Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Writing Post Round Up - Week of April 21-27

And it’s time (okay, past time) for the weekly writing post round-up once again!  I didn’t end up collecting very many posts this week, but they’re all good ones. :)

                An interesting piece on how to make your writing stronger by taking out “seems” and “appears”.  Now that I think about it, I use those kind of words a lot.  Something to watch for in the editing process!

                Something I’ve started doing recently is keeping a list of random quirks that I might be able to use at some point to round out characters.  Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks this is a good idea, because here is a list gathered from one writer’s high school students (with their permission).

                We all know it’s important for writers to also be readers.  This article gives tips on how to get the most out of your reading.  I should really do more reading this way – though I have to confess that I cringe at the thought of actually highlighting or underlining in one of my precious books.  Perhaps reading with a notebook or laptop nearby for taking notes would work just as well.

                Juliet Marillier is one of my very favorite authors, and she writes some pretty awesome female characters.  Here she is talking about what makes a good heroine in a guest post for Women in SF&F month at Fantasy Café.

                This is a list of observations about writing.  It’s inspirational.  I like it.  Number 9 is my favorite.

                Here is an interesting approach to editing.  Even though I’m not an archer, I really like the analogy, and it makes sense to me.  Maybe I’ll try this method next time I have something to edit.

Note: this is a list of blog posts and articles on writing that I collect weekly.  Inclusion on this list does not necessarily mean it was published this week, just that I read it this week and thought it was cool, interesting, and/or useful.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Late Check In

So I'm late checking in this week.  I had a pretty busy, but also really good weekend.  It was, however, largely filled with non-writing activities - and I am so tired now!  Please forgive me if this post seems a little disjointed.  I know I haven't been very good about responding to comments - I'm going to try to do better - but I want you all to know that I really appreciate your encouragement and support.  My foot is all better, and I've also recovered from the allergic reaction caused by the antibiotics.  Yay! 

Better than that, though, is that for the first time in months I actually feel motivated.  For the last three months or so, it has been like swimming uphill through molasses to do anything other than read a book or watch TV.  Even making plans to hang out with my friends has felt like work, nevermind tackling anything on my to do list.  But that's finally over.  I don't know how long it will last, but I'm going to enjoy it. :)

Without further ado, my updates:

1) Write 25,000 words
Since my last check-in, I have written 1619 words, for a total of 9179 so far this round.  I'm pretty pleased with this, although I haven't actually done the math to see if that's on track for hitting my target.

2) Post on Blog once a week - besides check-in posts
This didn't get done this week.  I have my list of links all ready to go - I just have to add commentary and post.  I'm not really unhappy about that - there were a lot of other things I got done this weekend that I've been putting off for a while, so missing a blog post doesn't feel like a big deal.  I'll probably have it up by tomorrow at the latest.

3) Write first draft of short story
I still haven't done any actual writing on this project, but I did spend a little time thinking about what I want to do with it.  The concept came from a writing prompt that turned out kind of cool, but I'm not sure how it ends or where exactly it's going.  I do have a couple more ideas though.

4) Make progress on Last Words
Most of my words this week were spent on getting to know my main character better.  This novel was my NaNoWriMo project last November, and although I did spend about a month plotting and figuring things out beforehand, it wasn't enough to make it through a whole book, and I ended up feeling like my main character was kind of flat.  So this week, I've been doing a lot of brainstorming about her background and what makes her tick, and also just writing random scenes from her life.  It's been kind of fun.

That's all folks!  I hope you're all having a great writing week so far!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Wildly Fluctuating Progress Report

Greetings fellow ROW80ers!

It's amazing to me how many ups and downs progress can take.  On Wednesday, I was right back on track and excited to keep moving along.   Then I wrote almost nothing for the rest of the week.  On Thursday, I spent most of the day on my couch with my foot up, as it was infected and swollen to about twice the size of normal.  One would think this would be an optimal time to get some writing in, but I watched TV instead (interrupted mid-day for a trip to the doctor and pharmacy for antibiotics).  And the weekend seems to have mostly gotten away from me: I was reading a good book (again), which took up a bit of my morning Saturday and which I finished this morning.  Then there was a scrapbooking workshop to go to, and our regular card night with friends.  Today I'm going to help a friend move, and then I have a meeting with my writing group (we usually do some kind of writing prompt, so I should at least get a little writing practice in there).

