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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Writing tips, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Reference Links to Help With Query Letter Writing

CarolynSchlamPINKGLASSES

This illustration of the cute girl with pink glasses above was sent in by Carol Schulman. She is the author of two books on art, both now represented by Schulman Literary in NY.  The first, “The Creative Path: Process and Practice” is a look at creativity from philosophical, psychological and practical points of view.  The sequel: “Art Smarts: A Book to Help You Become a GR8 Artist” is a sequel for children. See more at: http://www.carolynschlam.com/Art_Pages/Illustration/Illustration_info.html

Leslie has been focusing on querying agents and looking for places that had good information about navigating this process. She decided to share some resources she gathered from various writing friends on her blog “Rear in Gear”. She says, “I’m always thankful for their help, and thought I’d pay it forward in a small way.”

Queries Not Questions

by Leslie Zampettis at Rear in Gear.

Here is Leslie’s list, in no particular order:

AgentQuery

Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents

Successful Queries (a subsection of the above guide)

Preditors and Editors

Publishers’ Submission Guidelines

JacketFlap

SCBWI BlueBoard

 8 Steps to Finding the Right Agent

 Critiquing First Pages and Queries

10 Questions to Ask an Agent

Kidlit.com – Queries

How to Write the Perfect Query Letter

Query Shark

Query Tracker

Writers Market  *This is a subscription service. IMHO, well worth it.

Children’s Writer Newsletter  *Another subscription service. Articles often contain market bib biographies, and every issue contains market profiles. Also well worth it.

  • lesliezLeslie Zampetti has had stories published in online children’s magazines and is now querying agents for her middle grade fantasy novel. A childhood spent in Florida has this transplanted New Yorker frequently dreaming of sunshine – but she enjoys the whirl of the city and its riches, not least of which is the New York Public Library.

    According to most successful authors, the best way to succeed is to plant your tushy in your seat and write. Leslie’s been doing that for some years now and is beginning to see the seeds of her labor blossom. Interested in knowing more? Stop by her blog, “Rear in Gear,” at http://zampettilw.wordpress.com.

Thank you Leslie to sending this to me. It is nice to have a list and it is nice that you were willing to share the wealth. I am sure everyone will bookmark this one.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

 


Filed under: demystify, How to, list, reference, Writing Tips Tagged: Carol Schulman, Leslie Zampettis, Links to resources, Queries, Rear in Gear

3 Comments on Reference Links to Help With Query Letter Writing, last added: 4/15/2014
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2. A Chat with Karen Benke : Author, Poet, & Creative Writing Instructor

It’s National Poetry Month this April and what better way to celebrate than a chat with author, poet, and creative writing instructor Karen Benke.

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3. Borrowing from Superheroes

Guest Post by Carolyn Howard-JohnsonMy husband—sweetie that he is—brought me a copy of The Smithsonian from his dermatologist's office. So thanks to Lance and Dr. Mantel, I am now a diehard fan of the magazine.One of the articles was inspired by the new movie, Man of Steel. They take up how "superhero origin stories inspire us to cope with adversity."The elements that make superheroes so

0 Comments on Borrowing from Superheroes as of 4/9/2014 6:35:00 AM
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4. April Showers: Water for the Creative Soul from Wesselhoeft

Hi folks, beautiful springtime is here in College Station, Texas. Blankets of bluebonnets, evening primrose, and Indian paint brush are splashed all over the county like a color-crazed artist needed to spruce up the dull browns and greens. So uplifting.

I begin my April Showers series. This is all about what waters my creative soul.  I'm going to discuss the juice of some recent reads. First up comes enrichment from Conrad Wesselhoeft's new book Dirt Bikes, Drones and Other Ways to Fly (HMH).  Here's a short synopsis from Amazon: Seventeen year-old dirt-bike-riding daredevil Arlo Santiago catches the eye of the U.S. military with his first-place ranking on a video game featuring drone warfare, and must reconcile the work they want him to do with the emotional scars he has suffered following a violent death in his family.

This is one kinetic read. Here are two techniques in this book that will open your eyes as you create your own work.

1. Leverage language. This is something that Wesselhoeft always does and this book is no exception. Here in the middle of of bruising narrative, high flying action, and heart-rending despair is a peppering of poetic beauty. Phrasing elevates this story --- "book of Job lousy year," "Something rises in me -- something halfway between a fist and a sob" and "the thing about a journey -- it pops you into focus and sweeps the mess of your life under the rug if only for a brief time." Shy away from bland word choice as you create your works, and you will add brilliance to your stories.

2. Say something. Dirt Bikes... is stitched together with  references to Mozart, Rossini, Martin Luther King, Buddha, Paul of Tarsus, Marcus Aurelius, Emerson, to name a few, and more obscure voices, like John Gillespie Magee, from his poem "High Flight." 

For I have danced the streets of heaven,
And touched the face of God.
Wesselhoeft is circling the idea that "Character is forever." Our choices will scar the world or uplift it. He digs deep into the idea of oversoul from Emerson. Oversoul is the river voices from each soul running together to make an ocean of soul stuff. Wesselhoeft uses many voices within this story to reflect this. Climb on the shoulders of giants as you write and say something. This is the oversoul of fiction.

I have at least a dozen pages of notes of  the lessons I learned while reading this book. I hope you realize that you are in  the battle of literacy as you create your books.  Do whatever it takes to widen the world, to stir up empathy, and a develop a continuing legacy. Use choice language and consider Rodin's "Thinker" at the gates of hell. Be that thinker at the gates. Write stuff that will make a difference.

Thanks for dropping by! I will have more showers next week.

Here is a doodle. "The Wind"



And finally a quote for your pocket.

What lies behind us, and what lies before us are but tiny matters compared to what lies within us. Ralph Waldo Emerson.

0 Comments on April Showers: Water for the Creative Soul from Wesselhoeft as of 4/5/2014 3:59:00 PM
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5. 3 Tips for Finding Writing Inspiration

Guest Post by Mary Jo Guglielmo Are you ready to start a new writing project but are struggling with finding that new story?  I have known a number of writers who can't seem to find a new direction after finishing a big project.  If you're need of some inspiration try one of the following techniques to jumpstart your next writing project. Dream Your Manuscript into Being: If you having

0 Comments on 3 Tips for Finding Writing Inspiration as of 4/2/2014 8:25:00 AM
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6. More Showing, Less Telling

erikaphoto-45

I met Erika Wassall at the end of February at a NJSCBWI get-together in Cherry Hill, NJ. I let the writers there know how open I am to writers sending me articles I could use on my blog. Erika sent me this interesting article below for today’s post. I think you will enjoy it.

