Monday, October 31, 2016

Writers Tip: Mark Frauenfelder

Mark Frauenfelder Website
Monday Writing Tip from Sierra Writers' Conference:
Registration Opens TOMORROW!

 
The Mad Professor by Mark Frauenfelder
The Mad Professor by Mark FrauenfelderMark FrauenfelderAuthor of The Mad Professor and Rule the Web
  1. Use Scrivener to write your book. Awesome organizing tool as well as word processor.
  2. If you have the feeling an interview isn’t yielding much, get off the phone as soon as you can. On the other hand, when you strike interview gold, keep it going as long as you can.
  3. Don’t forget to write the book that you want to read.


Steve Silberman's collection of writing tips:

Steve Silberman Website
When Steve Silberman started working on his book NeuroTribes, The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, he decided to “tap into the wisdom of the hive mind.” Fortunately he had a great hive to tap and he shared a long article with brief tips on writing a book from 22 authors.
It’s really too much to read all at once so we will be posting each author’s advice separately so that you can savor each tidbit. (You can always click on the link at the end of the previous paragraph to get the whole feast.)

Now, go forth and write!



Writers Tip: Geoff Manaugh

Monday Writing Tip from Sierra Writers' Conference:
Registration Opens TOMORROW!!!
Geoff Manaugh website
 
The BLDGBLOG Book by Geoff Manaugh
Geoff Manaugh Author of A Burglar's Guide to the City and The BLDGBLOG Boo
  1. Don’t hold back on that fantasy site visit / phone call / interview / query / meeting that you have always wanted to do, lest it become too late to include the results in your book. Do it now! This book is your golden ticket.
  2. Don’t lose track of your notes and/or future ideas for inclusion by writing things down in multiple notebooks or on scattered pages of the same notebook; concentrate, aggregate, cohere, reread, and compress. Keep it all in one place (with back-ups). Obsessive-compulsive organizational habits are your bestfriend; telling insane and vaguely embarrassing stories later on, about how you used eight different colored markers, four highlighter types, and multiple versions of extra pages stapled into a vast mega-notebook that you re-read every night before bed – and that you also took digital photos of lest you lose the whole thing in a house fire – will be a lot more fun than explaining how you forgot to include certain things and your book sucked because you never got your shit together.
  3. Quick, tossed off, last minute additions, typed right before you submit the final manuscript, probably aren’t a good idea, no matter how funny or emotionally powerful you might feel they are at the time of impulsively writing them. Always allow time to come back and read something from a distance.
  4. And run all quirky one-liners that you hope to include in your author’s bio (do you “always enjoy a good latté”?) past a close friend; they don’t age well.

Steve Silberman's collection of writing tips:

Steve Silberman Website
When Steve Silberman started working on his book NeuroTribes, The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, he decided to “tap into the wisdom of the hive mind.” Fortunately he had a great hive to tap and he shared a long article with brief tips on writing a book from 22 authors.
It’s really too much to read all at once so we will be posting each author’s advice separately so that you can savor each tidbit. (You can always click on the link at the end of the previous paragraph to get the whole feast.)

Now, go forth and write!
 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Wycoff: Why Attend a Writers' Conference?


Guest Post: Start your writers' conference learning now with a series of guest blog posts from some of the conference faculty. This guest post comes from Joyce Wycoff, conference program guide, author of a young adult fantasy novella, Sarana’s Gift and a specialty journal, Gratitude Miracles, the 5-minute journal that could change everything!

Why attend a writers' conference?

One answer I've heard repeatedly from agents, editors and publishers is that they respect writers who attend writers' conferences. In their minds, conference attendees are in the top 10% of writers because they are actively learning their craft, getting professional feedback, and building their writing network.

Simply attending a writers' conference won't make you a published, successful author, but it is an important part of the development of your craft. Writing conferences can help you ...
Free to all attendees
  • learn more about the craft of writing and how to market your work in this new world of publishing ...
  • connect with people who understand the challenges and joys of the writing life ...
  • meet agents, editors, and publishers who can help your work go forth into the world ...
  • renew your energy and inspiration.
To help you on this journey, Sierra Writers' Conference is making a new tool available to you ... a learning journal to help you do all of the above more effectively ... by knowing what to do
Before - During - After
the conference

 to take your writing to the next level.

