Fantasy Scroll a blog for writers

Sunshine Blog Award

sunshine blogger award

I want to thank Chrys Fey for sending me the Sunshine Blog Award. Chrys is running an excellent blog on writing, filled with useful tips and suggestions. you can find it here: http://writewithfey.blogspot.com/. Thank you so much, Chrys!!

The Sunshine Blog Award is passed on by bloggers to other bloggers who “positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.” There are a few rules that every blogger nominated for this award should follow:

  • Acknowledge the nominating blogger with a link and post about your award.
  • Share 10 random facts by answering the questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  • Pass on the Sunshine Blog Award to other bloggers (up to 10) of your choice and let them know you nominated them.
  • Post 10 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer on their blog.

Here are my answers to Chrys’ questions:

1. When/why did you create your blog?

I’ve been blogging for quite some time, but this fiction writing blog was created in the beginning of 2012 and I started using it around May of that year. At the time I was about ten months into my writing career. I was writing, studying, learning, submitting, all of it. I am a “learn-by-writing” kind of person. Even in college, I used to study better if I took the time to summarize my lessons. I guess writing tickles my mind in a positive way or something… So, I decided to create a fiction writing blog where I could share some of the things I have learned, some of the epiphanies I had, and, maybe, some of my successes in hopes of encouraging other beginning writers. As time passed, I have expanded the blog. My goal is to make it a good source of information, resources, and guidelines for writers of all levels.

2. What is the one blog post you feel is the best you’ve ever posted?

I am particularly proud of my How to complete your NaNoWriMo 30-Day Novel post. Before my first NaNo in 2012, I held this myth in my head that a novel must take years and years to write. Once I participated in NaNo, I realized– it doesn’t. So, I think this post is really written from the heart and from the perspective of a lightbulb that popped above my head at the time. Sometimes, when I get lazy, I re-read this post and get going again!

3. What are some of your favorite blogs to read?

Of course, Write with Fey 🙂 Then: Victoria Greffer’s Crimson League, K.M.Weiland’s Helping Writers Become Authors, Therese Walsh and Kathleen Bolton’s Writer Unboxed, Chuck Wendig’s Terribleminds, Rachel Gardner’s Blog, Jane Friedman’s Blog, Jeff Goins Writer, Daily Writing Tips, and a lot more, but I’ll keep those a secret 🙂

4. When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An astronaut. I’m not kidding. The desire lasted until the day I climbed a tree and realized I have vertigo. I fell from that tree and my outlook on life had changed forever. I wrote my first illustrated story when I was four years old, so I guess on some subconscious level I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Let’s call it that!

5. What is your biggest accomplishment to date?

Fathering an amazing child. Nurturing a small person is by far the biggest and most fulfilling accomplishment for me.

6. Do you have any pets?

I had a Cocker Spaniel when I was a child. He lived for 11 years and Eric was his name. After he died I suffered deeply and I said to myself I will never have another. I still want one now, but my work schedule doens’t allow me to have a pet in the house. I don’t want to get one and have it spend 12 hours alone in there. Maybe I’ll get a turtle; at least that one will outlive me…

7. Where do you live?

New Jersey, baby! I don’t know why I said that… Maybe to use a George Constanzanism to conceal the fact that I live in an area of high pollution, high taxes, and near the whereabouts of Snookie and The Situation.

8. Favorite books?

The Hobbit was one of my first true favorite books. Most of Jules Vernes’ books are also among my all time favorites, but probably 20000 Leagues Under Sea was the one I loved the most. All books by George Wells and Stephen King, and, of course, the following classics: The Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver, and Catcher in the Rye.

9. Favorite movies?

Gladiator, Star Wars III-VI, Alien Franchise, Airplane I/II, all Sandra Bullock movies (shut up!), Indiana Jones, Matrix, Goonies.

10. Favorite TV shows?

I love to watch sitcoms. Some of my favorites: Seinfeld, Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Friends. I also love crime shows: CSI, Criminal Minds, Without a Trace. And how could I forget: Breaking Bad, Orange is the New Black, Good Wife. From the shows that are no longer airing: X-Files, Twilight Zone, Tales from the Crypt.

Here are my nominees for the Sunshine Blog Award:

And here are the ten questions for my nominees:

  1. Why do you blog?
  2. Social networking for writers: Yes or No and how do you use it?
  3. What are your favorite writing blogs?
  4. What is your ideal place to write?
  5. What book you wish was written by you?
  6. Which author inspired you the most and why?
  7. Favorite Books?
  8. Favorite Movies?

All the best and keep blogging!!

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Fiction Writing Tips Blog Carnival Issue #7

Welcome to the Issue #7 of the Fiction Writing Tips Blog Carnival. For those of you not familiar with what a Blog Carnival is, here is a short description: a collection of links pointing to blog posts around a specific topic. As you may have guessed it, this blog carnival will be centered around the subject of fiction writing, with a special interest for fantasy and science fiction.

Previous issues: #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6

Enjoy!

Fantasy Fiction General Writing

fiction writing tipsChrys Fey presents How To Build Suspense posted at Write With Fey, saying, “Suspense makes your reader’s heart pound uncontrollably, their hands sweat around your book, and drives them to read faster so they can turn the page to find out what is going to happen next. Here are ten tips to help you build suspense.”


fiction writing tipsAva Jae presents How to Write Emotion Effectively posted at Writability, saying, “[…]showing emotion is sometimes a little easier said than done. Where do you even begin? If you’re having trouble, it may help to use these four steps.”


fiction writing tipsRoz Morris presents Dialogue special part 2: dialogue is more than talking posted at Nail Your Novel, saying, “Dialogue is action. Dialogue is a kind of action scene. Although the conversation is the main focus, the characters are more than just mouths.”


