I have exciting news of a different kind to share with you today: I’m now offering outline critiques at Heart of the Story!
This service is perfect for writers who have an in-depth outline (20 to 40 pages) for a writing project but haven’t started the first draft yet. It’s a great way of ensuring that the structure of your story is solid, each scene has a purpose, and the main characters show a potential for growth or change.
(Read more after the jump.)
One of my favorite blog series is Ariel Hudnall’s Archetypes in Literature, a collection of essays on the archetypes conceived by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung and examples of each in literature, film, and television. I can’t remember if what followed next happened in a comment one of her Archetype posts, or in a side conversation on my blog… But she introduced me to Archetypes.com, which features a quiz that helps visitors discover their unique blend of archetypes.
So, I took the quiz. And as soon as I got my answers, the “writerly” wheels started turning in my head. 😉
You see, archetypes can help us understand our own behavior patterns as well as those of our characters. It’s sort of like taking an MBTI test as your protagonist to see where she might fall on that spectrum. So, how can you use archetypes to learn more (or confirm what you already know) about yourself and your characters? Plus, how accurate are the quiz’s results? You might be pleasantly surprised.
Last year I tackled the Freestyle Writing Challenge for the first time. It was a fun way of writing about whatever I wanted (within the topic chosen by the blogger who nominated me, of course) and seeing how many words I could type in a short amount of time. Today, I’m *finally* accepting Sarah J. Higbee’s nomination to take on the Challenge again. Thanks, Sarah!
Here are the rules for the Freestyle Writing Challenge:
- Open an new Microsoft Word document.
- Set a stop watch or timer for 5 or 10 minutes, whichever challenge you think you can beat.
- You topic is at the end of this post, but DO NOT SCROLL DOWN TO SEE IT UNTIL YOU ARE READY WITH A TIMER.
- Fill the Word document with as many words as you can. Once you begin writing, do not stop.
- Do not cheat by going back and correcting spellings and grammar with spell check in Word. This Challenge is only meant for you to reflect on your own control of sensible thought flow, not your ability to write the right spelling and stick to grammar rules.
- You may or may not pay attention to punctuation and capitals. However, if you do, it would be best.
- At the end of your post, write down ‘No. of words =_____’ so that readers have an idea of how much you can write within the timeframe.
- Copy and paste the entire passage on your blog post with a new topic for your nominees, and include these rules with your nominations (at least 5 bloggers).
So, Sarah’s topic for her nominees this time was… Continue reading
Today I’m thrilled to have one of my DIY MFA colleagues here for a guest post! Leanne Sowul is a historical fiction writer, music teacher, and the insightful mind behind DIY MFA’s “Be Well, Write Well,” which offers tips and wisdom for writers on maintaining a healthy well-being. She’s also an advocate for cultivating creativity in our lives and recently launched her new project, The Creativity Perspective, to explore this further. I invited Leanne to write about the importance of creativity in writing, and this is what she had to say.
When I first decided to write a novel, I wasn’t sure what genre I wanted to specialize in. I read widely, so I had interest in writing many different things, but I was intimidated by working in the sci-fi, fantasy, or mystery genres because I thought they required a higher level of creativity. Building a world from scratch, or crafting a suspenseful crime, felt beyond me. I wanted to choose a genre that had some rules I could follow; a creativity “support,” if you will.
I have a longtime love for history, so I decided to write historical fiction. I figured I could use historical facts to hang my story on, and felt comforted by the element of nonfiction in my fiction to keep me on track with my story. I thought it was the perfect solution. Oh, how little I knew back then! I didn’t understand I was making the enormous decision of my novel’s genre based partly on fear and partly on an incorrect assumption.
Today is the second half of a guest-post swap I’m doing with WriteOnSisters. My article on high fantasy vs epic fantasy is already live at WOS. Now, it’s one of the “Sister’s” turns to post here! Heather Jackson lives in Canada and writes YA novels as well as television and video game screenplays. In fact, she began with screenplays before tackling novel-writing. Here’s what Heather learned during that transition.
I started my writing career as a television screenwriter, but my first love has always been books. So, after screenwriting for what seemed like an eternity to my young self (though I’d only been making a living at it for five years), I decided it was time to write a novel. Being a “seasoned professional,” I estimated I could develop a book idea and write a first draft in one year. After all, I already knew how to craft great stories. Novels simply used more words to tell those stories, right?
Oh, the naiveté of inexperience. I soon learned that more differentiates novels and screenplays than the number of words.
But let’s start with the similarities. I wasn’t totally wrong; many screenwriting skills do transfer to the process of writing novels.