More Showing, Less Telling

Really? I mean, what’s the difference? If I say, Billy was sick, then we all know that Billy is sick, right? Isn’t that what’s important?

Why do I have to worry so much about SHOWING as opposed to TELLING the reader what my characters are doing? What difference does it REALLY make?

The best way I’ve learned it is that the difference largely comes down to… all right, so Billy is sick…. But why should I CARE??

We all know we want our readers to care about our characters. Max from Where the Wild Things Are, Harold with his Purple Crayon, all the way up to Katniss and down to Christopher Robin, these characters were tugging at our heartstrings even when they were just picking up a jug of honey.

One of the many ways that we do this is through the special little nuances of the way they do things. Anyone can pick up a jug of honey. But the way Winnie the Pooh does it, now THAT’s special.

We read about his sticky paws and the giant drop of honey dripping down his check. And ultimately, isn’t that why we love him?

It’s all about creating images. Ideally images that are burned into the readers brain so much that it links right to their heart.

For me, the next question was… okay, so how, exactly, do I do that?

How do I really know for sure if I’m showing rather than telling?

Via brainstorming with a few other fabulous writers over at Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 extravaganza, we came up with what is not only a great way to test if you’re showing, but is also a wonderful writing exercise.

It’s fantastically simple too. You say to yourself:

How Can I PROVE It?

So Billy is sick. But if no one TOLD me Bill was sick, how do I KNOW?

Is there snot dripping from his nose? Is there a river of sweat pouring from his temples? Is he frighteningly feverish, maddeningly mopey or curled in a cocoon under his covers?

I know personally, I FEEL more for a child curled up in bed with a snotty nose and his arms crossed in mopey madness than I do for a child who is just… sick.

I use this trick in two ways.

1) When I read over my manuscripts, I ask myself… if I wasn’t the omnipotent narrator… how would I KNOW this was true? How can I create a vivid image where I don’t even have to say the words themselves, instead the reader can SEE it.

2) As an exercise my 12×12 friends and I exchange phrases, and basically say PROVE IT!!! to each other.

Here’s an example:

Johnny hurt his knee.

If I’m looking through a window, watching Johnny play, what happens that proves to me that he hurt his knee?

Johnny crashed to the ground and rolled onto his back, clutching his knee.

Or depending on who I’m trying to portray Johnny as, maybe…

The pain shot up Johnny’s knee and filled his eyes to the brim with tears. But he gritted his teeth and picked up his hockey stick. He wasn’t going to let the other boys know he wanted to quit.

Showing and not telling is a challenge for all writers. But it can also provide some fantastic opportunities to add depth to our characters, and build that emotional connection with the reader that we all strive for.

Here’s a few for you to try. Ask yourself, how can I PROVE this? And see what you can come up with!!

Bobby hated school. 

Theresa wanted to go home. 

Puddles the Poodle couldn’t wait for his boy to get home.

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!

Thank you Erika and tanks for offering to do regular posts here on Writing and Illustrating.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: article, inspiration, writing excercise, Writing Tips Tagged: Erika Wassall, Guest Blogger, Julie Hedlund, Less Telling, More Showing

12 Comments on More Showing, Less Telling, last added: 4/2/2014
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7. The Art of Creating Fictional Worlds | Jaleigh Johnson, “The Mark of the Dragonfly”

"I should start by saying that world building, where I get to create a fictional reality from the ground up, is one of my favorite parts of writing. It’s the foundation of a good story. Of course, you want a plot that keeps readers turning the pages—and amazing, memorable characters as well, but those characters also deserve a fully realized world to play around in."

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8. Writing Software for Writers

Guest Post by Anne Duguid Tree Sheets Despite the title, this month's free software choices are not simply for writers. But they are worth mentioning because they can potentially save money and time. I admit being prone to play with new gadgets and ideas. My time savers can soon become time wasters, if I'm not careful. So when I read the recent reviews for Tree Sheets--another planning/ list

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9. Query Tips – Examples – Links

silvialiuPig n Butterlies 2004

This cute little piggy was sent in by Sylvia Liu. Sylvia was selected the 2013 New Voices Award winner by Lee and Low Books and my debut picture book, A MORNING WITH GONG GONG, is scheduled to be published in Fall 2015. She is part of the 2013 Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program and being mentored in illustration by Caldecott-winner David Diaz.

TIPS:

1. Always address your query to a specific person.

2. Make sure you mention the title of your book in third  paragraph.

3. Mention the word count and genre of your book in third paragraph.    

Note: Novels should be 80,000 to 100,000 words. Young adult novels can be significantly less: 40,000-60,000 words. Insert word count and genre at the end of your first “hook” paragraph.

If your novel is 200,000 words – Cut before you query.  No one wants an overweight manuscript. AgentQuery reports unless your manuscript is a historical family saga or an epic science fiction battle, agents hit DELETE on proposed first-time novel over 110,000-120,000 words.

4. Share the reason why you are querying this particular agent. Let the agent know that you have researched them and have a reason for choosing them for representation.

5.  Have someone you know check for typos and grammar mistakes. It is very easy when e-mailing a query letter to click the send button before throughly checking your text.  Writers seem to be in the mode to triple check everything when they snail mail their queries, but since we send so many personal e-mails without closely checking every word, that “Send” button can be easily clicked.  The mistake snail mailing query writers make is forgetting to include their contact information – something you don’t need to include with an e-mail. I know that sounds crazy, but I have seen it when writers have sent me submissions for editors and agents.

nathan bransford book2Need to see an ACTUAL query letter before you’ll know how to write one? Here is the query letter Author (at the time agent) Nathan Bransford:

Dear Ms. Drayton,

As a young literary agent with Curtis Brown Ltd. I have long admired Inkwell, as well as your strong track record. To paraphrase Douglas Adams, if you searched for a book that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike THE BOOK THIEF (which I absolutely loved), you might just have JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE COSMIC SPACE KAPOW, a middle-grade-and-up science fiction novel that I just completed. Still fun! But no one dies – Mr. Death would be lonely.

Jacob Wonderbar has been the bane of every substitute teacher at Magellan Middle School ever since his dad moved away from home. He never would have survived without his best friend Dexter, even if he is a little timid, and his cute-but-tough friend Sarah Daisy, who is chronically overscheduled. But when the trio meets a mysterious man in silver one night they trade a corn dog for his sassy spaceship and blast off into the great unknown. That is, until they break the universe in a giant space kapow and a nefarious space buccaneer named Mick Cracken maroons Jacob and Dexter on a tiny planet that smells like burp breath. The friends have to work together to make it back to their little street where the houses look the same, even as Earth seems farther and farther away.

JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE COSMIC SPACE KAPOW is 50,000 words and stands alone, but I have ideas for a series, including titles such as JACOB WONDERBAR FOR PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSE and JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE VACATIONING ALIENS FROM ANOTHER PLANET. I’m the author of an eponymous agenting and writing blog.

I’d be thrilled if you would consider WONDERBAR for representation, and a few other agents are considering simultaneously. Thanks very much, and hope to talk to you soon.

Nathan Bransford

Here are a few other places to look:

Nathan Bransford dissects a really good query letter and extoll its virtues.

Click Here to Visit Galleycat. They have 23 Agent Query Letters That Actually Worked.

Nonfiction writers don’t need to have a completed manuscript.  They only need a proposal before seeking representation from an agent. Here’s are books and places to help with writing a proposal:

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, How to, Process, reference, Writing Tips Tagged: David Diaz, Links to Query letter Info, New Voices Award Winner, Query letter Example, Query Tips, Sylvia Liu

5 Comments on Query Tips – Examples – Links, last added: 3/28/2014
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10. How to Write A Query Letter

eviLittleRedRidinghood.1

You can see from the above illustration by Evi Gstottner that she loves fairytales and folktales. She graduated in 1992 from Byam Shaw School of Art in London and in 2009 she completed her MA in Children’s Book Illustration at the Anglia Ruskin University (Cambridge School of Art). Evi was featured on Illustrator Saturday. Here is the link: http://www.kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/03/23/illustrator-saturday-evi-gstottner/

The goal of query letter is to elicit an invitation from an agent (or editor) to send in sample chapters or the whole manuscript.

A query letter is a ONE PAGE letter with three concise paragraphs: the hook, the mini-synopsis, and your writer’s biography.

Don’t stray, if you want to be taken seriously as a professional writer. Keep it simple. Stick to three paragraphs.

Paragraph One is called The Hook: A hook is a concise, one-sentence tagline for your book. It’s meant to hook your reader’s interest, and reel them in.

The first paragraph is your chance (perhaps your only chance) to grab the agent, since many agents will be immediately biased—for good or for bad—within a sentence or two.

If a writer queries via a referral, he will always begin with, “I am writing to you because your client, John Smith, recommended that I do so.” Thus an agent, whether he likes it or not, must take the first sentence seriously, if for no other reason than he risks offending an existing client check or editor. Please do not say this unless it is true. Agents will check and you don’t want to be embarrassed or have someone think you are not trustworthy.

If you haven’t been referred, you could still grab the agents attention with something personal., such as: ”I am writing to you because you represented TITLE by AUTHOR, and I feel my book is similar.”

What will this show?

1. That this is not a random query letter.

2. That you’re approaching him/her for a specific reason

3. That you’ve put a great deal of time and energy into researching the market

4. That you know who the agent represents, and the types of books they have sold.

5.  It will put a positive association into the agents mind, as it will make him or her think of a book they sold.

6. It offers a comparison, allowing the agent to immediately grasp the type of book you’re writing and thus help they agent decide if they want to represent another like it.

7. It shows that you know the market, that you have an objective grasp of what your own book is about and where it fits within that market.

8. It indicates that you’ve put care into your writing.

Referencing one of his/her titles will help accomplish this. But don’t bluff. Noah says, ”If you don’t truly do the research, it will show. I’ve received many letters which referenced a book I sold, but when I read the rest of the query, I realized that their book was not at all similar; it was just a gimmick to get me to pay attention. When an agent realizes this, he will just be annoyed. So when referencing a book, make sure it is truly appropriate. But if you’ve done the research and query a truly appropriate agent and reference a truly appropriate title, then you are already off to a shining head start.”

Agent Query suggests using the when formula: “When such and such event happens, your main character—a descriptive adjective, age, professional occupation—must confront further conflict and triumph in his or her own special way. Sure, it’s a formula, but it’s a formula that works.”

Example:  Bridges of Madison County

When Robert Kincaid drives through the heat and dust of an Iowa summer and turns into Francesca Johnson’s farm lane looking for directions, the world-class photographer and the Iowa farm wife are joined in an experience that will haunt them forever.

Note: Many writers use the “when” formula, so use it as a starting point. Write your basic hook and then spice it up with the “When. Noah says to keep your opening paragraph to one sentence, so if you add a when to the personal approach, make sure it is short.

Example: Non-”formulatic” fiction hook:

The Da Vinci Code A murder in the silent after-hour halls of the Louvre museum reveals a sinister plot to uncover a secret that has been protected by a clandestine society since the days of Christ.

Paragraph Two—Mini-synopsis: This is where boil down your entire novel into one paragraph and expand your hook. Put in the hard work of practicing and revising, until you get that paragraph to sing the same tune as your whole book. Read the back flap of books you like to get a feel for how to create a juicy paragraph.

Paragraph Three—Writer’s bio: Keep it short and related to writing. If your book revolves around a hospital and you are a nurse, then say that. If you have a published book, been published in some magazines, etc,, or won a writing contest or award, then let the agent know. if you’ve never been published, never won any awards, hold no writing degrees, and have no credentials to write your book, then don’t say it. This just gives you more space for Paragraph Two.

The Closing: Thank the agent for their time and consideration. Let the agent know you have the full manuscript available upon request. Note: Never query an agent unless you have written, revised, and finished your full manuscript.

Tomorrow: Query Tips – Examples and Links.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, Agent, How to, Process, reference, Writing Tips Tagged: Breaking down the Query Letter, How to write a query letter, Noah Lukeman, One page Query letter

8 Comments on How to Write A Query Letter, last added: 3/26/2014
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11. The Query Letter

great-query-jacketFor the last few weeks we have gone over how to format your manuscript and how to write a synopsis. Every week I have pointed you towards agents and what they are looking for, but really the first thing you need to do is hone your skills on writing a great query letter. It is wonderful that more and more agents are accepting query letters via email, but there a perils that come along with this. We are so used to quickly jotting down a few sentences to talk with friends and hitting the send button without thinking, that the same thing can happen when emailing a query letter to an agent. We all need to beware of doing this an approach the query letter with the same respect as the rest of our writing.

Agent Noah Lukeman has written a whole book on how to do this in his appropriately title book, HOW TO WRITE A GREAT QUERY LETTER.

