Tuesday, June 26, 2012

June Bunch O' Links

Yikes! Is it that time already? 
June is coming to a close and I still haven't taken the swimsuit out of mothballs. I want to remind everyone that WriteOnCon is fast approaching. I attended this online conference last year and was frankly blown away. Just from posting on their query forum board, I got a full request from a fab agent. While it didn't pan out with that agent, it was a great experience and I made a heap of awesome friends. 

Check out our WriteOnCon widget (right) and get ready for August awesome.

Here are some cool writing links to entertain you in the dog days of summer.

Greg's Links
Jim Butcher is one of my favorite modern writers.  His Dresden Files series releases tend to be highlights of my reading lists.  He doesn't update his livejournal often, but if you read back through his posts, he gives great tips and insights into the workings of a successful writer.  Check it out.

And in honor of Ray Bradbury's passing, here is a Daily Science Fiction website. It's not all great, but there are some fun stories here, that are updated regularly and can be good inspiration for those slow writing days.

Laura's Links

Glimmer Train Literary Journal

-       Fiction Open Award (all themes): 2,000-20,000 words

o   First Place Prize: $2,500, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 20 copies of that issue

o   Deadline: June 30, 2012

-       Very Short Fiction Award: up to 3,000 words
o   First Place Prize: $1,500, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 20 copies of that issue
o   Deadline: July 31, 2012

Writer’s Digest Magazine
-       13th Annual Short Short Story Competition
o   Summer Tales or Summer-Themed Fictional Stories 1,200 words or less
o   First Place Prize: $3,000, publication and a trip to the Writer’s Digest Conference
o   Deadline: November 15, 2012
-       Write It Your Way Competition
o   Open (any style; any genre): 1,500 words or less
o   First Place Prize: $25 to spend at Writer’s Digest Shop, FREE entry into next month’s contest and promotion on WritersDigest.com.
o   Deadline: July 15, 2012

Narrative Magazine
-       Spring 2012 Story Contest
o   Fiction & Literary Nonfiction: 15,000 words or less
o   First Place Prize: $2,500 and considered for publication
o   Deadline: July 31, 2012
-       4th Annual Poetry Contest
o   All poetic forms and genres: up to 5 poems
o   First Place Prize: $1,500 and considered for publication
o   Deadline: July 17, 2012

WOW! Women On Writing
-       Summer 2012 Flash Fiction Contest
o   Open (any style; any genre): 250-750 words
o   First Place Prize: $350, $25 Amazon Gift Certificate, publication on WOW! Women On Writing and an interview on the WOW! Women On Writing Blog.
o   Deadline: August 31, 2012

Monday, June 18, 2012

Description: Too Much, Not Enough or Just Right?

By Laura M. Campbell

The whole concept of proportion, proportion of description in your writing, reminds me of The Story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Cliché? Yes. On the other hand, it provides a familiar image everyone can picture no matter if you’re 16, 34 or 65. Is there too much description, not enough description, or is it just right?

When you sit down to write that story clawing to get out, it’s your job as the author to do it justice. Write the best story you can. Will it happen during the first draft? No, of course not. That’s what revisions, editing, critique groups and 2nd and 3rd drafts are for. 

For example, you can tell which stories favor heavy description. They’re the ones that describe the hell out of something creating a very concrete image. Unfortunately, the interaction with the reader falls flat. They don’t have to include their own imagination because the story doesn’t leave room for it.  It’s still a great story, but it can make it hard for the reader to really connect.

Some stories are so sparse with description that the reader spends more time trying to conjure up an image to help picture the scene they’re reading that they fall out of the narrative. The reader can easily put the novel down and do something else, like read someone else's novel.

Then there are those stories that balance the proportion of description. It’s just enough to trigger your memories or imagination so you can connect and feel like you’re part of the reading experience.

The latter is the hardest of them all to master. I’m all over the place. One minute I’m in a scene typing everything I can see in my head to the very last detail. Then my critique group reads it, and they feel a bit overwhelmed. On my next draft, I hold back on the description so much that my critique group can’t get into the scene. 

Hair pulling commences and possibly a tantrum. I just keep telling myself to sit down to write everyday and keep in mind that I’m not going to find the perfect balance without trying everything first.

So, on your 1st or 2nd draft how do you handle description: too much, not enough or just right?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Re-evaluation- Even When Things Are Good

I've been thinking about this topic a lot in my writing life and my other life. Reevaluating how I do things - not because anything is going wrong, but because I'm reaching some milestones and I have space and time to do that thinking (unlike the state of near-frenzy I usually find myself in.) It's instinct, I think, to stick to something that is working (if it ain't broke, don't give yourself a hernia trying to fix it) and it makes sense in this hyper anxious world to not fall into the trap of over analyzing every little thing.

But, it's not a bad thing to evaluate your writing from a place of strength - rather than waiting until you hit a brick wall or something goes wrong with your work in process. Notice I didn't say 'if' something goes wrong. You and I both know that it will.

Here's what I'm thinking about with my own writing. Word count, while important in the past, is meaningless to me now. I came to the realization while editing my last book (seven months of intense editing and re-writing) that slowing down a bit will help me be more cohesive during the drafting process, instead of having to inject cohesion later on (which is harder and more painful.) To be fair to myself, my last book was started in the flustered shenanigans of NaNoWriMo, so it makes sense. I just don't want to do it the hard way again. I aim to be the turtle, not the hare.

This time I'm taking my time doing research, building my characters and world, and living in that space for a while.

Last time, I also purposefully did not read any writing books. I was afraid that they would unduly influence me, get me off track, make me lose my momentum. I'm notorious for seeking a 'magic bullet' in how-tos - it's as if the For Dummies books were written with me in mind. But, while that kind of blinkered focus worked for getting BOOKEND out, (and hey, I'm not complaining, it got me agented) it also added to the heavy lifting in the editing stage.

This time I'm using the Breakout Novel Workbook during the drafting process. This book, if not all writing how-tos, is perfect to read while drafting (and not before) because it's expanding. It takes the story you think you have and stretches it in lots of different directions.

So, how do you reevaluate your writing process? Is the best time to look closely at that process right now?