Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Writers Websites Wednesday - The Anomolist

Sorry I didn't get a post up yesterday as is my usual weekly habit - an article on writing - but I'm smack in the middle of a large project.  A new article will appear next week. 

In the mean time I'm able to get a special website posted this week for those who love weird things and enjoy grist for the mill for possible sci/fi-fantasy, mystery, or pretty much any novel endeavor.  A daily review of world news on maverick science, unexplained mysteries, unorthodox theories, strange talents and unexpected discoveries, The Anomolist. is a great resource. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Writers Websites Wednesday - Resources for Young Writers

This week I bring you Writing World's list of links & Resources For Young Writers. It comes with the usual caveat - some of the links may not longer work; that's the way it is on the web.  But, There are many here to choose from with lots of helps for the young, new writer, so check it out and see if there are any that are of help to you. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Master of the Amazing Opening

Let's think about this.  You want to write a story, you want people to read that story - from the first editor or agent who glances at it to the many readers out there you want to reach. You can't do that unless you get their attention and I mean from the first sentence.

It's nothing less than crucial. If it doesn't grab and hold the attention of an editor or that agent you've sent it to to try to get him or her to rep you, then you're already in trouble.  If you have the chance to discuss things with an editor, most of them will tell you they must get hooked by the first sentence and caught up in the stroy within the first two or three paragraphs.  If they aren't they won't read on.  They can't.  They  have that whole humongous slush pile over there waiting for their attention.  They can't keep slogging through your work in the hopes that it will be a sparkling jewel somewhere beyond a less than stellar beginning.

One way to get a feel for this is to read a lot of 'beginnings'.  Check out other people's books.  Grab one from your shelf now ( I know you have a lot of books right? - you're a writer).

Doesn't matter what genre you choose, what book you pick up. Open it at the first page and read the first sentence.  Do you want to read  more? I'll bet you do.  I'll bet it's one of the reasons you got the book in the first place - it hooked you.

The title and the first line are of paramount importance to your story - even though it's likely the title will be changed somewhere along the line before publication.

Here are a few first lines chosen at random from a variety of books on my shelves:

What was  he doing here?

It was a black night with barely a sliver of a moon to light the way. Samantha Cameron had been in the saddle for hours wandering in circles.

When I finally reached Tucson I felt like I was hauling half the dust of the desert along with me.

"I've watched through his eyes, I've listened through his ears, and I tell you he's the one. Or at least as close we we're going to get."

The cold should have made her shiver, but it was fear, terrible bone-chilling fear that seized Lara, causing such tremors they were impossible to control.

"Do you feel it boy?  Do you feel the mist preparing?"

Death. Pestilence. Famine.  They surround me, my lovers...

Okay, you get the drift.  All very first sentences above. Now look at some more from your shelves. Those lines draw you in - first thing, right? The beginning needs to be short and sharp with no rambling. Condensed is good, rambling isn't.

Now is when you should jot down the very first line of your story. Think of this as an exercise. You may have to dash off anything that first comes to mind and then revise and refine it. Or you may give it a lot of thought and then write down the perfect first line.  However you approach it, write it down and then ask yourself some questions about it:

1) Is it too long; so long the reader loses interest?
2) Is it to the point?
3) Does it hook the reader and cause that reader to want to read more?
4) Is there a bit of mystery to it? Does it give enough information to leave the reader wanting more?
5) Does it give too much information, again, risking losing the reader‟s interest?
6) Does it tease?

Okay, you get the idea. You're a writer. Get busy and write.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Writers Websites Wednesday - Unexplained Mysteries

I can't help it, I love weird things and sites that post abut weird things.  It's because I like to write strange tales about strange things at times. Thus, this week I bring you Unexplained Mysteries. All kinds of interesting things here; ghosts, science, interesting forums, UFOs, ancient mysteries and more. It's fun just exploring the site and it sure does stir up the brain cells. Great place to troll for ideas, to take a break, or just have a bit of fun taking it all in.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Don't Be a High Maintenance Writer

Us writers have a hard row to hoe. We deal with a lot of rejection and frustration, creative angst and our own fears. We want to  make a great impression on editors, publishers, readers, but we don't want to be run over or taken advantage of.

So how do we determine where the lines are drawn? How to think about furthering our careers, being frank and forthright without alienating the exact person who can do us the greatest good?

You sold a book. Congratulations! But your advance check hasn’t arrived and you just want to scream…don’t.

Your publishing company has dragged you through the wringer and you want to blast the whole company with an acidic email…oh, please don’t!

Gather your patience and thoughtfulness.  Polish up your professional demeanor and read below and find tips to help smooth your path.

If you want to be loved by editors and publishers one of the best ways is to meet your deadline early. Don’t rush to the point of screwing things up, but shock and surprise your editors by getting your work in ahead of schedule.  You can do this with a bit of planning. It brings joy to their hearts and frankly will curry a bit of favor.  They'll think kind thoughts when your name  is mentioned.

Another help is for you  is to find a way to balance your finances without being on a hair-trigger awaiting a check. Hounding an editor or agent for your missing check won’t get it to you any faster and you come across as desperate. Worse, you may be perceived as unprofessional. Naturally if it has gone past the date expected, inquire, but do so briefly, a simple inquiry, not a condemnation, and do it with a professional air. Nagging and pestering are no-nos.

Work on your voice. Speak aloud in the privacy of a closed room if you need to, but listen to yourself. Don’t let your words come across in a high-pitched scream or whine or in a rushed jumble of panicked words. Imbue your voice with confidence (not arrogance). Keep your voice in the lower ranges and speak in a friendly, measured manner, not a staccato babble.

