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Can you believe it? WE HAVE A DAY!

I started this blog in March 2011 because I couldn’t find like-minded writers anywhere. I didn’t see information on the interest that spoke to the kind of author I wanted to be, the kind of books I wanted to write. It didn’t exist, so I created it!

Now there is an international organization WFWA and an acknowledgment of the genre in mainstream publishing.

Of course the arguments ensue. What is WF? Why is there no men’s fiction genre? Why do we want a label that marginalizes us and our readers?

  1. To me, like I’ve always said, WF is a story in which the main character saves herself. It’s about life from a woman’s perspective, partially at least. No, I don’t believe books without at least one female POV are WF, but that’s me. If the emotional journey is a man’s alone — to me — it’s not what I’m looking for. But that doesn’t mean you’re not welcome to feel differently. But if you’re nasty on social media or my blog, I’ll delete and block you. This is not a democracy. No one pays me to do this. I pay to keep up this site, with money and with time and with energy. So be nice.
  2. There’s no men’s fiction genre because the whole damn world is men’s fiction by default.
  3. I do not feel marginalized by the WF label, I feel empowered. I choose to write stories that specifically are meant to be meaningful to women. I choose almost exclusively to read books by women, most fall under the WF umbrella in some way, some don’t. Again, choice is empowering. Take that any way you will. I happen to think lipstick is also empowering.

Writer Unboxed has a great WF post today as well.

Whatever you think and whatever you write, just do your best and be kind.

The rest will follow.

xo, Amy

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Women's Fiction Writers by Amy Sue Nathan - 2M ago

EDITED TO ADD: APPARENTLY I AM NOT WRITING ABOUT PASSIVE VOICE, AS IS NOTED IN THE COMMENTS. THIS IS WHAT WORKS FOR ME WHEN WRITING MY NOVELS. IF THIS TYPE OF HELP DOESN’T HELP YOU, THAT’S COOL. I HAVEN’T TAKEN AN ENGLISH CLASS FOR MORE THAN 35 YEARS. CHILL.

EDITED AGAIN: I CHANGED THE TITLE SO AS NOT TO MISLEAD ANYONE WHO IS A PURIST. IN MY OWN HEAD, TO WRITE MY OWN NOVELS I REFER TO WHAT IS DESCRIBED BELOW AS PASSIVE VOICE. IF YOU DON’T, I DON’T CARE IN THE BEST POSSIBLE WAY–MEANING YOU DON’T HAVE TO TAKE THE ADVICE I OFFER, YOU REALLY DON’T. I HOPE YOU ONLY DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU, THE WAY I DO WHAT WORKS FOR ME.

THIS BLOG IS NOT A DEMOCRACY SO IN THE FUTURE, REPRIMANDS WILL BE DELETED.

***

See what I did up there in the title?

I work with a lot of beginner writers and showing them the difference between passive and active voice in fiction is usually a given. It’s a writing nudge that makes a huge impact and compared to all the varied intricacies of self-editing, this one is EZ.

But don’t kid yourself. It’s not only beginners who need the nudge. Even seasoned writers fall into the passive pit, so that nudge serves as a gentle (or not so gentle) reminder.

Today I’m going to share with you the how instead of the why. How to go about transforming your writing is key. You know why you’re doing it. And you likely know that the title of this post is true.

I think we gravitate toward passive voice because it more or less does the job — just not good enough. In my own efforts to rid my work of passive voice, I spend a lot of time DOING THINGS so I can choose not just a better word, but the right word.

I know I’ve said it before — I read aloud and act thing out, hence I do not write in public.

If I were revising a sentence, let’s say:

Betty took the book off the table and put it on her head.

You know what she did, right? Sure. But not exactly, and exactly is what we’re looking for.

Chances are I’d push away from my desk, walk into my bedroom, and proceed to take a book off the nightstand. There. I took it. But what else did I do? What word is better? I’d likely do it again and again. I lifted it, grabbed it, snatched it, removed it.

And if I were so inclined, which I likely would be, I’d put it on my head. No, I’d balance it, of course. Which I wouldn’t be able to do, but Betty would, and this isn’t about me.

Remember if you can’t picture it, it’s passive.

Amy xo

bit.ly/trueplaces
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Sometimes, I hear voices.

Oh, c’mon, you probably do too.

