Posts Tagged With: advice

Reading About Writing

We all love books, reading and writing them. But what about reading books about writing? There are tons of them out there. These are some of my favorite books that help hone author’s writing skills: stylistically, mechanically, inspirationally and creatively. Many are written by well-known novelists or others respected in the writing field.

1. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Steven King
2. Eats, Shoots and Leaves: A Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss
3. The 101 Most Influential People that Never Lived: How Characters of Fiction, Myth, Legends, Television, and Movies Have Shaped Our Society, Changed Our Behavior, and Set the Course of History by Allan Lazar, Jeremy Salter, Dan Karlan
4. Language Matters: A Guide to Everyday Questions about Language by Donna Jo Napoli
5. Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly by Gail Carson Levine
6. Take Joy: The Writer’s Guide to Loving the Craft by Jane Yolen
7. Elements of Style by E.B White and William Strunk Jr.
8. How to Write Poetry by Paul B. Janeczko
9. Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques by Elizabeth Lyon
10. How NOT to Write a Novel by Howard Mittlemark and Sandra Newman
What are some of your favorites? What have you found particularly helpful?
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Wielding a Red Pen

So they say, the pen is mightier than the sword, don’t they? I think the red pen is mightier than a fleet of pirates and a gang of ninjas (yep, it’s been that kind of day). I’m used to glaring red pen marks on paper, often times causing manuscripts to appear to be suffering an untimely, if not dramatic and gallant, death. This is why, as an editor and a teacher, I shy away from scarlet ink and opt for a less threatening purple or green. Or sometimes I put the kibosh on pens all together and go the techie route. This goes for editing both my work as well as peers’.

I thought I’d give you a little insight on editing, since we’ve got two wonderful give-aways going on. Well, what I do–the processes (procesi?) thrown together in a hodge-podge. I am by no means an expert or propose to be. Nor might this be what fellow writers and critiquers on the site do. This is just what works for me.

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The Pros and Cons of Posting Writing Online

I seem to get more mixed messages from the writing community than from my ex-boyfriend. Seriously. Some writing sites champion posting online and encourage it (there are more writing platforms and sites that I can count springing up, some more legit that others), some reward it through contests and the like, others warn of the instantaneous death your writing career. I don’t know about any of the rest of you, but I totally feel like I am stuck in limbo as far whether or not to post my writing online. In fact, it goes in waves. One day I’m all for it and living the dream, then the next week I am afraid I have ruined every possible chance I have at making my bestseller come true. So I did some poking around, question asking and what some might loosely dub “research”. Here’s what I came up with… Continue reading

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Old Writing and the Mortification it Brings

If there’s anything I remember, it’s my first. Everything is still clear to me in vivid detail, like I could relive it again and again–the time of day, my position, the pencil scraping against the paper.

Oh, did I forget to mention that I’m referring to the first story I ever wrote? Because I am. What else could i possibly mean?

When I was in third grade, I wrote a short story (emphasis on the shortit was about a page front and back, but my handwriting was massive) about a girl who’s dared to enter a haunted toy shop on Halloween and is never seen again. The piece ends with a quasi-existential monologue about whether or not she should haunt the friends who dared her in the first place.

Of course, it was still a pretty horrible story, plus I wrote my S’s backwards throughout the whole thing, but it was my first. It was The One. That thing I kind of just wrote, only to realize afterward that I loved writing it. Like, a lot.

That was in no way my epiphany moment about wanting to be a writer since at that point I was still set on being Britney Spears when I grew up, but it was a start. It was the inciting incident. It was what made me continue writing.

We all have that piece. The one that lights the spark. The one that sucks so hard, we seriously debate building a bonfire at the beach to burn all traces that we were ever anything less than stellar writers.

But to that, I say don’t. Don’t ever ever ever burn your writing, no matter how mortifying it is.

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W is for Writing

“If plan A doesn’t work, remember that the alphabet has 25 other letters. Relax.”

A few of my fellow former inkies and writing buddies have been banding about our thoughts and organizing techniques when we go about writing a novel. It inspired me to write out an ABCs of sorts (with a few letters left for you to fill in). Different ways and tools I and other writers use to build up our stories, develop our characters, track events–in all essence prep and plan ahead, with the best of intentions.  I have yet to meet a writer that does all of these things, but some are more fervent about pre-writing than others. You can these strategies when you get stuck or based on feedback you’ve received, wanting to improve certain areas of your work. Whatever the case, whenever you may use them, hope you find it helpful, dear readers and writers

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Reading and Writing and Hating Both

I think it’s basically common knowledge at this point that the number one piece of advice for wannabe writers is to read, read, read and write, write write. Nearly every author I’ve seen live, watched videos of on YouTube, or read interviews of has said some version of that answer. So you want to be a writer? WELL, READ! WRITE!

What’s so hard about that?

Really, the advice makes sense. I should probably have at least some concept of what a book is before trying to write one of my own. I should understand how the beginning, middle, and end all fit into place. I should research and read books by the authors I love, by the authors I want to emulate. It isn’t just reading–it’s learning.

But there reaches a point when reading maybe isn’t the solution to that awful writer’s block, to that complete inability to transfer a story from the mind to the paper–maybe it’s the problem.

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The Boy (or Girl) Who Lived

This is actually a jump-off post, inspired by Meredith’s about how teens are sometimes poorly and unrealistically portrayed in YA literature…not a tearful goodbye to HP and the gang.

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Recently I’ve noticed, in online stories as well as mainstream published YA literature, that a lot of main characters don’t have cheerful lives (which I suppose in itself is up for interpretation). I know there has to be conflict, some angst in there. Bad things happen, usually in threes. No human is perfect, flaws must be seen. Blah, blah, blah. But seriously the heartache and drama is getting a little excessive. It’s, I fear, becoming the new cliché.

Again, I am no expert. I’m not published but am offering my advice anyways. It’s free. Take it?

*Alert: Minor spoilers, rants and assumptions ahead, read at your own risk.

Case One: Parenthood, Say What? Half of the stories I’ve read in the last few weeks propose some sort of horrid home life. One or more parents are dead. One might be an alcoholic or dying of disease, the other insane in grief, or a complete witch of a character who berates his children daily. Honestly, I think it is important that writers remember who they are writing about. As annoying as writing adults can be, as hard to work them into the plot, as much as they might get in the way of an epic love triangle…don’t just write them out. And if you do, for goodness sake make it believable and pertain to the plot. Most teens, and heck even the group slightly older, have parents in their lives in some shape or form (even if it is a monthly phone call or awkward family dinner). True story. I’m not saying you have to pack your chapters full of it, but a glimpse can be grand. This, in my opinion, can add to a plot.

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Must-Have Tools for Writers

My biggest fault when it comes to writing is that I’m easily distracted. Why should I focus on how this one paragraph seems kind of out of place when Facebook exists? Twitter? Tumblr?

But when I really get in my writing groove, these are the three tools I can absolutely not live without!

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