The Cold Open: Facing the Blank Page by William Kenower
It’s any writer’s greatest fear: Facing the blank page with no ideas to get started. William Kenower shares how to get into the right mindset to begin writing and find your muse.
I’ve been writing six days a week for more than 25 years. For the last 10 years my schedule has become so clocklike that I am predictably at my desk by 6:28 a.m. I never miss a day unless I’m traveling or it’s Christmas. I also always write something, whether it’s a complete essay or part of a chapter. Yet every time I sit down at my desk, whether I’m working on a book or a blog, I am never in the mood to write. In fact, I often begin my day’s work with this thought: I’ve got nothing.
It’s true. That’s my starting place nearly every morning. I believe, in fact, it’s where every writer who writes with any regularity begins their day of work. In my experience, it’s absolutely normal, if not inevitable—and while I have worked and am still working to master many aspects of the craft and business of writing, it’s the beginning. Those first minutes at the desk before anything’s happening—before any ideas have come, when I am stone-dead cold without a single ember of interest in my mind—require the most discipline from me, as well as remind me what it means to be human.
Because I am a human first and a writer second. This is always the order of things. I have five senses and I like to use them—indeed, I must use them if I want to get about in the world. I need them to drive my car and walk from one end of the living room to the other. I need them to have a conversation with my wife; I need them to know if my tomato sauce needs more sugar, or if my lawn needs mowing. I can imagine many realities, but I cannot really imagine living in this world without at least some of my senses.
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Created by a fellow author, Thriving Scribes is a website designed to give you the tools to take your authoring career into your hands and control the narrative. It'll help you determine where you are in your journey and provide you with the guidance to take that journey to your desired finish line. It all starts with a quiz.
By answering a few questions, you can determine where you are in your journey. My stage is Align. According to my results I "have what it takes to create the freedom and success I've always wanted." I just need to keep going. And how do I do that? By following the 3-step action plan presented to me and accessing the tools that can help me in this stage.
This site works for all authors from those just starting to those who have published works.
Check it out and start your author journey. https://thrivingscribes.com
MasterClass offers online classes created for students of all skill levels. Our instructors are the best in the world.
Back in 2015, I had written about the addition of James Patterson to the MasterClass list. He was the first author the website offered. Well, since then there have been numerous authors added to the MasterClass list, all of whom are giving you various advice on writing techniques.
Check out the list below (in alphabetical order):
How to Write a Character From Start to Finish by Guest Column
Most of the time, main characters in fiction are changing for the better. It’s uplifting to see someone make good choices and improve as a person. Probably your book will be about a character who changes for the best.
But there’s also room for characters who change for the worse. Indeed, though they may lead to depressing, poor-selling books if given the lead role, these tragic characters are fascinating to watch. Before our very eyes, Roger in Lord of the Flies, Allie Fox in The Mosquito Coast and Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars saga all devolve into villains. It’s terrible and we want them to stop. But part of us doesn’t want them to stop.
Perhaps most intriguing of all is a “bad” character who flirts for a while with the idea of being good, but then decides that his true self is on the dark side of the street. Gollum/Sméagol in The Lord of the Rings is a famous example.
Of course, not every story has to be about a character who changes. Certainly we don’t expect much change from Indiana Jones. He simply is who he is. And there are wonderful stories about people whose character is so complete at the beginning of the tale that everyone else must change around them. Anne of Green Gablesis a terrific example of this. Anne is out of step with everyone. She doesn’t fit in. And yet as those around her try to change her to conform, they discover that it is they who are in need of becoming a bit more like Anne. Forrest Gump, WALL-E, Don Quixote, Mary Poppins and even Jesus Christ are the agents of change though they themselves do not transform. But these characters can be difficult to write well—and they’re more the exception than the norm. So let’s focus here on a main character who changes.
Whether your protagonist ultimately turns toward or away from the light will be up to you, but we’ll look at ways to send her on a journey in which she’s transformed.
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5 Tips for Writing Suspense by Chuck Sambuchino
I am a traditionally published thriller author. My latest book No Time to Die just hit shelves this week. When I first started writing suspense fiction, though, I had very little idea what I was doing. It took a humble amount of trial and error to get in a groove and overcome basic rookie errors. Now, seven years later, I like to think I’ve figured out some tricks of the trade. I’ve also been extremely lucky to receive the support and mentorship of some of the top names in the biz, like Jack Reacher’s creator Lee Child and the late Michael Palmer. So without further ado, here are some tips for budding thriller writers that I wish I’d known from day one…
1) Structure Scenes like Mini-Novels: Each one should contain its own narrative arc, with rising action and a climactic moment that signals the end of the chapter. It’s good form to finish most chapters on a cliffhanger—especially the first one. A major dramatic question should be raised in the opening scene, and then resolved in an unexpected or unfavorable way to hurl the main character further into the conflict (and thus drag your readers into the story). Get your protagonist in trouble as soon as possible and never let her get too comfortable or too safe. As far as chapter length, I’ve found that an average of five pages (double-spaced, size 12) works well for keeping up the pace.
