Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Writers & Readers Websites Wednesday - Screenwriting Tips

There it is, my script shelf
Writer? Want helpful tips, I mean really helpful tips on screenwriting? 

Reader? Want to see the kind of stuff that goes into screenwriting - writing the script for that favorite movie? 

Then visit ScreenWriting Tips...You Hack he is, afterall, there to help.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Writing & Reading - Two Sides Of a Coin

It’s easy to talk about craft and grammar and spelling and all the little how-tos and don’t-dos when thinking about and discussing writing. And it’s easy to skip over the more simple things a writer needs to keep in mind or do or both. The more general concepts you kind of have to get into your head and keep there. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. A writer has to read and write – a lot. You have to love it. You have to pretty much think about it when you’re not doing it. You must do both. The more you write the better you write. The more you read the better you write. If you read some bad writing it’s a great lesson in what not to do. Great writing gives you great tips on what you should do. Quite simply they go hand in hand. If you don’t have time to read then forget the writing. 

Legacy – Prisoner of the Floating World 1
And speaking of the writing, presuming you do write, then you really need to make a habit of writing if you want to make it a success. Write every day (well not EVERY day, you can take a vacation though I frequently find myself jotting notes on vacation and I know my niece, CorinnaBechko, a writer of comic books and her husband Gabriel Hardman writer and illustrator work out plots while on road trips).

In any event, create a schedule that works for you and stick to it. If you love to write in the depths of the night, do that. If you’re a parent and need to write when the kids are asleep or at school, then do that. But whatever time you choose I highly recommend you create a goal, how many words and/or how many hours you’re going to work uninterrupted and stick to it. Seriously, do it every day (well except for that vacation…maybe).

Now here’s a controversial thought, a sort of an overview. Do you as a writer need writing courses or seminars or workshops?  The real answer is I don’t know. I don’t, never have.

Everyone is different and here are some things to think about. Is a classroom really a place for serious writing? You can’t close a door and write uninterrupted. You are probably writing something you’ve been told to write or on a subject or in a genre you’ve been instructed to write in. It isn’t coming from YOU. 

Also, do you really need a degree to tell you you’re a writer? Or a name tag from a well-known retreat or workshop? If you write you’re a writer; that’s all she wrote! 

The good things about writer’s workshops, conferences, etc, is being with like-minded people. Folks who don’t think you’re mildly insane for your desire to write books. 

And taking classes to understand grammar and get your spelling brushed up isn’t a bad idea if you’re rusty or just never learned much in the school system.

There are some written courses I’ve seen that have some value, give some good instructional tips, web links to good sites, but those are a separate issue from the collective workshops, conferences and attending in person writing classes.  

All in all I’d have to say I’m not big on those. They usually cost a lot of money, eat up a whole bunch of time and critiques I’ve seen aren’t generally to the point, perhaps for fear of hurting someone’s feelings. 

So I’d say know your language so you can know  what rules you’re breaking and focus in on you and your writing and a space, whether large or small where you can be alone with it and write.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Writers & Readers Websites Wednesday-Bookcover Archive

Want to see a whole bunch of book covers in one place? 

Are you a reader? What sort of cover grabs you? What's the influence? Color? Words? Type? Illustrations?  

Are you a Writer? Looking for what is appealing for ideas for your own book cover? Think yours is better? Why?

Well, The Book Cover Archive is one place to be awash in book covers. Maybe you'll even want to track down one of these books and read it. 

Check it out, tell me what you like and what you don't and why. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Life Lessons for Writers ...and Others

There are lessons that have been learned having been a writer over the course of years.  So, I thought I’d share some of them with fellow writers and at the same time give readers a glimpse into the writer’s life. 

Here’s the thing. A writing life is a great life. BUT, some additional planning needs to go in to it above and beyond what working at say an office or a store or another profession might require.  I mean, stuff happens. 

And, when it happens, you’re a self-employed indie with few resources other than the ones you’ve prepared and planned on.  If you’re ‘laid off’, i.e. can’t get a writing gig at the moment, you don’t have unemployment. You also no doubt don’t have health insurance. Some writers take the route of having an outside job for money as well as benefits, but if you are exclusively an Indie, welllll….. you need to plan for the down times. 

Save as much as you can. This can be tough because many Indie writers  whether published by major houses or self-published, live pretty much on subsistence level income. Keep a file on resources that can help such as organizations you might belong to that offer assistance for artists/writers in distress. Those same organizations such as The Freelancer’sUnionThe Author’s Guild (if you live in the right state and qualify to be in the Guild), Romance Writers of America and other writers’ and independent workers’ associations offer avenues to pursue health insurance at a cost you might actually be able to afford because in our country we don’t have the good sense to have universal health care available. Of course there are usually membership dues that have to be met, but not always.

