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Monday, December 25, 2006

Resolutions For Writers

Okay, so every year I say I'm going to make resolutions. Making them is cool and I even keep to them through January, but when February 1st rolls around, they might as well blow away on the first breeze that passes through my window. Here are some of those resolutions, which I think we can and should all make. If you have any more, please let us know.

  1. Write Every Day. Even if it's a paragraph, a journal entry, something in my blog, or some story ideas, try to get something down each and every day.
  2. Send More Things Out. I have a ton of short stories sitting on my computer. There's no reason for them to be ignored and gathering cyber dust.
  3. Read More. I need to broaden my library. Not only do I need to read more in my favorite genres, but I should be reading more in other genres as well.
  4. Finish An Unfinished Work. Yes, I have lots of stories sitting here half-finished. It wouldn't take much to sit down and start working on them again.
  5. Make Writing Contacts. It helps a lot if you make connections in the writing field, whether it's to network with other writers in your genre or to make acquaintances with an editor/publisher at the next convention.
  6. Research New Markets. Always try to keep abreast of the markets where my stories might fit, even the new ones.
  7. Update My Website. I put up a nifty site years ago, then never touched it until recently. I need to keep my writing site updated on a regular basis. If you don't have a site, why not?
  8. Attend A Writer's Conference. As of yet, I have never once been to a conference, convention, or workshop. From what I hear, they are excellent places to meet people, gain knowledge into the writing field, and have fun.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A Writer's Work Is Never Done!

As far as I know, no one's work is perfect the first time around. A good writer knows they have to revise and rework their pieces before they will be acceptable. Will they ever be perfect? I don't think there is such a thing. I read stuff that I have gotten published and I still see things that could be revised. A writer's work is never done, it seems.

So what do you look for when you have to edit your story before sending it out? Here are some things that I would work on. Feel free to add your own ideas here.

  • Does my opening scene grab the readers attention? Have I included important elements that my readers need to know in order to continue with the story? Are my characters introduced properly?
  • Have I used too much passive voice or do my verbs show action?
  • Are my sentences of varying lengths?
  • Is my imagery effective? Have I provided enough "seeing" that my readers can picture what I'm talking about?
  • Does my dialogue sound natural and smooth? Have I used dialect that halts the speech patterns of my characters?
  • Do my scene transitions flow into one another?
  • Have I cut all unnecessary words or cliches?
  • Is my ending conclusive and believable? Have I given the reader a complete story and left nothing lacking?
  • Is my manuscript formatted properly?
  • Have I proofed and run a spell check?

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Exercise: Santa's Out To Get Me!

It’s Christmas, the happiest time of the year. Or so you thought. Scrooge is here to turn all your Christmas dreams into nightmares. Santa is climbing down the chimney, but he’s not bringing you a bag of toys. The reindeer are pawing at the rooftop, but why is their fur all mussed up and their eyes blood red? The Christmas tree is lit up beautifully, except every time you touch it, you start scratching like mad. The elves are dancing around the house, or are they elves at all?

Find your favorite Christmas icon and turn it into a horror story/scene. Give us the scariest, chilliest, most horrible Christmas time that we’ll remember.

Friday, December 1, 2006

The Art of Outlining

I'd like to discuss one of the age-old questions that writers have come across -- to outline or not to outline? Outlining is an art and only those skilled enough to venture into it can write a clean, crisp summary of their work. It works for some and others not.

For me, I could never sit down and write an outline of my stories before I start them. Part of the attraction of writing is not knowing where the story is going. I like to let it write itself practically. I can't plan out my entire piece in my head before I start working on it because I don't know how it's going to end. I don't even know where it's going to go yet.

Plus, let's not forget the fact that stories can change when we least expect it. Outlines are not made to be written in stone. If that's the case, then why write one at all? If you don't stick to your outline, isn't it just a waste of time? Absolutely not, for some people.

I know people who can't write a story without some sort of framework to follow. They are more organized and need to plan out their stories before ever throwing their characters into the mix. And that's perfectly fine.

But for others, spontaneity in writing keeps them interested.

So what's the answer to this question? There is none. Outlining is good for some and not so good for others. However, before you decide if it's right for you, I urge you to try it both ways. If you normally outline something before you write it, try writing something off the top of your head and see how that works out. If you usually write by the seat of your pants, then try putting out an outline first on your next story. You just might be surprised at what happens next.

Now, let us know. Do you outline or not? :-)