Move away from the phone.  Just because you have one and your editor does as well doesn't mean you have to use it.  Don't call unless you've already got clearance or a request. The best way to communicate is a quick email.  It's easier to dash a few words back to you and it can be handled as they have time, thus being less intrusive.  And, if it's a question or a matter your editor can't handle, he or she can forward the request to the proper person.

And about that email. If you’re really pissed off about something, slow down and think. Draft your letter on a word document, not the email. Then save it and let it percolate. Don’t send it until it reads the way you intend it to and you’ve cooled down. Emails, as I think we’ve all learned, can take on a terrible life of their own. Don’t let it happen to you (again?).

Be old fashioned. Write thank you notes. Yep, you’ll truly endear yourself to your agent, editors and everyone in the business if you take a moment to write a thank you note when it’s appropriate. Don’t think “oh, they know I appreciated it”. Well, they probably do, and after all it’s a business too. BUT, doesn’t everyone like to be thanked when they go out of their way, go a little beyond the call of duty, or just do an everyday fine job?  Take a moment, write that note.  Oh, and be specific about what you're thanking them for so it comes across as genuine as you are.

Do your own research. Editors are busy. Don’t go bugging them for things you can find on your own. Check out magazines you want to write for, read them, study the masthead for your contact.  Really prowl the website for info. If it’s a book  your pedaling check out publishers and their guidelines. Just knowing the writer’s guidelines will make an editor want to smile and shake your hand. You would not believe how many queries and submissions they receive that are totally inappropriate to their publications.

Those are the suggestions for the day. Interwoven through them all is, be professional, be civil and be patient even when it’s terribly hard to do so. If you lose it, pester or maybe yell and scream you'll probably get less help than you hope for, in fact, I'll guarantee it. Don't forget, publishers, editors and agents deal with their own frustration, irritation and disappointments just like you do.

This is your career we’re talking about here. Don’t self-sabotage.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Writers Websites Wednesday - Random Title Generator

Yes, I'm a sucker for these generators.  Why? Because they not only suggest things, but can trigger new thoughts and ideas. So for this week I bring you the Random Title Generator.  It's come up with some interesting ideas when I've played with it and got me thinking of others. Try it. Enjoy the sparks.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

How Green Is Your Writing?

photo by Chance Agrella
No, not do you write about "green subjects".  That might not be your thing at all and that's just fine.  Not everyone can or wants to write for green magazines or create books on 'green' subjects like recycling and climate change.

The question here is, how green is your little corner of writing world?  What do you think about and do to help in your own small way with keeping things in hand, cutting down on paper use and pollution?  Have you thought about it or did it just not occur to you because proportionately you use so little? 

Well, every little bit counts and today we're going to give a nod to aimng at green writing. So use a little common sense, make some effort and show your respect for the planet.

Here's the thing.  We write for entertainment, to inform and for a lot of other reasons, and we use a lot of stuff. Stuff that can be recycled, reused, and thoughtfully disposed of. For starters, when drafting your work, use both sides of paper when you need to print. When it's ready to be trashed, recycle that paper. I keep a brown paper bag beside my desk for the paper to keep it separate from the trash. You can also check with friends who happen to work in offices - see if they can give you paper that's been used on only one side. Also volunteer to take old letterhead off their hands.  Some companies throw out literally reams of paper when they change their letterhead. Sometimes you can use both sides, or even if you can use only one because the printed letterhead it's better than seeing it go to a landfill and after that you can recycle it - beside's it's free draft paper!

And speaking of printing, you buy print cartridges, right?  Well, recycle them. Recycle those print cartridges. Frequently the manufacturer will supply a return envelope in the box your cartridge came in. You can also find mailers at places like Pet Smart. So if you have a pet you can not only recycle your old cartridges but you can donate to pets at the same time which can only be a plus.

Or you can have your old cartridges refilled.  Look around your town. Yes, there ARE places where you can have your cartridges refilled. It prolongs the life of those plastic cartridges and saves you money at the same time. And you can still recycle the cartridge later when it's past its prime.

Think about the location of your work space.  If you can, take advantage of sunlight.  Not only is it better for you, but it saves the use of a lamp.  If you do need a lamp, Get daylight, watt-saver bulbs for the lamp on your desk or in your work area. Not only is it better for your eyes, but those bulbs last longer and use less electricity.  A win all the way around.

Some things we use need batteries. Maybe your wireless mouse or some other item in your work-a-day arsenal.  Recycle the batteries for anything you use. I keep a small box in a drawer where I can toss used batteries until I have enough to take to our local transfer station for recycling. If you use rechargables (which, by the way is an even better idea), places like Home Depot and Lowe's offer recycling. Even some local hardware stores do.  Be sure to ask. Sometimes even that old computer needs to go, or some old components. If still usable check with your local school or library and see if those items could be used there (don't forget to wipe your hard drive clean before donating). If the equipment is beyond hope, check with your local electronics store about recycling or your local landfill. Most dumps have designated times when they'll accept things like electronics for recycling.

Consider buying pens that can be refilled instead of the disposable variety. Much less goes into the trash that way. Pencils are good too, instead of pens, if you don't need ink. And you can get mechanical pencils that last a long time needing only lead to refill instead of a wooden pencil. And don't forget to use the pen up.  Unless it blocks or otherwise becomes useless, don't just throw away a half used pen.

Books you no longer use or want? Donate them to libraries, schools or other writer friends. Getting rid of your office chair because you got a new one? Donate old one to Goodwill or other charity - or just another broke writer friend.

It takes a little time to do these things and to seek out other ways to save and recycle, but if you organize and think about it, in the end it isn't much time and it's so worth it.

Other Posts Of Interest:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...