Instead of sharing advice about what writers should be doing, author Janice Hardy explains how to apply the industry’s advice to your work, including tips on how to plan, write, edit and publish a novel. She also pulls back the curtain on how other successful authors and writers manage their creative processes.
Critique By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy Real Life Diagnostics is a weekly column that studies a snippet of a work in progress for specific issues. Readers are encouraged to send in work with questions, and we diagnose it on the site. It’s part critique, part example, and designed to help the submitter as well as anyone else having a similar problem.
By Joyce Sweeney Part of the How They Do It series
JH: I'm a big fan of all this story structure, and how useful they can be to the writing and storytelling process. Today, Joyce Sweeney visits the lecture hall to share her Plot Clock Structure.
Take it away Joyce...
I developed The Plot Clock over the course of many years and in concert with another writing teacher, Jamie Morris. Using four acts instead of the usual three, we found a way to really amp up the tension in students’ plots, add more ‘stuff’--meaning get the proper number of external events, twists and turns going-- and most of all, provide a ‘map’ for writers lost in that long, sagging, terrifying middle. Read more »
By Marcy Kennedy, @MarcyKennedy Part of the Writer's Life Series
JH: A little sneak peak today of the re-vamped Indie Author column. Marcy discusses a problem all writers face at some point, not matter which career path they're on--stalled writing.
There comes a time in every writer’s career when they find themselves stuck. The words and ideas aren’t flowing like they used to. Production stalls out. Panic sets in.
If you’re a career writer like I am, that panic is compounded by the fact that writing pays your bills, and when you aren’t producing new books, your income drops. The best way to make a solid living in the new publishing landscape is to publish often.
For a year and a half, I produced a minimum of one book every other month. And it was easy for me. (Please don’t hate me for saying that.)
Then 2018 hit, and it stopped being easy. While I don’t believe in writer’s block, I do believe we can become stuck or we can stall out. Read more »
Just a heads up to everyone that the deadline for a great conference is coming up (July 15). Aside from the two workshops I'll be giving, there's an evening with James Scott Bell, and workshops with Donald Maass. So much writerly goodness in just a few days, so check it out.
Writing a novel can be a daunting process, but a little planning can go a long way to making that process easier. Even determining a few key turning points in the story can keep you focused, whether you prefer to outline every scene or pick a story direction and write toward it. In this workshop, you’ll learn how to create the critical elements of a novel’s plot, how to use goals, conflicts, and stakes to build a story and develop characters, and how to approach a novel in a way that will make it easier to write and be more marketable to agents, editors, and readers.
Revision Readiness: How to Revise
Revision is part of writing, but sometimes knowing where to start can be overwhelming. It can be even harder if you need to trim down a large manuscript or change a major storyline. In this workshop, you’ll learn how to approach your revision with a plan, focusing on macro, medium, and micro issues to tighten you novel on a layer by layer basis. You’ll also learn how to mentally approach revisions, and how to strengthen your story from the top down.
Lots of fun stuff coming up, and I hope to see some of you there!
Part of the How They Do It Series (Contributing Author)
“How can I find the time to write?” said every aspiring author ever. But time is only half of the equation. The other half is speed. The faster you write, the faster you will finish your story or novel and get it published. Can you learn how to write twice as fast, without sacrificing quality? Yes. I'll show you how.
How I doubled my writing speed. Then doubled it again.
My first traditionally published novel, It Happened One Doomsday, took me more than a year and a half to write. When the publisher asked me to deliver the second book within a year, I knew I was in trouble. They couldn't wait a year and a half, so I had to learn how to write faster. And the second book needed to be just as good as the first, if not better. Read more »
On Saturday, my husband and I got a new kitten. He’s eight weeks old, not quite two pounds, and has the playful energy of seventeen toddlers who just ate a case of white sugar. Oh, and he has razor-sharp claws, which he uses to climb everything—including us.
He is also the most adorable little thing.
He’s in “new kitten quarantine” in my office until he gets acclimated to his new home and the all-clear from the vet that it’s safe to let him mingle with the other cat. Which means all that PLAY ME WITH NOW!!! energy is directed at me while I’m trying to work (include writing this, and I’ve had to stop at least six times so far, because he is quite irresistible).
By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy This week’s prompt is designed to help you practice your revision skills without the risk of messing up your manuscript. Edit the bad writing, strengthen and clarify the goals, conflict, and stakes, develop the setting, establish the character, etc. You know the drill.
You have to keep the bones of the piece, but how you get those ideas across is up to you. Add whatever details strike you, as long as you can still identify this scene as the scene I started—so no completely rewriting it from scratch. The goal is to make this monstrosity better.
Today, it’s about fleshing out a scene that’s missing something—in this case, everything but the dialogue (and half of that is empty dialogue).
Edit this “white room” conversation into something worth reading. Write as much or as little as you’d like. Genre, market, details, and context are all up to you. Read more »
Real Life Diagnostics is a weekly column that studies a snippet of a work in progress for specific issues. Readers are encouraged to send in work with questions, and we diagnose it on the site. It’s part critique, part example, and designed to help the submitter as well as anyone else having a similar problem.
If you're interested in submitting to Real Life Diagnostics, please check out these guidelines.
Submissions currently in the queue: Two Please Note: As of today, RLD slots are booked through July 21.
This week’s questions:
1. Does this first chapter opening hook you?
2. Would you want to read on?
3. Does it bother you that the protagonist’s “real” name/identity is not revealed until the last line of the chapter?
JH: As the saying goes, "You get out what you put into it," and that holds true for critique groups. The right approach can lead to great results, and Ryan Van Cleave visits the lecture hall today to share some tips on making the most of your critique group.
By Chyrs Fey, @ChrysFey Part of the How They Do It Series
JH: Promoting a book is tough no matter when it comes out, but it's harder for books well past their new release date. Chrys Fey visits the lecture hall today to share some tips on promoting your backlist titles. She's also offering a giveaway, so check out the entry link and information at the end of the article.
Chrys Fey is the author of Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication. Catch the sparks you need to write, edit, publish, and market your book!From writing your novel to prepping for publication and beyond, you’ll find sparks on every page, including 100 bonus marketing tips. Fey is an editor for Dancing Lemur Press and runs the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s Goodreads book club. She is also the author of the Disaster Crimes series. Visit her blog, Write with Fey, for more tips.