Whiney Hits the Social Media. They Hit Back.


Whiney Writer

 

 

By Whiney Writer

How hard could it be?

I’m really social, or I used to be back before I started writing, so social media ought to be easy for me. My Aunt Gertrude says, “Whiney, you can talk to anyone!”

I don’t know why she makes that funny face when she says it.

Hah.  Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Goodreads, LinkedIn, and that’s just the start.  How’s a writer supposed to have any life away from the computer? I’ve been so busy that I missed two episodes of Men in Kilts: Topeka. I didn’t even record them.

Some of the social media is almost as exciting, though. Even really famous people post on some of those sites. Anyone can comment. An awful lot of people do. That was discouraging for a little while, but I’m a glass-half-full kind of person.

I had this great idea for standing out from all the other zillions of people on Twitter. I’ll recast my SciFi/Zombie/Romance/Mystery/Thriller/Western as a series of linked haiku.  I spent hours going through Tweets, and no one else is doing that.

So, I tweeted the first one:

Flying white petals
Seek the red pools beneath her
Cowboy’s breathing corpse.

Then I started looking at all the other places I could link to, because that’s really important. You don’t want people to just find you in one place, oh no! They should bump into you wherever they are on the Internet. Won’t they just think I’m clumsy?

I’m also puzzled. You’re supposed to make it different in different places, and I don’t quite understand how that’s supposed to work. How many ways can I tell people to buy my book? Maybe I could put pictures of my office on Pinterest? I have lots of craft projects in the room.
Some of the social media world is kind of scary. I mean, what if I post something stupid and it goes viral? Even if it doesn’t go viral, will the stupid post ever really go away? When you’re as outgoing as I am, sometimes you say things that you want to take back, and I think maybe you can’t.

When I was a kid the principal used to warn students that something they’d done would go on their permanent record. Not me, of course. This sounds like a huge grade school principal’s office, only somebody left the PA system turned on and the whole school can hear what’s going on. And somebody’s recording it.

I could just stick with tweeting my novel in haikus, but then how would it get to be as famous as it deserves?

This social media stuff is hard.

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Pursue Your Writing Strengths

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by Christine Liu-Perkins

 

Being aware of our writing weaknesses is good so we can work on them. But being aware of our writing strengths helps guide us to our best creative work and the joy that goes with it.

I was struck by remarks made by Stephen Jay Gould, recorded in Uncommon Genius: How Great Ideas are Born: Interviews with 40 MacArthur Fellows by Denise Shekerjian. Gould observed that we’re all talented but, “The problem is that the things you’re good at come naturally. And . . . what comes naturally, you don’t see as a special skill.” (p. 3)  He explained that we overlook our talents, not realizing that something we can do easily is not easy for other people. Instead of focusing on our weaknesses, Gould urged discovering and pursuing what we’re good at.

I’ve experimented with writing different things:  personal essays, articles, folktales, picture books, rhyme, biography, how-to’s, inspirational pieces, historical fiction, contemporary fiction, and long nonfiction. As I experimented, I began to notice things about me as a writer, e.g.,

  • For whatever I write, I dive into research. I find that research gives me ideas that feed my writing. I love the treasure hunting and unexpected discoveries.
  • I love finding connections between ideas that seemed unrelated before. It’s fun to fit pieces together into a new framework.
  • I tend to write concise, clear, logically organized prose. I feel strong and happy when I write something pithy and powerful.

Now, knowing what some of my strengths are make it easier for me to decide which projects to pursue, which projects make me most happy.

What about you? What are your personal and writing strengths? How can you use those to maximize your joy in writing or illustrating?

 

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How to Write Deep POV and Bring Your Characters to Life


Photo of Cheryl Reifsnyder

 

 

By Cheryl Reifsnyder

This weekend, I attended the single best how-to-edit-your-writing workshop I’ve ever heard. Entangled editor/publisher extraordinaire, Liz Pelletier, (also editor to our own Lisa Brown-Roberts) spoke in-depth about how she revises manuscripts in only 3 passes. She explained what she looks for in each pass and what various problems with plot, characterization, or pacing might look like. She also listed dozens of approaches to help fix various problems.

If you ever get the chance to hear her speak, GO! Meanwhile, I’ve got a teaser to share with you: how to write deep POV.

Deep Point-of-View (POV)

One of the topics she covered was “deep POV.” Deep POV is a narrative point-of-view, one that’s so close to your character that the reader feels like she’s practically taking a ride in the character’s head.

Although Liz didn’t say so specifically, I think deep POV goes beyond choices such as first-person versus third-person writing. First-, second-, and third-person POV refers to where you, as author, place your narrative “camera.”  For example:

First Person: I spotted Susan walking down the street.

Third Person: She spotted Susan walking down the street.

Both examples convey the same information, but we shift the camera from inside the narrator’s head (in first person) to someplace still close, but outside, her head (in third person).

Typical Scene Structure Requires Stimulus and Response

Plunk one of these sentence into a scene, though, and the character needs a reason for sharing this specific information with the reader. What prompted her observation?

Liz explained that typical scene structure consists of stimulus-response, repeated to the scene’s end. So in the context of a scene, our example (I’m sticking to first person for the rest of this post) might read:

Stimulus: I spotted Susan walking down the street.
Response: I spun to face the other direction.

Now, let’s take the POV a little deeper….

How to Make POV Deeper

Step 1: Add an “internalization”–your character’s thoughts–between the stimulus and response.

I spotted Susan walking down the street. Wow, I thought. I couldn’t believe she was here, in the middle of the day. Hoping she wouldn’t see me, I spun to face the other direction.

