Friday, November 22, 2013

Writing Your First Book

An interesting collection of writers talk about publishing their first books.

Find it here.

A Pulitzer Prize Winner Shares Some Tips

These tips are a bit more high-minded and abstract than, say, Elmore Leonard's tips, but they are valuable. 

Here they are.

From Pixar, Some Great Advice to Keep In Mind

Here's a link to a wonderful Power Point presentation about writing.  It hits some key storytelling ideas. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Talent, IQ and the Secret to Success

In Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers he gives many examples of a phenomenon I've also witnessed in my own students over the years, and in my readings of the biographies of great writers.  Gladwell puts it fairly succinctly.  For someone to reach a level of competency in almost any field, sports, academia, dance, painting, blue collar jobs, an apprenticeship of roughly 10,000 hours is required.  That equals roughly 10 years of hard work, committed, focused, trying and failing and trying again to learn your chosen craft.

For me the corollary to this is:  If you're going to stick with something for ten years, you better be having a lot of fun doing it along the way.

Check out this video which approaches the same issue from a slightly different point of view.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Prose: Lean and Mean, What Script Writers Can Teach Us

Here's an interesting article on ways that studying the highly disciplined art of script writing can  help improve fiction writing.

What script writers can teach us.

Monday, September 9, 2013

An Agent Puts Together a Thorough Advice Page with Several Links

Good agents know the ever changing publishing business.  When they share their opinions and ideas, it's a good idea to listen.  (of course with your crap detector on full alert)

Here's an Excellent Business Advice Page

Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules of Writing

Here are Elmore Leonard's ten rules for writing.  Now come up with three of your own.  Rules that express your unique, personal values.

Ten Rules

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Stories Are Jokes

A funny Ted Talk that makes some wonderful points about storytelling.

Ted Talk Video

What To Bring With You to Mendocino

For the purposes of our workshop, please bring the following:

1)  Choose a novel that you love and respect.  It should be commercially successful.  It should be published within the last 20 years.  It should be very close to the kind of novel you are trying to write.  You don't need to bring the actual novel.  But write down a few things you like about it, things you wouldn't mind imitating.

2)   A sense of humor.

3)  A willingness to be critiqued without being defensive.

4)  Some good ideas about how to make the other openings better than they are.

Great Writing Advice from the Great Mark Twain

Mark Twain's Guide to Good Writing

Friday, August 16, 2013

Some Excellent Advice from a few Fine Writers

Great Advice

A Few Words About Plot

Plot: Some Basic Distinctions

To truly know how to begin your novel, you should have at least a rough idea of what the driving force in the novel is.  That driving force is often known as the plot.  It's not the storyline (and then this happened and then this happened and then this happened), it's the sequence of cause and effect (this happened which caused this to happen which caused this to happen) which grows out of the MC's (main character's) initial motivation and initial action to accomplish whatever it is they want.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Some Tips on Openings from A Guy in the Lit Biz

A Few Useful Tips

The Brits Idea of a Good Opening

A British View of Openings

First Lines, from the ever-practical folks at Writer's Digest

Writer's Digest Advice--Interesting alternatives

Various Authors Pick Their Favorite First Lines...Some Doozies Here.

A great list of great opening lines, chosen by a collection of very good authors.

Editors Focus on Openings

A lot of editors never read past the first ten pages. Why? Because they're so bad.

The Importance of Pre-Writing, All that left brain stuff that can liberate the right brain later on.

Len Deighton on pre-writing

What Stephen King has to say about the importance of openings.

Stephen King spends months on openings

Best First Lines of Novels |

Best First Lines of Novels |

Click on the link to read some famous first lines of famous novels.

What common elements do you see in some of these openings?

Do any of them contain a trace of the genetic code of the entire novel?

How do some of them create suspense?