Please give a warm welcome to our first guest blogger, Victoria Grace Howell! Tori is a fellow speculative fiction writer whom I met last year through the monthly Beautiful People link-up. I was thrilled when she suggested today’s topic, since it immediately resonated with me – because like Tori, I’m not a plotter or a pantser, but a “plontser.” Never heard of a plontser before? I’ll let Tori explain…. 😉
When I first started writing, I discovered pretty soon into the game that there are two types of writers: plotters and pansters. Plotters like J.K. Rowling plan out each event meticulously and know everything that happens in their stories before they write them. Pantsers like Stephen King know hardly anything about the story when beginning to write and discover as they go. My first choice was a panster. I liked seeing where the story took me, but as I soon came to realize, in my spontaneous writing my story lacked structure and a secure plot.
At this point, I was torn. I had to choose one, right? Wrong. Continue reading
I’m so excited about this! Writing memes and tags don’t seem to be as common as reading memes / tags, so it’s always a treat to discover one. Several bloggers I follow have already done this tag, too: Aberdeen at A Glimpse of Starlight (thank you for nominating me!), Sarah at Light & Shadows, Victoria at A Gathering of Dreams, Rae Oestreich at The Wallflower, Nicole L’autore, Briana da Silva, and Kristen A. Kieffer. So I’m thrilled to finally hop onboard!
The purpose of the Behind The Scenes Writing Tag is simple: You answer questions about your writing process, giving readers a “behind the scenes” look at how you approach your craft. So, today, I invite to come with me behind the curtain, so to speak, and see how I work.
I’ve been tagged on the 7/7/7 Challenge again – twice! Rachael Ritchey and Michelle @ The Writing Hufflepuff both nominated me for a new go-round. And even though I took on the challenge last fall, now is a good time to do it again because of the revisions I’ve been working on.
The rules of the 7/7/7 Challenge are super-simple:
- Go to page 7 of your WIP.
- Scroll down to Line 7.
- Share the next 7 sentences in a blog post.
- After the excerpt, tag 7 other writers to continue the challenge.
Exciting news, everyone: I have officially launched the Worksheets for Writers page!
Worksheets for Writers is where writers can find worksheets containing all kinds of writing and brainstorming exercises. The page houses only one document right now, but I already have ideas on how to expand my offerings over time.
Speaking of that first worksheet, it is the…
Novel Title Brainstorming Worksheets
The Novel Title Brainstorming Worksheets were inspired by my recent article on methods for finding novel titles. Several readers had said they would revisit the article the next time they wanted to brainstorm titles for their stories. That got me thinking: Why not turn the information presented in that article into actual exercises that writers can do offline? And so the worksheets were born.
The Novel Title Brainstorming Worksheets are available in printable PDF files that you can download directly from the page. This set comes in two parts:
- Worksheet A: Novel Title Source Sheet, which lists tried-and-true sources for titles by story element (e.g., characters, setting, significant objects) and guides writers through activities using these elements
- Worksheet B: Novel Title Checklist, which poses eight important questions that writers should consider when deciding on a novel title
Click here to visit Worksheets for Writers and to download a PDF copy of the Novel Title Brainstorming Worksheets.
I’m so thrilled about this new section of the website – and I hope you are, too! If you have any questions or comments about these and future worksheets I share, feel free to contact me here.
A good title for a book is like a nugget of gold buried under a mountain of dirt. Writers want the perfect name, something that grabs the reader’s attention, sings when it’s spoken, and relates to the novel in some way. Digging for that perfect name, however, can be more frustrating than writing the book itself.
If you’ve struggled with titling your stories, you’re not alone. It happened to me with the fantasy novel I finished last month. And last month, when I Tweeted a question about book title troubles, fellow writers on the Twitterverse shared their past and current frustrations. Heather D. said, “Only once have I ever come up with a title I loved and was wed to. All my others have ‘working titles.'” Jody Moore wrote, “[T]his WIP has been in the works for years (3rd rewrite) but I only settled on the title a few months ago.” Other responses were similar, where writers called titles everything from “a real pain” to “something I don’t sweat.”
It’s true that we can’t worry too much about titles, especially if your novel winds up being traditionally published. (Standard practice is that your publisher’s marketing team gets the final say on titles.) However, there are ways of making the “title-digging” process less distressing and more fruitful. In this “mid-noveling break” edition of Chronicling The Craft, we’ll look at strategies for mining for possible book titles, from examples of different sources for titles to questions we should ask ourselves. At the end, I’ll bring a personal example – by revealing the title of my fantasy novel, and how I (finally) arrived at it. 🙂 Continue reading