Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Writers Websites Wednesday - Novel Software Free

Y WRITER is a free software for the novelist. Created by a programmer and published novelist, Simon Haynes,  for writers it won't write your book for you, but it will keep you organized. If you watch the video you'll see it isn't recommended as the 'place to write your novel' but rather the place to organize your scenes, chapters, characters and everything else connected with it. So go check out the free software, watch the video to get a feel for how it can help you. Oh, and don't forget to donate when you find how much it really organizes things for your next writing project.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Get Into The Action

Writing action scenes can be a lot of fun, breathtaking exhilarating and also at times very difficult.  We, as writers, can get so excited with our work, so wrapped up in the story, that we can create writing that is something very close to babbling; not what we want to do.

So, how to move things along, create excitement and at the same time, not stumble over our own words?

For starters play the scene you visualize in your head. What's happening, where are the characters going, what are they doing? Get it clear in your mind.  Next, remember even though it seems to be happening all at once, things, though moving quickly, are best written so that one action follows another. It makes smoother and more easily read text. Read passages from fast paced books that you've enjoyed, focusing on where the action happens. With few exceptions (very few) you'll see one thing follows another. If you want to draw your reader in to even a complicated fight scene or battle zone you need to make things clear and suck them in.

    Jack slammed on the brakes, skidded the car to a halt and tumbled from the driver's seat as a bullet shattered the windshield. Jack swore, swung the door open to shield himself as best he could and gathered his feet beneath him. Dust rose in a whorl from somewhere just down the alley, but that didn't bother him. The shot had come from above. He looked up, spotted the shooter on a fire escape and lunged sideways, taking a quick shot in his assailant's direction. The sharp crack of it echoed down the alley and the shooter dropped to the street, whirled to take another shot at Jack and raced off into the shadows.

You can also see in the example above that action takes place in an "action - result" type of environment.  Jack looks and sees.  The bullet shatters his windshield and he swears. One thing follows another. It doesn't all happen simultaneously piled up on top of each other.  The shooter dropped from the fire escape, then ran off into the shadows.

Okay, so you have the general gist. One more thing to keep in mind when writing action.  Keep it crisp and keep it moving.  Don't accidentally fall into a summary sort of writing when in the heat of action. When you write action everything, every detail that might otherwise seem unimportant, is revealed to your reader.

In other words, don't get your reader all hopped up on 'action', then drag him or her to a stop in the middle by suddenly writing something like:

Jack ran down the alleyway pursuing the shooter, out onto the street and past the many shops that lined it before he loped past the opera house, then ran down a cross street into the slums.
You're not giving details there.  A more vivid presentation would be like:

Hot on the shooter's heels, Jack raced down the alley, skidded back onto the street and dodged between the upper crust revelers just emerging from the latest performance of the Magic Flute at the opera. The smell of coffee wafted past from the adjoining Starbuck's, bright lights nearly blinded him as Jack passed the dress shop with the latest haut couture in the window. He caught a flash of movement up ahead, put on the speed and took the corner at a skid, diving back into the filth and stink of the slums.

Think detail, smell, texture, sounds, sights. Ratchet up the tension.  Remember, it's an action scene, not a kid's tea party.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Writers Websites Wednesday - Writer's FM

WRITERS FM Broadcasts live on the web 24 hrs. For writers, by writers. Interviews with famous writers, writing prompts and music for inspiration. Also available in podcasts. You need Windows Media Player or Mac compatible components to play.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

5 Tips To Better Descrption

It can be very hard to think about your writing as separate elements - and in fact, you  shouldn't, not really. Your writing should flow, the reader being taken from one scene to the next without 'bumps' that awaken him or her from the crucial reader's trance the writer needs them to embrace.

Here's the thing though, you, the writer, need to communicate your story, so it behooves you to consider description. When to do it, how to do it, IF to do it. A story is an interesting mix of details - and lack of them. For example:

1.  You need to describe your character when you first introduce him or her so you need to go for the details that are most striking about that character since you don't want to describe the character down to the last ingrown hair or burn blister. Something like, "Mr. Herbert opened the car door with a jerk, dropped his considerable weight into the driver's seat and glowered at the front door of his son's house. Past 80 he jabbed the key into the ignition, stomped the accelerator and pulled away from the curb.  He damn well wasn't too old to drive!"