What is a Learning Journal? 

A learning journal guides you through the four steps needed for success:
  1. Create an energizing vision of what you want.
  2. Identify the persistent actions that will move you toward your vision.
  3. Build confidence that your vision can become reality.
  4. Seek specific, objective feedback to help you adjust your persistent actions in order to stay on target with your vision. 
Maya Angelou once said: "If one is lucky, a single fantasy can totally transform a million realities." That's the power of vision: a possibility or end result that’s bigger, more appealing, more delicious than the reality of today.
For instance: knowing what you want from a conference, such as connecting with an agent, is the first step in making that happen.
Neale Donald Walsh tells us "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." Taking persistent actions toward our vision requires doing new or different things … moving out of our zones of comfort, i.e. into discomfort, and tolerating the discomfort long enough to achieve the vision.
For instance: writing a novel or an article when you have no idea if anyone will read it or if it will be any "good" requires persistent action, often over long periods of time.
Everyone knows that J.K. Rowling was rejected a dozen times before Harry Potter found favor (in the eyes of an eight-year-old girl). Those stories are endless. Without confidence, belief that our vision is a possible reality, we would not have the ability to tolerate the zone of discomfort long enough to reach our destination.
For instance:  we must believe that our story, our work has an important message and deserves to be out in the world helping people.
Even Elon Musk, acknowledged genius of Tesla Motors believes that feedback: receiving specific, objective information about the effectiveness of our actions, is the critical factor in being able to Confidently adjust our Persistent Actions toward our Vision.
For instance: Hire an objective, high quality editor or coach to help polish our work. Take the recommendations and make them work within the boundaries of our creative vision.
For more about how to get the most out of a writers' conference, please go to Writers' Conference Gold.
We love your comments. (Hint! Hint!)

Monday, October 24, 2016

Writers Tip: Bill Wasik

Monday Writing Tip from Sierra Writers' Conference:
Registration Opens 11/1/2016


And Then There's This by Bill Wasik
Bill Wasik website
Bill Wasik
Author of And Then There’s This: How Stories Live and Die in Viral Culture
  1. The first tip is that readers expect books to be exhaustive on their subjects. That doesn’t mean they want the books to be long — it means that they expect that you will cover all the basic ground that needs to be covered to understand the subject, even if they know some of it already. This piece of advice may or may not be relevant to your subject. In my case, with a very idiosyncratic book on viral culture, it led to people asking me at readings why I hadn’t included an analysis of X or Y viral phenomenon in my book. “Because you already know about it,” the magazine guy in me always wanted to respond. But in the book world, people want to see you mention the stuff they already know, at least in passing (or to knock it down)– otherwise, how can it claim to be a book on the subject? It’s worth taking that point of view seriously.
  2. This is a basic piece of advice, but it can’t be overstated when you’re trying to go from magazine-length to book-length writing: hone your outline and then cling to it as a lifeline. You can adjust it in mid-stream, but don’t try to just write your way into a better structure: think about the right structure and then write to it. Your outline will get you through those periods when you can’t possibly imagining ever finishing the damn thing — at those times, your outline will let you see it as a sequence of manageable 1,000 word sections.

Steve Silberman's collection of writing tips:

Steve Silberman Website
When Steve Silberman started working on his book NeuroTribes, The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, he decided to “tap into the wisdom of the hive mind.” Fortunately he had a great hive to tap and he shared a long article with brief tips on writing a book from 22 authors.
It’s really too much to read all at once so we will be posting each author’s advice separately so that you can savor each tidbit. (You can always click on the link at the end of the previous paragraph to get the whole feast.)

Now, go forth and write!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

NaNoWriMo: Should I or Shouldn't I?

Guest Post: Start your writers' conference learning now with a series of guest blog posts from some of the conference faculty. This guest post comes from Joyce Wycoff, conference program guide, author of a young adult fantasy novella, Sarana’s Gift and a specialty journal, Gratitude Miracles, the 5-minute journal that could change everything!

For the past several years, I’ve said “no.” Too much time, too intense, just too much. Plus, I couldn’t write fiction so why bother? Then I found myself writing fiction and, now, I’m in the midst of a novel that I love, so why would I spend a whole month writing a different book? Plus, what would I write about?

