Friday Five: April 27 Edition

1. Creating the Perfect Pitch (Seven Sassy Sisters): “…the most important thing to remember about pitching is that you want your story to stand out from all the other pitches. And the way to do that is to figure out what makes your story different and concentrate your pitch on that aspect of it (and if there isn’t anything that makes it different then choose another story!).  That’s your hook.”

2. What’s in a Name? And a Prologue? (I Heart Presents): “Can an intriguing prologue sell a story? Act as a better taster than half-a-scene, cut off mid sentence? Yes? No? Huh?”

3. WOW Wednesday: Catherine Knutsson with Tips on Patience, Editing, and Heart (Adventures in YA and Childrens Publishing): “I am here to inspire! I hope I do, because goodness knows we all need a little inspiration! Writing is hard work, and often lonely work, and for me, it’s often scary work, too. But, there are things every writer can do to smooth the path, so to speak. Some of what I suggest below may go against the grain, but think of this as food for thought, or tools to stick in your toolbox.”

4. Five Types of Work that Fill Your Day (The 99 Percent): “Hacking work is all the rage these days, along with tips for managing email, taking notes, and running meetings. But, at a higher level, what can we learn from analyzing the different types of work we do and how we allocate our time?”

5. The Freedom that Comes With Deleting (GradHacker): “As someone who is never quite happy with the work I produce, I’ve found that I tend to over-analyze details.  This leads to a lot of hours of quality time between me and my computer.  Between that and my tendency to push through things (even when I really shouldn’t), I find myself sometimes stressing out over things that just need to be deleted.”

Bonus Video: A remake of a Kanye West and Jay-z song for book lovers–Read so hard, I’m literary…Retail so hard, I get paper cuts

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Friday Five: April 20 Edition

1. Strategies for Procastinating Writers(Terry Odell): “Change procrastination to productivity. Does this sound like something you need? Yes? I have to admit there are times when I’m a champion procrastinator. Yes, it’s true. Sometimes attacking the ironing pile seems like way more fun than sitting down to write. On days like this it can take me hours to pound out my target number of words, and each one is dragged from me kicking and screaming….Here are some strategies I used for dealing with my procrastination.”

2. Stripping Down the Writing Process (GradHacker): “The hardest part about sitting down to write is the actual beginning of making the clackity sound on the keyboard. I can get myself in the chair. I can turn on my machine. I can cruise around on the Internet, and type up a blog post or two…. But when it comes to getting into the nitty gritty of writing…, starting is the hardest part.”

3. Pinterest for Writers (Rachelle Gardner): “I think it can be a tremendous way for authors to interact with their readers… something that’s hard to do through the other social networks where writers tend to connect mostly with other writers. So I gathered a few tidbits of info for you.”

4. The Social Networks of Emily Dickinson, Paul Gaugin and Charlotte Bronte (The 99 Percent): “Communication, collaboration, and social networks contribute to creativity.”

5. Feeling In Over Your Head (Shelli Johnson): “Show of hands: How many people when confronted with a task that feels like it’s too much for them end up feeling intimidated? How many people start avoiding said task like the plague? How many people will not admit to themselves or to anyone that the reason they are doing laundry, paying bills, and/or cleaning the toilet instead of writing is because they feel like they’re in over their head? My hand has been up for a while.”

Friday Five: April 13

The Myth of More Time (Gradhacker): A great read–but replace all dissertation and conference paper references with novel or story — “But, I don’t want to talk about time managementI want to talk about a more psychologically complex phenomena, something I call the myth of more time, or the instances in which “more time” isn’t the best solution: would the dissertation chapter, conference abstract, or presentation be measurably improved with more time? Not necessarily.”

The Champion of Wonk: Editor Carolyn Nichols and Loveswept (Wonkomance): Loveswept was my gateway drug into the romance world. “I really think Loveswept changed the landscape of romance. They removed the boundaries. They encouraged writers to color outside the lines. The books were fresh and fun and fast and daring. In fact, if any editor could be considered a champion of wonk, it would be Carolyn Nichols. Loveswept invited authors to push the boundaries. To completely ignore the boundaries.”

The Law and Order Approach to Writing (Terry Odell): “I learned today’s reader wants you to start off with a bang. Get their attention. Keep the pace moving to retain the reader’s interest. Provide red herrings to keep them off guard. Add surprising plot twists. Don’t write down to the reader, but avoid terminology that is too specialized without some explanation. Develop believable characters and provide them with dialogue that sounds like real human beings. A sonsabitch should sound like a sonsabitch and not Aunt Tillie at a pot luck. And don’t forget – show don’t tell.”

Getting Better vs. Being Good (The 99 Percent): “Everybody likes to do stuff they’re good at. When we’re doing the types of tasks and projects we’ve already mastered, we feel in control and confident. But settling into our sweet spots – and avoiding new experiences that require us to “stretch” – comes with consequences.”

The Perils of Perfectionism (GradHacker): Good read that can also apply to novelists. “Comparing ourselves to others is, like biting nails, a bad and nervous habit that we could quit if we only could relax a little.”

Bonus Video: Shit Writers Say

Friday Five: April 6 edition

All Fridays are good Fridays, but today is Good Friday for those who are of the Christian faith.

Your Brain on Fiction (New York Times): “Brain scans are revealing what happens in our heads when we read a detailed description, an evocative metaphor or an emotional exchange between characters. Stories, this research is showing, stimulate the brain and even change how we act in life.”

Climax! (Seekerville): “According to Nancy Kress in Beginning, Middles and Ends, the climax is whatever big event the forces in your story have been building toward throughout the book. The climax should do four things…”

Creating Dark Heroes (Sweet ‘N Sexy Divas): “Most dark heroes tend to be Alpha males and I have a tendency to develop Beta heroes. Since my heroes tend to have an underlying darkness, I was eager to learn how Anne creates her dark heroes. Here are some notes on creating the hero for the dark love story which I’ve put together from my notes. There are many questions, but much of the ability to develop character layers is to ask questions and not be afraid to dig deep.”

Silence Your Editor with Substance (Seekerville): “When we remember to do certain things as we write that first draft, we’ll silence that pest. Why? She’ll have the assurance we’re not merely typing words, we’re typing story.”
Who What Where Why (Seven Sassy Sisters): “We have a dozen things to do before breakfast, and then the pace really picks up.  But sometimes we don’t stop to consider WHY we’re doing what we’re doing. Pausing to ask a pertinent question now could save you a LOT of grief later on.”