Fantasy Fiction General Writing

fiction writing tipsBryan Chau presents Putting The M.C. Hammer On Grammar posted at Success Pen Pal, saying, “grammar, writing, speaking, success, etc.”


fiction writing tipsRinelle Grey presents 7 Tips to Help you Write More posted at Rinelle Grey, saying, “So frequent releases have a lot of advantages, BUT, only if you’re writing is good. So the question is, how can you increase your writing output, without sacrificing quality? Here are some of my tips.”


fiction writing tipsJody Hedlund presents Plotting: How to Know Which Scenes to Include in Your Book posted at Jody Hedlund, saying, “While I don’t believe there’s a hard, fast rule or formula for which scenes to write out in detail and which ones to summarize, I think there are a few principles we can keep in mind when choosing scenes to include in our books.”


Fantasy Fiction General Writing

fiction writing tipsJon presents The Perfect Way To Fail posted at COMFORT PIT, saying, “An in-depth article on perfectionism, failure and creative expectations in writing and art. The post combines examples from the scientific literature with real case studies of well known artists. I think this is a must read for anyone serious about tackling the creative lifestyle.”


fiction writing tipsSamir Bharadwaj presents Fighting the Procrastination of Significant Moments posted at Samir Bharadwaj dot Com, saying, “We wait for the right moment, the right date, the right time, the right amount of experience, all procrastinating against doing things now. Fight the impulse.”


Bonus Round For NaNoWriMo

fiction writing tipsKristen Lamb presents How to Make Sure Your NaNo Project Isn’t a Hot Mess posted at Kristen Lamb’s Blog, saying, “I LOVE NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which is November). It is a fantastic way to push ourselves and also for new writers to be introduced to a professional pace and a professional attitude. When we do this “writing thing” for a living, we have to write no matter what.”


fiction writing tipsChuck Wendig presents WELCOME TO NANOWRIMO PREP SCHOOL, WORD-NERDS posted at Terribleminds, saying, “If you are not yet putting words down daily, you need to flex them penmonkey muscles, so that, come November, you can pop open your word processor and say, “TWO TICKETS TO THE PEN SHOW,” which will earn you weird looks because.”


fiction writing tipsRinelle Grey presents 10 Tips for Preparing for NaNoWriMo posted at Rinelle Grey, saying, “I’ve seen quite a few of these “preparing” for NaNoWriMo posts around lately. I’m loving reading everyone else’s suggestions, so I thought I’d write some of my own.”


fiction writing tipsKristen Lamb presents NaNoWriMo—Training Lean, Mean, Writing Machines posted at Kristen Lamb’s Blog, saying, “NaNo is a lot like a military bootcamp. Many who sign up for military service aren’t in the fittest condition. Sure, we might meet the weight requirements (or get a waiver), but most of us don’t start out being able to knock out a hundred pushups on the spot. We likely have little experience running ten miles with a heavy pack of gear on our backs.”


Fiction Writing Tips Blog CarnivalThis concludes this edition of the Fiction Writing Tips Blog Carnival. I want to thank all the contributors and invite them to submit more in the future.

If you enjoyed these articles, please leave some comments on the authors’ blogs and on this blog.

Submit your blog article to the next edition of Fiction Writing Tips Blog Carnival, to be published on November 30, 2013 using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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Re-reading Favorite Old Books

old books

I fell in love with books from the moment I learned how to spell. Reading was one of my favorite past-times during childhood. Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Stanislaw Lem, and so many others. I just loved their work.

At the time, I couldn’t tell exactly why I loved it. It was something that came from withing, from inside of me. It was as if I was caught in a net and thrown in a new world, a world of make-belief where everything was possible. It was a great time.

Since then, I’ve never stopped reading, but as time went by, I left some of those old books to catch dust on the shelves. Some of them got damaged or lost, or lent to people who think lending is gifting. Some disappeared during moves, or house reorganizations. But none of them left my head.

Years later, when I started to study the craft of writing I found myself immersed in a sea of non-fiction books. I had to. Imagination is not enough to write something that people would want to read. So I read those books cover to cover, some of them a few times. I made notes, I attended seminars, workshops, and conferences. I joined a writing group. All good steps. My writing improved.

Then, one day, I had this crazy idea: I wanted to read Dune again. (For those of you who haven’t read Dune by Frank Herbert, please close your reading device right now and head on to your local bookstore. You can’t waste another day without reading that book.) Anyway, I read this book again and I had a shock. The book was ten times better than the first time around.

Why? Because now I was reading it with writer’s eyes. I was reading it with the theoretical knowledge about the elements of fiction. As I was reading it, I was able to pinpoint almost every bit of advice that those non-fiction books taught me. I discovered all those things the workshop teachers were talking about. They were all there, in front of my eyes.

books-pileSo, I continued. I re-read Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke, Le Guin, Jordan. I went to all the greats in the genres that I love. With my new knowledge, those stories got new meanings. Not the stories themselves; those were still the same. But the way it was presented now became obvious. Now I started to understand why I liked them so much when I was young. Because these writers were masters who already knew how to put the theory into practice. By reading them again and paying attention to the writing, I was able to draw a direct line between that theory and practice.

In his book On Writing, Stephen King said: “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.” […] “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”

So, here is my advice, based on my personal epiphany: Just because you read some books in the past, doesn’t mean you should forget about them and just put a check-mark in your list. As you develop your writing skills go back to the works that moved you. Go back to those novels and short stories that had an impact on you. Remember those characters that you so badly wanted to be when you were a child? Find those books. Read them again with new eyes: not with the eyes of a reader who wants to be entertained, but with the eyes of a writer who wants to learn how to entertain others.