Do you have family that might help out in an emergency? I wouldn’t make a habit of that, but in extremis, it’s good to know.  

Take your writing and yourself seriously. You’re not just a creative, you’re a business person. You’re going to have to learn to read contracts, negotiate and generally keep track of what’s going on in the industry (aka writing/publishing world). Yes you can have an agent who negotiates contracts for you, but I hope you aren’t reading those things blind and are actually taking time to understand the language. And that’s IF you have an agent. If you’re Indie to the bone, doing it all yourself, then  you’re going to have to learn or you’re really going to get shafted somewhere along the road. 

Another lesson I’ve learned is never throw any of my creative work away.  Rewriting a story written years earlier, one you just didn’t have the skill to do justice to at that time, can be an unexpected boon. And that doesn’t count cannibalization. Maybe that old story stinks, but some of the characters were great or the setting was perfect for a new story idea. Think about it, work with it. Don’t throw past work away, especially now that it can be saved on disc!

 Yet another lesson. Give your readers something to think about. Don’t give them all the answers. Now, by that I don’t mean leave your story hanging, but rather leave a little something behind that gets them to ask questions that might not have occurred before. Something to remember you by. Something that niggles enough that they want to read what you write next.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Writers Websites Wednesday - Auto Correct for Readers & Writers

You all probably already know about auto correct on Word and may well sometimes swear at it, but come visit Gary Corby's blog, specifically the post Auto Correct Is Your Friend, and get some great tips on how to use it effectively for writers.  Anybody who reads or writes will be interested in this since it gives some great tips - the rest of his site is fun as well!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Connecting Your Writing With Publishing

If you write a lot and along side of that, read a lot, then you’ve no doubt heard the screams of the publishing industry – “the sky is falling, the sky is falling…” And, “it’s the end of the world as we know it!” Ebooks, digital, Indie publishers, oh my!
Yep, it is, well, for some, but we as writers need to connect with that even if many big New York publishing houses aren’t and recognize the new blooming opportunities. The publishing industry can appear to be an out-of-touch unstable mess with policies of granting silly, over-bloated advances to ‘high brow’ writers who generally sell very few books. Meanwhile readers are looking for entertainment and/or information. So the publishing industry on some levels is failing, but in other areas, there’s great potential. Read on.
Think about this. If there’s so few ‘dedicated’ readers, and the number is dropping all the time as many big publishing houses will tell us, then myohmy, how are they paying the rent on all those posh Manhattan offices? 

So, what’s really suffering in the publishing biz? Mostly Literary Fiction. Have you ever been to any of the book shows and seen the lines for writers such as Danielle Steele, Stephen King, or other icon of ‘entertainment’ fiction? Those lines wind round and round and never seem to get any shorter. Publishers are doing pretty good on that one. 

So, from the writer’s viewpoint, don’t buy 'the sky is falling philosophy' and don’t worry. Quietly watch what people buy at bookstores or check out Amazon to see what’s ‘bestselling’. Readers in the real world decide what they want, not a publishers in New York or wherever. And those readers want a lot. I recently spotted a patron in a bookstore check out with a copy of “Idiot’s Guide to Screenwriting”, a craft magazine on beading, a copy of “The Husband” by Dean Koontz and a paranormal romance by Christine Feehan. So, looks like readers really aren’t locked into the “same ol, same ol” after all. Wish I could peek over the shoulder of a reader purchasing books online to see what they’re getting.  More research would be needed for that.

It’s time for writers to find more venues and to explore more markets. It’s up to us to rearrange the publishing business in the model we want to see. And even while we do that, check out the most current listings of Publishing Houses in the United States. It’s staggering. And it includes the monoliths as well as the independents. Monoliths are slow to move, but keep your eye on the more nimble independents. They’re the more creative in business models, innovation and marketing. 

Big publishing is slowly beginning to think beyond the book – flat, bound, nice and useful. Okay, yep, and no. The web is the newest outlet and the E-book market is growing by leaps and bounds; but I bet you know that already! Self-publishing for niche markets is growing quickly as well. Look into them, research, don’t limit yourself. 

Don’t corner yourself to one field of writing either if you have the capacity. Love fiction? Me too. But I also write articles, grant requests, have taught online courses and on the ground courses. I’ve written travel articles, how to articles, and biographies, screen scripts, blogs and magazine articles. Broaden your abilities as much as you can. The publishing industry can’t sustain itself as only ‘print’ and so it’s making content digitized, downloadable, and yes, there’ll still be a place for the hard copy book.