BUT, I am not going to beat myself up for my slow-down in the latter half of the week.  This is a process.  It is a bumpy process, but it is a process, and I am going to attack the new week with the intention of doing better.

So, my update:

1) Write 25,000 words

Since Wednesday, I have added 528 words - mostly in blog posts - to my count, bringing the total to 7560.  This seems a little pathetic to me, but still more than I wrote last month, so yay that.

2) Post on Blog once a week - besides check-in posts
Done.  Although I posted it this morning instead of yesterday.  Still done.

3) Write first draft of short story
Again, no progress.  This goal seems to be somewhat crippled by my feeling that I have to have some big open time block in order to sit down and plan it out.  I'm starting to get better about using smaller chunks of time - like my lunch hour - to write, but apparently I am a slow learner.

4) Make progress on Last Words
No more progress since Wednesday. 

My plan is to have more to report next Sunday.  Happy writing, y'all!

Writing Post Round-Up - Week of April 14-20, 2013

Writing post round-up time!

It’s a rather short list this week – I had less time for reading, apparently.

                We begin this week with one of Lynn Viehl’s lists of ten.  This is a list of ten programs – some freeware and some with free trials – for writing related tasks (some less directly related than others).  I haven’t tried any of them out yet, but I’m particularly excited about Pro Frequency’s Names List.

                Of course we writer types need lots of details to give authenticity and interest to our stories.  This post talks about cultivating the observer to build a ready store of things from life we can use in our writing.

                Writers everywhere seem to be inextricably linked with coffee.  I’ve recently mostly given up caffeine, as it has a detrimental effect on my sleep cycle.  To be honest, I’m feeling a little insecure in my writerness – lacking as I do both coffee and a cat. J  If you happen to be like me, and are looking for a non-caffeinated pick-me-up, perhaps this will help you.  (Note: I haven’t actually tried this yet)

                It’s always nice to get advice on finding an agent from an actual agent.  Here is the first in a series of posts for Writer Unboxed from agent Elizabeth Weed.    It looks like this is going to be a very useful series!

                This is not a blog post per se, but rather a lovely list of resources put together by Leanne Dyck.  I haven’t had a chance to explore very many of them yet, but it looks like there’s some great stuff here!

                Here is a little refresher on how to punctuate dialog.  I think I have a pretty good handle on that, generally, but I’ve also been recently made aware of some of my other punctuation and grammatical transgressions, so it’s probably good to double-check. 

                And lastly, a fun article about reading and not insisting that only one kind of book is worthwhile.  I don’t agree with all of his points, but I do think the more people who read, the better off we all are.  And as the author points out, shaming people for what they choose to read is counterproductive. 

Note: this is a list of blog posts and articles on writing that I collect weekly.  Inclusion on this list does not necessarily mean it was published this week, just that I read it this week and thought it was cool, interesting, and/or useful.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Progress! Report:

So - my last post wasn't so chipper, but I think I'm back on track.  Here's my brief update:

1) Write 25,000 words

I have written another 1322 words since my last check-in, for a total of 7032 words toward my goal.

2) Post on Blog once a week - besides check-in posts

Last week's post is now up.  This week's will hopefully go up on Saturday, which will ideally set off a string of regular Saturday posts.

3) Write first draft of short story
Nothing on this yet.

4) Make progress on Last Words
Read some of a book I'm reading for research and took some notes.  Also worked on a back-story sketch for my main character.

Huzzah! Progress!  See you all Sunday!

Writing Post Round Up - Week of Apr 7-13, 2013

This post should have gone up on Saturday, but it didn’t.  So I give it to you now.  Enjoy!

