Quote of the Week

Quote of the week: “If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.” - Toni Morrison

Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Year in Review

It's actually a good thing that we have a built in system that insists that a person take stock in the past year and give thought to the coming year. I suppose the infamous January 1st isn't the only date that does this. Birthdays tend to have this effect on us too, especially the big 30, 40 and 50. It's these times of reflection and reassessment that help us understand what we've done and what still needs to be done. It forces us to take a hard look at ourselves and redefine our goals. So this is my attempt at taking a look back into the year to see what I have accomplished (or not accomplished) and where I should go from here.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Book Spotlight: How to Be a Writer

At the beginning of the month I picked up a book that drastically changed my way of thinking as a writer. It is why I took a bit of a hiatus from this blog so that I could focus on the book and what it had to offer. I have to say it has made a significant impact on me. Barbara Baig's How to be a Writer gave me what no other writing book or writing class had given me, permission to explore and experiment in my writing.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Taking a Break for Practice and Rediscovery

After a lot of thought and consideration, I have decided to halt my regular writing projects and deadlines to take a step back and reflect on my writing and writing practices. I have felt for some time a disconnect from my writing (and life in general) and need to get back in touch with these things. I have rediscovered an old technique of free writing and am taking it to the extreme by only doing free writing for the next few weeks until I have worked through some underlying issues and found solid ground to work from again.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Daily Flash 2012: 366 Days of Flash Fiction

It's here! The publication of Daily Flash 2012: 366 Days of Flash Fiction, which holds my short story Gloria. It's a quick 500 word story and marks my debut as an actual published author, so it's a little exciting for me. I, of course, would like to continue to publish more of my stories, but right now my main focus is building up my craft of writing. My career as a published author will come in time if it is meant to be. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NaNoWriMo Alternative Challenge: A Month in Reflection

Today marks the last day of November and the last day of my NaNoWriMo alternative challenge. My original goal was to complete 15,000 words on a work in progress novella called Fahrenheit, as well as to keep up with my two blogs and other writing. I also had a side challenge to write everyday and read everyday, something I had not been doing like I should the last several months. Did I reach my goals? Did I reach my goal of 15,000 words. Yes and No.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Are Deadlines Hurtful or Helpful to the Writing Process?

I have always been in the belief that goals are important, keeping a person focused on what needs to be done and usually giving a time-frame for when said project needs to be completed. It keeps us from running around in circles and gives us purpose. In a sense deadlines are the same, but on a smaller scale. Deadlines are usually for very specific projects and have a definite timeline. It’s a strict date to work towards and a feeling of doom if said project is not completed by the expected date. Deadlines too can be helpful in motivating a procrastinating body (such as myself) to keep moving forward and having a sense of accomplishment from completed deadlines, but what if this strict process creates a pressure that stifles the creative spark?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Books Anonymous: Are You Hooked on Books?

Are you an addict? I’m an addict and a big one, a book addict. It seems I have no self control when it comes to books. I pick one up and start reading. I reach a certain point (usually the 2nd to 4th chapter) when I can’t stop reading. The house could be burning down around my ears and my eyes wouldn’t move from the page. It’s sad but simple fact. 

I have tried to restrain myself, but my efforts always end with failure. So what's my solution? I stopped reading, which then affected my writing. It's a proven fact (I’ve tested the theory myself) that if you want to be better at the craft of writing then you need to read every day. This made my so-called solution no solution at all. Is there a real solution to the problem?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NaNoWriMo Challenge Success!

It's a week into November and the NaNoWriMo contest, or in my case the NaNoWriMo alternative challenge. Last week I was all ready to start writing and get the ball rolling, except when I actually sat down to write, I couldn't come up with two coherent words to put together. This puzzled me for a bit, because I had done NaNo (the official contest) and other unofficial NaNo challenges with no problem. After a few hours of no progress, I hung up my spurs and decided to get something out of the day and spent a much needed time with the Hubbie. The rest of the week I reflected on why I had trouble and came to the conclusion that I had been so focused on other things that I was incapable of doing the challenge, so I had to make the decision of whether I would bail on the contest or continue.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo Alternative Challenge Fumble

It's November 1st are you ready to write? Apparently, I'm not. My big kick off has yielded a big fat ZERO. I sat down this morning to start writing on a story that I set aside the beginning of the Summer and realized why I set it aside in the first place. It has great characters, inner conflicts, but the setting is off and I can't seem to nail it down. So what does that mean for my story Fahrenheit, and the November challenge? Well, it has taught me I shouldn't wait to the day of a challenge to tackle a shelved story. I should have dusted it off last week or even a few days ago.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Writing Prompt: A Bony Halloween

Free download from Office Microsoft.