If you do this, I guarantee your skill will improve exponentially and you will soon become a better writer!

All the best,

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100 Worlds Drabble Anthology

“100 authors from across the galaxy tackle the experimental art of drabble within these fun-filled pages. Boasting 100 science fiction and fantasy stories, this jam-packed anthology is guaranteed to thrill, amuse and delight the reader. Experience 100 Worlds. Dare you go where no man has gone before?”

100 Worlds is published by Dreamscape Press®, a self-declared fledgling publisher of speculative fiction in anthology format, with specific interests in SF and Fantasy flash fiction and short stories.

Editor David Nell selected 100 authors and edited this anthology of microfiction and I am happy to say that one of my drabbles is included in it. Can you find the page?

Link to the announcement: http://dreamscapepress.wordpress.com/2013/10/23/100-worlds-out-now/

100 Worlds on Createspace: https://www.createspace.com/4492206

Kindle link to follow!

Enjoy!

“100 authors from across the galaxy tackle the experimental art of drabble within these fun-filled pages. Boasting 100 science fiction and fantasy stories, this jam-packed anthology is guaranteed to thrill, amuse and delight the reader. Experience 100 Worlds. Dare you go where no man has gone before?”

100 Worlds is published by Dreamscape Press®, a self-declared fledgling publisher of speculative fiction in anthology format, with specific interests in SF and Fantasy flash fiction and short stories.

Editor David Nell selected 100 authors and edited this anthology of microfiction and I am happy to say that one of my drabbles is included in it. Can you find the page?

Link to the announcement: http://dreamscapepress.wordpress.com/2013/10/23/100-worlds-out-now/

100 Worlds on Createspace: https://www.createspace.com/4492206

Kindle link to follow!

Enjoy!

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Writing Inspiration in Everyday Items

brainstorming2As a writer, I have many ideas. They come to me in different shapes and forms and strike me at the weirdest times. I try to keep a notepad by my side, but it’s not always possible.

There are other times when ideas just don’t seem to freely come anymore. It’s like hitting a sandbox while running on a highway. It slows me down. It bothers me.

Normally I work on multiple projects at any given time, so I can switch between them, but every week I make a point to have a brainstorming session and get some fresh ideas for my idea binder.

Recently, I attended a free workshop organized by the Gotham Writers. They partnered with Bryant Park in New York City and during the summer they organize workshops and readings outdoors. I recommend these meetings to any writer living in New York. You get to meet a lot of interesting people and learn a lot of good things.

Anyway, at this workshop the presenter gave us a system for coming up with ideas. He attributed this method to Ray Bradbury, but I wasn’t able to find a proof for that. It could be. Either way, I took that idea and I made it mine by changing it a little bit. So, here I am to share with you: How to get endless ideas?

First of all, go to a place that is less familiar. This means get out of your usual environment. If you work in your home office, or your business, just go someplace else. If you are inside, go outside, if you are outside, go inside. Even better- try to use the opportunity of being in a place that is completely unfamiliar, like visiting something new, or a place that changes often, like a flea market. The goal here is to get away from all the things that are too usual to your day to day life.

Step One: Root Item

Once in this place, look around. Do a 360 and allow your eyes to feast on the sights. What do you see? You don’t have to look for things out of the ordinary, but if you happen to see one, take note of it. Start writing down the things that catch your eye. Stop at 10. You now have a list of 10 items. Here’s an example:

Bus, Pole, Bench, Tree, Statue, Calculator, Flag, Bush, Pebble, Bird

Step Two: Making it specific

In the course of doing this, your eyes might fall on the same thing in different sessions. To make it more diverse, we will take each item and make it specific. This is where you will use your senses. Listen. Look. Smell. Touch what is near you (make sure it’s not a person, though!). Feel with your body. Is there a vibration in the air? Is there a sublime calm? Use all your senses and come up with qualifiers, like this:

Blue, Shivering, Lean, Loud, Rude, Stiff, Enormous, Stinky, Flat, Snug

Step Three: Connect Them

Now, draw random lines connecting one root item with one modifier. Add a “The” in front of them and watch the results. Don’t over-think it and try to keep it random. Here’s mine:

brainstorming

Results:
“The Enormous Bus”
“The Blue Pole”
“The Flat Bench”
“The Lean Tree”
“The Shivering Statue”
“The Stiff Calculator”
“The Stinky Flag”
“The Rude Bush”
“The Loud Pebble”
“The Snug Bird”

Now that you have this list, you might want to pick the top five. Reading these potential titles, which ones begin to give you some idea of a potential story? Here are my selections, from my example:

“The Flat Bench”
“The Lean Tree”
“The Shivering Statue”
“The Rude Bush”
“The Loud Pebble”

Step Four: Characters (optional)

If you want to take it a step further, you can add some characters to these ideas. If you happen to be in a place with people, it’s all good. If you are home, maybe turn on the news channel and wait to see something. Otherwise, maybe you can just imagine some characters, or borrow characters that you love from your favorite stories. Write just a couple of lines and give them a name, like this:

Steve ParkseTall, skinny, messy hair, but perfect business suit. Nice polished leather suitcase, but worn-down shoes. He smiles but there’s something dark in his eyes.

Angela DawsonSporty and short, with long hair in a high pony tail. Perfectly manicured nails. Too much make-up. She walks with confidence, head held high.

Tim McNealyStocky guy, wears suspenders. Walks sluggishly holding a sub in one hand and Fitness magazine in the other. He’s dressed in gym clothes.

