Tuesday, April 24, 2012

May Workshops

Looking for a workshop during the month of May?

One of my favorite workshops was given by Margie Lawson. Check out her offerings. But be prepared to work!

Or, comb through the list on the Savvy Authors webpage.
The authors running these workshops are always ready to answer questions. Whether you're a newbie to the writing business or well on your way to success, there is probably some little gem within one of these classes that you can use.

Whatever you do, have fun,


p.s. When I first typed "writing business", I made an error and wrote "writhing business". Not too far off, huh? 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Writing, So Much to Learn

Two and a half years ago, I decided to write a mystery. Since that time, the learning process seems endless. First, I discovered the dreaded back story. My beginning chapters were full of all the information I deemed important about my characters, story, etc. It had to go. I worked through the painful process of cutting away my much loved prose, and substituted words that would hook my reader.

Then, I hit the “Show, Don’t Tell” axiom. In a hurry to finish my masterpiece, I found it more expedient to tell the reader the story. Someone kindly explained to me that the reader wants to be part of the action, not just an onlooker. Showing involves the reader in the character’s thoughts and emotions, lets them feel what’s happening. I hate to say it, but I still have to edit my story with that in mind.

The use of conflict has also caused me a great deal of angst. My feelings about conflict? I don’t like it in my life so why would I want to use it on my poor protagonist? Oh, maybe because it makes the story? Yes, I have a lot to learn. Again, working through this one daily.

So many other lessons I’ve received as I go about the business of writing. How did this wonderful advice come my way? Critique groups, writing conferences, online blogs, how-to books and online workshops. There are wonderful tools available for the writer in any genre. 
My journey to authorship began with a few good books (actually, I bought over 20 books before I paid attention to what authors I liked were reading or writing.) Because I couldn’t wait to get my book written and published, I plunged into the world of the internet to finish my instruction. (Right! As if I ever finish.)

My first online course was good, but expensive. I’ve since learned that good, inexpensive, online writing workshops abound. How to find the right one takes time. First, I found a site dedicated to writers of my genre. Then I paid attention to what other writers had to say about various workshops and those who taught them. I also learned quite a bit about good workshops at writing conferences. Ask questions!

Online workshops come in different sizes: one week, two weeks, one month, etc. Most are interactive with the instructor giving important feedback to everyone. If you prefer, you can lurk and profit from the writing advice given to others.

My own experience has been that the more I put into the workshop, the more I get out of it. That doesn’t mean that I’ve always participated. Not even close. However, I have downloaded all the class notes for each workshop. I find that I can always go back to something I need when it comes up in my writing.

One of the websites I find helpful is http://www.savvyauthors.com/vb/content.php. Take a look. Something might grab you. Who knows? Maybe we’ll meet in one of the workshops.

Coming attractions: The Power of the Right Critique Group, more workshop sites, and information about the fascinating city of Salem, MA, where Dani’s story takes place. Oh, and maybe some more ghosts.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Where To Look For Writing Help

In my quest to become a better writer, I constantly utilize the wealth of free information on the internet. To that end, I have Google as my Home Page (the first page that opens when I go online).
As a computer instructor, I’m compelled to offer a quick lesson here in changing your Home Page. Go online, find the page you want to use as a Home Page. Then go up to your menus, click on Tools, and then Options. At the top of that dialog box, you will see tabs or icons. Click on the one that says “General”. You will see Home Page. If your favorite page is open, simply click the “Use Current Page” button.
Now that you have a page in place, search for exactly what you want. I find Google gets me the best results, but use whatever you like. For instance, if you want to find out about character development, type in, “Character Development”. A long page of information about that topic appears. If you don’t see what you like on that page, scroll to the bottom and you’ll see that there are many, many more pages. Some are stories, some instructions, some tips, and some have actual worksheets to use. Try a few different sites to get the feel of the author’s information. Is it for you? Once you find a page that you love, save it in your favorites or bookmark it.  

One more note. Favorites and Bookmarks appear in the menus at the top. (If you don’t see those menus, place your mouse in the space at the top and right click. Click on Menus.)
 I just saved a blog I like about formatting my manuscript: http://www.jayeroycraft.blogspot.com/
Sometimes, you have questions whose answers may not be easy to find. For instance, it might be something particular about your novel. I wanted to have my protagonist work in her field in a position that, although common in the South, wasn't available in the Northeast. For that kind of answer, I went to my writer’s group. Some online writer’s groups are free, but I found that didn’t work for me. I joined Sisters in Crime and a subgroup called Guppies that has a daily list with questions and information from the members who are writers and published authors. I sent in my question and received a great answer. I was told that, in fiction, you can say something like, “my job is the only one of its kind in the area”. Readers will accept what comes next. Writers are always looking for help from other writers. These groups are not only a great resource, but a nice way to interact with others who love writing.
One other note: If you're anything like me, remember to take time out from your computer to stretch, eat, and interact with family and friends. I have to do that right now. Ta.