Here's a writing prompt for the Halloween Holiday! Have fun as you discover the story behind this picture. Ask yourself: Who was the person these bone belonged to? Who dressed up the skeleton, or did the skeleton dress herself? Is the skeleton a female or a cross-dressing male? Is this the beginning of the dead walking Apocalypse, or a bunch of teenagers playing a prank on their superstitious teacher? Write a story in 1000 words or less, and remember to have a Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Art of Shut Up and Listen

The world all around us gives us clues on how to do everything we need to do, including becoming a better writer. The more obvious clues come from reading other authors, taking writing classes, talking out problem areas with fellow writers, reading books dedicated to the writing profession. There are other less obvious clues that come from our everyday lives.

The people around us, the dog next door that won't shut up, the co-worker that steals your desk supplies and blames it on someone else, the mother that won't stop giving helpful advice, the doctor that that gives you the eye and tells you to lose 50 pounds or else, the mail man that runs his mail truck over the freshly planted flowers in the front lawn. Stories are all around us begging to be told. The people parading through our lives are holding their breath to play the main character in our next story. Why not take these gifts and make use of them?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Word Choice: Finding the Right Shade of a Word

As a writer you are an artist. The page is the canvas and the paint are the words. Use words to paint a picture, creating a movie in the theater of the mind's eye. - Michael Knost.

I know I've hit on this subject before in my Good Description series, but this topic deserves repeating because of the important and necessary role that words play in writing. This is one of the areas in my writing that I have been focusing on this year. I have found that actively being conscious of the words I chose makes a BIG difference in the way a story sounds and how successful I am at conveying the story message to the reader.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

2 Ways to Be a Better Writer

Writing is a love affair of words and emotion, but there is also much more to it. There is a lot of work that is involved that includes perfecting craft, plot, character and much more. A writer's journey never ends as he or she blazes the trail of art and soul. The further along that trail a writer travels, the more he or she realizes that perfection will never be achieved, only stages of good and bad writing; however, a writer can accomplish better writing by putting into practice two very important things. Are you ready for the most important advice you will ever get?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Art, Craft and Business of Writing Fiction

Here are some notes I took from a workshop I did by Linnea Sinclair when I went to Context a few weeks ago. I found them helpful and thought I would share. 

Are you a writer or author?
Writer= isn’t serious about being published
Author=  has published works

Writing is an art and craft, but it is also a BUSINESS!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

NaNoWriMo: An Alternative Challenge

It's almost that time again. November is just around the corner, 
which means it's NaNoWriMo again. Are you ready to pump out 50,000 words
 in 30 days? It's a great way to work on that novel or novella you've 
been putting off. It's a great challenge to see what you are made of and how far you can push yourself. I did the challenge in 2009 
and managed to complete 50,000 words with two days to spare! It was fun,
 exciting, as well as, an eye-opener of my limitations and capabilities as a writer (when I started it, I really didn't think I would be able to make the 50,000 word goal, but I pushed through anyways). It
 taught me how to write without the inner editor, the creative benefits 
of writing everyday, how to organize my life so that I could write 
everyday and that I could push myself to reach any goal if I wanted it 
bad enough. It also taught me how exhausting writing 50,000 words in a 
month is and that I really don't need to do that again any time soon. 
One time was enough, but I highly recommend the challenge if you have not
 tried it before. If you want to learn more about the official NaNoWriMo
 check it out here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Website Spotlight: Jane Friedman

I recently stumbled across a website and I liked it so much I thought I would share. Jane Friedman has a wealth of information for the writer/author looking to publish, wonderful inspirational posts, and writing craft techniques. There is also a post that has a free market listing where you can find publishers and agents at no charge. Below are just some of the listings. Go to her site to see a full listing.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Update to the Writing Resource Page

I recently updated the Writing Resources page to add the following information. Enjoy!