Now that we got a few characters, let’s throw them in the mix:

“Tim And The Flat Bench”
“Steve And The Lean Tree”
“Angela And The Shivering Statue”
“Frodo And The Rude Bush”
“Sherlock Holmes And The Loud Pebble”

Did you see what I did there?

Step Five: Write!

All right, now we got some cool ideas. Are they stories yet? Not really, but they do start to point towards a story, don’t they? That was the goal of this exercise- to get you started.

Keep these notes, accumulate them in a binder or your favorite software and every time you hit a rough spot, take them out and start writing. Don’t judge, don’t edit. Your goal is to fire up your imagination. Take any of these one line titles and write about them. You don’t even have to write the entire story. A scene, or a paragraph is enough. You’ll thank yourself.

I am curious to hear what you think about this method? Do you use any similar systems to fire up your imagination? If so, share with us!

Also, please help me spread this article by tweeting it:

[Tweet “Writing Inspiration in Everyday Items #fictionwriting”]

Thank you and keep at it!

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Interview with Author Chrys Fey

 

chrysfeyAUTHORPICChrys Fey will be coming out with her debut eBook, Hurricane Crimes, from The Wild Rose Press in 2014. She has published work with Freedom Fiction Journal, The Write Place at the Write time, Inner Sins magazine, and Long Story Short. Her blog, Write With Fey, is dedicated to helping and inspiring writers.

I got to know Chrys through her blog as well and I highly recommend it to any aspiring writer. Just to further prove her awesomeness, Chrys was kind enough to agree to an interview for Fantasy Scroll.

Q: How and when did you get started as a writer?
A: All throughout my childhood I watched my mom write, and I thought it was the most magical thing in the world. I was about six-years-old when I wrote and illustrated my first story, but I seriously started writing six years later after an unusual find:

One day, when I was twelve years old, I sat down on a small grassy hill next to my house after a lone game of basketball. I was playing with the sharp blades of grass when my fingers brushed something stuck deep in the roots. I thought it could’ve been a lucky penny or a key to a secret place.

Curious, I dug it out and looked at my find. Unfortunately, it was not a penny or a key but a screw. The tip was crooked and it was crusted with orange rust. For the strangest reason, while holding that pathetic screw, a story came to me about an extraordinary girl in an alternate world.

I rushed inside my house, grabbed an old notebook and a black pen, and then ran back to that little mound of grass to write the beginning of that story. I wrote fiercely, trying to catch all the words stumbling around in my head.

I’ve been a writer ever since.


Q: How do you usually find your ideas? What do you do when you get stuck?
A: Many of my story ideas are inspired by my dreams, even nightmares. The best ideas tiptoe into my mind after I see a random object, like a rusted screw, or see an interesting person who I want to morph into a character. Recently this happened after two trips to Wal-Mart.

If I struggle with writing I take a break. For a day or two I’ll rest and then I’ll sit back down to write. If I’m still having trouble with the piece I’m working on, even after reading the last couple of chapters, I’ll pick up another WIP and work on that one until my brain runs out of energy. By then I am ready to get back to my other project.


Q: Can you give us your advice on how new writers should handle rejections?
A: My first piece of advice to new writers is not to take rejection as a personal attack toward you, your story, or your abilities as a writer. Rejections are so common that I actually expect a rejection now whenever I open a letter or email. If I get a rejection, I simply brush it off and send my query or story to the next one on my list. So my second piece of advice would be to harden your expectations, and to keep the hope that the place that will publish your story is still out there.

Q: What was the most difficult decision you had to make for your writing and how did that influence your career?
A: The story I started writing when I was twelve turned into a supernatural-thriller series. At seventeen, I decided to rewrite the series all the way at book one, and this past year I finished the fourth and last book. My dream was always to publish my series first, but after years of no success I realized I might have to break into publishing another way.

In 2011, I wrote a romantic-suspense story titled Hurricane Crimes. The first place I sent it to was The Wild Rose Press and it was accepted for publication as an eBook. Deciding to publish another book before my series didn’t just influence my career, it started my career!


Q: Did you ever self-publish? If yes, how was that process for you, if no, why not?
A: I haven’t self-published, but I am definitely keeping that avenue open in the future. You never know where your writing career might take you.

Q: Where do you see the traditional publishing going in today’s world?
A: I think traditional publishing is going to stick around while also adapting to the new advances in publishing.

Q: Do you advise beginning writers to seek an agent or try to do the leg-work themselves?
A: I would definitely advice new writers to seek an agent. Agents can get your book through doors you’d never be able to on your own, and they can help you through whatever questions or problems you may come across. Keep in mind, having an agent doesn’t mean you won’t have to do legwork. Authors have to do a lot to promote their books now-a-days.

Q: How much importance do you put on the online writer’s platform in today’s social media world?
A: I put a great deal of importance on my online writer’s platform. Without my blog, Facebook page, and other media profiles I wouldn’t have my small group of readers, or my writer friends. I value each and every one of them!

Q: You are also a great blogger. Do you find blogging is taking up valuable time from your creative writing?
A: Only when I participate in blog hops since I like to visit everyone who participates. But day-to-day, blogging doesn’t really take up a lot of my writing time because I have a secret . . . I plan out all of my ideas for future posts a whole year in advance. By the time January rolls around I am already halfway done writing my blogs for that year.

Q: What is your final advice for new writers?
A: Never be afraid to rewrite and never EVER give up!

 

chrysfeyAUTHORPICChrys, thank you for answering my questions and for the helpful tips you gave us. Good luck with your next project!