Then I heard Catharine Bramkamp speak at Sierra Writers about her process of using NaNoWriMo to write an ugly first draft. And, she talked about how much fun it is. A switch flipped.

When I got home from the meeting, I went to the NaNoWriMo website and signed up. As often happens, by the next morning, an idea was playing around in my head. So, I’m in … if you decide to come play, too, let me know. It would be nice to have companions on the journey. (Leave a comment below and we'll figure out how to connect.)

The amazing C.S. Lakin just re-posted a guest blog that offers us a lot more information about this incredible writing event. And, if you haven’t signed up for C.S. Lakin’s emails , do yourself a favor and do so. She’s like a daily writing coach. Here’s the guest post she shared from H.E. James:

Today’s post is by H. E. James:
 The Glorious Insanity That Is NaNoWriMo

For the last seven years, from this month through November, I’ve been asked that question by friends and family not in the know. I then go on to explain the pleasure and the pain that is National Novel Writing Month.

National Novel Writing Month is a nonprofit established in 1999 to foster creativity and writing in both adults and youth. NaNoWriMo has been so successful that it has generated more than 250 traditionally published novels, including Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants.

I haven’t been so lucky, but that hasn’t stopped me from trying, even while pursuing my MBA. I have signed up for NaNoWriMo for seven years running and have “won” it once—my very first year.
To “win” NaNoWriMo, you must complete 50,000 words within the thirty days of November. Of course, because it is an online activity, we are all on the honor system, but participants are encouraged to only brainstorm, outline, or create notes for their novels before midnight on Halloween. Then, the writing can begin.

The Pleasures of NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo helps you along the way with several tools. The site offers a prep section that takes wafflers through the process of committing to NaNoWriMo through signing up and even interacting with the online community.

The online community is the perfect way to collaborate and brainstorm with and provides feedback from other writers. There are genre and regional forums, as well as boards on the technical aspects of writing. Writers who say they don’t need to improve their craft are lying. I don’t have to be face-to-face with them. If I have a question, all I have to do is pose it. Another brilliant writer will come to my rescue.

Another fun part of NaNoWriMo is that I get writing advice delivered to my in-box from the likes of Garth Nix, Jim Butcher, even Neil Gaiman. Last year, Butcher wrote an enthusiastically snarky Pep Talk—his advice was to quit while ahead. As I read it, I could hear Harry Dresden spewing the words and then saw him smirking, daring me to ignore every word I read.

One of the greatest benefits of participating in NaNoWriMo is that in addition to the online community that exists, there are regions, and I’m lucky to live in a big enough town that it has its own region. This makes it possible for our Municipal Liaison to bring many of us together for write-ins, parties, and events outside of social media.

The first year I participated in NaNoWriMo, the MLs was actually a married couple, and they were so much fun. She and I are still Facebook friends, as they have moved away from our town. Not only did I improve my writing skills but I gained a real-life friendship as well, not just a virtual one.

Help with the Writing Process

Speaking of those writing skills, NaNoWriMo has taught me a lot about my writing process—or lack thereof. I am a former high school English teacher, and one of the hardest things for me to teach was writing. Why? I don’t have an actual process. I just sit down and write, with minimal brainstorming or outlining. I expected my students to do the same.

When I started participating in NaNoWriMo, I began examining my process. This encouraged me to do a lot more prep work on my writing, both fictional and academic. When writing my stories, as I’ve always called them, I let them simply come to me as I sat down with a notebook and pen or at my computer.

Now, I put more thought into plot and timeline. I even think about specific scenes more carefully, or the context of the story itself, as author and Rutgers University professor Marc Aronson encourages writers. When I read work I wrote before I started NaNoWriMo, it’s scary. It’s as if I’m sending my readers meandering through CandyLand, and not in a good way.

These days, I don’t lose my readers as easily as I used to. It helps that I’ve learned to storyboard better. When I started writing fiction at eleven years old, I never thought I’d practically be storyboarding my entire novel. I’m techie, and I love to try out the latest writing software, and most of them offer a thirty-day trial. That’s just long enough for me to write my NaNoWriMo, but what if I fall in love with a piece of software after that thirty-day period? If I’ve completed my 50K words, I can get a substantial discount. I even get one for simply participating.