Writing Motivation
Dr. Wicked Write or Die This website supplies an easy to use program that forces you to write without the inner editor. It forces you to keep typing, because if you stop it erases your words! A great way to learn to free write.

Free Listing For Book Publishers (information from Jane Friedman)
Be aware that most New York publishers do not accept unagented submissions, so sometimes “searching for a publisher” really means “finding an agent” (see next list).
  • Duotrope.com. For fiction and poetry only. About 3,500 listings total, which includes many types of publications.
  • QueryTracker.net. About 130 listings.
  • Preditors & Editors. Hundreds of listings; been going since 1997. Waves a red flag on publishers to avoid. However, unclear how often the information is updated.
  • Ralan.com. About 100 listings, focused on SF/F.
  • AgentQuery.com. Bare-bones list (no submission guidelines), but offers embedded links to publishers’ sites. Useful to preview the landscape.
  • WriterMag.com. If you subscribe to The Writer magazine, you get 3,000 online market listings for free. Vetted list.
  • Poets & Writers. Hundreds of listings, serving primarily the more literary side of the writing community.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Writing Prompt: Are You A Good Liar?

Here's a writing prompt to try. Write four to six sentences on something unusual, startling, or amusing that happened to you or that you did. Create three different scenarios, but one of them must be true. Make sure to include some details!

Example 1: I cursed my overheated car as I stood on the side of a busy highway. I had forgotten my cell phone at home and the nearest gas station was at least a 10 mile walk down the road in either direction. I'd never make it in these damn heels. I was already running late for work so didn't have time to waste. I spotted a Doge Ram speeding down the road towards me, I had a moment of inspiration and pulled up the bottom of my blouse to flashed the driver. A minute later I was in sitting in the cab of the pickup beside a grinning redneck, leaving my heap of scrap metal on the side of the road.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What is Deep Third or Deep POV?

You may have heard the term Deep Third or Deep Point Of View, but what does it really mean?

"Deep POV is to the writer what method acting is to the actor. It requires the writer to submerge herself in the character from whose point of view a scene is being seen. It requires a casting off of all inhibitions. The writer becomes the character." (Exert from an article by Maeve Maddox at www.dailywritingtips.com).

 Deep Third is writing in the Third Person but taking it further by slowing down time and showing the reader what's going on from the character's point of view. It uses the surroundings, thoughts, feelings, or anything else to steep the reader with what's going on in the characters head. Sensory detail (the use of sight, sound, smell, touch and taste) can play a role in this as well. But it's the thought process of the character that the reader needs to be plugged into. It's about giving the reader an opportunity to "step into" the characters head and be the character without even realizing it (if the Deep POV is done right).

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Let the Dark Side Take Control

There are thousands of stories that fill books, computers and magazines, but what makes one story standout above other stories? Why are we drawn to some and not others? What makes a story memorable? You might say excellent writing style, stellar plot, fabulous characters, or unique content? I for one believe that even more than all those things a great story involves something more. It is the writer making the hard choices and deciding to torture the hell out of their characters, the writer that isn't afraid of upping the stakes just a little bit higher, the writer who doesn't shy from letting their dark side take control.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Writing Prompt: A Doggone Good Book

Free download from office.microsoft.com

Here's a writing prompt for today. Does it inspire a thought or a story? What is the dog reading? What happens when when the dog wakes up? Who is behind the camera? Is this the beginning of the Doggy Revolution- Planet of the Dogs? Have fun with it and see where it leads you!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Context 24: Why Conventions are so Important

Denise Wyant, Me, Lesley Conner and Nora Azzi
Anyone who is serious about writing should be serious about attending conventions, especially writing conventions. I've gone to several and plan on expanding to more. This time around I went with three other writing friends of mine to Columbus, Ohio to attend Context 24, which is a convention for horror, science fiction, and fantasy writers. The best part is you don't even have to be into the horror, science fiction or fantasy genres to get something out of this convention, because it's main goal is to appeal to the writer.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The First Draft: A Necessary Evil

Have you ever taken a look at a first draft of a story and said "What a piece of crap?" It happens to me all the time. It's really quite depressing when you read through the story and think "This is nothing like what I was trying to go for" or  "There's so many  errors and mistakes I'll never get it to turn out the way it needs to."  When coming to these types of low points in writing, it is important to remember that it's all part of the writing process. First drafts are suppose to be crappy. The most important thing is getting the story on paper anyway that you can. Once it's there then it will be possible to go back and make changes.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Vampires: Can An Original Story Be Told?

