What Kind of Writer Are You?

Posted by: Janice Hardy  :  Category: Write a Novel

After reading that title, you likely had some kind of answer. Most would probably reply with the genre they write. A fantasy writer, a fiction writer, an outliner, a pantser. When folks ask me that question, I say “I write fantasy for teens.”

But deep down, it’s more than that.
Earlier this year at the 2010 RWA Conference, I had an eye-opening experience. I sat in on a session about theme with English professor and literary critic Sarah Frantz, and romance author Suzanne Brockmann.

They utterly blew me away with their thoughts on theme (that’s a whole different post), but one thing that really resonated with me was when the author said she had a career theme.

A career theme? Whoa. What was that?

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Your Next Scene: Right Before Your Eyes?

Posted by: Melissa Crytzer Fry  :  Category: Story Structure

When friends invited me (and hubby) boating on Apache Lake in Roosevelt, Arizona, my No. 1 goal was to kick back and relax. I certainly didn’t set out to write a scene for my novel.

But that’s not what Mother Nature had in mind.

And, let’s face it … a writer is always on the clock, right? Observing … watching … thinking … It’s not like you can turn the writerly instincts off.

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How To Write a Novel the Hard Way

Posted by: Birgitte  :  Category: Write a Novel

I’ve read almost a 100 books on how to write a novel the easy way. Or at least, they claim to give me all the steps I need to just “do it.”

Well, I’ve been “doing” for 5 years now and have gotten my fits all tangled up with my starts.

But I just had my 48th birthday, and after drinking a second glass of REALLY expensive wine ($16.99 at Safeway) I remembered that at one time I’d made a promise to myself that for my 50th birthday I was going to rent a motor home and drive across the U.S. signing copies of my first novel at all the Border’s and Barnes and Nobles I could find.

That novel would be the one I’m still working on.  Okay, confession time, this is the 3rd novel I’ve started. The other two are in pieces, stuffed in the back of the kid’s backpack cabinet under stacks of crumbled construction paper and (I think) an old lunch box that I’m too scared to open.

So what is this post about?

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Wasted Away Again in Novel-Writer-Ville

Posted by: Birgitte  :  Category: Inspiration

With apologies to Jimmy. If he needs me to deal with copyright stuff I will. Hey Jimmy, call me, babe!

Here we go!

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Embrace the Stories Around You

Posted by: Melissa Crytzer Fry  :  Category: Inspiration

When I was 21, something quite amazing happened. But back then, I didn’t quite fashion myself as a novelist, so I didn’t even recognize it or understand what a miraculous gift I was throwing away.

I’m talking about conversation. When an old man in my apartment building shared with me, “You know … I was on the Titanic,” I nodded politely, talked about the weather and went along my way. I’m still kicking myself today for not trusting my instinct to turn back.

Because it’s those rare encounters – gifts, really – that the novelist should cling to: Other people’s stories are your ticket to great fiction. And more.

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Creating Believable Characters – With the Enneagram

Posted by: Melissa Crytzer Fry  :  Category: Characters

I’ll be the first to admit that I had never even heard the term “Enneagram” when I started writing my novel. And I admit that when I queried a bookstore clerk about it, I stupidly asked if they had any books on anagrams (You know, words or phrases that can be created by rearranging the same group of letters. I knew that! Really, I didn’t mean to say anagram!).

The Enneagram Personality System is essentially a model for understanding the human personality. I learned about it when writing coach, Gloria Kempton, mentioned in one of her writing workshops that I attended. 

Gloria indicated that it could be a good tool for creating believable characters.

And she was right!

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Take a Risk with Your Next Assignment

Posted by: Melissa Crytzer Fry  :  Category: Marketing Topics

Step right up!

No, I’m not talking about the carnival’s Skee Ball game. I’m talking about stepping right up and right out of your comfort zone when it comes to the assignments you take on as a freelance writer.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from nearly a decade of freelance writing, it’s that you don’t have to be an expert on every topic to which you’re assigned a brochure, newsletter or article.

I also learned that by letting go of that fear and insecurity, you just might land yourself some interesting and lucrative assignments. Here’s how:

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Critique vs. Criticism: Where is the Line?

Posted by: Birgitte  :  Category: Critique Groups

This post is about critiquing other people’s work without causing too much emotional damage. I am a firm believer in critique groups, not just to get feedback on your own work, but to give feedback. There’s an old saying that the teacher learns more than the student and this couldn’t be truer for writers.

When we look at another person’s writing, we are also looking at our work. So how to keep from damaging either one?

My mentor, Gloria Kempton, is a very successful teacher, and one of the best critiquers of a writer’s work that I’ve ever met. She has the magic touch. It’s the main reason I’ve been in her “Finish Your Novel” workshop for 5 years. I credit my growth as a writer to persistence, but I doubt I would be quite as tenacious if it wasn’t for Gloria’s forthright and tangible writing advice.

Here are Gloria’s tips on how to give good crit, and make your own story better in the process.

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The Notebook: A Writer’s Secret Weapon

Posted by: Melissa Crytzer Fry  :  Category: Inspiration

I was watching a movie with my husband recently (They Were Soldiers), and in the middle of it, the perfect opening line for a future novel popped into my head.

It was brilliant. Wonderful. Gripping. Succinct. And, sadly…gone as quickly as it had arrived.


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A Strong Synopsis: Reduce the Time it Takes to Write a First Draft

Posted by: Lia Keyes  :  Category: Synopsis Writing

After spending the last five years writing my first novel, I’ve come to the conclusion that if I’d figured out how to write a synopsis sooner rather than later I could have cut that time in half.

If you figure out whether the story holds water before you begin to write, you can save so much heartache. I agonized over every story decision I had to make.

I couldn’t keep the story in my head because it was so jumbled.

Once I had a synopsis, I could see at a glance what needed to happen next. But as a new writer, figuring out how to write a synopsis was hard!  Just throwing myself into the writing of the pages and seeing where they took me was a lot more appealing, but I always ground to a halt after a few chapters because I didn’t know how to proceed.

If I hadn’t learned how to write a synopsis with Mary Buckham, author of  BREAK INTO FICTION (Adams Media, 2009), I would still be floundering. Mary and her co-author Dianna Love have designed a method of finding the essence of your story via a series of templates. By answering the templates’ questions I learned to harness the wild horse of story, and in my answers, as if by magic, appeared all its salient parts.

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