                This is long, but good.  It’s kind of about platform, and all those things you “should” do as a professional author, but it’s more about choosing the things that will help you be a happy and productive writer.

                This one actually kind of goes along with the first link.  I love the internet.  I love reading blogs about writing, and hanging out in writers forums, and the fact that I can find almost anything with a Google search.  I enjoy following my favorite authors on Facebook (and also my friends, of course!).  But sometimes, information overload kicks in, and my head is all spinning around and I can’t think straight.  It’s exhausting.  I have to unplug for a while.  In fact, that’s probably the major cause of this post not going up on Saturday – I just DID NOT want to turn on my computer.  So yeah, this.

                First of all, the title of this post just kind of cracks me up – and makes me want to go out and write a story that begins with the line “He put his banjo down…”  But it’s also an entertaining look at several common “beginning” pitfalls.

                And on the other side of the “unplugged” fence, here’s one author’s take on why writers should blog.

                I’m always interested in the process of other writers.  Here’s a nice look at what one author does after coming to the end of a big deadline.  I think I’d like to adopt something similar (I’ve not had a professional writing deadline yet, but I sure wish I’d had some kind of routine like this to get me through the aftermath of my last finals week of grad school!).

                A great set of questions to ask yourself as you’re diving into revisions.

                Here is good post to help you figure out whether your latest idea has a plot or just a premise.  I love Janice’s posts, because she always has such clear examples.  The actual post begins with the green text, after the author intro and a list of other posts in the series you may wish to check out. 

                Sara Megibow of the Nelson Literary Agency details a new idea for agent pitch sessions.  I’ve never actually been to a pitch session, so I have no basis of comparison, but it sounds good to me!

                My current WIP is kind of a mystery, although I’m not sure it fits into the traditional mystery mold.  I’m hoping this post will help me get a better handle on things.

                Okay, I’m sensing a theme.  This post comes at it from a slightly different angle – new writers being overwhelmed by the details of publishing and platform before they’ve even completed a manuscript (ahem, that would be me) – but to me it’s really making the point that writing is the most important thing we do. 

                Of course, in the midst of all the plotting, character development, platform, publishing, etc. frenzy, we still have to get the nuts and bolts right.  So here is a back to basics guide to some common mistakes (most of which I’m pretty sure I make on a regular basis – in the rough draft of course! J)

                Series, series, series.  Publishers like them, readers like them, authors like them.  So how do you know when to start or stop one?  Here’s one author’s tips.

                And to wrap of this collection of links, a question.  What if the things that are getting in the way of your writing could actually help strengthen it?

That’s all folks.  Tune in next week same bat time, same bat channel (well, same bat channel anyway) for more collected links.  Happy writing!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Late Check-in and Little Progress

Not real pleased with my progress this week.  Since I've so far missed all the Wednesday check-ins, which is fine - I was thinking maybe I'll just be one of those Sunday check-in only people.  However, since I'm a day late for my Sunday check-in (spent the morning reading the rest of an awesome book, called A Turn of Light by Julie Czerneda, which I don't regret at all, but spent the afternoon watching television and folding laundry because I just didn't want to turn on my computer, which I do regret a bit), and my progress this week was kind of negligible, I'm thinking maybe shooting for a Wednesday check-in will motivate me to do better this week.

So anyway, quick update of the status of my goals:

1) Write 25,000 words

I spent most of my writing time working on a background for a D & D character - which I do count as writing practice because it's character building, and figuring out what events in my character's past actually resulted in the stats on the character sheet.  I tend to agonize over such things, and spend a lot of time reading setting books and whatnot to fill in all kinds of details.  I also rarely actually finish character backgrounds, because I spend so much time trying to make them perfect.  So the fact that I actually finished this one, even though I consider it a long way from my best work, and handed it in to the GM before the game started is a minor victory.

Wrote 2014 words this week, for a total of 5710 toward my goal.  Not horrible.