By: Denise Wyant

So you want to write about vampires… But you’re wondering if it is still possible – isn’t the market all ready inundated with vamps?

Yes, I’ve seen the movies and merchandising. Edward and Jacob are everywhere. Just wait until Breaking Dawn is released. More vampire mania. So, to answer the question at hand (remember the answer is coming from someone who takes being told “no” as a challenge): yes, you can still write about them. It’s not going to be easy, and there are many who may need a break from vamps. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done successfully. The key is simple; although, it may be easier said than done. Drum roll please…you need to make the story yours. Find a unique twist and exploit it. Most importantly, do your homework and your research.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Description Part 3: The Secret to Good Description

I’ve already discussed the 3 Elements of Good Description and the 6 Pitfalls of Description, but I saved the best for last. What is the true secret to good description? Is there the one thing that will open the door to allow a writer to touch the reader and dive them into the wonders of a story? The answer is yes and that one thing is word choice.

The word or words chosen to describe something can make all the difference in the world. It can influence the reader’s mood and change the entire context of a sentence, paragraph, and even the characteristics of a character.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Description Part 2: 6 Pitfalls of Description

It has already been determined some of the positive elements of good description (see Description Part 1: 3 Elements of Good Description), but there are some pitfalls of description to be aware of as well. Here a 6 to keep in mind.

1. Never use description that will serve the character, instead use description that will serve the story. That means don’t throw in description for the sake of just having it. If the description doesn’t enhance or move the story forward then cut it out. It will only serve to be a distraction.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Description Part 1: 3 Elements of Good Description

Description allows the reader to visualize the people, places, settings and objects in your story. Description is important because good, effective description paints a vivid picture that immerses the reader into your story, which allows for a deeper experience for the reader. A well written description moves the story forward and adds to characterization. There are 3 main elements of good description.

1. Specific well written detail- Be specific about what you want to say. Less is more, so find the right word or words to show detail. Stay away from ambiguous descriptions like suddenly, look, like, good. These words aren't giving you the biggest bang for your buck. (For more about words to avoid check out Grammar Guru: Words to Avoid.) Also go a little deeper and use sensory detail. The use of sensory detail detail is a key element in good description. Try to use all when writing; sight, sound, smell, touch and taste.

Note: Do not rely too heavily on sight itself, instead try to use some of the other four for variety and depth.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Discipline of Writing

I have found that there are times that it is harder to write than others. It seems that everything else comes first or a minor distraction is enough to pull me away from the task at hand. A lot of times what it simply boils down to is not enough discipline. What do I mean about that?

Humans are creatures that work best on a reward system. Look at children. A parent rewards a child for doing something good and punishes them for doing something wrong or not doing something when it should be done. A similar approach should be taken by adults. Adults need that check and balance to get them to where they need to go. It's a basic form of motivation, but even more than that. It's holding oneself accountable.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Missing Muse Part 2: Rediscovering the Magic

Part one of this series talked about the Muse or magic and how it can slip away on us at the most inopportune times, but here are some ways to get that creativity back. Nothing inspires inspiration more than other’s creativity, so that is why the first 4 suggestions are listed first. All the asterisks are the things I do on a regular basis to help stimulate the Muse. As you can see, it usually takes more than one way to keep the Muse strong. It's about overlapping the inspiration to what works best for you and creating a lifestyle that the Muse feels stimulated to stay in.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Missing Muse Part 1: Where Did the Magic Go?

Have you ever found yourself writing without a muse? One minute it's there and the next it's gone just like a puff of smoke. You do everything but stand on your head to try to get it back and your muse laughs as it plays the elusive game of hide and seek, taunting you in a devilish manner. This seems to be a common problem for me, in fact I have gone weeks, even months without a muse. I write anyways, but the writing is more force and even unnatural. I begin to wonder why I started writing in the first place. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Punctuation Police: Quotation Marks

Quotation Marks are used for direct quotations and to set off dialogue from the rest of the sentence. Check out these guidelines to help keep your quotation rules straight.