Love the way Noah explains this: Most writers put a tremendous amount of effort into their content, spending months or years with their manuscripts, agonizing over word choice, scene order, character development. Yet when it comes time to write a query letter, they will often write something off the top of their head, sometimes with a mere hour’s effort, and let this suffice to represent their work. They rush through the letter process so that the agent can get to the book itself, which they feel will explain everything. They feel that if an agent just sees the writing, nothing else will matter, and that a poor query letter will even be forgiven. This is faulty thinking. For agents, the query letter is all. If it’s not exceptional, agents will not even request to see the writing, and writers will never even get a chance to showcase their talent. For most writers, the query letter—which they rushed through—becomes the only piece of writing they will ever be judged by, and unfortunately, the only chance they ever had. While it may seem as if a query letter is a shallow way to judge an author, I can tell you from an agent’s perspective that it is a very effective tool.

For the professional eye, a query letter is much more than just a letter:

1. It shows the agent whether you are able to exhibit word economy

2. Whether you have a grasp on the nature of your own work

3. Whether you have a realistic grasp on your own background and credentials.

4. For non-fiction: It also demonstrates whether you have a grasp on your market and your competition. A query letter can also serve to warn an agent, to act as a red flag, if for example you are too aggressive, or pitch too many projects at once. The way it physically looks speaks volumes, as does whether you’ve sent it to the right person in the right way. A layman looks at a query and sees a one page letter. An agent looks at it and scans it for 100 different criteria.

This mere page can tell an agent more about the writer and his work than you can possibly imagine.

This week we will talk about what goes into making your query letter stand out and get noticed. Remember: The query letter might be the only thing that agent ever reads of your writing. Remember: Agents have a big pile of other writer’s query letters sitting in front of them and would like to get through that pile sitting on their desk, so small things can be the difference between them saying, “Send more” and “not interested.” But also, Remember: Agents want to find the next great book or else they wouldn’t be facing that pile.

So let’s learn what to do, learn how to avoid the pitfalls that get our letter tossed and signal an amateur.

Noah Lukeman is giving away a .pdf of this book and How to Land an Agent. You can also get it for free on your Kindle at Amazon.

Here is the link for the download: http://www.landaliteraryagent.com/

Here is the layout for this week:

Tuesday: HOW TO WRITE A QUERY LETTER.

Wednesday: Query Letter Tips – Examples and Links

Thursday: Agent Wishlist

Friday: First Page Critique Results

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, Agent, demystify, need to know, Process, reference, Writing Tips Tagged: Agent Noah Lukeman, The goal of the Query Letter, The Query Letter, What a query letter says about you

5 Comments on The Query Letter, last added: 3/25/2014
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12. Craft of Writing: Conflict Resolution- Upside Down by Eileen Cook

Eileen Cook is the incredibly well known and wonderfully talented author tons of YA contemporary novels, including favourites like GETTING REVENGE ON LAUREN WOOD and THE ALMOST TRUTH, as well as the popular middle grade series FOURTH GRADE FAIRY. Her newest release was YEAR OF MISTAKEN DISCOVERIES and it released in February 2014! We are really excited to have her here today on the blog to impart on you lovely readers some of her worldly advice!

Conflict Resolution- Upside Down by Eileen Cook


In my former work as a counselor I worked with individuals to reduce and address conflict in their lives. I train them to use techniques to diffuse conflict and assist them in creating healthy, happy relationships. In fiction, unlike real life, the opposite it true: we want conflict. No conflict equals no story.

Common feedback from editors or agents is that the story is missing enough conflict. So how do you increase it? The same techniques I use for counseling can be used in fiction, only instead of reducing conflict, they can provide a springboard to take your conflict to the next level.

1. Pick the Right Atmosphere: In real life you want to choose the right environment to have a difficult conversation. You want to choose a place where the individual can focus on what you are saying and not instantly feel defensive, trapped or uncomfortable. In fiction, try and have the conflict happen in the most uncomfortable place and time possible for your characters: in the middle of a school hallway, at work, or in the middle of their solo at the band concert. If your character is about to discover that their boyfriend is cheating on them, when is the worst time for them to get that news? Where is the worst place? Who is the worst person to tell them?

2. Address Issues Promptly and Clearly: While it is better for your relationships to address problem areas before they build up, in fiction a pressure build up is preferred. Let characters stew until they suddenly explode with emotion. Instead of stating clearly what issue you want to have addressed, have your fictional characters dance around the real issue. There is nothing like confusion to make conflict more difficult and increase the chance of misunderstandings.

3. Listen and Maintain Emotional Control: Instead of listening and reflecting on what is said, allow your characters to lash out, even before they might fully understand the situation. Because they are already formulating a response instead of listening, they increase the chance that they misunderstand what the other person is trying to say or do. Conflict is raised one step at a time, and the more emotional the characters become the more likely they quickly move up these steps. This increases the chance they will say something they’ll regret.

4. Avoid Accusations: In real life we encourage people to focus on the situation, not the people. Fiction should follow the opposite behavior. Characters should use “you statements” not “I statements.” You statements put people on the defensive, such as, “you always do this!” I statements are personal and less accusatory, “I feel hurt when this happens.” In real life we often confuse what someone does with what it might mean. We turn: “You didn’t invite me to go with you for dinner” becomes “you don’t want to be my BFF anymore, you want to hang out with them instead!” What meanings does your character put on things that happen?

5. Create win-win situations: In real conflict resolution situations we try to search out areas of common ground. This allows each party to gain something from the solution. In fiction, we want to keep our character’s focus on not what they have in common, but what sets them apart. If your character perceives giving ground means they may risk something, they will fight to win rather than compromise. What does your character think they might lose if they don’t win the conflict?

Taking these top five conflict resolution tips and turning them upside down you can take the conflict between your characters to the next level. While this might make your characters miserable (at least until they get to their happy ending) it will keep readers turning the page.

About The Author


Eileen Cook is a multi-published author with her novels appearing in eight different languages. Her books have been optioned for film and TV. She spent most of her teen years wishing she were someone else or somewhere else, which is great training for a writer. Her latest release, YEAR OF MISTAKEN DISCOVERIES came out in February 2014.

You can read more about Eileen, her books, and the things that strike her as funny at www.eileencook.com. Eileen lives in Vancouver with her husband and two dogs and no longer wishes to be anyone or anywhere else.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

About The Book


Friendship is a bond stronger than secrets in this novel from the author of The Almost Truth and Unraveling Isobel.

As first graders, Avery and Nora bonded over a special trait they shared—they were both adopted.

