Writing Links: From Outlines to Submissions to Cursive Writing

A Shoreline View
A Shoreline View

I’ve found some interesting links in the past few days that I want to pass along.

The first is a blog by one of my favourite writers/bloggers Elizabeth S. Craig. In her post, “Chalk One Up for Outlining,” Craig explains that she is not an outliner by nature. “I despise outlining and I hate following outlines.” If you feel the same way, you might like to read how she found a way to make it work for her.

I loved Darcy Pattison’s blog post, “6 Ways Out of Writing Slump.” I could really identify with her reasons for letting writing fiction slide, and I could also see how her suggestions could make a difference.

If you’re getting a project ready to submit to a publisher, read about what seven agents say can stop editors and agents reading: “Seven Agents Talk About the Most Common Submission Mistakes.” Their comments cover the synopsis, the query and your first pages.

Finally if you love writing in journals or with pen/pencil and paper, you might be interested in this opinion piece by Andrew Coyne that was written in response to a report about the lack of teaching of cursive writing in school. “Words on paper – how we write affects what we write.” 

I’d love to hear your feedback on any of these links. Who do you follow for great writing advice?

Writing Links for Writers and Teachers

Work-in-ProgressThought I’d share a few blogs and resources that I’ve found useful this week.

A great blog from Janice Hardy showing writers how to set tone and mood in their scenes. The examples are excellent and capture a lot of writer flaws that are easy to see in your own writing–mine included. Sigh. http://blog.janicehardy.com/2013/04/how-to-set-tone-and-mood-in-your-scenes.html?utm_source=feedly&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+janicehardy/PUtE+(The+Other+Side+of+the+Story)

An interesting blog on why the word “suddenly” should be deleted in your writing. The comments add some other words that can be deleted, too. http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/2013/04/most-common-mistakes-series-why.html?utm_source=feedly

Skype in the classroom offers ways to connect with teachers and specialists who are willing to connect to you and your students through Skype. https://education.skype.com/

Have a great Wednesday!

Writing Tips and a Writing Pledge

Image courtesty of Laura Ritchie WANA Commons

I just found this link a few days ago and want to pass it along. CBC Books is a website containing all things writerly created by the Canadian Broadcasting Company. (I can’t tell you how lucky I feel to live where a national broadcaster promotes reading and writing.) Within that site is a set of pages called Canada Writes, which contains a series of writing tips from Canadian authors. I’ve only had a chance to read a couple of them and I’m already printing and saving them to read again. So if you’re looking for some great writing tips, check out Writing Tips at Canada Writes.If you’re a mystery writer, you also might want to explore Louise Penny’s five-part series on writing mysteries. Here’s one to explore: http://www.cbc.ca/books/canadawrites/2012/05/louise-penny-master-class-things-i-wish-id-known-before-starting-my-first-book.html

You can tell that the muse/creativity/inspiration and I aren’t on speaking terms at the moment because that’s when I read about writing rather than do the writing. I’m hoping that our separation doesn’t last too much longer, but in the meantime, I think it’s okay to fill the cup with some reading, too.

I have a friend who does daily writing exercises, whether they are about her book or not. I admire her enormously, and I think she’s absolutely on the right track. I also believe that it’s something I should be doing, too. If I want to keep calling myself a writer, I feel that I should be writing every day. I have writing gigs with deadlines that help pay the bills, but my creative writing has stagnated for a long time—and I miss it. So, I’m going to pledge to write every day for a month and keep you posted on my progress. If you want to join me, we can keep each other motivated, and I’d love the company!

Time Travel Tips

Image courtesy of Lynn Kelley WANA Commons

I am in the process of rethinking a current project and looking for a way to solve one of my major problems with the character. The book is set in medieval England, and my young hero just lacks the spark he needs to connect to the reader. In a brain blast, I realized that the way he spoke was a barrier to young readers–and to me, trying to bring him to life. But if he was a modern kid in a fish-out-of-water situation, I could use the language I want to write, and I think the story would be more fun for the reader. Time travel was the solution I came up with. A bit of The Time Machine and a bit of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

But …

I don’t know very much about time travel except for reading the two books mentioned above. I would love to hear your suggestions for time travel novels (for readers of any age) or how-to-write books that would help me research this framework for my story.  I don’t want to copy anyone, but I do want to understand what the conventions are–does present time move in synch with past time, for instance, or is present time ‘on hold’ until the traveller returns? That sort of thing.