Direct Quotation
Use double quote marks (" ") to enclose a direct quotation.


Robert was famous for saying "Let's party."

She told everyone "It's important to take you vitamins everyday," but no one would listen.

Remember that direct quotations repeat someone's exact words, but indirect quotations is a summary or paraphrase. In direct quotations, you should not use quotations marks.


Cindy said, "I'm excited."


Cindy said that she was excited.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Writing Prompts: What If

WHAT IF? (Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers)

How to Develop and Finish Stories 
Find a story that you are stuck on. Next write in the top of a blank page What If. Now write five ways of continuing that story, not ending the story, but continuing the story to the next event, scene, ect. Let your imagination go wild. Loosen up your thinking about the events in the story. Your what if’s can be as diverse as your mind can make them. More than likely, one of the what if’s will feel right, organic, to your story and that is the direction in which you should go. Sometimes you will have to do several groups of what if’s per story, but that’s okay as long as they keep you moving forward.

Exercise from What If Writing Exercises for the Fiction Writer by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Blog Changes

Once again I have decided to make some changes to my blog. As in life, there are times when we reevaluate ourselves and discover that some changes need to be made, so is the case with blogging. I have come up with some ideas of how to expand this blog and make it even better. The first change will be the blog name itself.

After some reflection, I've decided to take it from A Writer's Tales to A Writer's Wings. I think the new title better describes where I am at right now with my writing and blogging. I am in a period of expanding my wings and trying out new areas to see what is the right fit.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Grammar Guru: Words to Avoid

I have always heard that there are certain words that shouldn’t be used or avoided when possible in creative writing. But what exactly are those words? I knew a few of them such as "was" and ly words, but I knew there had to be more, so I did some research and this is what I came up with. Remember this is a guideline only and these words should be avoided most of the time, but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use them at all.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Blog Spolight: A Place for Writers

Thanks to a friend, I recently was directed to a great blog on writing called A Place for Writers. Julie Jordon, the blog owner, has a wealth of information on different writing tips and practices including a stellar blog on questions to address when Outlining the Plot of a novel and a simple but powerful blog on Encouragement to fellow writers. She even has a current writing contest running until June 30th. There is a total of 4 categories and each are quick, easy and fun. In fact, you can easily do one of the challenges for a writing exercise, which I already have (I chose contest #3 alternate point of view, the POV of a stethoscope... What fun!). Check it out. Even if you opt not to enter the contest, the information might be inspirational for getting the writing bug going strong.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Understanding the Foundation of Plot

Most writers understand the basic equation that plot equals a story.

Plot = Story

But what is plot exactly and how can you break it down to the point where you can understand each moving part, so that the whole will come together in a moving body of perfection? There are actually three very basic things to know about plot and how it is conceptualized. This is done through 3 elements called idea, concept and premise. These three things are distinctly different from one another, but build upon one another to make the full idea of plot a thing of reality. If we know each of these steps of plot then we can better understand how it is created.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Grammar Guru: The LY Rule

It's a habit that the budding writer is apt to make. In fact, many writers can put years into writing without learning a very important rule of a proper writing technique I like to call the ly rule. Have you ever noticed how saturated yours or others works are with words like gladly, fairly, or brightly? I know my own writing for years was a place were all ly words went to die slow and agonizing deaths. It turned into a real grave yard that hit just about every sentence in my writing. You  might be wondering what's the problem. I mean writing is about being descriptive. Someone says that a piece needs to piece more descriptive then you just add a few more ly words, right? Well, not so much.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Benefit of Writing Prompts

Picture from www.slideshare.net
Have you ever sat down to write and just didn't feel the creative juices flowing? Some days can be harder than others to get the muse to do it's job. Sometimes it is helpful to have something to visualize and then write about it. This visualization can be take the form of a photograph. Find an image that inspires you to write and just write for 10 to 15 minutes on that photograph. Let your mind roam free as it comes up with a story explaining that picture and what is happening in it. It doesn't have to be anything grand or elaborate. Just let your imagination run free. You might be surprised where your creativity might take you.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Never Ending Circle