Adding a thought between the stimulus and the response gives the reader a better understanding of the character’s motivations. However, it’s a purely intellectual understanding–and we don’t read fiction for an intellectual experience. We read fiction because of the emotional experience it can provide. Which brings me to step 2…

Step 2: Add emotion between the stimulus and the character’s thought.

I spotted Susan walking down the street. My heart plummeted so hard I swear I felt it suck my breath down the tubes with it. Wow, I thought. I couldn’t believe she was here, in the middle of the day. Hoping she wouldn’t see me, I spun to face the other direction.

Okay, I didn’t add a lot of emotion there, but do you feel the difference? Suddenly you’re there with the narrator, feeling her breathless dread at seeing this other person–and you don’t even know why.

But wait, we can go deeper still!

Step 3: Remove distancing words.

Spotted, thought, saw, heard: What do these words all have in common? They all create a small distance between the reader and the narrator.

Think about it. When you’re thinking, does your inner narrative sound like this–“I wonder what time Hector is getting home”–or like this–“Huh. What time is Hector getting home?” We don’t usually include these labeling words in our thoughts. If you want the reader to feel like she’s got a direct line on your character’s thoughts, you need to strike as many of those distancing words as you can.

Susan was walking right down the middle of the street. My heart plummeted so hard I swear I felt it suck my breath down the tubes with it. Wow, what was she doing here? It was the middle of the freakin’ day! I couldn’t let her see me, not here, not, now. I spun to face the other direction.

Step 4: (Bonus Step!) Add voice

If you want your reader to become fully and completely immersed in your character’s POV, you need to add the secret sauce: the character’s unique voice. How does she speak? Does she tend to speak in long, convoluted sentences or cut straight to the point? Does she swear a blue streak or only drop the occasional “oh, fudge”-bomb? Fancy words or simple? What’s her unique outlook and attitude?

This is where you take all the above–adding emotion and internal dialog–and give it the twist only this character can give it.

But I’m leaving that exercise to you–why don’t you give it a try and share the results in the comments? 

 

 

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Finding Time

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By Anna-Maria Crum

 

I’m one of the web masters for our group so 3 months of every year I’m the one sending reminders to our members to get their posts up in time. Unfortunately I forgot to nag myself so I’m late. I’ve been having problems lately getting everything done on my list of things I Absolutely Must Get Done Before Another Week Goes By. Well, I didn’t get through my list from last week. In fact, I haven’t gotten through my list for several weeks. The list keeps getting longer and longer and the days get shorter and shorter. (I thought this was the time of year the days got longer?) Something has to change so I turned to the Internet because the answer to all of life’s problems can be found on Google. I found one article on saving time in the morning. 

    • Cut nonessential beauty items from your routine. News flash—I don’t need to use toner. Thank God. I can cut toner from my life. That is if I used toner. And if I use a moisturizer with SPF I can cut out the sunscreen step. Woo-hoo. And more importantly, eye cream only needs to be used at night. Now all I have to do is run out and buy toner and eye cream and I won’t have to waste time in the morning applying them. Luckily Bo prefers a natural look.
    • Speed-dry your hair. Apparently I’ve been doing it wrong. You’re supposed to wrap your hair in a towel and go have breakfast while the bathroom steam from your shower clears out. Who knew it took longer to dry your hair in a humid room? Go figure. Of course you actually have to take a shower and wash your hair before you can save time with this step. Since I work at home, showering in the morning is optional. Wow, I already saved some time.
    • Do your makeup faster. Just one of the many tips in this section says to wiggle your mascara wand a little at the base of your lashes to deposit more color and you can skip adding eye liner. Since I stopped using mascara almost 30 years ago I can’t even pull the magic wand out of the tube. More time saved
    • Have a no-brainer breakfast. The tip is to buy 5 greek yogurt containers, put some cereal in a plastic bag and some fresh fruit in another container. Combine the ingredients at work and enjoy. Question, why not just put your yogurt, cereal, and fruit in a bowl and eat it while your hair is wrapped in a towel and you’re waiting for the steam to clear out of your bathroom?
    • Work out faster. The article says it’s not necessary to stretch before working out. I think that’s contrary to most conventional thinking about exercising. Still, this article has already saved me a ton of time so I guess I’m game for cutting out my stretches. I can just jog in place for five minutes, then fifteen repetitions of crunches, pushups, tricep dips, lunges, and squats and I’m done. Question—should I do this before or after I shower and speed-dry my hair?

     
    I’m exhausted but I’ve already saved a bunch of time this morning. Still, I think I’ll go back to just keeping my Absolutely Must Get Done Before Another Week Goes By list. I can cross off write the Wild Writers Blog and move onto the next item. Become a best-selling author.

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    5 comments to Finding Time

    • Oh, you made me laugh–especially since I’m the one who was supposed to keep nagging you! I’ve been in the same boat, with a to-do list that keeps growing longer day by day. In fact, I asked my DH tonight if he loved me less given the decreasing amount of personal hygiene that characterizes my days of late…

      I hope your days get less crazy, and we can get together for a frizzy-hair, no-stretching, zero-toner get-together!

      Uh-oh, and I’m next up on the blog, so I’d better start nagging myself….

      • Cheryl,
        Laugh back at cha. Since I’ve been getting my shower lately by standing outside in the rain while Bo poops in the dog run it’s a total frizz ball. We definitely should get together and we can celebrate our natural look.

    • Ceil

      Fun blog, Anna-Maria. I especially like your idea about becoming a best-selling author though my understanding is that your list of things to do will get longer (but what a fun list that will be!).

    • Anna-Maria, reading your post this morning may have cost me a few minutes of productivity (whatever THAT is!), but it was well worth the grins! Thanks for showing us once again that wonderful wit you’ve got.

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