Years later, Avery is smart, popular, and on the cheerleading squad, while Nora spends her time on the fringes of school society, wearing black, reading esoteric poetry, and listening to obscure music. They never interact...until the night Nora approaches Avery at a party, saying it’s urgent. She tells Avery that she thought she found her birth mom—but it turned out to be a cruel lie. Avery feels for Nora, but returns to her friends at the party.

Then Avery learns that Nora overdosed on pills. Left to cope with Nora’s loss and questioning her own actions, Avery decides to honor her friend by launching a search for her own birth mother. Aided by Brody, a friend of Nora’s who is also looking for a way to respect Nora’s legacy, Avery embarks on an emotional quest. But what she’s really seeking might go far deeper than just genetics…

Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads

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13. Synopsis Check List

CeciliaClarkcherry blossom

This illustration my Cecilia Clark gives us a glimpse of what awaits us after this long cold winter. Cecilia is a budding writer and illustrator from Australia. Her writing and illustrating has been published in anthologies. She is a member of SCBWI Australia and New Zealand(Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) the Fellowship of Australian Writers (FWA) and Romance Writer’s Australia(RWA).  http://ceciliaaclark.blogspot.com.au

Synopsis Checklist:

1.   Is your synopsis between one and three pages?  Double spaced if more than one page?

2.   Does the opening paragraph have a hook to keep the editor or agent reading?

3.   Did you use capital letters the first time you introduced a character?

4.   Did you show your characters goal, motivation, conflict, and growth?

Your synopsis should give a clear idea as to what your book is about, what characters we will care about (or dislike), what is at stake for your heroes, what they stand to lose, and how it all turns out.

5.   Have you hit on the major scenes, the major plot points of your book, and include the ending?

6.   How you gotten to the who, what, where, when and why in your synopsis?

7.   Do you keep the interest level up throughout the synopsis?

8.   Is there good flow between  paragraphs.

9.   Have you avoided all grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes?

10. Do you think you captured the flavor of your manuscript?

See yesterday’s post for synopsis details.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: demystify, How to, list, Process, reference, Writing Tips Tagged: Australian Illustrator, Celcilia Clark, Synopsis Checklist, Synopsis evaluation

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14. Knowing Your Premise Before Sitting Down to Write


Lately I’ve been reading a lot of books sent to me from authors that have both traditionally and non-traditionally (be it self-published, P.O.D or any other format out these days) published books from children to main stream. Many I have enjoyed, while others I have walked away with thoughts of how the story could have been better. But the one thing I noticed no matter how the author went about publishing the book is this…the stories I truly enjoyed, related to and found myself lost in as a reader all had a well defined premise.

All well told stories start with a premise. This isn’t me just stating my own belief about writing or how it works for me as an author sitting down to write. This is a hardcore truth we all must face and if we as writers sit down without knowing this premise to our story before our fingers hit the keys—we need to be honestly open to feedback we get before and after we publish our work.

For those new to writing or still learning the ropes, let me explain what a premise is and why it is important to this before sitting down to write—if you truly want to be like the “Great” authors we all cherish—be it Dickens, Wolf, Pearson, King, Rice, Tolkien, Rowling and so on.

In a writing meeting I attended, one of the authors shared the following about premise and I liked it so much, I wrote it down. I now share it with you.
In How to Write a Damn Good Novel, it is explained, “Writing a story without a premise is like rowing a boat without oars.” To go a bit further Carol shared the following:
• The premise is the reason you are writing what you are writing. It is the point you have to prove, your purpose for telling this particular story.
• The premise is NOT a universal truth. It is true only for that novel.

I do need to stress however not to confuse your premise with your stories them. There is a really good article by Rob Parnell at http://easywaytowrite.com/theme_and_premise.htmlthat addresses this.  

When you think of your premise, keep what Hemingway once said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” This quote has always really hit me as an author because as we sit down to write, we are opening our soul to the world. We are sharing bits of ourselves with each word, thought and action our characters take. Each story comes from something deep within us that we either need answered or feel we need to share with others—our original idea or premise.

 You may also notice a premise can be used as your pitch line to an agent or publisher. Premises are also used has the “Hook” on the blurb of most books. Most readers when asking about your manuscript or published book want to know the premise, even if they don’t use this term. As you can see, knowing your premise, keeping it at the front of all your writing and truly letting it guide you through your plot will help you create an original work that will engage and bring your reader deeper into your story.

****
VS Grenier is an award-winning author & editor, founder of Stories for Children Publishing, LLC, chief editor for Halo Publishing, Int. and also the founder & host of blog talk radio's featured station The World of Ink Network. Learn more at http://vsgrenier.com
 

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15. 15 Things to Consider When Writing Description

Word PaintingSome of us try to use description language too much in our writing and others need to start thinking about how to use this literary tool more often.

The dictionary defines “describe” as:

To transmit a mental image or impression
To trace or draw the figure of; to outline
To give a verbal account of; to tell about in detail

Used properly it can take your reader into your fictional dream and that is a good thing.

I just bought Word Painting by Rebecca Mcclanahan and thought I would share some of the things she talks about in the first chapter that should give you food for thought. Like I said I just bought it, but so far I am glad I added it to my “How to” books.

1. Descriptive passages create the illusion of reality, inviting the reader to move in, unpack, and move in for a spell. They provide verisimilitude. What John Gardner (author of The Art of Fiction) calls the “proofs” that support and sustain your fictional dream. It is not a bunch of “flowery stuff.” It is not just something we stitch on top of our writing to make it more presentable.

2. Description composed of sensory detail penetrates layers of consciousness, engaging your reader emotionally as well as intellectually. The success of all fiction depends in part on descriptive image-making power.

3. Carefully selected descriptive details can establish you characters and setting quickly and efficiently. It is not merely describing how something looks with visual detail, but also smells, tastes, textures, and sounds.

4. As a framing device, description establishes the narrator’s, or character’s point of view. Shifts in the description frame (or eye) can signal shifts in point of view or a significant change in the character. Description begins in the eye, ear, mouth, nose, and hand of the beholder. Careful and imaginative observation may well be the most essential task of any writer.

5. Well-placed descriptive passages can move your story along, shape the narrative line and unfold the plot. It is not a way to hide from the truth. The world isn’t always pretty. Describe it honestly and face difficult, even ugly, subjects when necessary.

6. Descriptive passages can act as gearshifts, changing the pace of your story – speeding it up or slowing it down, then increasing the story’s tension.