Have you ever felt that your talent is lacking or that all efforts you've made with writing have been wasted? Have you ever teetered on the edge of despair and felt like the chasm of defeat is just waiting to shallow you whole? I confess this is the most devastating part of being a writer and at times feel like it will be the end of all my creative genius. But instead of looking at these times as a curse it may help to view them as a catalyst for pure creativity. A beginning to something new. Destitution bears the fruit restitution. Consider this... that every down has an up and every up has a down and so on. It is an endless cycle that repeats over and over. It's a cycle of creativity, productivity, success, and uncertainty that dives headlong into a total distrust of your abilities.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Nomad Writer: Writing on the Go

A blog was recently posted in A Writer's Journey by frootbat31 about Where the Magic Happens. It basically showcased her spot for writing and the importance of your writing area and how it effects your writing abilities. I found this intriguing and decided to take a look at my own writing habits and place. I discovered something important that, in fact, I am Nomad.  Nomad you say? Yes, I don't have one specific spot that I write. I do have my favorite spots, but I don't have one area that I have marked off and claimed my own. Instead, I have my noble trusty steed that is my writing friend and confidant. I whip him out when I feel the tingling sensation to write, or I simply want to stare at a black screen and wish I could write something. He is and always forever will be my friend, the laptop. So is there a downside to being a Nomadic writer with the writing area that varies from one time to the next? I think there are some pros and cons. Let's start with the cons.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Show, Don’t Tell

As a writer you’ve probably heard this expression a million times either in reference to your own work or someone else, you may have even told another writer this yourself- but what does it really mean when someone says “show us, don’t tell us.” A lot of writers can go their whole career and not truly understand what is being said in that simply phrase. I have even grapple with the meaning of the three letter phrase, “Show, don’t tell.” I recently took a one night online class by Michael Knost and he was able to shed an illumination on the subject that brought the entire subject into a brand new light of understanding. The following is my attempt to summarize the class.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New Website

I have been working at creating a new look for my writing blog as well as a new website over the last few weeks. The website was created to be a central hub for all my information concerning writing. I plan to use the writing resource page of my website as a tool to accumulate helpful writing information for myself and other writers. My new website can be found at www.cynthiagriffin.net. I also added a link from this blog to the site, which can be found at the top left hand corner of my blog. Enjoy!

5 Writing Blogs to Check Out!

Writing is my passion and something I try to do as much as I can. I like all types of writing and have done everything from fiction to nonfiction. My love of writing doesn't necessarily make me good at it, however, so I'm continuously seeking ways to be better at what I love. I have found writer's blogs to be a wonderful source to do just that. Below you will find the top 5 blogs that I read on a regular basis. I have found each inspirational and a great help to expanding my knowledge as a writer.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Beginning Writers: What You Should Know

You've decided that you have a love of writing and would like to pursue it further whether it be as a hobby or a career, but you just don't know where to start. As someone who has "been there and done that", I can sympathize with your predicament, so decided to compile some basic information that will help on your journey to discovering the imagination inside.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dorchester (Leisure) Boycott

Some disturbing news was brought to my attention today by a fellow writer, and it is the worst kind for a writer. It seems that the publisher Dorchester has begun the dangerous game of cutting authors out of their rights. They are in the process of converting to a complete digital format for their product and in doing so are trying to find ways to infringe on the rights of authors. In some cases, they are even selling books that had the rights already returned back to the author. In response to this outrageous behavior, people are starting to take a stand. I urge others to join in on this and do what you can to help support those being victimized by this company. If  you want more information about the specifics of what is happening and ways to help please visit the blogs of Robert Swartwood and Brian Keene. I have already send in an email of protest to Dorchester and plan on not purchasing any of their books. Please help us make a stand.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Feedback: A Double-Edged Sword

This blog was inspired by two individuals frootbat 31 and J. Timothy King and their recent posts on feedback. I thought the topic intriguing and something I happen to have very strong feelings about, because of the power that feedback has given me to become the writer I am today.

