Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Timewasters. Terrible, aren’t they? You’re going through the day, and suddenly you realize that it’s time to go to bed and you haven’t written a single word.
                Time to do something about it! Here’s a list of the biggest timewasters I’ve found:
                -Reading (yes, read, but not when you should be writing)
                -Busywork (i.e., cleaning off your desk, making phone calls to old friends, etc. that doesn’t have to be done RIGHT NOW)
                -Excuses (“I’ve got a headache!” Well, take something for it and start writing. If you’re well enough to read this, you’re well enough to write. Just don’t remind me I said this the next time I’m sick.)
                Let’s start with the first one. If you write on a computer, see if you can change the settings so that it doesn’t show that any internet is available. (Some laptops have a key for that.) If it doesn’t, exercise restraint and don’t open a browser.
                If someone else is watching TV, go into another room – one where you can’t hear the TV. Or try noise-canceling headphones.
                Reading is good for feeding your brain, but you need to write too. Try reading only before you go to bed. It also helps some people fall asleep. (I am usually reading something exciting and suspenseful, so that doesn’t work here.)

                Everyone has busywork. But you don’t have to do it right now. Does your desk need to be cleaned off right this minute? Do you have to text your friends about sports events right now? If you need to, set aside a day (or hour, or something) for busywork and get it done. Then get back to your writing.

                As for excuses? *yawn* I’m too tired to finish writing this. Besides, I still need to practice piano. The often-spoken advice comes into play here – the only way you’re going to get much writing done is to sit down and just do it. Many people don’t want to WRITE. They want to HAVE WRITTEN. If you want to write a book, you need to apply pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

                Now then…seeing that I have no reason NOT to write, I guess I’d better start working on it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Writing-related sites

I’ve found the following blogs to be helpful ones to read. I don’t know how to make them all an English word that you click on, instead of clicking on the link. So, you get the website address:  When (think positively) you began asking agents to read your work, read everything on this site. It’s the only one I know dedicated to improving queries.  Fantastic site; it has a lot of great articles on improving your writing. The people here post every day!  More great articles on improving writing; this one’s mostly for people who write science fiction and/or fantasy. The archives here are definitely worth reading.  This is one of my favorite sites. It doesn’t have many articles, but the ones it does have are great.  How Not To Write has been around for a eons (or just several years, take your pick). Try reading the archives.

So, what writing-related blogs do you read? Are you a blogger?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I'm at a writing camp, for those of you who don't know and in the workshop this afternoon we discussed critiquing other people's work. There's a method we used, that I really like.

First you go through and make a note of all the words that catch your eye in the piece. This is called pointing. (e.g. 'laughing, sparkling self.')

Then you ask questions. This is for whatever you didn't understand about the poem, story, etc. (e.g. 'Why did Angel think the house was haunted? What clues did she have, because I'm not seeing any.')

And last of all, you do 'Say-back'. This is writing a little note explaining how you interpreted the whole story/poem/script. (e.g. 'This is a really sweet farewell scene between two people who obviously love each other. Very detailed descriptions made me feel like I was there.')

Make sense? I found it to be really nice and I got some great feedback this way.

Disclaimer: i cannot, unfortunately, claim the honor of having come up with this technique, only the example lines. And don't you dare steal those.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Concerning Endings

Hello all. I’ve been thinking about an entirely new idea for a story, which I might use for NaNoWriMo this year. Without giving too much away, it’s historical fiction and I will need to do a lot of research for it, so I’m still not sure whether it will actually happen or not. I don’t tend to get on well with historical fiction. Anyway, that’s not what I’m actually posting about.

The thing about this new story idea, like many of my unfinished stories, is that the ending could be either very tragic or quite positive. I always find this the hardest thing to decide when composing a plot. This new idea could be especially poignant if the main character were to die at the end, and I’m always worried about avoiding saccharine endings which aren’t really satisfying, but at the same time I have a habit of doing awful things to my characters which I should really try and break. This character I’m planning will have a lot of awful stuff to deal with, whatever happens to him at the very end, so maybe I ought to let him off being killed as well.

If this new story were to end positively it needn’t be a fairytale ending. I can see it ending realistically with all the action and turmoil over and the character contemplating a long, difficult but ultimately doable journey back to a normal life. It wouldn’t be a cliff hanger, because it would be very clear that a normal life is exactly what he’ll eventually achieve. But I still doubt it would be satisfying.

So I want to ask: in general, which do you tend to prefer, in your own work and in books you read? Happy endings or sad ones? Do you find ambiguous endings unsatisfying or do you like the realism of them? And does anyone have any tips for writing historical fiction?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Critique Partners

 Hello all,

I thought today I'd talk about critique partners, for lack of a better subject (and because I have no progress to speak of on Journey).

                A critique partner is usually a writer (not necessarily published) who reads what you’ve written and offers suggestions to improve it. They’re a lot like an editor, but they are friendlier. You repay the favor by reading their work and offering suggestions.

                If you belong to a writing club, you might do something like this already. Or, you might have a family member or friend who reads a wide variety of things and is willing to read and discuss your work with you. I know my family is VERY honest about mistakes I make ;)

                So, I’m encouraging you to find a critique partner if you haven’t already. They’re extremely helpful. When picking one, look for the following:
                -So honest they’re not afraid of hurting your feelings
                -They read a lot, so they know what good writing looks like
                -They have time to do it (some people are really busy
Bonus points if they’re a writer. They don’t have to be.

If you don't have a critique partner, go get one. Your writing will thank you. 
Also, there are websites that offer critiquing. A Google search should turn some up.