Friday, February 10, 2012

Ahh sweet sweet linkage (not to be confused with Peter Dinklage, who is also wicked awesome)

Hello beautiful blog readers!

I don't have much to blog about lately, but I have read some very good things other people have blogged/written about and therefore I am sharing the linkage love.

Not to be confused with Peter Dinklage, who also deserves much love. And appropriately played an irate and neurotic writer in the movie "Elf".
Awww isn't he cute when he's angry?

Here are the links:

Plotting your Novel - The Quick Outline Tool

I don't know who those people are, but I love them and I want to make out with them.

The next item I would like to share comes from Randy Ingermanson's TOTALLY FREE E-zine for writers!

Sign up by going here: Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine

You can enter your e-mail in the fields on the right, and you will get the e-zine free, once per month. On that same link, you can peruse the back issues. I highly recommend signing up, there's something new in every issue and it's only once per month so it doesn't bog down your e-mail inbox.

The article I really wanted to share is below. It's about writing tactics and how to build your skills as a novelist.


Tactics are the little things, the specific actions you
take to build your skills as a novelist and then to
write your novel.

Let's be clear that those are separate tasks: building
your skills and writing a novel. An analogy might help:

Being a novelist is a lot like being a marathon runner.
Before you can actually RUN a marathon, you need to
first TRAIN for it. Typically, that takes a long time
-- months of training to build the fitness and
endurance to run an entire marathon.

But once you've reached that level, you can run more
marathons with ease.

Of course, you'll continue to train between races, but
now your training will be aimed at helping you run
BETTER, rather than merely helping you FINISH.

In the same way, before you can write a novel, you need
to develop your skills as a fiction writer.

But once you've got the skills to write one novel, you
can write as many as you want with ease.

You'll always be improving your skills, but after
you've written your first novel, you'll be working to
write BETTER, not merely to FINISH.

I've identified five tactics you can use to build your
skills as a novelist to the point where you're ready to
write your first one.

These tactics are simple. In fact, they're "obvious." 
Success in life can be as simple as doing the obvious.
You'd be amazed how many writers ignore all these tactics.
You'd be amazed how fast you improve, once you start
doing all five.

Here they are:

Tactic #1: Write on a consistent schedule.

Writing a novel is a marathon. A sprint here and a dash
there won't get you to the finish line. Writing
consistently for weeks and months WILL get you there.

Decide how many hours per week you can dedicate to
writing. If you're a beginner, this might be only one
or two. I recommend that beginners make it a goal to
get up to five hours per week by the end of the first
year of writing.

Your writing schedule is for WRITING. Not for research
of your story world. Not for studying how to write. Not
for reading magazines about writing. Not for reading
blogs or hanging out on e-mail loops for writers. Not
for going to writing conferences.

All of those are fine things, but they aren't WRITING.

You get better at running by running. You get better at
writing by writing.

Tactic #2: Keep a log of your writing time and word

This sounds too simple (or possibly too anal) for
words. It isn't.

Writing fiction is a JOB, at least for professional
novelists. Someday, you'll be working with a publisher
who has a publication schedule mapped out for two years
in advance. You'll sign a contract with that publisher
to deliver X amount of words on a particular date.

That date is not a fantasy. That date is reality. If
you miss that date, it costs your publisher money. Yes,
they build in some slack in the schedule. No, you don't
ever want to use any of it. Not one minute. Your
publishers will love you if they know they can trust
you to meet your deadlines.

But you can't sign a contract to deliver X words on a
particular date unless you know how fast you can write.
You need to know how many words of output you can
create in each hour of working time.

Good runners know what pace they can run each mile.

Professional writers know what pace they can write.

If you want to be a professional writer someday, then
start acting like one today. 

Tactic #3: Give yourself a weekly quota.

You can't do this until you've done #1 and #2 above. In
order to create a meaningful quota, you have to know
how many hours you can write each week, and you have to
know how many words you can produce each hour. (They
don't have to be GOOD words. Goodness comes later.)

Virtually all the successful writers I know assign
themselves a quota of some sort for creating their
first draft. While some writers use a daily quota and
some use a monthly quota, most of them seem to set a
weekly word count. I recommend weekly.

Your quota will be useless unless you actually meet it.
Assign yourself a penalty for failing to reach your
quota. Find an accountability partner who can check
that you hit your quota and can make you pay the
penalty if you fail.

Important: Make your quota possible. Never miss it.

Tactic #4: Find a critique group or critique buddy.

Most writers believe their work is either unutterably
brilliant or wretchedly awful.

Generally, they're wrong on both counts. All writers
are delusional. That's part of the job description.

There is only one way to know whether your work is any
good or not.

You need somebody else to read your work and tell you.

You need a critique of your work regularly. I recommend
that you get a critique monthly. Find one or more
people with all of these qualities: 
* They understand fiction
* They will be honest 
* They will be kind

If your critiquers lack any of these, then drop them
like a burning porcupine because they're useless to you.

Tactic #5: Constantly study the craft of fiction.

It is not your critiquers' problem to tell you HOW to
write better. Their job is to point out what you're
doing well and what you're doing poorly.

Your job is to find ways to improve your strong points
so they're world-class (your strong points will make
editors say yes someday).

Your job is also to find ways to improve your weak
points so they're at least adequate (your weak points
will make editors say no right now).

Generally, critiquers don't actually know how to teach
you how to improve your craft. They may think they do,
but they usually don't. Skill in critiquing is not the
same as skill in teaching.

You have plenty of sources for teaching you the craft:
* Books
* Magazines and e-zines
* Classes
* Conferences
* Recorded lectures
* Mentors

When you know specifically what you want to improve,
find some source of teaching on that exact topic and
study it. Then apply what you learned to your writing
and get critiqued again to see if you got it. Don't
quit studying until you get it.

That's it. Five tactics that will turn a talented
beginner into a professional writer, if you do them
consistently for the rest of your life.

To summarize, "Write, write, write! Get critiqued.
Study. Repeat forever."

Simple? Yes.

Easy? No.

That's why there are many more talented beginners than
professional writers.

Oh, Randy. You make ME randy ;)

Have a great weekend everyone!