July’s Third Thursday Wrap-Up: The Agony of Delete! Tips and Coping Strategies for Revising Your Draft

photoAfter a month off for the annual WLT Agents and Editors Conference, the Third Thursday program was back in full swing with panelists Samantha Clark, Bethany Hegedus, E. Kristin Anderson, and Sara Kocek with guest moderator Bradley P. Wilson. (He not only moderated, he reflected about the evening over on his blog,)

As usual, the Third Thursday  recap only scratches the surface of the knowledge and expertise shared. This month is a rapid-fire recap of the tip and tools from our authors.

On your mark. Get set. Go!

Tips and Coping Strategies for Revising Your Draft

  • Recognize and honor your unique writing and revising style.
  • Are you a plower or diamond polisher? Do you plow through your draft or polish it as you go.
  • Are you an outliner or not? Maybe both, depending on the situation.
  • Get feedback from other readers and other writers. Readers and writers can offer different kinds of feedback.
  • Scrivener, word processor on steroids – and then some, was recommended.
  • Carry a notebook for your current book and record ideas on characters, plot, etc.
  • Picture your character. Find a photo that could be your character. It may inspire your writing
  • Write on a treadmill. Walking & writing can help your brain and your body. (Read more about treadmill desks.)
  • Use Pintrest to build boards around your characters, settings, themes, etc.
  • Research tip – avoid the Google abyss by stopping your search after finding the one factoid you’re looking for.
  • Let your draft rest, then come back to it with fresh eyes.
  • Q: How do you know you’re done?  A: “When you’re sick of it.” “You’re never done. You just have to stop.” “When you keep changing and unchanging the same thing.”
  • Take your time on revision requests from editors or agents. Don’t sacrifice quality for quickness.
  • Remember it’s ultimately your story.  Consider the feedback from others, but retain ownership of your work.
  • Follow editor or agency guidelines for formatting.
  • Don’t double-space manually. Write in single-space mode (usually the default),  then highlight the entire text and format it with double-spacing. Use the help in your word processing program if needed.
  • Use one space after periods, not two. (Using two spaces after a period is used for typewriters, not computers.)
  • Use a professional, non-family email for professional correspondence. Save your UnicornGirl@gmail address for your friends and family.
  • Suggested fonts are Times New Roman and Courier. Display your style in your writing, not your fonts. If you want to write your draft in a font that inspires you, go for it. Just remember to change it before submitting your work to an agent or editor.
  • When you are ready to consider hiring an editor check out Yellow Bird Editors, the editing home of all of our panelists and our moderator.

These tips can lessen the agony of delete and move your towards the thrill of publishing victory. (Anyone remember the ABC Wide World of Sports opening?)

If you’re in the Austin area, join us at August’s Third Thursday. If you can’t make it, we’ll see you next month on the blog.

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May’s Third Thursday Wrap-Up: Writing for Magazines

magazinesAt May’s Third Thursday panelists Sarah Bird, Alicia Dennis, Chuck Eddy and Michael Hall focused on writing for magazines. As usual, the evening was filled with humor and lots of great stories.

This short blog post is just a smidgen of the evening’s information, packaged into a few points to help you with your pursuit of getting published in magazines.

1. Find the scenes within your article, even if it’s non-fiction. Mike Hall does that with the Texas Monthly articles he writes. He suggests you find the story, the narrative within your article. Try to explain the story idea with a headline and  a subtitle, with some kind of theme you can nail down. Within that theme you can do all kinds of things.

2. Use the Writer’s Market book or subscribe to the WritersMarket.com to help you locate publishing opportunities. Alicia shared how one way People magazine creates articles. Reporters file reports about events or people and a staff writer, like Alicia, writes the article. The magazine needs reporters who pitch good ideas and report facts well. Alicia’s advice is to pay attention to your pitch and emphasize why you’re the right person for the assignment.

