go to the library.

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23. Writer Wednesday: Deal Announcement


I had an exciting start to my week. Not only did I finally get to move back home, but I also got this picture from my amazing agent Sarah Negovetich.
If you're having trouble reading that, it's the deal announcement for Fading Into the Shadows, which will be published by Spencer Hill Press in 2016!

I love my editor at SHP. Trisha just gets me and the way my mind works, so I'm thrilled to work on another book with her. And this book was one that grabbed my attention from the start. It's actually the book that gave me the idea for the Touch of Death series. Yes, I drafted it before Touch of Death. I revised it after I completed the series though.

I can't wait to share more info with you, but for now I'll say it's fantasy and it involves a girl who will do anything to save her best friend after he goes missing. Of course she didn't realize "anything" involved another world of shadows and real life constellations trying to kill her.

Anyone else have good writing news to share this week? Tackle a difficult chapter, finish a revision, get a new book idea? Let's celebrate together.

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24. Guest Post: Writing books or working pub?

Industry Life

by

Kerrie Byrne McCreadie

Kerrie McCreadie“But what are you going to do?”

Majoring in English always seemed to be a very puzzling thing for those around me. It took me five and a half years to finish my undergraduate degree, and I probably couldn’t count the number of times this question came up. I also couldn’t count the number of ways I’ve responded. Writer. Editor. Book publicist. Agent. Designer. All noble causes, all professions inhabited by creative and brilliant people. But somewhere, in answering that penetrating question—with all its strength of will in making me feel like my degree would be ultimately useless—I got lost in the possible options and forgot to think about the most important thing: what did I want to do in the first place?

You learn early that being a writer isn’t considered a “realistic” career. Going into editing, that can work. But writing, being an author, not so much. I’m still fairly certain that the Grade 11 Careers class I was forced to take (a Canadian rite of passage) existed just to tell me that my dream jobs (at the time: writer, musical theatre performer, etc.) were impractical, and that I was unreasonable.

I can still see my teacher rolling her eyes.

What they don’t tell you in Careers class is that it’s probably not that much more impossible to become a writer than it is to become an editor in this economic climate. Becoming a writer who creates a six-figure novel? Not so likely. But becoming a writer at all? It’s hard, it takes passion and dedication—but it does happen. And it isn’t really less possible than being an editor. But we’re told it is. We’re told as young writers that the publishing industry is the smarter, easier choice. Not only is that not necessarily true, but it also belittles the work done by the incredible, driven people in the industry. There are publishers who spend their entire lives making sure other peoples’ books do well. People who work in the industry are often ambitious and passionate and…well. Practically superhuman, in some cases.

But still, I really wanted to be an editor; and, admittedly, it wasn’t just because of Careers. I love editing, I love being the person who gets to polish something beautiful into something perfect. At this point I have a little more than year of experience in the Toronto publishing world. Not a lot. I’m a baby, and I know it—but it’s enough to get a peek. I worked as an intern at a small publisher, sorting through submissions and slush. At the same small publisher, I worked as a typesetter and graphic designer. This past summer I have been working as an assistant for the president of a literary agency. These have all been really rewarding experiences and I’ve learned a lot. Publishing is hard. There’s a lot on the line for everyone emotionally, mentally, and financially. Doing design on a fast-paced publishing schedule is one of the most challenging jobs I’ve had so far, and seeing how agents function while they work is awe-inspiring. So many people in this industry work 17-18 hour days with hardly any weekends, just because they love it so much.

As I’m starting to grow into a publishing toddler, this experience has given me a pretty startling realization. I knew going into these internships that I wanted to write, that I always have wanted to write. But somewhere along the way I started letting my Careers teacher’s voice whisper in my ear. I am dedicated to continuing to educate myself on how to edit more thoroughly and how to design more beautifully. I’m just starting to get good enough to freelance reliably. But what I really want to focus on  at the moment is my writing.

It’s not to say that some people can’t balance both. I know some wonderful ladies and gents who pull off doing both with style. There is definitely value in being both a writer and involved in the industry, whether it gives you a greater understanding of what’s required of you to get yourself published or whether it lends you empathy towards your clients. But that life is only suited to some very specific people. I’ve met some ex-agents-turned-writers who realized that they loved their own work more than working on other peoples’, even if they ultimately loved doing both. And I know plenty of once-writers who seem to be leaning towards becoming editors.

Me? Somehow, coming out of all of this has ended a five-year novel writing block, and I’m happily typing away at a new project every spare moment I have. My industry experience helped me make some major life decisions, like moving on to grad school instead of going on to a publishing certificate without a single doubt. Doing this work now means I got the experience while I had as many doors open as possible. I’m able to acknowledge that just because I’m interested in industry work doesn’t mean I have to commit to it 100% now when I’m only 23. Even if my career advisor told me I should.

Besides, there are so many other things I can do with my English degree.

(Like getting a PhD!)

Kerrie Byrne McCreadie has dipped her toes/feet/shins/waist into the publishing world in various ways over the past few years, and thinks the whole industry is pretty fascinating. You can follow her on twitter, or find her on her brand new blog. She is currently writing a rather depressing fairy tale contemporary, and will thank anyone for holding her hand as she starts her PhD applications this fall.

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25. Copy Editing, Line Editing, Substantive Editing

According to Merrian-Webster, editing is the process of preparing "(something written) to be published or used : to make changes, correct mistakes, etc., in (something written)." In other words, it's the process of making your content, manuscript or other writing sparkle. It makes the content publishable. If you’re a marketer, healthcare professional, or business owner chances are you will

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