Change is already upon us and more is coming. You, as the writer, must recognize this reality and forge your new path. Mix your career, write in different areas, of course approach the print publishers if that’s where you want to place your work, but don’t rule out other avenues as well. E-publishing, self-publishing, publishing with independents; all of these are now open doors to writers. And a bit of research will glean you even more opportunities to build your own empire.

Remember, the future of publishing is not technology or free samples. The future is about giving readers what they want and there have never been so many opportunities to do so. As a reader I currently read from my Kindle Fire, my computer and hard copy books. So I suggest you enjoy what you write and don’t limit yourself to any one possibility – there are many and for now it just seems to be growing. 


Don’t have a Kindle? Get a free reader for your computer:

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Writers Websites Wednesday - Murder by 4

Come on you aspiring thriller writers, check out Murder By 4, a blog run by 4 suspense authors and it's a must follow if you write or want to write thrillers. Excellent articles and even a contest.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Writers Dealing With Rejection

Okay, the truth hurts. The fact is no matter how good a writer you are, no matter how persistent and devoted to your writing, you’re going to receive rejections.

Probably a lot of them over time.

Naturally every writer would like to have all his or her writing recognized for the incredible gems that they are and published forthwith, but here’s where reality intrudes: it ain’t gonna happen. Even if your writing is perfect in every way, a gem, polished to sparkling perfection (yeah, like that’s going to happen) it might not be to an editor’s taste or the editor could be having a bad day and not like anything coming across the desk, or a lowly reader wouldn’t pass it on to said editor.

So, what to do?

How to avoid becoming depressed, frustrated, and one of those writers who fall by the wayside and give up?

First, remember a few simple facts. Agents and editors are swamped with submissions by dabblers, those who pursue writing for amusement and not as their life’s work. This can be good news for the serious writer who’ll find the more professionally he or she approaches an agency or publisher, the more seriously a submission will be taken.

Secondly, the bad news is established agents get over one hundred submissions a week. Top publishers who still accept unsolicited manuscripts directly from writers are equally buried. Good news from the perspective of the professionally minded aspiring writer is more than ninety percent of the submissions received aren’t worth looking at twice. Make sure your writing is in the 10% category.

Consider how many writers (read dabblers) put out sloppy work filled with errors; typos, grammatical, or form. Others don’t give a thought to whom they are submitting.

Whether to an agent or a publisher, it’s the writer’s responsibility to know to whom he or she is talking. Know if the publisher publishes the kind of story you are submitting. Know if the agent handles the type of book you are proposing. If you send a science fiction book proposal to a publisher of romance novels you can be certain that proposal will be in the trash can or zapped off email within moments. Don’t go thinking your work is somehow magical and when you submit a romance to a western publisher (assuming it isn’t a western romance) that it will somehow slip through and be published. Same thing with an agent.

If you mail a query or proposal to several places at once, personalize each one. If they figure you’ve mailed your submission to every agent or publisher in the known universe that, too, will land your submission in the trash heap. Even if you DO submit to every agent and publisher in the known (and perhaps undiscovered) universe they don’t have to know that so take that extra moment and don’t give them reason to guess.

If you do your job right, if you research and rewrite until you know to whom you’re sending your writing and you know it is the best that it can be, then you’ll find you’re not competing with all those hundreds of writing submissions, but rather with only perhaps the ten percent who comport themselves as professionals.

So, you’re doing everything right. Cool!

You’re still going to get rejections. Expect it. Simply put, the chance that what you write will be exactly what any single editor or agent is looking for today is usually very small. Remember, even big-name writers get rejections. Comforting, huh?

Don’t take it personally. Perhaps your piece just wasn’t the right thing for that publication at that time. Perhaps they have something similar in the works. Perhaps that particular editor is going through a very nasty divorce, is drinking heavily and nothing would look good to him/her. It isn’t necessarily a rejection of YOU, nor is it a put down on your writing abilities. 

Develop a thick skin, ride it out and when you receive a rejection think of it as an opportunity. Send out a new query immediately. If it is a novel, send it to a new publisher or agent for consideration. If it’s an article, send a new query to the editor from whom you’ve just received the rejectionthen tweak the original and send that out to a new editor. 

Oh, and did I mention don't call an editor or agent to argue how they're wrong about rejecting your article, novel, script or whatever. Won't help, will only hurt.

Need more inspiration?  Here are a couple more links

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