2) Post on Blog once a week - besides check-in posts
Fail.  Saturday was kind of crazy, so I didn't get my post in.  I guess that means I get to do two this week.

3) Write first draft of short story
No progress.

4) Make progress on Last Words
No actual writing progress, but a book I'm using for research came in at the library and I picked it up, so I hope to be reading that this week and making some notes.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

ROW80 - Check-in

Wow!  It's the end of the first week of Round of Words already!

I'm not off to as great a start as I would like to be, but I'm not doing too badly.  I missed the first check-in on Wednesday, but I didn't really have much to report anyway, since I only posted my goals on Tuesday.

Anyway, here's my report for this week:

1) Write 25,000 words

So far I've written 3696 words this round.  It could be better, and I'd love it if they were all brilliant words that I'd want to keep for my WIP (they're not), but I'm on track to make 25k by the end of the 80 days, and I'm writing, so we'll call that a win.

2) Post on Blog once a week - besides check-in posts

My Saturday, when I had planned to post my non-ROW80 post, sort of fell apart and I didn't get any writing done yesterday.  But I decided to go ahead and write that post this morning anyway, so it might be a little late, but I did it.

3) Write first draft of short story (Fortune Taker)
No progress on this one so far - at least not writing.  I did spend a little time thinking about how I want it to go, but I definitely have to carve out some time on the calendar to DO something on it. 

4) Make progress on Last Words
No progress on this goal either.  Sigh.  I'm still trying to figure out how to work all this into my schedule.  I'll get there.

And now I'm going to see if I'm smart enough to get the Blog Hop code to work...

Writing Post Round-Up - Week of Mar 31-Apr 6, 2013

A few months ago I started collecting links to blog posts about writing for my writing group and posting up to ten of my favorite posts each week.  I try to choose a variety of topics each time, so that they’re not all posts about character development, or writer insecurities, or outlining – you get the idea.  But I also tend to choose the posts that spoke to me that week, so sometimes there’s a theme.  And then I add a little blurb on what the post is about and why I liked it, so that people can decide whether or not it’s relevant to them.  

NOTE: These links are drawn from the posts I read this week, but may have been originally published at any time.  I get behind in my RSS feed, and sometimes I find links to awesome older posts that I want to share.  

                There are a fair number of “writer insecurity” posts in my collection of late.  I’ve been having a really tough time with my writing lately, so it helps to read posts from other writers going through the same thing.  It seems most writers have times when they feel like their writing is crap, so it’s nice not to be alone.  This one is cute because it has a little bingo card to fill out – maybe making a game out of our insecurities makes them less dark and scary?

                Revision kind of terrifies me.  This is possibly do to the fact that I’ve only ever finished one first draft so that I could revise it (it’s out to a beta reader now, after I ignored it for nearly a year), so it’s like this big dark cave of the unknown.  So I save lots of revision advice articles.  This post is of notes from Rachael Herron’s workshop on her revision method.  I like the step-by-step instruction format.

                Elizabeth Anne Mitchell’s musings on the “write every day” rule.  This post just really resonated with me this week.

                Magical Words is one of my favorite writing blogs, so the next three links are from there.  It’s mostly geared towards fantasy writers, but I think some writing advice is universal.  This post from John Hartness is about when and how to kill off characters.

                It seems like we spend a lot of time talking about how our protagonists should be flawed – because who wants to read about a perfect guy (or girl)?  Here’s a post on weaknesses for your villains.

                Learning your craft is important, but so are some other basic procedures.  A post on the importance of backing up your work.

                Thinking about entering a writing contest?  They can be an awesome ego and career boost if you pick the right ones.  Here’s a post about what to look for.

                Writer Unboxed is one of my other favorite blogs.  As I mentioned, I’ve been having a really hard time with my writing lately.  This post reminds me to respect MY process, even if it’s not the same as someone else’s .  Every writer has to find the way that works for them.

                And finally, some news from the land of publication, and a reminder to be careful of our contracts. 

That’s all for this week’s Writing Post Round-Up.  Stay tuned for more writing fun next week!