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You know it's been a while since I mentioned a writing conference and with registration coming February 9, 2016 at 12pm EST for the New England SCBWI 2016 The POWER of (RE) INVENTION conference, I thought, now's a good time to.
Conferences are a good way to hone your skills and network with fellow writers. At this particular conference, you even have the chance to sit down with editors and agents and get your work critiqued.
So don't delay. Check out the sessions now and don't forget to register Feb 9th.
Register here . . .
Empowered by Embarrassment: The Value of Adding Humor to Your Manuscript by Chuck Sambuchino
You know those times when you wish you were completely alone? Not because you wish for peace and quiet, but because you hate the fact that others witnessed what just happened to you? I’m talking about those embarrassing moments, the ones when your face burns so hot that you feel like you might just melt down into the ground – and you wouldn’t mind if you did! You know, those moments!
Here’s my advice for what to do next time you have a mortifying moment: harness it. Use it to fuel your writing. Allow yourself to be empowered by embarrassment. It can add humor to your writing and boost audience appeal. Trust me, humiliation is hot. It is!
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard editors or agents at writers’ conferences say they were looking for humor. The fact is, humor sells because people love to laugh. And most people find it humorous when humiliation happens…as long as it happens to someone else! I can convince you of this with four letters. AFHV.
Because what is America’s Funniest Home Videos other than a video catalogue of embarrassing moments — moments so awkward that all you can do is laugh? This television show has held a prime time slot almost continuously for over two decades – proof that embarrassment sells!
Need further proof? Consider this:
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Most writers love to read. In fact, it's the first advice successful authors will tell you to do, read . . . read . . . read. So why not read on a discount. While the website photos below don't do it justice, I can't tell you how many YA and MG books I've found in the stores. Some I've heard of and some completely new to me. Click here to check it out yourself.
I don't know about you, but I love reading books to help me on my craft. Even after 4 years of college and years of writing experience, I am still learning new things and techniques. Armed with my highlighter, I mark up these books and take notes on what I can use for my writing. The only down side, carrying those books and highlighters around. The joy of the electronic age, is that you I don't have to anymore. Yes, e-books is one way to electronically learn, but so are podcasts.
Podcasts are great when commuting to and from work, when taking long road trips, or even when cleaning your house. So here's a list of some create podcasts to check out. If you need more, simply google writing podcasts. You'll get lists from others out there as well.
"SCBWI brings our members engaging podcasts with leaders in the children’s book field. Sit in on these conversations to get informed and inspired!"- from Website.
"Writing Excuses is a fast-paced, educational podcast for writers, by writers." - from Website.
The Writing University
"The Writing University podcast offers recordings of writing events associated with the University of Iowa" - from iTunes.
The Dead Robots' Society
"The Dead Robots' Society is a gathering of aspiring writers podcasting to other aspiring writers hoping to help each other along the way to the promised land of publication" - from iTunes.
The Creative Penn
"The Creative Penn podcast provides information and inspiration on writing, self-publishing, print-on-demand, internet sales and marketing . . . for your book." - from iTunes.
"The Grammar Girl podcast provides short, friendly tips to improve your writing. Whether English is your first language or your second language, these grammar, punctuation, style, and business tips will make you a better and more successful writer." - from iTunes.
4 Ways to Motivate Characters and Plot by Guest Colomn
Some of your characters will change during the course of your story—let’s call them changers. Others—stayers--will not change significantly in personality or outlook, but their motivations may nonetheless change as the story progresses from situation to situation. Both changers and stayers can have progressive motivations.
Confused? Don’t be; it’s simpler than it may seem. Characters come in four basic types:
By Nancy Kress
When you know the key motivation(s) behind your character and plot, you can write scenes that not only make sense to you and your readers, but also add depth to your story. Because character and plot are intertwined, we’ll refer to the above four as character/plot patterns. Let’s further explore each one.
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Welcome to the archived section "For Writers". Here you will find a collection of all previous posts written. So, if you're afraid you missed something, no worries. It's listed here for you anytime.