3. Find your niche. Or not. Chuck said there are the number of people who want to write about music has increased and the number of paying outlets has shrunk. If you can manage to establish some kind of niche, that can help you. Conversely, if you can write about a variety of things you may have more opportunities.

4. Find a magazine you think you could write for, something that fits your style and interests, and look it up in the Writer’s Market. Sarah started writing for True Confessions because she read the magazine and knew she could write for it. 

5. Consider writing a few pieces for free if you aren’t published yet, then you can have some clips to put in your portfolio. This is a concession to the market change caused by technology widening the publishing arena. If you volunteer to write for one of your favorite organizations it can help them and help you at the same time.

6. On the other hand, don’t write for free if you are an established writer. Alicia noted that due to magazine staffing cuts there are opportunities for freelancers.

We’d love to hear your comments about these tips or Third Thursday. What advice resonated with you? You can also check back and share your success stories.

Speaking of success, don’t forget the annual WLT Agents and Editor’s Conference is coming up on June 21-23, 2013. Registration is open through June 10, 2013.

On a personal note, it was good to be back at Third Thursday after missing the March and April editions. Just being around other writers and writerly conversations rejuvenates my writing brain. Thanks to the panelists for sharing their time and thoughts and to Book People, the City of Austin, and the WLT for making Third Thursdays happen. 

February’s Third Thursday Wrap-Up

Willa Blair, Shauna Perigo, Tracy Wolff, and Mari Mancusi

Tales of the Heart: Writing Effective Love Scenes and Love Stories

Love was in the air at February’s Third Thursday as authors Willa Blair, Shauna Perigo, Tracy Wolff, and Mari Mancusi  took us behind the scenes of love scenes.

How do you write a love scene?  In some ways it’s like writing any other scene; key elements must be done well. Our panelists specifically mentioned character and tension. General considerations, such as the genre and the reader, must also be taken into account. On the other hand, the intimate nature of a love scene requires careful handling. Creating emotional connections, emotional payouts and sensory images are a few keys to writing quality love scenes.  You also have to consider what you’re comfortable writing.

Characters

Memorable characters, whether we like them or hate them, stay with us because the characterization is done well. Before worrying about how your characters will consummate their relationship, work on making each person interesting on his or her own. (Need help? There’s a WLT workshop for that.  On March 9th Brian Yansky is teaching  “Building Character and Building Plot Through Character.” )

Tension

Tension is in every novel. By definition tension is “a strained relationship between individuals, groups, nations, etc.” It’s part of the larger conflict within the story.  Romance writing also includes sexual tension between characters. They get together, then are torn apart. They want to be together, then they don’t want to be together. Maintaining this tension is essential to your story.

Genre

What kind of romance you’re writing affects how you handle a love scene. Contemporary, historical, paranormal, sci-fi, inspirational, fantasy, and erotic are just a few of the different types of romance novel.  There are many subsets of the romance genre with over fifty shades of sensuality, including hot, sweet, sexy, nasty and dirty. Which shade you choose depends on the genre.

Reader

Who will read your book? This is closely related to the genre. If your reader is expecting a sweet love story, they may not appreciate a raunchy romp in the book.

Emotional Connections

This relates back to creating characters. Your well-crafted characters must have an emotional connection with each other before they connect sexually. Sex for the sake of sex is more like pornography.

Emotional Payouts

Romance readers expect an emotional payout, a guarantee that no matter what happens these characters will eventually end up together. The characters can experience tension and satisfaction repeatedly through the story.

Sensory Images

When writing a love scene, focus on sensory images, things that evoke an emotional response from the reader, more than just describing actions. It’s not about saying, “Put A into B.” It’s about maintaining the tension and the connection.  The Romance Writer’s Phrase Book may give you some ideas. However, avoid the trap of purples prose.

Your Comfort

Finally, what are you comfortable writing? What are you comfortable reading? These factors can help you figure out how to handle your characters intimate moments.