7. Description can serve as a transitional device, a way of linking scene or changing time and place.

8. Description can orchestrate the dance between scene and summary.

9. Description can serve as a unifying thematic device, what Stanley Kunitz calls the “constellation of images” that appears and reappears in a literary work, suggesting the idea or feeling that lives beneath the story line.

10. Description can provide the palette of gradations in mood and tone. Dip you brush in one description and the darkens; in another, and the sun breaks through.

11. The language of you descriptions, its rhythms and sounds, can provide the equivalent of a muscial score for the fictional dream, a subliminal music that plays beneath the story line.

12. Writing descriptively doesn’t always mean writing gracefully. It won’t necessarily make our writing more refine, lyrical, or poetic. Some descriptions demand uneven syntax and plainspoken, blunt prose. Jagged, even. Fragments, too. Slice of chin. Buzz saw.

13. Description doesn’t always require a bigger vocabulary. House is probably a better choice than domicile, a horse is easier to visualize than an equine mammal, and red blood is brighter than the sanguine flow of bodily fluids.

14. Writing descriptively doesn’t necessitate writing more. Description isn’t a steroid, something to make our language bigger and stronger, nor is it an additive promising more miles to the fictional gallon. Sometimes writing descriptively means writing less or disappear altogether.

15. Description rarely stands alone. It should be woven in and seamlessly intertwined with other literary elements. Description isn’t something we simply insert, block style, into passages of narration or exposition. Yes, sometimes we write passages of description. But the term passage suggests a channel, a movement from one place to another; it implies that we’re going somewhere. That somewhere is the story.

Hope this helps.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, Book, demystify, inspiration, reference, Writing Tips Tagged: Description in Your Writing, Rebecca Mcclanahan, Word Painting, Writer's Digest

4 Comments on 15 Things to Consider When Writing Description, last added: 3/12/2014
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16. Writing Fantasy: An Article by Author & Film Producer Jules Bass

A fairy tale is a story of marvels and magic set in an unreal world in which the events that take place are beyond the realm of possibility.

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17. Avoiding Common Mistakes in the First Five Pages

first five pagesWe’ve been talking a lot about how to format your manuscript, so I bought The First Five Pages: A Writers Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman to see what other things might be good to share and already he has reminded me of things I forgot to mention to you that you should do before submitting.

He says, “There are no rules to assure great writing, but there are ways to avoid bad writing.” He also points out that agents and editors don’t read manuscripts to enjoy them; they read solely with the goal of getting through the pile, solely with an eye to dismiss a manuscript.

So obviously, we want to do everything to look good and make our first contact a professional one. We want to make sure our manuscripts do not signal carelessness, sloppiness, ignorance, or defiance of the industry’s standards; that the writer doesn’t care enough to do the minimum amount of research to make a manuscript industry presentable. An editor or agent will assume that the careless presentation continues in the manuscript.

Avoid rejection in the first few minutes by making sure your manuscript is presented properly:

Paper: 8 1/2  x 11 inch standard 20 pound bond white computer paper.

Text: 12 pt. Times New Roman font.  Printed only on one side of the page.

Clean: Do not send out a manuscript that you have sent out to other agents or editors if it appears the slightest bit worn.

Eliminate: Make sure you do not send out a manuscripts filled with boldface, underlined, capitalized, or italicized words everywhere, unless you purposely want to drive the agent or editor crazy.

Printing: Do not try to squeeze the last drops of ink from your printer and send out dim/hard to see and please if anyone still has a dot-matrix printer, throw it out and buy an ink-jet or laser printer.

Spacing: Double spaced lines with 1 inch margins. New paragraphs should be indented and also dialog should always be indented. Make sure you indent enough spaces (8-10 spaces on my computer). Nothing is worse than trying to read a manuscript when the indentations are so slight it is easy to miss them. Leave a half of a page between chapters. Line breaks between paragraphs scream amateur.

Do Not Include: Artwork or illustrations throughout the pages. It screams amateur. You might feel that adding some clip art helps the editor or agent get a feel for what you book is really about, but it is not professional. If you text needs a picture to explain what is going on, then add an illustrator’s note. Try to keep them to a minimum.

If you are an illustrator and have written and illustrated your book and have a book dummy; make sure you mention this in your query and give a website link where they can visit to see your art. You might want develop a page on your website exclusively to give to editors/agents, so they could view it online. Never send in original art.

Rights: When you present a manuscript to an agent or editor you are offering all rights. Do not put “Copyright” on your manuscript. It makes you look paranoid and besides it is not necessary.

Avoid Overuse of: Question marks, exclamation points, and parentheses. The abundant use of foreign words or phrases. Noah also say to avoid the inappropriate use of fancy words; crude of vulgar language or images; graphic blood and sex, but most of all cliché. Doing this in the first five pages can lead to instant rejection.

I think this covers all of the instant cosmetic rejections. Hope this helps.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, authors and illustrators, Book, demystify, How to, inspiration, reference, rejection, Writing Tips Tagged: Formatting your manuscript, Noah Lukeman, Staying out of the Rejection Pile, The First Five Pages

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18. Friday Speak Out!: Retreats! What Are They Good For? (Absolutely Somethin'!)

by Sioux Roslawski

In March I'm going on a writing retreat. A self-made one. Two other writing friends and I are going to cram our laptops and our bodies into my car and head to Conception, Missouri. Specifically, to Conception Abbey...the place where monks create a blissful aura over all who stay there.

No teachers. No frills. No schedule. So if that's what it doesn't have, what does this writing retreat have?

Loads of uninterrupted writing time. A lack of distractions because I don't have to sweep or mop or do dishes. I don't have to cook. I don't have to run after my dog as he hunts for poopsicles to eat in the backyard. And no internet unless I go to the abbey's library (and their hours are limited).

This is what I need now. I'm in the finishing stages of my manuscript (first draft) and am hoping to have it finished by this retreat and get some feedback prior to going...so I can then slash and burn the unnecessary parts and build up what I need to bolster while I'm in Conception.

What I want from a retreat—at least this one—probably differs from what you would desire. However, I do think writers should dig deep to discover what they need from a retreat before signing up for one.

Can you create your own?
If your constructive writer friends can dole out great critique, perhaps you can plan a DIY retreat. Rent a cheap cabin. Beg one of the attendees to give up their basement for a night. Check out the retreat centers—they'll feed you and give you a bed, and the rest is up to the group.

Before packing your bags, agree to what is going to happen. Are there going to be scheduled critique sessions? Where is everybody—are some polishing while others need some inspiration to begin something new? And what distractions/nonwriting activities are going to happen—if any?

