|Roman Wall, London|
Monday, June 20, 2011
Thursday, June 16, 2011
"I'd never be able to do that," they tell me. "I'd be too afraid of what they'd do." Or something along those lines. The subtext of fear at relinquishing control to somebody else is always present. I think that fear is also present when the subject of beta readers and critique partners comes up. I've noticed there's a strange dynamic at work, both sides wary of offending the other, the author trying not to take the feedback personally, the beta reader doing her best to phrase everything in a delicate, but positive manner.
Monday, June 13, 2011
1. Do I have a hook?
Also known as the elevator pitch. Can you summarize your story into one sentence? Is it an interesting sentence? Is it so interesting that it would stand out among a pile of thousands of other queries? Your hook needs to clearly state the conflict and the stakes. A man is about to commit suicide when an angel shows him what his town would be like if he had never lived. What's the conflict? A man is so tortured (doesn't matter by what) that he wants to end his life. What are the stakes? A man's life and apparently the future of an entire town. Who are the characters? The man, the angel, and on the periphery, the entire town (they'd have to be otherwise who would care about what happened to them, right?).
2. Do I have a platform?
It used to be that you would have to publish some short stories in respectable magazines or journals before you had a real shot at an agent. Nobody offers that advice anymore--because most of those magazines and journals are now defunct and even if they weren't, the book buying public sure doesn't read them. These days you need to have an online presence, you need to be able to reach thousands of people, and you need to prove that you're not going to fade into the night. Taking the time to keep up a blog and a decent webpage is a wise investment.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
If you're feeling a little nervous or unsure about your future as a fiction author, below is a list of five things I've learned from a lifetime of writing that I feel are essential for success. Feel free to add to the list in the comments!
1. Read. A lot. Read some more. Read, read, read.
But don't read for pleasure and don't read like a lit student (and let's face it, you probably are a student of the humanities). Read like a writer. How does the author handle dialogue and action tags? Is it realistic? How does the author balance narrative style and characterization? How does the author handle pacing? Did the book begin in the right place? What's the rhythm of the language? Is the descriptive passages florid or tight? Where are the exposition dumps? When do the major plot points and plot twists happen? What works for this book? What passages do you wish were yours? Then read some more. Read across your genre, read across subgenres. Always read. Read, read, read.
2. Watch Movies.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Thursday, May 26, 2011
And life was never the same.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Monday, May 23, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
"There's a Skirmish of Wit Between Them": A Review of Much Ado About Nothing with David Tennant and Catherine Tate
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
What is the Writing Process? Do you have one? How do you find one? Is it working or is it hindering you? Should it be something natural or should you impose a structure onto the process? What’s the point of it? What’s the point of any of this?
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Saturday, May 14, 2011
|Whan that Aprille, with hise shoures soote,|
|The droghte of March hath perced to the roote|
|And bathed every veyne in swich licour,|
|Of which vertu engendred is the flour;|
|Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth|
|Inspired hath in every holt and heeth|
|The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne|
|Hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne,|
|And smale foweles maken melodye,|
|That slepen al the nyght with open eye-|
|So priketh hem Nature in hir corages-|
|Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages|
|And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes|
|To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;|
|And specially, from every shires ende|
|Cathedral and St. Augustine Abbey ruins|
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Friday, May 6, 2011
One said that while Dean and Sam do not get paid for their work as hunters, they work full time and aren’t "welfare sponges and trailer trash". (She's right, they don't have welfare. They live off of pool hustling and credit card scams). I didn't debate the point, though I disagreed with her assumptions about the lower class. Much like when you think of a good comeback to an insult hours later, I feel like an idiot for not calling them out on their class privilege.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
POV, or point of view, is the perspective from a which a story is told. Sometimes there's a specific narrator and sometimes the story is seen through many different eyes. It is important to be aware of POV while self-editing , especially in order to watch out for inconsistencies, which often do slip in unnoticed. Also, you may start by writing in first person only to discover that third person is a more appropriate approach for the story. Either way, it's helpful to consider and evaluate your options for POV. Today we'll briefly examine each of the three major POVs and discuss their individual strengths and weaknesses.
Monday, May 2, 2011
Nathan Bransford's How to Write a Synopsis is required reading, the thrust of which is Everyone has a different idea of what a synopsis should entail, how long it should be, whether it should be single- or double-spaced, whether it should include all of the plot or just the really important stuff... I mean, how I can even begin to summarize this and offer any advice is frankly beyond me.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Now, if you’ve ever wondered about this, chances are you will have come across a huge amount of advice regarding the quality of your first draft and 99% of it will say exactly the same thing: that your first draft is 100% guaranteed to be a complete crock and you will need to do drastic re-writing and editing, including filling in numerous plot holes and wholesale murder of little darlings before you should even think about letting that beast see the light of day.Perhaps it's irresponsible of me to say this, but some people don't need to tear apart their first draft in order to get to something good. Some authors will make a pass through to check for technical errors, and then call it good. Others will tweak and fiddle and agonize until they have something that's been revised so many times it bears absolutely no resemblance to the original. Some people are never satisfied with their work, even if they started with something fantastic, and other writers will be pleased far too quickly by far too little. Editing too much can be just as detrimental to your novel as too little editing.
In an effort to smooth out the prose, fix all the grammar, remove passive voice, and expunge florid description, you may remove the very thing that makes the manuscript unique. When you "kill your darlings," don't kill yourself in the process. Your quirks contribute to your style, and sometimes a work is interesting for the reasons it "fails".
Different genres have different rules and expectations. When you edit your manuscript, consider what your audience wants to see, not simply what blogs call "good writing." As Anna-Mhairi discovered, what fails in one genre might be the strength in another genre. She went too far in one direction and lost the spark her readers loved up to that point. I think the primary lesson from her experience is to always let audience and purpose be your guide while editing. It's more important to find a style that works than it is to blindly follow writing advice.