It is interesting to see the variety of opinions that exist over such a topic as supplying feedback to fellow writer's. I never truly realized the great contention that seems to stem from this particular subject, which I always considered a boon to help writer's reach a different level of understanding with their own craft, though, it seems that others mark critiques as a creature bloated with personal attacks, and still others consider the art of critique a matter solely focused on the negative. This is a blog to dive into the topic of feedback and my belief that getting constructive feedback on your work can help you find true understanding of your own work if you are willing to listen.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Writing Challenge: A Challenge for All

Writing is something that I truly love to do, but even that love can falter by my personal shortcomings, so I find that in challenging myself to be better I can plow through some of my procrastination and self doubt. Every once in a while I like to come up with challenges for myself that gets me motivated, drives me forward, and expands my experience that much more.

Right now my challenge to myself is to write 50 articles for www.associatedcontent.com by the end of April. I started at the beginning of March and so far I have 12 articles and have a multitude of others in the works as well as a notebook full of ideas. I'm not sure if I'll reach my magical number of 50, but I've enjoyed the challenge so far. It will not only help me work on a deadline, but it will give me a library of articles to use to help promote my writing abilities, and with every word I write I become better at my craft. If you wish you help support my efforts go to my contributor page to check out a listing of articles.

I also want to throw out a challenge for all fellow writer's everywhere to actively challenge yourself to be better in your craft. You can only become better by doing. Whether it be submitting for a writing contest, writing articles for an online site, or some other self imposed challenge, it is important to constantly try to find ways to motivate yourself to be better. I implore you to take up a torch and let it shine!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Getting Your Article to Standout

“Write your first draft with your heart. Re-write with your head.” ~ From the movie Finding Forrester

You’ve completed the first draft of your article, pouring it out onto the page with reckless abandon, but now as you polish it up, it’s time to put on your thinking cap to find ways to make it standout and be seen. Here are 5 ways that you can get your article to standout with a pop!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Write It Down or Lose It

"It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by.  How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment?  For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone.  That is where the writer scores over his fellows:  he catches the changes of his mind on the hop."  ~Vita Sackville-West

It's a rare thing that you sit down to write and some of your best ideas actually come while your writing. If you're like me an idea will come to you out of the blue when your driving the car, making dinner, working-out, or maybe even watching Television, and if you are also like me and don't write that idea down right away it will disappear into the haze of your memory. It is important to catch those thoughts and place them somewhere so that they don't drift away to be lost forever, because chances are they won't come back. I can't tell you how many great story ideas or ideas period that became lost to my forgetful brain. So what is the cure to this dilemma?

Does Nonfiction Have Plot?

Nonfiction and plot, do they really need each other? Can nonfiction dance alone, by itself without being partnered with plot? Some believe that because of the nature of nonfiction that it does not require plot, but you have to have a focus, don’t you? So wouldn’t the focus be the plot? In short, plot works in nonfiction to present a uniformed piece that draws the reader in and tries to convince them of something specific. 

In order to have good nonfiction then you must have a clear purpose. If you do not have a clear purpose then your nonfiction it is doomed to fail. A bunch of directionless information isn’t going to make the piece hold strong and it will falter.  It’s the purpose that keeps interest and gives it a driving force.

Friday, March 11, 2011

How to Write Nonfiction

You have found a topic you want to write on, but aren’t quite sure how to proceed next. You probably already know that nonfiction writing is essentially the organization of facts into a complete piece that presents those facts to a reader. But how can you do it so that it makes sense and is something that’s interesting to read?  Here are five steps to get those facts from head to page, and dazzle the reader with your repository of knowledge.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Dig a Little Deeper

Are you stuck and not able to move forward in your writing? Do you find that no matter what you do those words just won’t come, even when you bang your head up against the wall? Are you feeling completely abandoned by your muse and not sure he’ll be making an appearance ever again? Then it just might be time for you to dig a little deeper.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Starting Your Story: Beginning in the Middle

The blank page stares back at you, mocking your very effort of telling the story that’s been haunting you for days, but where should you begin? You know that there is a masterpiece of character and plot just waiting to erupt into written form, though at times it can be a challenge to figure out exactly where the beginning really should be. The best place to start is in the middle.