Big or Small?
You might benefit from a large regional or national retreat, where you'll be able to network with writers and make new connections. Or, you might be better off working with your writing guild/circle of friends and paying a locally-known writer to lead a small group. Survey what everyone is looking for and where they are. Is everyone working on memoirs and they need a gifted memoir writer to help them fine-tune their voice and create an unforgettable place? Or is everyone a novelist and they would each love to have a pitch-critique session with an editor/publisher?

Be Creative
If time and money are at a premium, think outside the box. Your local library might have a room that they'd let you use. Many art museums have education wings. You could reserve one, and when anyone needs a break from their writing, they could wander through the galleries for more inspiration.

So—don't retreat too deep into yourself and miss out on some productive experiences. Go on a retreat...and watch what happens.

* * *

Sioux Roslawski is a St. Louis third grade teacher and a freelance writer. She's been published in Sasee magazine, eight Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, as well as several Not Your Mother's Book collections. In her spare time she's working on a novel and rescues dogs.
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Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!

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19. The Gingerbread Man’s Top 5 Writing Tips


MIMS HOUSE: Great NonFiction for Common Core Prewriting for the Common Core

The story of the oldest known wild bird in the world. At 62+, she hatched a new chick in February, 2013. Read her remarkable story. A biography in text and art.



Happy Holidays

Just got an e-newsletter from the North Pole and Santa passed along these writing tips from the Gingerbread Man, posted for the young-at-heart who are writing novels this year.

Back by popular demand is my series on writing tips from popular Christmas figures. First published in 2007, they are updated here for your Christmas cheer.

Santa Claus’s Top 5 Writing Tips
12 Days of Christmas Writing Tips (live on 12/3)
The Gingerbread Man’s Top 5 Writing Tips (live on 12/4)
Frosty the Snowman’s Top 6 Writing Tips (live on 12/5)
Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer’s Top 5 Writing Tips (live on 12/6)

The Gingerbread Man’s Top 5 Writing Tips

Top 5 Writing Tips from the Gingerbread Man

Image by Michael Bentley


Based on the folktale about this popular Christmas pastry that comes to life, the Gingerbread Man gives his writing tips.

  1. Event Repeat. The story of the Gingerbread Man uses an event-repeat type plot. An event is repeated several times, with only a minor change. When the Gingerbread Man escapes and runs away, he meets several people who want to eat him. Each character is added to the parade as the Gingerbread Man runs away, until the Fox outsmarts him at the last.
  2. Chorus. Using a Chorus is effective in short stories and picturebooks.
    Repetition of this chorus make the story fun and invites the audience to join in.
    “Run, Run, Fast as you can, you can’t beat me, I’m the Gingerbread Man.”
  3. Changing Setting. Especially for the picturebook format, it’s important to keep the setting interesting, so the illustrations are exciting. By sending the Gingerbread Man across the landscape, the illustrations have visually exciting possibilities.

  4. Darcy’s Best Writing Advice: Fiction Notes Books


  5. Folktale Mode. This story is in the folktale mode, which treats characters as a general type. For example, the ugly stepsisters in Cinderella, have a role as mean, ugly stepsisters, and not much more. When Gingy is added to the Shrek movies, though, his character is made more interesting by giving him individual characteristics. Decide if your story needs a general, folktale type character or a more individual character.
  6. Folktale Morals. Folktales and fables often add a moral at the end of a story. Of course, the Gingerbread Man should not have trusted the Fox! It’s seldom that picture books and stories today have such an explicit, straight forward moral. Instead, it’s usually implied and the reader is left to verbalize it for him or herself.

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20. Frosty the Snowman’s Top 5 Writing Tips


MIMS HOUSE: Great NonFiction for Common Core Prewriting for the Common Core

The story of the oldest known wild bird in the world. At 62+, she hatched a new chick in February, 2013. Read her remarkable story. A biography in text and art.



Happy Holidays

Just got an e-newsletter from the North Pole and Santa passed along these writing tips from the Frosty the Snowman, posted for the young-at-heart who are writing novels this year.

Back by popular demand is my series on writing tips from popular Christmas figures. First published in 2007, they are updated here for your Christmas cheer.

Santa Claus’s Top 5 Writing Tips
12 Days of Christmas Writing Tips (live on 12/3)
The Gingerbread Man’s Top 5 Writing Tips (live on 12/4)
Frosty the Snowman’s Top 6 Writing Tips (live on 12/5)
Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer’s Top 5 Writing Tips (live on 12/6)

Frosty The Snowman’s Top 5 Writing tips

These tips are based on the popular song, “Frosty the Snowman.” Read about the history of this song. Oh, what a great 3-D snowman cake pan!

Frosty's Top 6 Writing Tips

Image by Daniel Novta

  1. Frosty the snowman was a jolly happy soul,
    With a corncob pipe and a button nose
    And two eyes made out of coal.
    Frosty the snowman is a fairy tale, they say,
    He was made of snow


    Extended character descriptions.
    Don’t be afraid to take time to describe the main character. One the continuum of character descriptions, this one is longer than you’ll find in most children’s picturebooks. But it works because this is a character story.

  2. but the children
    Know how he came to life one day.
    There must have been some magic in that
    Old silk hat they found.
    For when they placed it on his head
    He began to dance around.

Point of view. Notice the point of view here. The attention is squarely on Frosty, not on the children who found the old silk hat. When you write a story for kids, you don’t always have to put the child as the main character.

  • O, Frosty the snowman
    Was alive as he could be,
    And the children say he could laugh
    And play just the same as you and me.
    Thumpetty thump thump,
    Thumpety thump thump,
    Look at Frosty go.
    Thumpetty thump thump,
    Thumpety thump thump,
    Over the hills of snow.
  • Language play. This section doesn’t add much to the plot, it’s just pure language play. But this is perfect for the younger audiences, who know that playing around with language is half the fun of reading a story or singing a song. Great onomatopoeia.

  • Frosty the snowman knew
    The sun was hot that day,
    So he said, “Let’s run and
    We’ll have some fun
    Now before I melt away.”
  • Conflict. Every good story needs conflict. And the character’s attitude in the face, well, in the face of certain death, is evident. It’s an attitude of taking joy where you find it and facing the future with courage.


    Darcy’s Best Writing Advice: Fiction Notes Books


  • Down to the village,
    With a broomstick in his hand,
    Running here and there all
    Around the square saying,
    Catch me if you can.
    He led them down the streets of town
    Right to the traffic cop.
    And he only paused a moment when
    He heard him holler “Stop!”
    For Frosty the snow man
    Had to hurry on his way,

  • Development of the conflict.
    The traffic cop provides an extra bump of conflict that adds to the story’s development. For picturebooks, it doesn’t have to be much; in fact, it can’t be huge, or you’re writing a novel. This is perfect, just the introduction of an authority figure who yells, “Stop!” but can’t really do anything to stop the breakneck speed of Frosty’s life.