To check Chrys’ works, use the links below:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/chrysfey
Blog: www.writewithfey.blogspot.com

 

Google+: https://plus.google.com/104393486222481948013
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/23533764-chrys-fey

 

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National Novel Writing Month 2013

Everyone, the National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is upon us again. If you haven’t participated in it yet, do it. It’s great. Even if you are a slow writer, working one month at a different pace will help you improve your skills.

So, what is NaNoWriMo, exactly? It’s an annual writing event in which authors around the world try to complete a 50,000+ word novel in 30 days. The competition takes place in the month of November. Today is September 30th, so you have a month to get ready.

If you think it’s hard, remember that 50,000 words in 30 days means an average of 1,666 words per day. That’s not too much, is it? If you want to look at some ways that could help you finish the competition, look for my post from last year: How to complete your NaNoWriMo 30-Day Novel.

You should use the month of October as a period of preparation. Don’t cheat, meaning don’t write any text already, but get prepared. Here are some of the things that you can do:

  • Decide what you want to write: Is it literary fiction or genre fiction? If genre, what genre?
  • If you are a plot-driven writer, start jotting down some plot ideas. Take about a week. Then, start adding characters and flash them out.
  • If you are a character-driven writer, create some good characters, and then start making a plot around them.
  • Get some idea about how your novel starts and how your novel ends. Fill-in the gaps, but don’t go into too much detail.

The main point here is to get some sort of idea about: genre, plot, characters, setting, major incidents, so when November 1st comes along, you can start writing freely.

If you participate, and I hope you do, add me to your “writing buddies”:
http://nanowrimo.org/en/participants/julusian

NaNoWriMo: http://www.nanowrimo.org

Good Luck!!

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Fiction Writing Tips Blog Carnival Issue #6

Welcome to the Issue #6 of the Fiction Writing Tips Blog Carnival. For those of you not familiar with what a Blog Carnival is, here is a short description: a collection of links pointing to blog posts around a specific topic. As you may have guessed it, this blog carnival will be centered around the subject of fiction writing, with a special interest for fantasy and science fiction.

Previous issues: #1 #2 #3 #4 #5

Enjoy!

Fantasy Fiction General Writing

fiction writing tipsChrys Fey presents Protagonist vs Antagonist posted at Write With Fey, saying, “A protagonist is the main character in a novel or story that all the action revolves around. They are the hero of the story, the one we are rooting for from beginning to end… An antagonist is a person who opposes, competes with, and fights against the main character in a novel. They are the villain of the story, the one we are hoping will fall to their demise.”


fiction writing tipsVictoria Grefer presents 5 Ways to Share a Point of View That Contrasts With Your Protagonist’s posted at Creative Writing with the Crimson League, saying, “How important is it, when writing, to provide multiple points of view and multiple sides of the story? This is something all authors ask themselves, and it’s an important question without a clear cut answer.”


fiction writing tipsElizabeth S. Craig presents When Your Work in Progress Needs Early Revisions posted at Mystery Writing Is Murder, saying, “As I mentioned last week, I recently turned in a teaser chapter and an outline to one of my Penguin editors. This particular editor likes to see an outline before a book is written.”


fiction writing tipsDebra Eve presents How to Create a Three-Phase Writing Ritual posted at Write It Sideways, saying, “Literature abounds with the quirky things writers do to entice the muse. […] If you’re having trouble putting the seat of your pants to the seat of the chair, a writing ritual might hold the answer.”


Fantasy Fiction General Writing

fiction writing tipsGeoff Hughes presents Stop making excuses. 6 ways to get your writing on track posted at The Write Stuff Blog, saying, “Stop making excuses. 6 ways to get your writing on track”


fiction writing tipsJessica S presents Good Writers Borrow, Great Writers Steal posted at The Write Shadow, saying, “How do you know what to publish and what to keep to yourself?”


fiction writing tipsPaul Draker presents How To Get Great Amazon Reviews For Your Brand-New Novel posted at A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, saying, “If you’re reading this, maybe you’re a newbie writer like me. A story idea sinks its hooks into your brain and won’t let go. You find yourself grinning into an open refrigerator, whatever you were going to grab forgotten as the perfect plot twist or high-concept hook reveals itself to you. Your spouse/kid/significant-other has to repeat themselves three times before you realize you’re still standing there with frost forming on you’re face. And still grinning like an idiot.”


fiction writing tipsDave Navarro presents 7 Can’t-Miss Ways To Kick-Start The Writing Habit posted at Freelance Folder, saying, “Blogging can bring your business exposure, credibility, and whole lot more revenue – so it’s in your best interest to deliver a steady stream of powerful writing. But for a lot of us, that’s a tall order. If you’re finding your creative juices running a little dry, this list of quick and easy tips is sure to get them flowing again.”


fiction writing tipsLarry Brooks presents The Writing Tip That Changed My Life posted at Storyfix, saying, “As I sit here and pound on my new ebook, “101 Slightly Unpredictable Tips for Novelists and Screenwriters,” there’s one tip that haunts me, and has for the last three decades (yeah, I’m that old). It was a milestone and a perspective that changed everything, and a reminder that sometimes the little things we offer to others can make a profound difference in their lives.”


Fantasy Fiction General Writing

fiction writing tipsBryan Chau presents Fair Use Or Abuse – Copyright Edition For Indie Authors posted at Success Pen Pal, saying, “indie author, self-publishing, copyright, fair use, infringement, success, strategies, eBooks, etc.”


fiction writing tipsKimberley Grabas presents 34 Strategic Ways You Can Use Pinterest to Market Your Book and Your Author Brand posted at Your Writer Platform, saying, “Pinterest is exploding! And with it, so too are the opportunities for authors to expand their reach and increase their book promotion and brand awareness. Now the third largest social network, Pinterest acts as a virtual pin board that helps you organize and share things you find on the web. As you surf, you can pin images from other sites onto Pinterest where others can re-pin those same images. People head to Pinterest to find solutions, get ideas and to be inspired. Plus pinners are buyers. Hmmm… So how do we encourage them to be book buyers–your book buyers?”