Sometimes my stories arrive in the form of a character who’s got something to say, and then it’s “easy” to determine POV.

Point of View means not only who is telling your story, but through whose lens the story is revealed to the reader — and that has many implications, doesn’t it. Your reader can only see and know what the POV character knows, and while that may be a lot, it’s not going to be everything (unless you’re going with an all-knowing, omniscient POV).

I believe the best thing to do if you’re unclear, is to notice POV when you read.

For a long time (during the chick lit era in popular fiction) I believed that first person POV meant the book was cute and flip and light. Then I read Cathy Lamb’s Henry’s Sisters — and WHOA — a deep, meaningful novel in first person. My perception had been wrong all along (go figure). With this knowledge I actually tried first person in a short story, which you may have read. It’s also present tense, which trips me up, but this remains my favorite short story that I’ve written and had published.

http://bit.ly/apronstringsshortstory

But you don’t have to write something new to play with POV! Take a paragraph you love from your WIP and rewrite it. You won’t be able to revise it, but rewrite it through a new lens. Ask for opinions. Think about it objectively. What best serves your story?

What POV do you prefer to read and write?

I love an unusual POV like in Eleanor Brown’s THE WEIRD SISTERS. The novel is written in first person plural, narrated from the collective perspective of the three sisters.  THE BUDDHA IN THE ATTIC by Julie Otsuka is also first personal plural.  I loved both of those books so perhaps I favor that POV for reading, but I don’t know if I’d write it. (I tried. Major blunder.)

I’m considering POV now for my next novel with four different voices being heard. It’s a challenge. I’ll keep you posted!

Please let me know how YOU chose POV!

Amy xo

I loved this book! You won’t go wrong with Susan Gloss! xoxo
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Hi friends!

Here’s a question Kim asked:

How do I know if I’m just overwhelmed and should power through or if it’s okay to shelve it for right now and start something new?

Be honest with yourself if you’re feeling disconnected or even bored with your own work, because forcing writing or revisions will show!

Step away from your work for a while. By a while I mean more than a day. Maybe a week. Maybe several weeks. Obviously this only works if you’re not under a deadline, but it does work. Does the story call you back? Do the characters pull you to their side? I’d say give yourself a time limit that works for you (I set aside a novel for SIX MONTHS — it became my debut published novel).

Are you having a crisis of confidence? All writers do. Maybe while you’re stepping away, ask for an opinion. I don’t mean a critique,  just an opinion. Does someone you trust like the story? The protagonist? Does she want to read more? If you’re far enough along you could obtain an evaluation of your manuscript or partial from a writing coach LIKE ME. No matter who you ask to help you, be sure to ask for what you want from them (I’ve found non-writers don’t always understand we don’t want their ideas for our stories.)

It’s always okay to start something new–it’s not an offense to your WIP! That move honors YOU as a writer.

Hope that helps!

Ask me more!

Amy xo

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Women's Fiction Writers by Amy Sue Nathan - 2M ago
Kim Mower I emailed you, Kim! Congrats! Your mystery book box will soon be on its way! So, for everyone else (and Kim too) tell me what writing advice you are looking for and I’ll post at least once a week in May. Back to the editing desk!
Amy xo
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DAY 29

This month of daily writing advice will include tidbits, tips, and sometimes tricks. This isn’t a replacement for editing or book coaching, it’s meant as a jumping off point for exploration and thought! I hope it helps! ~Amy

Amy xo

WHERE I WRITE

After two and a half years in my current home, I bought a desk chair. I didn’t buy a desk, mind you. I’m using a small folding table. And maybe it’ll be where I write Book 5. So I guess this post should be called WHERE I EDIT.

I wrote THE LAST BATHING BEAUTY mostly sitting on my couch, on a chaise, in bed. I write in long stretches of time and skip a day if I don’t get that time. I’d rather spend a whole day on my writers’ manuscripts and the next whole day on my own, than jump back and forth.

The chair and “desk” in my office/guest room is allowing me to leave my work in order when I take a bathroom/lunch/dog-walk/sanity break. Not the case if I’m writing on the couch.

I can’t write outside (oh look! a squirrel/bird/car/air) and I can’t write in a coffee shop because it’s too noisy. I’m self-sequestered to my own home.