All help will be welcome. I look forward to your suggestions–and some great reading!

New Free Chapter: Meeting Your Writing Goals

Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens
US and Canadian editions available

I added a new sample chapter to my book’s website today. Though the book is called Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens, I think that writers of any age can find something useful in it.The two sample chapters available now are “Meeting Your Writing Goals” and “Stuck for a Story Idea?” You can find them under the Sample Chapters tab at my book’s website.

Also, if you’re looking for other story inspirations click on the Writing Starters tab and explore.

I’m in the process of creating an ebook of writing starters, some previously published and a lot brand new. I’ll be posting more about that venture soon.

Hope you all have a creative week. Please drop me a line if you find yourself inspired by any of the writing starters. I love to hear about the stories that they lead to.

Review of Rayne Hall’s WRITING SCARY SCENES

Rayne Hall begins her book with these words:

I love scaring readers. Don’t you?

This book will teach you practical tricks for turning up the suspense. Make your readers’ hearts hammer with terror, their breaths quicken with excitement and their skins tingle with goosebumps of delicious fright. 

Hall keeps her promise. Her book is broken down into succinct chapters that give you all the tools you need to create scary scenes. And the tools are concrete. She shows you the words you can use and the ones to avoid. She looks at pacing and the pattern of building a suspenseful scene. And all of this is done with a plain language approach that makes it feel as if she is dispensing her advice across the table from you at your favourite coffee shop.

The tools Hall provides aren’t just for use by horror and thriller writers. Every story needs suspense. Every author wants his or her book to be the one that readers just can’t put down. No matter what you write, Hall’s techniques can give your book the reader-grabbing polish it needs.  I’m in the midst of editing a fantasy for middle readers at the moment, and I will be starting at the beginning (again!) with this guide beside me. Almost every chapter in Hall’s book made me think about a point in my novel where I could up the ante for my hero and keep my reader more engaged. As Hall states: “Fear comes in many different flavours. For each scene you write, choose one or several kinds of fear.”

Here’s a selection of chapter titles from book to show you the range of Hall’s expertise–and how much I’m going to learn as I work through my novel!

  •  Instant Hooks
  • What Lurks Behind That Door?
  • Sounds Build Suspense
  • Strip to Tease
  • Keep the Clock Ticking
  • Structuring a Scary Scene
  • Using the Senses
  • Cliffhangers
  • Villains and Monsters
  • Chases and Escapes
  • Humour
  • The Wimp Effect (loved this chapter!)

In each chapter, examples from works of other authors bring Hall’s writing tips to life, and in case you think the suggestion is so good that you want to use it all the time, she ends with some words of caution about what happens when the concept is overworked. Hall’s own sample stories at the end of the book are guaranteed to provide the reader with more than a fair share of chills, and are a perfect way to view the techniques at work.

You can find Hall’s books here, including another book in this series, Writing Fight Scenes: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/RayneHall

Hall also offers writing workshops: Writing Workshops with Rayne Hall: Take your writing craft to the next level https://sites.google.com/site/writingworkshopswithraynehall/

Rayne Hall is the author of thirty books in different genres and under different pen names, published by twelve publishers in six countries, translated into several languages. Her short stories have been published in magazines, e-zines and anthologies.

Writerly Links Worth Visiting

I’ve listed below a few links that I think you’ll enjoy exploring. Have fun!

The title of this one is self explanatory: The Top 100 Creative Writing Blogs. I’m sure you’ll see a lot of old friends here and enjoy making new ones: http://yaminatoday.com/2012/07/07/the-top-100-creative-writing-blogs/

Make it a habit to drop by Debbie Ohi’s Inkygirl site for fun writerly comics, interviews and tips for kidlit and YA authors and illustrators:  http://inkygirl.com/

This is just one of Jane Friedman’s great writing tips: Perfecting Your First Page: 3 Tasks or Exercises:  http://janefriedman.com/2012/04/23/perfecting-your-first-page/

David Carnoy provides a great overview of self-publishing options in How to Self-Publish an eBook: http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-18438_7-20010547-82/how-to-self-publish-an-ebook/

If you’re a new or experienced freelancer, Paul Lima will have answers for your questions. Just check the categories down the side to get the info you need. http://paullima.com/blog/

If you have any writerly links that you want to recommend, too, please share them in the comments.

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