Along with the street cred of having “Winner!” appear over your username on the website, there are a number of other “prizes” for both participants and winners. Free books and discounts on applications other than those with which you can write your novel. One motivator for me is the chance at three months of Evernote Premium.

If I can make it far enough to actually finish a complete novel this year, NaNoWriMo will help with getting it published. There are platforms for self-publishing, how-tos, and a forum entitled “Novel Draft Aftercare” with discussion threads for everything from writing scams to editing timelines.

The Pains

Nearly all the pleasures of doing NaNoWriMo have opposing pains.

Anyone who’s ever gotten involved in online forums before knows that while they can be helpful, they can also turn into black holes. If I get into the conversations in too many forums, there is little time left for me to compose.

Speaking of the forums, while I am likely to get some great advice, I am just as likely to get some really poor advice. I am experienced enough to know the good from the bad, but newer participants must be wary of the spammy advice that is sometimes offered in the forums.

Some regions aren’t lucky enough to have Municipal Liaisons as energetic and connected as the ones I’ve had. Unfortunately, many a region goes without an ML or has an ML that never coordinates activities like Halloween Kick-Off Parties. This is unfortunate, as I value the friendships I’ve made through my home region.

And of course the fact that NaNoWriMo has given me a larger platform through which to critique my writing skills was more eye-opening than I anticipated.

Managing Editing Time

NaNoWriMo editors, authors, and creators encourage participants to sit down and write without editing. Competing in NaNoWriMo has helped me control the compulsion to self-edit, but it has also made me realize that it certainly is one. It’s not on the scale of Thomas Wolfe’s tendency to use his refrigerator as his desk, but it does affect my speed. After seven years of being a NaNo, my plots are clearer and I use fewer words, but I still self-edit. A lot.

My tendency to self-edit wreaks havoc on the greatest pain that is NaNoWriMo: time. Thirty days hath November. If I’ve planned my novel accordingly, I should be all right. Of course, I have to stop editing every other mistake I make and just try to make it to the end.

All the planning in the world, however, won’t help if the idea fizzles out. Many a writer has stated that there’s no such thing as a muse. I don’t believe that, and even though I have planned to my heart’s content, there have been a couple of years of NaNoWriMo when I just wasn’t feeling it, and I failed miserably.

The letdown of failing at NaNoWriMo is daunting in the shadow of successes like Gruen. The fact that her novel was turned into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson can be inspirational—provided I win. If I don’t? It’s just all the more reason to hate myself in the morning.

This Year

One of my former students has already asked me if I’ll be doing NaNoWriMo again this year. I admitted to her that my one fear is that I’ll have finished my graduate program on October 31 and may not have the mental capacity to spend thirty days on 50,000 words. But it’s definitely worth it to start ticking away at the keyboard.
H. E. James Head shotHattie is a writer and researcher living in Boise, Idaho, who has traveled throughout Europe and the United States. She has a varied background, including education and history as well as journalism. Hattie enjoys sharing her passions through the written word. She is currently spending many sleepless nights seeking her graduate degree but always sets aside time to enjoy a good cider.  H. E. James on Twitter.







Monday, October 17, 2016

Write a Great First Sentence - 7 tips to make yours sizzle

First Look
Guest Post from Joyce Wycoff:
Start your writers' conference learning now with a series of guest blog posts from some of the conference faculty. This guest post comes from Joyce Wycoff, conference program guide, author of a young adult fantasy novella, Sarana’s Gift and a specialty journal, Gratitude Miracles, the 5-minute journal that could change everything!

Don’t forget to enter the First Sentence Contest! (Earlybird Registrants only)

 

Common wisdom says you only have one chance to make a great first impression. However, that impression will differ depending on the recipient. Just as this door, for some people, might say, "Come on in, there's a party going on." For others, it might say, "Beware, there's trouble here, for sure."

For a book, the first impression means the first sentence, the first page. That brief introduction needs to telegraph something about the book, the story, the characters, something that gives the reader a sense of what's coming next. Sounds easy but seldom is.