Does it matter that each of my books were written, literally, on my lap? Does it matter if yours is not? Or if you have a playlist in your ears at the local Starbucks?

No.

My advice today is DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG, ONLY WHAT’S RIGHT OR WRONG FOR YOU.

I have friends who write in 15 minute snippets. Others take months for a retreat. Some look at the ocean or mountains. One of the windows in my “garden apartment” is level with the blacktop of my driveway.

Where do you write? How do you write? We won’t touch on WHY. I know this blog’s limitations!

SEE YOU TOMORROW FOR THE LAST #30DAYSOFWRITINGADVICE and a GIVEAWAY!

Amy xo

WANT ME AS YOUR PRIVATE WRITING COACH?
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DAY 28

This month of daily writing advice will include tidbits, tips, and sometimes tricks. This isn’t a replacement for editing or book coaching, it’s meant as a jumping off point for exploration and thought! I hope it helps! ~Amy

Amy xo

WHAT THE HECK IS VOICE?

It’s a vague term for many of us, but I tend to take it quite literally. It’s how my writing SOUNDS — inside my head, to my ear, to others’ eyes and ears. It’s the words, syntax, cadence, and pacing — mixed together with characterization and story.

Your writer voice is quite simply, your style.

Voice as much (or more) the reason we read, than is a particular story. It’s why different stories by the same authors appeal to us, or don’t. It’s THE WAY they write, their STYLE!

So now you know!

SEE YOU TOMORROW!

Amy xo

WANT ME AS YOUR PRIVATE WRITING COACH?
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DAY 27

This month of daily writing advice will include tidbits, tips, and sometimes tricks. This isn’t a replacement for editing or book coaching, it’s meant as a jumping off point for exploration and thought! I hope it helps! ~Amy

Amy xo

TWO TIPS FOR SECONDARY CHARACTERS

Your secondary characters need love too, and they need to be as carefully created as your main character — just don’t tell her.

My two biggest tips for creating engaging secondary characters are:

Each secondary character must have her own arc.

To me, this means, a little story of their own going on — a subplot if you will, a storyline. Each must have her own beginning, middle, end. That character doesn’t know she’s in someone else’s story!! But…

Each secondary character must to serve the main character’s story.

EVERYTHING in your novel helps to drive the main story forward, even a secondary character’s personal storyline. Ask yourself HOW it does this to make sure, but more importantly ask yourself WHY.

This is something hard to do but easy to check. Go back through your manuscript or outline and focus on your main secondary characters (not the townspeople, as I call them). Note what she’s doing in a scene — why is she there? How is her own story being furthered? How is it impacting the protagonist and the main storyline?

Hope that’s helpful.

We’re getting down to the wire here (cliche).

SEE YOU TOMORROW!

Amy xo

WANT ME AS YOUR PRIVATE WRITING COACH?
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DAY 26

This month of daily writing advice will include tidbits, tips, and sometimes tricks. This isn’t a replacement for editing or book coaching, it’s meant as a jumping off point for exploration and thought! I hope it helps! ~Amy

Amy xo

TO PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE

We’re heading to the end of our 30 days, so it makes sense that we’d talk about beginnings, right?

Prologues are tricky. They divide civilized writer types into three camps: the 1) DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT, 2) SURE GO AHEAD BUT CALL IT CHAPTER ONE, and 3) IF YOU DO IT DO IT WELL.

Let’s go with #3, shall we?

In the time and space we have here, it’s better for me to share with you what a prologue is NOT!

Prologues are NOT info dumps or backstory. Prologues are not meant to fill in your reader, bring her up to speed, or make her understand. They’re not cryptic. Just naming a prologue Chapter 1 doesn’t solve the problem unless it’s not really a prologue to begin with.

To me a prologue tells its own s reveals something to the reader that further comes to light throughout the story.

In THE LAST BATHING BEAUTY I included a prologue at the urging on my agent. I was in Camp #1 and then I hopped the fence to Camp #3. My prologue introduces a young, reluctant bride-to-be on the day of her wedding. How and why she ended up in that situation, along with the repercussions of that day, make up the rest of the story.

Hope that helps!

Give me your thoughts on prologues and if you have a question or quandary, as me in the comments.

SEE YOU TOMORROW!

Amy xo

WANT ME AS YOUR PRIVATE WRITING COACH?
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