Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dialogue You Can Use

There's still time to drop by for their annual conference for FREE advice that you can implement right away. The conference is geared mainly toward the children's fiction market, although there is plenty for any writer to peruse. Picture Books, Middle Grade and especially Young Adult are featured interactively through a combination of Vlogs, Forum Discussions, Live Chat Events, Essays and Interviews. It's all available at your fingertips and generously archived to accommodate crazy schedules.

I am enjoying every word of this online conference and will be sorry to see it end. One highlight was an essay by Literary Agent, Tina Wexler, that anyone writing fiction should gobble up without delay. She did a tremendous job of showing how to write dialogue by composing her entire essay in dialogue. Creative kudos!

Check it out here: Tina Wexler on Writing Dialogue

Back to the conference - a brief respite from revisions!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

F3: Father Figures in Fiction - Big Shoes Filled

Photo by Carol Healy
Are you struggling with character motivations? On Father’s Day, let’s step into some size 13 men’s shoes and dig into backstory. Every character has one, even if it never makes it onto the pages of your story. What happened to your characters to make them think, act or react to the other characters in your story? How did their fathers influence them?

Imagine yourself as the father in the following scenarios. How would each of these actions affect your characters?

Scenario 1:  Your college freshman complained about the rain, again and you…     
  1. Told her to grow up - it rained every day when you were collecting rare insects in the rainforest 
  2. Sent her your HD rifle glasses so that she would see everything in high contrast instead of gray mist 
  3. Shipped her a credit card and a GPS with the local shopping malls pre-programmed 
  4. Passed the phone to your wife
Scenario 2:  Your 2 year-old dropped your Blackberry in the toilet while potty training and you…
  1.  Screamed and threw the dripping phone at him
  2. Locked him in his room without a word
  3. Made him reach his hand into the toilet to get it out
  4.  Explained what he had done wrong and put him in time out
Scenario 3:  Your medieval kingdom is under siege and the rival warlord has agreed to peace if he can take your teenage daughter as his bride and you…
  1. Sent her servants to pack her things and inform her of her fate
  2. Ordered your men to fight to the death to defend your daughter’s honor
  3. Told her to cut her hair, dress like a boy and ride to your brother’s castle
  4. Gave her a dagger and instructions to kill the rival warlord

The possibilities are limitless. Are your heroes and villains haunted or inspired by the actions of the father figures in their lives? How has their treatment as children warped or strengthened their identity in your fictional world?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

WWW1: Web Wrangling for Writers – 12 Great Blogs & How to Corral Them

As a life-long learner in a town where the library is awesome during business hours and absent at night, I am thrilled that the Internet is always open.

“Wait!” Yelled Harold Humbugger, the writer in the back of the room. “I thought the web was a soul-crushing magnet that lulled you into a false sense of security, draining your time and energy as it saps the creativity from your fingertips?”

No, you’re thinking of that sci-fi movie. The web is the easiest way to stay current on trends in:
·      Writing Craft
·      Author Branding
·      Marketing & PR
·      Social Media
·      Querying
·      Agents
·      Publishing

“Easy?” Harold pulled down his cowboy hat until it covered his graying hair and shaded his eyes from the glare of the monitor. “How can riding through a wasteland of information be easy?” His spurs jangled as he stood.

I held out my hand and guided him back to the mouse.

You wanted to write about your adventures. Before your ride off, you may want to check into these blogs and websites. They each have a slightly different focus, many have won awards and together they represent great advice on writing as craft, the business of writing (industry info, branding, marketing, etc.), contest & conference listings and some darn good examples of what it takes to be a successful writer in the electronic age. 

Poised and ready to click on the first link, Harold pulled his hand away and looked up at me. “What if I lose the trail?”

Relax. I have just the thing — it’s called i-Google. You herd all the RSS feeds into your own custom dashboard.

“Like a corral for blogs?” Harold asked.

Exactly! You wrangle the articles into an instant e-newsletter. You can even design the masthead and read the blogs like your would your favorite online newspaper. Check this out.

Harold watched me scroll across the screen.

I've also added a thesaurus, translator and other useful gadgets to my dashboard. Oh yeah - and this advice is all free! No magazine subscriptions necessary and no trees harmed in the process.

“What if my eyes get tired of reading?” Harold took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose.

Don’t worry; we’ll take a peek into some video and podcast research tools next time. For now, let’s enjoy some great articles from the comfort of home.

Have you ever felt like Harold? What online resources have helped you become a better writer? 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Women’s History Trumps New Year’s Resolutions

As a woman, I find March to be a time of reflection much stronger than January first. After all, how can I find time to make an earth-shattering resolution, when I’m still recovering from two months of family obligations and the requisite cooking and cleaning?

February is when the chocolate heart holiday rolls around – hardly a good time to make a resolution of any sort. It’s also the time when my neighbors are probably wondering why my Christmas tree is still decorated and displayed in the front window. Hey – at least the lights aren’t turned on! 

March is Women’s History Month. If that is not a motivator, I don’t know what is. I can’t loaf back on the couch, when the ghosts of historic women haunt my thoughts. The first woman seaplane pilot in my state was my grandmother-in-law. She was the inspiration for my first article on Women’s History Month. Documenting her adventures reinvigorated my writing career and I dedicate each March to making my own creative history in her honor.

This March, I finished the young adult novel I’ve been writing. For that feat, I thank my critique group. My SAWG colleagues are not afraid to tell me what is working and more importantly, what is not. If you haven’t found a good critique group yet, it’s time for you to sharpen your pencil and venture out of your creative cave. It’s really not that scary – trust me.

Woman, man or other sentient being scanning the Internet, I hope you make history this March. Join the critique group at your local library and if they don’t have one – start one. I’ll be back to cheer you on as you make your resolution to create.