Monday, April 25, 2011
It’s challenging for a self-published book to move on to mainstream success. That’s why, for some authors, acquiring a literary agent to represent the book is often considered the next logical step.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Speaking of our writing guide, Haley and I will be putting together the second part in the coming weeks, The Anatomy of Analysis. This part of the guide will focus on how to construct an analytical response to a text, and it will feature analytical papers written by myself and our minion Lindy. If you're lucky, you might be able to expect some awesome analyses of Mad Men and/or zombie movies, with some fine art analyses thrown in there for good measure because that's how we role.
In other news, we are still looking for more writing interns, but we have found cover artists to add to our staff as we move into self-publishing services. We're really excited about the self-publishing and about the amazing artists we now have on board for covers. In the coming weeks we plan to feature a couple of blog posts about Mel and April, but for now you should check out their websites.
Finally, some personal news. I found out last week that I've been awarded a fellowship at the University of Louisville beginning this fall for the Humanities PhD program. That means I'll be moving from London to Kentucky, which might sound like a bit of a downgrade, but I intend to make the best of it. The fellowship will at least allow me to finish my PhD and focus on ArchEditing without worrying so much about having money for food.
So there's some ArchEditing housekeeping and news. Let us know if you plan on attending the PCA/ACA conference this week in San Antonio. We'd love to meet you!
Click here for your copy of Put the Body On the Slab: The Anatomy of College Writing, available for a limited time for only $2.99.
Monday, April 18, 2011
I've never made pizza from scratch. When I issued this challenge, I didn't know how to make dough, didn't even know what my favorite pizza toppings are (every time somebody asks me my brain freezes, and I blurt whatever comes to mind that doesn't seem too objectionable). Pretty much the only thing I can do is make tomato sauce (which I taught myself how to do since I hate tomato sauce). But I eagerly embraced the challenge, reasoning that no matter who won the prize for the best dish, we'd have two large pizzas. Which was enough of a prize for me.
In the end, I created something I called Il Rosso. It looked beautiful and it tasted even better. It was the best slice of pizza I ever had--I know I sound super modest--and I learned a very valuable lesson from the experience. It didn't matter that I had no idea what I was doing. I just made the most reasonable choices and carried on like everything would work out in the end. And it did. So here's the recipe for my delicious pizza.
Friday, April 15, 2011
we'll be looking at the wonderful world of British sit coms and sketch comedy.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Most fiction, novels, short stories, etc, come in narrative form, but not all narratives are created equal. The above example is a very simple narrative, but it is also a very boring narrative. While it is completely reasonable to share these types of simple narratives to convey information, when it comes to fiction there is a huge difference between telling a story and showing a story. Below are some tips (many of which I've learned while reading Self-Editing for Fiction Writers) to help you create more active narratives in your creative writing.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
As a result, we've added more self-publishing services to Arch Editing. We've lowered the cost of fiction editing, and we've added formatting for digital outlets, as well as cover art design. Once I'm more comfortable with the marketing aspect, we'll probably branch out to include that as well. I'm really excited about these additional services! It's an exciting time to be a writer right now, with more options for publication than ever before, and I'm happy to provide whatever support and assistance I can.
I've also started a group called Daily Editing Tips at the new ARe Cafe. I love the Cafe, I think it's a brilliant idea and format for a community, and I'm already looking forward to seeing you there.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
- A smile and a friendly word will open a lot of doors. Publishing is a business about who you know, and you never know when you're making an important new friend.
- Agents can sense desperation. They're much more responsive when you're not there to sell them anything at all, strangely enough.
- Make it a point to eat breakfast every single morning. When you're at a busy conference, there's never any guarantee you'll get fed again until dinner.
- It's a very small world. I found a cousin, Vivien found somebody from her hometown, and I watched two women realize they used to be neighbors. And in every small connection and delightful coincidence, there are hundreds of stories.
- It's always better to dance, to drink, to laugh, especially if you're with hundreds of like-minded fellow authors.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Monday, April 4, 2011
Sunday, April 3, 2011
We've been quiet for the past couple of days because we've actually been offline for once. Jasie arrived in Utah late Thursday night and since then we've had to run errands, go on a shopping spree, take hundreds of pictures, have a birthday party, and spend one day walking around in mild spring weather and the next driving through a blizzard. But we'll be back to our regular schedule tomorrow, which will include special features to celebrate National Poetry Month.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Today's PEP Rally post is brought to you by our very special guest blogger, Sam Spellman. Sam is currently an undergraduate at Beloit College and hopes to obtain a degree in Creative Writing, with a possible double major in Psychology. When not tackling school, Sam spends time with her friends and Kappa Delta sisters or re-mastering old school Mario Video games. She works in the technical services department of Beloit’s library.
For those of you who never experienced the Monday doldrums, consider yourself lucky. Those of you who know exactly what I’m talking about can attest that if you don’t get something done on that first day to set the tone, the entire week will be ruined. That’s where a PEP Rally comes in. PEP stands for Productivity, Ego, and Procrastination, the three most important things to a writer after their computer or favorite pen. Even though the Rally was created to start a week off right, it can help combat the dreaded writers block any day of the week. These tips and activities will get you moving towards that word count in no time. Well, maybe not the last one, but who said you have to be all work?
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
RelaxOr as Don Draper once told Peggy Olsen: Just think about it. Deeply. Then forget it. And an idea will jump up in your face.
Don't Stop Writing
Introduce Something New to Your Life
Images thanks to lukey dargons, tonyhall, and Man Alive! on Flickr.com