That passage didn't give a lot of detail, but the reader pretty much gets the picture. Oh, and there are writers who describe a character when he or she is introduced and never again.  That's up to you. Things change and evolve.

2. Don't waste words describing what doesn't need to be described. For example, a hospital room.  We all pretty much know what one looks like. Unless there's something unusual about the one you're using in your story forget the details.  Street scenes, ditto.  We all know what a street looks like - unless there's something on that street you want your reader to remember keep description here to a low.

3. If a place has changed in some significant way during the story, remember to describe it. So if your character has been to an old, empty lot  earlier on which later is where the school carnival sets up, describe it again. Always look for important details and leave out the generic.

4. And this one is important.  Try not to simply 'describe' a place, tell the reader what it looks like.  Instead work it into your scene, hopefully into the action of your main character. For Example:
"Detective Mason stepped into the elevator, hands jammed into his pockets and stared straight ahead as the car filled with jostling people in front of him. A hum filled the car and the vibration tickled his feet through the soles of his shoes. The spicy scent of aftershave drifted past his nose on refrigerated air along with a distinctly floral scent of perfume. A woman in front of the doors waved vaguely at a fly that was trapped inside with them and found her particularly desirable."

5. And remember the details. Don't say a 'car' say a 'Mercedes' - presuming your character would know one model of car from another.  Don't say 'flower' say 'rose' or 'daisy' or 'lily' also if your character could tell one from another. Not a 'boat', but a 'yacht', a 'sailboat', a 'sunfish' if your character is a beach bum and would know.  It's such details that give your story even more life and vigor, that bring it into sharp focus and invite your reader in.

These are just a handful of quick tips to aid your description.  Thank about them. Make them yours and light up your stories.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Writers Websites Wednesday

Editorial Ass  is great blog.  The personality of the Editor/reader/eater of luscious things, is strong and amusing. And for writers, a balance: that personality along with posts from an editor and book lover. Put it all together and you have readability.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Broader Horizons for Writers

Most of the writers I know have a particular specialty, a certain love for a particular area of the craft.

Nothing wrong with that.

But I have a few suggestions.  Given that the publishing industry is in a state of flux with lots of changes kicking in every day, it's not a bad idea to diversify your options.  Broaden your scope a bit. Not that you should give up your primary love and driving force, but to supplement it.

First, if you're a published author think about adding Epublishing to your portfolio.  Perhaps stories that have gone out of print, or a book that you want to be available to all those Kindle or B&N or iPad readers.  Or maybe you just 'write too much' and it can't all be absorbed that quickly by NY publishing houses. Explore Epublishing. It might be a really worthwhile addition to your career.

Think about this.  If you write in a genre you might consider writing in a 'subgenre' or a number of them. If you write fast it might be just the ticket.  You have to know how much you can handle and not take on more than that. To be a full time fiction writer you need to be prolific - or very lucky. 

Think about other things as well.  Perhaps you can write for magazines.  There are many of them out there and many pay ranges.  If you find some that interest you go ahead and take the plunge.  Develop a proposal and send it to a few, see what kind of reception you get.

You might also think of adding teaching to your list of accomplishments.  Online classes are a great opportunity for the writer to pass on what he or she has learned.  You can charge a fraction of what it would cost for folks to attend classes, workshops or conferences in person, get a great sense of accomplishment and still make the added income you need. Before you dive in consider whether you're up to the demands and responsibilities that come with teaching. Decide how long your class will be.  Twice a week for three weeks?  Once a week for six weeks?  You'll need to be approachable and engage your students.  It becomes a very much one on one kind of teaching.

Along those lines you might also investigate teaching at a local college, community college or university. They might have a class curriculum already in place in need of someone with experience who can lead and answer questions or you might create your own creative writing class and propose it.  See what they already offer and how you might be able to fill in any gaps.