Fiction Writing Tips Blog CarnivalThis concludes this edition of the Fiction Writing Tips Blog Carnival. I want to thank all the contributors and invite them to submit more in the future.

If you enjoyed these articles, please leave some comments on the authors’ blogs and on this blog.

Submit your blog article to the next edition of Fiction Writing Tips Blog Carnival, to be published on October 31, 2013 using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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Quick Manuscript Editing Tips

self-editing-fixing-manuscriptThere are a dozen theories about editing and endless books with tips about it. But, in the end, editing is almost never pleasant. It’s an annoying process and almost all writers dread it.

This article doesn’t claim to solve that problem. By all means, if you find a solution, let me know! Instead, this article is a list of things you can apply right now to lessen the burden of the editing process. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll still have to read that manuscript endless times and chop it up, but if you can do some things in bulk, from the start, why wouldn’t you?

I am talking about a series of word combinations that you can find using the search function in your word processor and fix them one after the other. If you consider all of these and you fix them all, when you are ready to start the actual line editing, you will find the process much faster, because you had already fixed a lot of things.

Let’s begin.

“Started to” / “Began to”

The using of “started to” stems from the desire to explain everything to the reader, to the smallest detail. It’s your ‘he got up from the chair, walked to the window, turned the handle with his hand, closed the window, walked back to the chair and sat down.’ Exaggerated, I know, but I wanted to prove a point. That entire sentence can be replaced with ‘He closed the window.” The reader knows the man was sitting, and he knows he will be sitting again later, because you give him the proper action cues for that. So it is only reasonable to assume that, unless he possesses some type of magical powers, he had to get up, walk, close, and return to the chair. The reader can put things together.

Using ‘started to’ comes from the same place. You want to pinpoint to the reader when someone began doing something, but in fact, it is what that character is doing that you are trying to convey, and not the moment when he/she started doing it.

Look at this: “I’m done with this,” he said and started walking toward the car.

If he started walking, what happened right after? Did he stop? If he did, tell us, but if he didn’t stop, he didn’t just started walking, he walked:

“I’m done with this,” he said and walked toward the car.

Do you see the added power in this sentence? You can almost feel the angry character, walking toward his car. That’s because the ‘started to’ adds hesitation. It undercuts the strength of the emotion conveyed through the action.

You should look for all “started/began to” and “started/began ____ing” in your text and replace them with the right verb. Your characters will actually do something, instead of thinking of or beginning to do something. Try to use the strongest verb to show the right action every time.

“Kept / Continued”

When somebody does something, for example looking at something, and a few moments later they are still looking, do you really need to specify that he/she ‘continued’ to look? The answer is no.

Read this: ‘The girl continued to look at the ocean waves[…]’
Did you mean: ‘The girl stared at the ocean waves[…]’

Since the combination ‘kept doing something’ or ‘continued to do something’ implies that whatever the person was doing before, they are still doing it now, just mentioning what they are doing is fine.

There are exceptions here too, for example:

‘Look at me when I’m talking to you,’ Jim yelled. Margaret continued to stare out the window.

In this case we put the emphasis on ‘continued.’ Margaret is defiant, she keeps on ignoring the other person. We don’t care that she was looking out the window, we care that she continued to do something the other person doesn’t like.

“Could”

‘Could’ weakens sentences in many ways. Here’s an example: ‘She could see tear drops forming in the corner of his eye.’ We know she could see them, as long as she’s looking at them and she is not blind. But does she really see them? If the answer is yes, then why not: ‘She saw the tear drops forming in the corner of his eye.’

Introducing ‘could’ adds hesitation and doesn’t convey the proper message. If the character was blind before and now she ‘can’ see, it’s a different story. In this case the fact that she ‘can’ do something she wasn’t able to do before is the focus.

“Felt”

I hate ‘felt.’ In my first manuscript I must’ve removed 100 instances of ‘felt,’ and the text improved ten fold. That’s because a good story must create an emotional response in the reader. That emotional response connects the reader to the characters, it makes them love them or hate them. Either way, they connect. You must allow the reader to get those emotions by passing the characters’ feelings onto them. You must let the reader feel it, you must not tell them what to feel.

Using a sentence like: ‘She felt the blood boiling in her veins,‘ robs the reader from being able to experience that feeling and be in the character’s shoes. If the blood boils in your character’s veins and she DOESN’T feel it, then tell us. That’s interesting. But if you are trying to convey that she was angry, this will suffice:

‘Blood was boiling in her veins.’

Here’s another example:

‘She felt the warm breeze on her face and through her hair.’

Why not:

‘The warm breeze caressed her face and tousled her hair.’

Using ‘felt’ is the essence of ‘tell, don’t show,’ e.g. the opposite of what you want to do. Scout for that word, banish it, and replace it with a sentence where you show what the character felt.

“That”

‘That’ is good in many instances, but a lot of times it is redundant. See these examples:

a) ‘She looked at the table and grabbed the cup that she liked the most.’
b) ‘She looked at the table and grabbed the cup she liked the most.’

a) ‘She knew that Jack was going to hate it.’
b) ‘She knew Jack was going to hate it.’

Sometimes you need to use ‘that’ to add flow to your sentence, but make sure you only use it when you have to.

