Give Your Writer Resources: Article Nine The term “first readers” is exactly what it implies: the first individuals who read your story when you feel it is absolutely perfect and has arrived at the ready-to-submit stage. I firmly believe no writer can effectively proofread his/her own finished piece. At least, I cannot; I am too…
Give Your Writer Resources: Article Eight
Writing classes instruct writers on particular topics. These topics can be as broad as “So You Want to Write a Book? What a Novel Idea!” (the actual name of a course I took at Emory University through its continuing education program), or as specific as “How to develop Characters through the Use of Dialog.” Classes may address other issues: “Finding an Agent,” “Promote Yourself through Facebook,” or “How to Write a Query Letter.” Writing classes usually begin and end on a certain date, last a definite period of time, and have a syllabus that addresses a new aspect of the topic at each session. Writing workshops are similar in that they, too, address general and specific topics related to writing, but as a rule they meet in a concentrated time block. Critique groups differ from writing classes and workshops. A critique group is an interactive session where writers read and discuss each other’s work. As with writing classes, I’ve had good and bad experiences. If used correctly, a critique group can strengthen your writing.
Give Your Writer Resources: Article Seven
Up to this point we have discussed how to provide your writer within with resources by building a library. However, a writer needs resources beyond his/her personal writing space and the Internet. For articles seven, eight, and nine, we will look at groups in the writing community that are valuable resources. I will divide these groups into professional organizations, writing classes, critique groups, first readers, and personal contacts. Article seven will focus on professional organizations and writing classes. These groups can be accessed from your computer or in “live” settings.
Give Your Writer Resources: Article Six
While a grammatically perfect and readable story should be a top priority for every writer, a truly finished product needs much more. I call that “much more” the qualities that place your unique mark on the pages…the fingerprint that identifies your work to your writer within. Initially as readers, we are drawn to writers such as Stephen King and Dean Koontz because they write horror, or we gravitate to John Cheever or Alice Munro because we like short stories. But in the end, why do we stay with them and continue to buy their books and be loyal readers? It is most likely because we enjoy their style of writing.
Give Your Writer Resources: Article Five
Markets are the places available for you to publish what you write. If you are not writing with the intent of publication, then this column will not be for you. When you write for your enjoyment only, you need not worry about the submission process. However, if you want to share what you create with others, then you’ll need to understand the many places available to showcase your stories.
Years ago the task of finding a good fit for your work was tedious, expensive, and oftentimes hit or miss. Writers mainly sought out book and magazine publishing houses to print their fiction and nonfiction. University and special interest presses were other possible sources. A writer needed to send off for guidelines and/or sample copies for each place he/she intended to submit a story, supplying a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope). A sample copy added more expenses…and all of this was before the manuscript was submitted. It took weeks…sometimes months to receive that information.
Give Your Writer Resources: Article Four
Fiction isn’t true. The subject matter might be real and the people may have lived, but once you begin adding made-up events and situations, your story becomes fiction. To begin your collection of fiction resources, like with nonfiction, you’ll want to have a general “How to Write Fiction” book and/or website. These resources should provide a clear definition of exactly what constitutes fiction writing. They should also include a list of and an introduction to these three components of fiction: forms, elements, and subgenres.
Give Your Writer Resources: Article Three
You have an idea. You’ve researched information to plump out that idea, and now you feel you have a solid foundation on which to create a story. The next step is to decide how you want to showcase that story. In what form do you want your audience to read your work? You basically have two choices: fiction or nonfiction. Then you have a multitude of choices: all the subgenres of fiction and nonfiction. Before you begin, you need to have a form in mind, and you’ll need to add resources about these forms to your library. Because of the number of subgenre choices for nonfiction and fiction, I will focus on nonfiction in this month’s column. Nonfiction resources fall into three categories: general how-to-write nonfiction, how-to-write-specific subgenres, and books written by authors in that particular subgenre.
Give Your Writer Resources: Article Two
No matter your message, no matter how beautiful your language and style, if your editors can’t make sense of what you are writing, you’ll most likely never be published. Even if you bypass editors and self-publish, your readers must understand your stories. And even more important, you want to make sure you’re writing exactly what it is you want to say. Take the following example:
When lightning struck John Henry fainted.
How many people are we talking about in this sentence? A comma changes the meaning of the sentence completely.
When lightning struck, John Henry fainted.
Or, is it?
When lightning struck John, Henry fainted.
It makes a difference to John, and to John Henry as well, and as a writer, the clarity of your sentences should make a difference to you. Look at the difference a comma and spelling make in this example:
What’s that in the road ahead?
What’s that in the road, a head?
Again, the entire meaning of the sentence changes when grammar is changed.
Give Your Writer Resources: Article One
In series one, article five, “Where Will You Write,” we looked at the importance of carving out a place to call your own. Establishing a designated area not only adds validity to your desire to write, it also reminds you of your purpose for being there–the kitchen is a place for preparing food, the laundry room is a place for cleaning clothes, and the dining room is a place for eating. When you go to your writing area, you are going there with the intent of creating.
In that same column, we talked about the necessity of choosing a space that is inviting, a place where you want to go, and a place where you will be inspired. In this third series, you will make choices about how to “furnish” this space. You’ll customize your space so that you can produce work that is uniquely yours. Everything you select, or choose not to select, will result in stories identified with your fingerprint. We will examine what resources your writer within needs at his/her fingertips. Just as a chef stocks his kitchen with the proper utensils, cooking devices, and ingredients, so must you provide your writer with the proper inventory. I have a physical office space, and I have a writing space on my computer. Both have resources an arm’s reach or a click away when I need a resource for a writing project.
Embolden Your Writer with a Plan: Article Ten
- “actual” writing
At this point, I want to relabel “actual” writing as creating.
When I conduct writing workshops, I present a simple exercise to help beginning writers design a schedule that works for each one individually. I hand out a blank calendar for one week and four different colored pens or highlighters. I then have the students assign a color to each part of the plan . . . for example, idea gathering – pink, researching – blue, creating – yellow, organizing – green. This gives the writer a visual of what his/her writing schedule will look like for the week ahead. I fill out a calendar for myself while they create one for themselves. When I began writing, I employed a colored-coded system, but now writing is a natural part of my life without me having to write it down. The next four paragraphs are a mini version of the process.