In the middle of where, you ask? - The middle of the action. Throw your reader in head first right in the middle of something going on. It can be as dramatic as a high-speed car chase or as mundane as washing the dishes, but the point is to have your character actively living out their lives. Then you can spend the rest of the story catching the reader up to the important information they need to know about.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Website Spotlight

I have been recently collaborating with a writer friend of mine who has a new website about writing. On the site, you can find useful information and resources with lots more to come in the near. This site is brand new, but bookmark it and check back for new stuff! I too will be posting on it from time to time. Check it out at www.stevenwmorse.com. Right now I have my The Building Blocks of Plot eBook there and an article called Starting Your Story: Beginning in the Middle.

The Building Blocks of Plot

I recently became aware of a detrimental flaw to my works of fiction to find myself unable to complete many of my stories. I began to realize that my problem laid with my fundamental understanding of plot and so I decided to dive into research to try and find a way to fix this problem. During my journey that spanned over two months, I found a lot of helpful information and began taking notes- lots of them. I then decided that there may be others out there with my same problem and so began to write an article on plot, but there was a problem. There was way too much information to fit in a 500 to 700 word article, so I began a series of articles. Then a friend of my suggested putting the articles together to create an ebook, so here is the finished product of all that effort. I place it here for those who would like to read it. Hopefully you too will find some use for it. It certainly isn't a full comprehensive about plot, but it will at give you an idea of what good plot is and how to use it to get that story out from start to finish!

I have the free ebook posted on Google Docs. Check out the link at The Building Blocks of Plot.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What is Flash Fiction?

Flash Fiction, in short, is a fiction of extreme brevity. It can range from a few words to a thousand (but usually doesn’t go over a thousand words).  It has many terms: microfiction, sudden fiction, short fiction, postcard fiction, or short short  story.  It has a history that has goes back to Aesop’s Fables and has been used often by many authors like Ernest Hemmingway. There are also exact word count flash fictions such as: the Drabble or Nanofiction (about 100 words in length) 55 fiction and the 69er.*

The key to flash fiction is to create a complete story in as short as time as possible, so conciseness is king here, creating flash fiction is an excellent way to learn this delicate technique.  Some people do this by choosing a topic that evokes strong emotion and use that to drive their point home, while others rely on universal knowledge (like ice is cold and loss is sad). 

The best way to approach flash fiction is to imagine it as one scene or moment in time, which then you come in with your “camera” and take a snap shot. You then convert that picture into words that stand a testament to your picture for all eternity. So don’t over think or complicate it with too many details, just come up with an idea and write it.

Check out www.flashfictiononline.com for some great examples of flash fiction!

*information from www.wikipedia.com

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Breakdown of Plot Diagrams

Plot diagram is also called the structure of the story. It is the main outline of what is going on and everything else exists solely to support that structure. There are a couple of different types of plot structure but the basic one consists of Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution. Learning Through Listening explains each of the five elements of plot and even breaks down the Cinderella story to help make it even more understandable. Exposition sets up the story and lets the stakes become known, Rising Action is the problem and/or conflict the character attempts to resolve, Climax is where the story is at it's worst, Falling Action is where the character begins to solve the problem, while Resolution brings the story to a close in some manner. Exposition, Rising Action, and Climax (or beginning, middle and end) is what is called the 3 acts of a story, each plays an important part to the story.

Monday, January 31, 2011

A Review of the Basics: Grammar and Puncuation

We all have learned the tedious writing skills throughout grade school and some even in college, but can you really know all the rules all the time? I know most of the basics, but often find myself making mistakes in grammar, spelling and punctuation on a regular basis. Some of the mistakes are simply because I'm in too much of a rush to stop and correct, some I just overlook, and other mistakes are born out of ignorance. I recently went back to brush up on my grammar and punctuation rules and found a few areas that I was doing plain wrong, but assumed it was correct. It has made me realize that any who wish to pursue even a casual interest in writing should take a little time to review the basics.

There are an infinite number of books and websites available just for the purpose of teaching proper English grammar and punctuation but searching through all of them can be daunting, so I have listed the resources that I have used and found very helpful. If you want to brush up your skills take a look...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Blog Change

I've decided to make some blogging changes, because I'm turning this blog to a writer blog exclusively. Writerific's Journal will now be dedicated to odds and ends blog of my life's journey, including things I think others might be interested in. All things writing will be posted on A Writer's Tales. I am doing this mainly to create a focus site for writing that will allow for better organization of information, and pave the way for me to start blogging for money. I apologize for any confusion.