“Suddenly”

Side note: I won’t get too deep into the adverb usage theory here, but I want to touch on a couple of adverbs that I find particularly nasty and that crawl into first drafts like plague.

Suddenly is another word used as a prop to mark something that has changed unexpectedly. You say ‘suddenly’ as if to give the impression of the suspense music from a movie. The thing is, you don’t need it. Let the reader feel it’s suddenly. Most of the things that happen suddenly can only happen suddenly. Consider this example:

‘She pulled the covers over herself and opened the new book. Suddenly, a creak in the ceiling made her jolt.’

vs

‘She pulled the covers over herself and opened the new book. She was about to start reading when a creak in the ceiling made her jolt.’

Read it out loud and you will see how using the word “suddenly” actually kills the suspense. It’s like screaming ‘hey, something unexpected is about to happen!’ Instead, simply state the unexpected situation and readers will get it.

“Finally”

Finally makes the sentence reek of author’s feelings. When you say: ‘he finally looked up,’ you are creating a fake sense of tension. You can make this better by some visual cues and pauses. Example:

a) With ‘finally’:

“You either give me the money now, or I am calling the cops,” Mary shouted.
John looked at her and knew she wasn’t joking. “Fine,” he finally said, “take it. Take the damn money.”

b) Without ‘finally’:

“You either give me the money now, or I am calling the cops,” Mary shouted.
John looked at her and saw a glimmer of madness in her eyes. He drummed his fingers on his thigh, trying to gain some time. “Fine,” he said, convinced she wasn’t joking, “take it. Take the damn money.”

Of course, the second version is longer because we are trying to create that tension and pause captured by the word ‘finally’ through some internal thoughts and actions. The end result is that the pause seems natural and the answer after the tension created by the pause doesn’t need the ‘finally’ to send the same message of exasperation and of giving up.

“Quickly / Slowly”

Both quickly and slowly are words that are fine by themselves, but you must be careful not to use them redundantly. Did he ‘walk slowly to his room’ or did he ‘drag his feet to his room’? Did she ‘ran quickly through the kitchen’ or did she ‘sprint through the kitchen’? There are a lot of verbs that can be used to show an increase or decrease in intensity. It is far better to find and use those verbs directly, rather than add quickly or slowly to others.

“Exactly”

Unless used to expressly emphasize something, “exactly” doesn’t add any new information. It’s redundant. ’10 marbles’ is the same as ‘exactly 10 marbles.’ Sometimes the writer feels that ‘exactly’ helps emphasize the number that is being referred to, when in fact it distracts the reader from the facts. Don’t even get me started on ‘exactly the same.’

“Said”

Notwithstanding the neverending discussion about using “he/she said” all the time as dialog marker, versus anything else, in this article I wanted to point out a different technique: removing the “said” all together. This should not be a manuscript-wide rule, but just a method that you would sprinkle here and there to add diversity to your dialogue. Basically, instead of saying that he/she said something, make the character do something as though to make it clear that he or she is talking. Here are some examples:

“I get it,” Andrew said, “he doesn’t want to see me.”
“It’s not that,” Jane said, “he needs more time. Give him a week or so.”

vs

Andrew waved his hand. “I get it. He doesn’t want to see me.”
Jane shifted in her seat. “It’s not that. He needs more time. Give him a week or so.”

So, we conveyed the same information, without any speech cues. You can use this to add movement to your characters, especially in situations when there is nothing else going on in the room. To avoid the ‘talking heads’ syndrome, you can replace some of the speech cues with action, thus serving two purposes.

“Saw”

“Saw” is used a lot when the writer is trying to be too much inside the skin of the POV character. ‘She saw him move the vase back in it’s old spot.’ Well, again, if she is looking, she’s probably seeing. Why not turn it into action and load it with some emotion? Does she hate that he keeps moving the vase there? Then why not: ‘He had moved the vase back in it’s old spot for the tenth time and….’ In other words, if a characters sees something and you want to describe what he/she sees, it’s best to simply state it, with the understanding that the character sees it, and add a line about how does the character feel because of what he/she sees. Instead of stating something obvious, like the fact that a person with eyes can see, you are also loading emotion into the paragraph.

“Was _____ing” and “ing” verbs

The “ing” verbs slow down the pace of the story, so you should try to limit their usage, unless, of course, you are purposely trying to slow the pace down. The past tense, the combination of “was” followed by an “ing” verb is even slower. Consider these:

“He was walking down the sidewalk, heading toward the bank, when a red car passed him at high speed.”

vs.

“He walked down the sidewalk, toward the bank. A red car passed him at high speed.”

Read the sentences out loud. Do you feel how the second one seems faster?


That’s it! I hope this helps you. Let me know if you have any other suggestions in this category? I am always interested to know what other people do when editing their manuscripts.

Before you go, please help spread this article by tweeting it:[Tweet “Quick Manuscript Editing Tips”]

Best of luck,

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Interview with Author Carrie Cuinn

 

Author Carrie CuinnCarrie Cuinn is an author, editor, bibliophile, modernist, and geek. Her work can be found at Daily Science Fiction, Akashic Books, Chaosium, and in her latest short collection, Women and Other Constructs (June 2013). She founded Dagan Books in 2010, which publishes SF/F anthologies and novellas. Her latest project, Lakeside Circus, is a quarterly magazine of very short fiction. She also writes about indie comics for the Hugo award-winning SF Signal.

Her work has a strong foundation in classic science fiction, and blends hard science with myth, magic, and literature. You can find her online at @CarrieCuinn or at http://carriecuinn.com.

I had the opportunity to get to know Carrie during a Microfiction Workshop she organized in August of 2013 and she was kind enough to agree to an interview.