Writers might also consider finding folks to work for who need booklets, instruction books (written in plain English) or other materials written.  It can be a side income that allows you to pursue your first love.

Think about your other interests and consider how writing fits in.  It does fit in almost everywhere.  Look around you, our entire society runs on writers. Who writes the newspaper articles and magazine articles, instruction books, tv scripts, novels, screen scripts, travel writing, text books, web pages and articles, and more?

Pursue your love with a determination that will make it your full time income.  In the mean time use your imagination and  experiment with other ways to use your writing skills to help pay the bills.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Writers Websites Wednesday

Writers, both newbies and established, are frequently taken in by scams and those out to just plain take advantage.  Preditors And Editors provides the knowledge to move forward with confidence.  They advise the writer (under warnings section) on who in the industry is trustworthy as well as who might not be.  Lots of other info as well.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Collaboration of Writers

So you write, you're full of ideas, but you think a collaborator might well be of great benefit to you both.  So, then the question becomes, how do I find a good collaborator to work with and what do I  need to consider in advance? How can I ensure my tree rises above the forest?

Well, first you have to realize collaboration can be a fantastic experience.  I collaborated a time or two and each was a great experience.  However, it can also turn into a nightmare if you haven't found someone who compliments your abilities.

The key to a good relationship is to set up some ground rules before either of you put any words on paper (or computer screen).  On one collaboration I provided the bare bones story idea up front.  He had suggestions for major changes.  We batted them back and forth, then I wrote a scene - sent it to him via email.  He made changes and sent it back. We went back and forth until both were satisfied and it worked well.  Another time I collaborated with the other person providing stories of ghost hunting which I did most of the writing on, turning them into readable and adding description to make it more visual - then checking with him to be sure it read as he wanted it to.  That too, worked well.

So, for starters you have to  make sure you share the same goals for a project. Do you both want to  make big bucks? Do you both want to help the world?  Do you both want to just entertain? Think about that.  If one wants one and the other the opposite you're going to run into trouble fast.

Decide whether you're compatible.  By that I mean if one of you is fast off the mark and the other is a procrastinator you're going to clash. don't worry if you have different backgrounds or political views or religion.The important part is whether you can be professional, set your personal differences aside, and work off each others' strengths to create something great.

Realize that a division of labor doesn't always mean writing is split 50/50.  Sometimes one does more of the writing, the other more of the idea production and research, then it bounces back to who's best at editing. Talk about your strengths and weaknesses. Don't be shy and don't hold back.  Unrecognized weakness can cause real problems.  Unrecognized strengths can hold a project back if they're not being utilized. Optimize  your publishing success by being frank and up front with each other - then following through on what your share of the project is.

Oh, and think about promotion early on.  Is one of you a relaxed public speaker and the other not? Can one compose great sales copy and the other not so good?  Can one create a great website? All important questions (and there are more to consider) to get resolved ahead of time and it's not a bad idea to write down what each one is going to be responsible for.

Be sure to have a bare-bones contract or letter of agreement between you and signed by both. It makes the whole thing feel more professional and spells out what is expected from each of you so there can be no statements such as, "but you said you'd...." and accusations of not carrying through.

No matter how professional, how friendly you are, there's going to be some level of conflict between you when co-authoring. Egos get bruised, anger can rise. It's a good idea to have some form of conflict resolution agreed to before you begin.  You might decide to designate one of you as 'lead author' on the project and after discussion, the final decision falls to that person.  Or you might designate an outside 'third' party to be available to help settle disputes. Or maybe you'd just like to settle an issue by pulling straws or drawing for high card.  Whatever it is, have it in place from the get go.

Working things out in advance is your best tool to use in co-authoring a book. A brainstorming session before you firm up the co-authoring gig is a great idea.  See how you might work together, how ideas bounce between you.  Work seriously, but have fun with it.  Keep your sense of humor and collaborating can be one of the best experiences of your writing life.

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