  • But he waved goodbye saying,
    “Don’t you cry,
    I’ll be back again some day.”
    Thumpetty thump thump,
    Thumpety thump thump,
    Look at Frosty go.
    Thumpetty thump thump,
    Thumpety thump thump,
    Over the hills of snow.
  • Hope. Children’s stories may end in tragedy, but the best offer a spot of hope. Notice also the nice repetition of the language play that sends the story off with a nice echo.

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    21. Rudolph’s Top 5 Writing Tips


    MIMS HOUSE: Great NonFiction for Common Core Prewriting for the Common Core

    The story of the oldest known wild bird in the world. At 62+, she hatched a new chick in February, 2013. Read her remarkable story. A biography in text and art.



    Happy Holidays

    Just got an e-newsletter from the North Pole and Santa passed along these writing tips from the Frosty the Snowman, posted for the young-at-heart who are writing novels this year.

    Back by popular demand is my series on writing tips from popular Christmas figures. First published in 2007, they are updated here for your Christmas cheer.

    Santa Claus’s Top 5 Writing Tips
    12 Days of Christmas Writing Tips (live on 12/3)
    The Gingerbread Man’s Top 5 Writing Tips (live on 12/4)
    Frosty the Snowman’s Top 6 Writing Tips (live on 12/5)
    Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer’s Top 5 Writing Tips (live on 12/6)

    Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’s top 5 Writing Tips

    Merry Christmas from Rudolph, Fiction Notes and Darcy Pattison

    Image by Richard Clifford

    1. Unique characters. Give characters a tag, a physical or emotional something that makes them stand out from the crowd. That red nose, in the context of a reindeer herd, is absolutely astoundnig.

      Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer
      had a very shiny nose.
      And if you ever saw him,
      you would even say it glows.

    2. Conflict. The conflict here is the usual playground teasing and bullying of someone who is different. It’s a classic theme because we can all identify with it on some level. Don’t’ be afraid of classic themes; just use them in unique ways.

      Also, pile on the conflict. The other reindeer do three things to Rudolph, each an escalation: laugh, call him names, exclude him from games.

      All of the other reindeer
      used to laugh and call him names.
      They never let poor Rudolph
      join in any reindeer games.

      Poor Rudolph. He must have felt All Alone: “I’m All Alone” from Monty Python’s Spamalot

      If you can’t see this video, click here.

    3. Turning point. After the set up and the conflict, comes the turning point. The crisis here is that Santa must deliver the toys to the children around the world, but the weather isn’t cooperating.

      Then one foggy Christmas Eve

    4. The unusual characteristic becomes a blessing. Again, this is a cliched way of handling a conflict and crisis, but it still works. The very thing that sets the character apart, that makes him/her different and weak, is also the very thing that makes the hero able to save the day. Of course, this means we are matching up conflict and resolution, too. Santa also functions as a sort of mentor here, one who is able to recognize the unique qualities of Rudolph for what they are.

      Santa came to say:
      “Rudolph with your nose so bright,
      won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”

    5. Rejoice. It’s not just the climax here, but also the concept of a celebration of successfully completing a quest. Give characters a moment to celebrate. This often comes after a big battle, or a big effort to overcome something.

      Then all the reindeer loved him
      as they shouted out with glee,
      Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer,
      you’ll go down in history!


      Darcy’s Best Writing Advice: Fiction Notes Books


      And, of course, you must end with the famous cowboy Gene Autry, singing Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer in 1953. His original recording hit the top of the charts in 1950.
      If you can’t see this video, click here.

    Think the story is still a little slight for todays’ market? Here’s why.

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    22. Call for Submissions: CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing

    The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop invites writers of all stripes (Poets! Fictioneers! Memoirists! Journalists! Essayists! Dramatists! Genre-benders!) to submit to CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing. Writers are invited to submit their personal aesthetic philosophies and manifestos for the anthology, writing exercises and prompts that have helped to kick-start their imagination, and short essays on the art of writing, reading, and being creative. Please send us a brief (7 pages max) submission in one of the following categories:

    I. Credos:

    Writing manifestos, rules to live by, artist creeds, hand-written notes to self, aphorisms earned, and personal philosophies on what makes good writing work and why. If you have ever typed or scrawled out a manifesto, we would like to see it. Feel free to send us manifestos for creative writing that you have drawn up for yourself or for your writing group. We accept typed written credos, hand-written lists, and even collages that demonstrate your aesthetic philosophy.

    II. Writing Exercises:

    We would like you to send us writing exercises, prompts, or any practices that have helped energize and motivate your creative writing practice. Is there a daily ritual you do to kickstart your imagination? Are there writing exercises and prompts that you keep on going back to or to use in class with your students? We are interested in your favorite writing exercises. Please send us original writing exercises or prompts, or please write to us about how your favorite published writing exercises work.

    III. Essays on Writing Advice:

    We are looking for essays that describe the writing process, essays on creative arts communities, salon culture, and advice on creative writing. What has helped you sustain and catalyze your writing career? What has inspired you, from reading the works of your favorite authors, experimenting with new forms, finding communities of writers, experience with social media and writing, etc.? We welcome any essays on creative writing between 5-7 pages.
     
    Please also include: A brief biography of 200 words or less.

    SUBMISSIONS PERIOD: October 15, 2013 - January 15, 2014

    Submit here.

    Follow us on Twitter @CamWritersWkshp

    Facebook.

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    23. Beating Writer’s Block – tips by Alan Dapre

    Pesky apostrophes. Writer‘s Block affects one person but we all know WB affects all writers at some point so maybe Writers‘ Block is more accurate. So how to cope with it? Easy. Never pick up a pen again and become a hermit atop … Continue reading

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    24. Writing for Children – helpful ideas by Alan Dapre

    I’ve had over 50 books traditionally published in a range of genres. A few are plays for teenagers and younger children. Some are linked to characters on TV (such as Brum) and are joke, puzzle, activity and story books. Others are … Continue reading

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    25. ‘It’s good to write badly’ – Writing tips from Alan Dapre

    It’s good to write badly. Baldly, in my case. Back in the noisy days of  typewriters I was indebted to a strip of white tape that I placed on the paper to strike out mistakes. This was replaced in time … Continue reading

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