Monthly Archives: May 2011

If You’re Not Published…

If you’re not published can you still call yourself a writer? Or better yet, an author?

Here are a few examples that may set your mind at ease.  If you are writing daily, then yes.  And I’m not talking about journaling.  Many people journal, but they don’t go around claiming to be “writers.”  I have time set aside every morning to write.  And a couple more in the evening.  When company is hanging on the bell I can literally say “I need to go to work.”  Because that’s what it is.

Join writer’s groups and critique groups.  You think you’re good.  I know you do.  You might even be very talented.  But believe me, nothing is more humbling than joining a group and hearing directly from published authors what works and what doesn’t. These are people who are talented as well.  But you have to know how the writing world works to get through the iron curtain.

Enter contests.  If you can’t get published then start entering contests.  At least if you place you can finally call yourself an “Award Winning Author.”  It will boost your confidence.  And if you are swimming in rejections then that’s a boost you need.  And you never know what publishers or agents are judging your manuscripts.

Make connections.  Start a Facebook page, blog or twitter.  Better yet, do all three.  You don’t have to be on every day, though it helps, but at least you are out there and active.

If you’ve done these things then you can proudly proclaim yourself as a working writer.  Just remember to bounce back when you get knocked down.  Believe me, all those published authors have been there.  But they kept pushing through!

Keep writing friends!



Filed under The Writing World

Plot, Your Backbone

This is something that keeps coming up. Plot. It’s a simple word.  Yet, when writing a synopsis or query after the several thousand words it may become lost to the author.

Plot has been presented to me in three questions: What does your character want?  What’s in their way to stop them? How do they overcome it?  Those are the three simple little questions agents and publishers want answered in your queries.  But, by the time you’ve reached the end your character will be more well-rounded. There will probably be more than one goal.  There are the inner goals; Matilda wants to find love. And the outer goals; Matilda’s dream is to make the largest hot fudge brownie sundae in the world. (I’m on a diet, give me a break!) In the middle east. Then she’ll win that treasure that will help pay the ransom for her kidnapped chihuahua.

Which goal is a little more driving?  The love or fulfilling her dream in a war-torn area so she can save her beloved pet?  Okay, maybe that’s a smidge overboard… But I do tend to focus more on the love (because those are the scenes I pour over) than the big huge elephant in the room.  Or tiny yapping chihuahua, whatever.

The best way to get around that inner and outer goal conflict? Write a little one page cheat sheet of where you expect your story to go.

What does the character want?  To create her dream dessert and save her pillaged pup.

What’s in her way?  The middle east and lack of money.

What helps her overcome it?  She’s unknowingly fallen in love with her dog’s kidnapper, the prince of the land. She doesn’t win, but she becomes a princess and gets the dog back anyway.  The prince names a day after her mountainous dessert and celebrates it yearly.

Now I can begin writing my tale.  Well, maybe not. But hopefully you get the hint. I think I finally have.

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Filed under The Writing World

The View From My Desk

  The view from my desk is nothing special.  It is placed in the corner and the computer is almost overwhelmed with stacks of papers, drawings, old manuscripts and bills.  It’s rather pathetic.  I’d much rather be sitting outside, writing in the sun.  But the weather hasn’t been very accommodating lately.

  Just to the left of my desk is a window. And if I look up I have a view of a tree nestled right against the house.  Through its sparse branches I see a wooden fence met by green grass. And beyond that? Rooftops. Yeah, boring.

  Three days ago I found myself looking at bird feeders. I bought a simple brown one and hung it in the tree.  Today, while I waited for my computer to boot up, I twisted the blinds covering the window.  To my joy there was a bird at the new feeder.  Before I knew it the tree was bustling with finches, robins, and sparrows.

  Is it distracting? Somewhat. But I find that my mind needs to take a break from it’s editing process much more often than the creative one of writing. These little guys are giving me just that.  I’ve brought life and action to my empty tree with a simple, cheap bird feeder. What simple little thing could you add that will bring spice to your life, or manuscript?  Perhaps a new haircut or purse?  Or on the fiction side how about a wardrobe malfunction, or a jealous best friend? It’s something small that could lead to something bigger. Happy Monday all!

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Filed under Flow of Life, The Writing World

The Mask

  Have you ever written a character and didn’t feel like you knew him or her?  And, of course, that’s a problem. Because if you don’t know them then how can your reader connect to them?  One fun way to round out this character better is to put on their “mask.”  Pretend to be them for an interview.

  I might have already posted on this, but this is a lot more fun than filling out a questionnaire.  Have a friend ask you all kinds of crazy questions about what a person would want to know about another.  Like their favorite color, a moment in their life they wish they could change, or about their ex. What was the best moment of their life?  Where did they go to school?  Do they have a quarrel with any family members?  What are their hobbies, or their favorite dessert? You can even google interview questions to help you out.  By the end of your interview, once you’ve taken off the character mask, you’ll be able to meet a much more rounded out person.  Then you can weave those new elements into your storyline, creating a very life-like individual. Have fun!


Filed under The Writing World