How do you write a first sentence that creates that instant chemistry that says to the reader, "Read me! Read me now!"?
Your first sentence sets the stage. It is you whispering to the reader, "Come here, listen, I have a story to tell you." It piques interest, introduces tone and voice, creates mystery, pulls you into the next line, the next paragraph, the next page ... when it's done well.
Here are 25 of the 100 best first lines offered by American Book Review followed by seven specific principles offered in a Writers' Digest article.

25 of the 100 Best First Lines from Novels from American Book Review:

1. Call me Ishmael. —Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (1851)
2. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. —Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813)
3. A screaming comes across the sky. —Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow (1973)
4. Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. —Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967; trans. Gregory Rabassa)
5. Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. —Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (1955)
6. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. —Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (1877; trans. Constance Garnett)
7. riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs. —James Joyce, Finnegans Wake (1939)
8. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. —George Orwell, 1984 (1949)
9. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. —Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859)
10. I am an invisible man. —Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)
11. The Miss Lonelyhearts of the New York Post-Dispatch (Are you in trouble?—Do-you-need-advice?—Write-to-Miss-Lonelyhearts-and-she-will-help-you) sat at his desk and stared at a piece of white cardboard. —Nathanael West, Miss Lonelyhearts (1933)
12. You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter. —Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)
13. Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested. —Franz Kafka, The Trial (1925; trans. Breon Mitchell)
14. You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveler. —Italo Calvino, If on a winter's night a traveler (1979; trans. William Weaver)
15. The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. —Samuel Beckett, Murphy (1938)
16. If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. —J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye (1951)
17. Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo. —James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)
18. This is the saddest story I have ever heard. —Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier (1915)
19. I wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them, as they were in duty both equally bound to it, had minded what they were about when they begot me; had they duly considered how much depended upon what they were then doing;—that not only the production of a rational Being was concerned in it, but that possibly the happy formation and temperature of his body, perhaps his genius and the very cast of his mind;—and, for aught they knew to the contrary, even the fortunes of his whole house might take their turn from the humours and dispositions which were then uppermost:—Had they duly weighed and considered all this, and proceeded accordingly,—I am verily persuaded I should have made a quite different figure in the world, from that, in which the reader is likely to see me. —Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy (1759–1767)
20. Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. —Charles Dickens, David Copperfield (1850)
21. Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. —James Joyce, Ulysses (1922)
22. It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness. —Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)
23. One summer afternoon Mrs. Oedipa Maas came home from a Tupperware party whose hostess had put perhaps too much kirsch in the fondue to find that she, Oedipa, had been named executor, or she supposed executrix, of the estate of one Pierce Inverarity, a California real estate mogul who had once lost two million dollars in his spare time but still had assets numerous and tangled enough to make the job of sorting it all out more than honorary. —Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (1966)
24. It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not. —Paul Auster, City of Glass (1985)
25. Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting. —William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury (1929)

Brian Klems in Writers' Digest offers some clues:

1. A statement of eternal principle.
This technique is a staple of European classics. Think of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”) and Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina (“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”). Of course, the story or novel you write must confirm the proposed principle. If it turned out that Mr. Darcy didn’t want to wed, or that Anna was happily married, these openings would certainly leave readers wanting. (An excellent contemporary example is from Jane Hamilton’s The Book of Ruth: “What it begins with, I know finally, is the kernel of meanness in people’s hearts. …”)

2. A statement of simple fact.
The entire weight of the narrative can sometimes be conveyed in a single statement. Think of, “I had a farm in Africa” (Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa) or, “It was a pleasure to burn” (Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451) or, “I am an invisible man” (Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man). No gimmicks. No fireworks. Just—as Mr. Gradgrind demands in the opening line of Charles Dickens’ Hard Times—the facts.

3. A statement of paired facts.
In many cases, two facts combined are more powerful than either one on its own. The paradigmatic example is the opening line of Carson McCullers’ The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter: “In the town there were two mutes, and they were always together.” A town with two mutes is not necessarily compelling, nor are two inseparable men. But a town with two inseparable mutes? Now that locks in our interest.