Q: How and when did you get started as a writer?
A: I’ve always been a writer. I wrote my first story when I was four, and have been writing ever since. Over the years I let other people convince me that fiction writing wasn’t a real career, so I did journalism, editing, wrote academic papers, worked in a library, studied Early American books and prints—anything that let me include books and writing as part of whatever job or college degree I was in at the time. Eventually I got back to writing fiction again, and I’ve been much happier since then.

Q: How do you usually find your ideas? What do you do when you get stuck?
A: I find ideas everywhere. Ideas are easy. They’re like rain, dripping from the sky in greater quantities than you could ever use or even catch up with. Every new thing I do brings new story ideas, and I have to pick which ones I want to write on because I don’t have time to write them all. I think one of the most important transitions a writer makes is when they stop relying on the idea to prop up the story and start thinking about how the story reads as well. In fact, most writers don’t get that far, and you can tell that their fiction is all a lead-up to the reveal of the end, or in support of a strong moment that isn’t actually a whole story. My favorite writers can do both, blending a great idea with beautiful sentences.

I hope to be one of those writers. I’m working on it.

When I get stuck on one idea, I put it away and write on something else. When I don’t feel like writing at all, and haven’t for a while, I go back to the basics and start writing microfiction again. A few tiny stories later, I’m ready to stretch out into something bigger. It always feels like a jump start.


Q: Can you give us your advice on how new writers should handle rejections?
A: There are only two ways to react to a rejection, ever:

1) This story didn’t work for that market. Let me figure out why. (Wrong genre, didn’t read guidelines correctly, market is hard to crack and they had better options, doesn’t fit with the editor’s personal taste, etc.)

2) This story isn’t working in general. Let me restructure/rewrite/trunk it for a while.

That’s it. You don’t get mad, you don’t decide you’re a terrible writer, and you don’t tell yourself that the market just doesn’t appreciate your genius. Writing is personal, rejections aren’t. Focus on the story instead of yourself, and you’ll become a better writer over time.


Q: What do you love the most about the genre in which you write?
A: I love that I have the freedom to write anything I want. (Protip: everyone does. Don’t let an arbitrary label like “genre” tell you otherwise.)

Q: Did you ever self-publish?
A: I self-published my first collection, Women and Other Constructs, because I wanted to experiment, and because I had a pile of previously published work which fit thematically with a couple of new stories, and I thought they should be read all together. Because I have experience with all of the pieces that make up putting a book out, I was able to do the work myself. It gives me something to point out when people want to read a chunk of my work all at once, and the exposure that brings is more important than the money it’s made (though that’s nice, too).

Q: Where do you see the traditional publishing going in today’s world?
A: It’s not going anywhere. Publishing is just expanding to include a lot of different options: self-publishing, small presses, online magazines, and much more. Traditional publishing as we usually think of it—a big business of major houses putting out best-sellers—will remain part of our lives. They’ve changed with the times, to include ebooks and online blogs and Twitter, but the institution of mainstream publishing remains.

Q: Do you advise beginning writers to seek an agent or try to do the leg-work themselves?
A: Beginning writers don’t have anything to show an agent. When you’re starting out, you may have a couple of short stories, or a novel… but they’re not finished. That’s the biggest mistake new writers make—thinking that because they typed “The End” the work is done. You need to write, revise, have your work read, make changes, sit on it for months, go over it again and make more changes. Then you can hire an editor to help you make it better. It takes years to write even a decent first novel, and if your novel isn’t at least decent, why would an agent want to represent it?

An agent doesn’t teach you to be a better writer. They come in when the work is done and you need someone to help you with contracts, or brokering a good price when you’ve got multiple houses who want your work. If you’re still at the point where you consider yourself a beginner, focus on improving first.


Q: How many revisions do you usually go through with your work? Do you find it easy to let a manuscript go to the publisher?
A: It depends on how long I let it sit in my head before I write it. Sometimes I know the story before I type it out, and I only do one revision at the end to clean it up. Other times, I’ll edit every line as it falls onto the page, and then edit the whole thing again a few more times when it’s all written.

Q: How much importance do you put on the online writer’s platform in today’s social media world?
A: The Internet makes it possible for you to connect with readers all over the world, so you’re hurting yourself if you don’t make an effort to do that. You shouldn’t spend so much time on social media that you neglect your own writing, but you should have a place for people to find your work, learn more about you, and a way for them to connect with you on a regular basis (Twitter, a blog, etc). Readers like to think they know a writer as a person, and will read work they never heard of because they have something in common with the writer. Talk about what you’re reading, what you care about, and you’ll find fans who care about those things, too.

Q: What is your final advice for new writers?
A: Read everything. Read every day if you can, even if you have to sacrifice writing time to do it. Find the authors who are inspiring the authors you like, find the authors who are winning awards for style instead of sales numbers, find the authors that your one friend is heralding as a great new discovery. Ignore the bestsellers and the books that are made into movies—they’re usually not great writers, and even if they are, every other new writer will be copying them as soon as someone writes an article declaring there’s some secret to how they got published. Read interviews with writers. Read critiques of books you liked, and read the scholars that are critiquing the genres you love.

Take classes and workshops. Get others to read your work and critique it. Edit, revise, sleep on it, revise again. Read some more.


Author Carrie CuinnCarrie, thank you for answering my questions and for the helpful tips you gave us. Good luck with your next project!

 

Carrie Cuinn StoriesTo check Carrie’s works, use the links below:
http://carriecuinn.com/
Carrie Cuinn’s Amazon Page
Carrie Cuinn on Goodreads
Dagan Books

 

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