Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Insecure Writer and Perseverance

Today is August's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why am I an Insecure Writer this month? 

Because I don't know if I have the perseverance to survive as a writer.*

In a change from my usual IWSG post, today’s message will be one of support. Let’s be honest, unless you’re one of those authors who dashes out publishable stories every three months, you spend a loooong time staring at your unfinished manuscript, not knowing whether anyone will to care to read it when you’re finished. And when the finish line is so far away, it’s easy to get discouraged and quit.

In my opinion, successful writers are the ones who persevere over the long haul. They don’t take no for an answer. They just keep going, no matter what.

Kind of like… Melissa Maygrove.

Melissa’s been a member of IWSG for over three years, starting out as #180 on Alex’s list and slowly inching her way up that list by posting every first Wednesday of the month, even while others gave up and dropped out. Since I’m a scientist, let me show you her journey in graphical form.

As you can see, she experienced a slight setback near the end of 2013 (fatigue from Follow-Fest, no doubt), but did she give up? No, she jumped back in with a vengeance and now she’s worked her way back to #119. And she has her sights set on #118, so you better watch out, SittieCates.

So let Melissa be an example to you all. Perseverance works! It’s also a big reason why she just finished publishing her second book, Precious Atonement

So head on over to her blog and leave a comment. If you’re behind her on the list, let her know you’re coming after her. And if you’re above her, a little trash talking is always good for the soul.


*To be honest, I’m not really insecure on this topic. I have an almost child-like ability to ignore facts. All I need is a good night’s sleep and all the doubts I experienced the day before disappear. I’m in this for the long haul, because when you’re a slow writer like me, you have to be.

**And lest you think I’m some kind of stalker, let be it known that Melissa signs her IWSG post comments with her current position on the list, so it was easy enough to collect the above data. :)

Friday, July 31, 2015

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 87

Last weekend I went kayaking with my daughter and almost ended up drowning.  Okay, maybe it wasn't quite that dramatic, but my kayak did flip over and I'm a terrible swimmer.  The fact that I was wearing a lifejacket and that I happened to flip over in one of the shallower parts of the lake just lessens the entertainment value of the story , so I'm choosing to ignore that part.

Anyway, I hope this weekend is MUCH more relaxing and productive.

Enjoy the links!


The Key to Writing Good Action Scenes (Hint: It’s Not Just the Action)

Advice for Authors from a Bookseller’s Perspective

Pre-Orders, Sticking on Amazon, and Hitting Best Seller Lists

4 Key Ways to Ramp Up Tension and Pacing in Your Fiction

Hacking Your Reader’s Brain

The Difference Between Setup and Setup

Three Traps to Avoid in Love Stories

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Dialogue Isn't Real, It's Code For Real-Life Conversations

If you believe my critique partners, my dialogue writing skills have improved by leaps and bounds over the years. Sometimes I wonder if they’re simply being kind, but considering how poor my dialogue skills were back when I began writing over six years ago, I guess it wouldn’t have taken all that much for me to become noticeably better.

Perhaps it has something to do with being an introvert, more accustomed to listening than talking, but dialogue has never come naturally to me. Heck, six years ago, I didn’t write dialogue, I wrote telling summaries of dialogue. As if I was afraid of using quotation marks. It wasn’t until I compared my chapters with those in published books that I realized the problem. No wonder my chapters had seemed so short.  :(

Fast forward to the present and I’m feeling a lot more comfortable with the whole dialogue thing, although I still have plenty left to learn. If anything, my dialogue now goes on for too long. Experts tell us it’s what’s left unsaid that delivers the most punch, but leaving stuff unsaid leaves me with a queasy feeling in my stomach. (Maybe because I used to be a teacher) Having characters talking at cross purposes or evading each others questions or misunderstanding what the other is saying are techniques I still struggle with.

Lately, I’ve been paying attention to television dramas to see how their writers write dialogue. One of my favorite shows for this is “Suits.” Even though there’s plenty of conflict and tension during an episode—almost all of it revealed through dialogue—the dialogue exchanges are surprisingly short. In fact, they’re much too short to adequately cover everything the characters would really need to know. And that’s the point I’m beginning to understand. Dialogue isn’t there to communicate information between the characters, it’s there to relay information to the reader in a manner that maximizes its entertainment value.

Dialogue isn’t real-life conversation, it’s code for real-life conversation.

So what shows do you watch for the dialogue?


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Optimist/Pessimist Ratio for Writers

It seems to me writers live on the blade’s edge most of the time, precariously balanced between an almost childlike optimism and a no-holds-barred pessimism. It’s the nature of the beast.

To be a writer is to be an optimist. Only an optimist would spend years hunched over a keyboard, spilling their souls onto the page, shunning friends and family for long stretches, with absolutely no guarantee anyone will ever like their story—assuming it even gets finished. Heck, I’m not sure optimism is even the proper word. Perhaps delusional is a better choice. Either way, we writers are blessed with an almost amazing ability to ignore reality for long periods of time.

In between those periods of optimism, however, writers often find themselves deep in the abyss of pessimism. At least I know I do. Times when we’re convinced there’s no way anyone will like our story and, no matter how hard we try, no matter how much we study the craft, no matter how many gallons of ink we spill, nothing is ever going to change that simple fact. Those times when it seems the only reason we still write is because it’s the only way to purge that story that’s stuck inside our heads, screaming to be let out.

Hmmm… Maybe I should have saved these thoughts for the next Insecure Writers Support Group post.

Is your Optimist/Pessimist ratio greater than, equal to, or less than 1?


Friday, July 17, 2015

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 85

For those of you who stopped by my blog earlier this week expecting to find my usual Wednesday post, I apologize for my laziness.  I was making so much progress on my story I simply couldn't force myself to stop and write a post.  I know most of you will tell me that working on the story is more important, but I still wanted to apologize and thank you for stopping by.

If all goes as planned, the family and I are going to see Antman this weekend.  The reviews have been surprisingly good, which almost makes me wonder if there's something wrong with the movie.

Anyway, have a great weekend and enjoy the links!


Indie Authors: How to Get Visible in Libraries

Don’t Speak: The Power of What’s Left Unsaid When Crafting Dialogue

Cleaning Up Our Amazon Book Page

Another Post About Openings

How to Describe a Place

How Novelists Can Make “Unbelievable” Stories Feel Real

Blah Blah Blah: How Dead-End Dialogue Kills Pacing

Friday, July 10, 2015

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 84

Another week gone.  It always feels good to make it to Friday--unless I didn't get much writing accomplished during the week, which leaves me feeling a little depressed.  Fortunately I made good progress this week, so I'm satisfied.  Hope you all can say the same.

Enjoy the weekend and the links!


4 Ways to Create an ePub eBook

How to launch a book for fifty bucks

Why Query Letters Matter to Self-Published Authors, Too

6 Clues You’re Overusing Internal Dialogue in Your Fiction

Do Launch Parties Work?

The Only Self-Publishing Platforms You’ll Ever Need

When Friends and Family Read Your Book: Survival Tips

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