4. A statement of simple fact laced with significance.
Because readers don’t read backward, it’s possible to bury a key piece of a story in an opening so that, by the time it becomes relevant, the reader has forgotten it. Agatha Christie mysteries do this often. The key to solving the crime in Murder on the Orient Express, for example, is embedded innocuously in the opening sentence. So is the key to the heroine’s psyche in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind, the opening of which explains, “Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful. …”

5. A statement to introduce voice.
“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.” Vladimir Nabokov’s celebrated opening is not designed to convey characterization or plot, though both are present, so much as to introduce his distinctive style. Anthony Burgess opens A Clockwork Orange (“What’s it going to be then, eh?”) without any plot, characterization or setting at all—merely the ominous voice that will accompany the reader through the text. Stories that begin with a highly unusual voice often withhold other craft elements for a few sentences—a reasonable choice, as the reader may need to adjust to a new form of language before being able to absorb much in the way of content.

6. A statement to establish mood.
Contextual information not directly related to the story can often color our understanding of the coming narrative. Take Sylvia Plath’s opening to The Bell Jar: “It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.” While the Rosenberg execution has nothing to do with the content of the narrative, it sets an ominous tone for what follows.

7. A statement that serves as a frame.
Sometimes, the best way to begin a story is to announce that you’re about to tell a story. English storytellers have been doing this since at least the first recorded use of the phrase “Once upon a time” in the 14th century. Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn starts off this way, as does J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. After all, a brilliant opening can be as straightforward as: “You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler …” (which really does start exactly that way).


Writers' Tips: Cory Doctorow


Monday Writing Tip from Sierra Writers' Conference:
Registration Opens 11/1/2016


For the Win by Cory Doctorow
Cory Doctorow website
Cory Doctorow
Author of With a Little Help, For the Win, Makers, and Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom
  1. Write every day. Anything you do every day gets easier. If you’re insanely busy, make the amount that you write every day small (100 words? 250 words?) but do it every day.
  2. Write even when the mood isn’t right. You can’t tell if what you’re writing is good or bad while you’re writing it.
  3. Write when the book sucks and it isn’t going anywhere. Just keep writing. It doesn’t suck. Your conscious is having a panic attack because it doesn’t believe your subconscious knows what it’s doing.
  4. Stop in the middle of a sentence, leaving a rough edge for you to start from the next day — that way, you can write three or five words without being “creative” and before you know it, you’re writing.
  5. Write even when the world is chaotic. You don’t need a cigarette, silence, music, a comfortable chair, or inner peace to write. You just need ten minutes and a writing implement.

Steve Silberman's collection of writing tips:

Steve Silberman Website
When Steve Silberman started working on his book NeuroTribes, The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, he decided to “tap into the wisdom of the hive mind.” Fortunately he had a great hive to tap and he shared a long article with brief tips on writing a book from 22 authors.
 
It’s really too much to read all at once so we will be posting each author’s advice separately so that you can savor each tidbit. (You can always click on the link at the end of the previous paragraph to get the whole feast.)

Now, go forth and write!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Writing Tips: David Shenk

David Shenk website
Monday Writing Tip from Sierra Writers' Conference:
Registration Opens 11/1/2016


The Genius in All Of Us

David Shenk - Author of The Forgetting and The Genius in All of Us
  1. Make it great, no matter how long it takes. There’s no such thing as too many drafts. There’s no such thing as too much time spent. As you well know, a great book can last forever. A great book can change a person’s life. A mediocre book is just commerce.
  2. Get feedback — oodles of it. Along the way, show pieces of your book to lots of people — different types of people. Ply them with wine and beg them for candor. Find out what’s missing, what’s being misinterpreted, what isn’t convincing, what’s falling flat. This doesn’t mean you take every suggestion or write the book by committee. But this process will allow to marry your necessarily-precious vision with how people will actually react. I find that invaluable.
  3. Let some of you come through. You’re obviously not writing a memoir here, but this book is still partly about you — the world you see, the way you think, the experiences you have with people. And trust me, readers are interested in who you are. So don’t be afraid to let bits and pieces of your personality and even life details seep into the text. It will breathe a lot of life into the book.

Steve Silberman's collection of writing tips:

Steve Silberman Website
When Steve Silberman started working on his book NeuroTribes, The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, he decided to “tap into the wisdom of the hive mind.” Fortunately he had a great hive to tap and he shared a long article with brief tips on writing a book from 22 authors.
 
It’s really too much to read all at once so we will be posting each author’s advice separately so that you can savor each tidbit. (You can always click on the link at the end of the previous paragraph to get the whole feast.)

Now, go forth and write!