Thanks to our panel of romance authors who bravely demystified the mystery of love scenes. Please chime in with your take away from the evening in the comments near the bottom of the page.

Lexie Smith is a WLT member who enjoys connecting people with information through her blogs BloggingForWriters.com, LexicalLight.com, and 64mascots.com. A University of Texas graduate, she taught middle school English and, until a few years ago,  homeschooled her children. She lives in Round Rock with her husband, five kids and two rescued Boxers.

Tonight’s Third Thursday: Love Scenes and Love Stories at Book People

Love-book-150x150

No matter what your genre or market, there’s a good chance that your work-in-progress has a romantic plot, subplot, or at least a sizzling or suggestive scene.  But how do you put romantic dialogue or action on the page without being cheesy or turning off your readers?

Tonight’s panel promises to be especially lively as Willa Blair, Mari Mancusi, Shawnna Perigo, and Tracy Wolff discuss how they create love scenes that are tactful and/or titillating.

We’ll meet at 7pm at Book People on the third floor. Hope to see you there.

Thursday Thinking – Love Writing

WritingHeart

Thursday Thinking posts focus on previewing, reviewing, and discussing the topics from our Third Thursday programs.  

Did you complete yesterday’s writing prompt to write a 1500 word love scene or a two page narrative poem about a love scene? (If you did and posted it online, link to it in the comments below.)

If you wanted to write a love scene but couldn’t, make plans now to attend next week’s Third Thursday panel “Tales of the Heart: Writing Effective Love Scenes and Love Stories.”

Maybe you’re a non-fiction author with a peripheral interest in love stories, come down to Book People next Thursday with an open mind toward learning how you might integrate some love lines into your writing.

Finally, even if you have no intentions of ever writing anything about love, Third Thursdays are always a good time to rub elbows with other writers.

Our guests will be authors Willa BlairMari MancusiShawnna Perigo, and Tracy Wolff, who have all written about love in one way or another.

See you next Thursday at 7 pm at Book People.

Thursday Thinking – Did you write this week?

no-excuses

You’ve had some time to digest the writers’ nourishment from January’s Third Thursday program about helping yourself to write, no matter what. Now we’d like to hear from you about your writing this week. You can share your comments at the bottom of this post, way down at the bottom of the page. You can also leave your response on the WLT Facebook Page.

Here are some questions to prime your pump.

  • Did you notice a routine you used to get your ready to write?
  • Did you notice a diversion that took you away from writing?
  • What was your writing goal this week? Did you meet it?
  • Did your inner-editor show up? How did you handle that?
  • What helped you write this week?
  • What deterred, or almost deterred you from writing? How did you overcome it?

Thanks for sharing.

(If you couldn’t make it to Book People for the panel, maybe you read about it here on Scribe. If you did neither, take a minute to read the Third Thursday Wrap-Up.)

Third Thursday Wrap-Up

“No Excuses:
How to Write No Matter What!”

no-excuses

Writers write. So the saying goes. Sometimes writers don’t write. Then what? If said writers attended January’s Third Thursday program at Book People, they heard authors Wendy Muse Greenwood, Nikki Loftin, Patrice Sarath, and Bryan Yanksy share practical actions and inspirational ideas to help writers write – no matter what.

 What’s your What?

“What’s your what?” is not a Seussian question, it’s a writer’s dilemma. Your what is connected to your but. Not your butt, your but. The “I want to write, but…” is what keeps you from writing. It could be a myth, an idea, or a voice in your head. Sometimes it’s simply life events that keep you from writing.

Here are some of the buts mentioned this evening:

  • I want to write, but I don’t have the time.
  • I want to write, but I get writer’s block.
  • I want to write, but I don’t have a place to write.
  • I want to write, but I don’t have any ideas.
  • I want to write, but I have too many ideas.
  • I want to write, but I don’t have the right equipment.
  • I want to write, but I don’t know how.
  • I want to write, but __________________.

Now it’s your turn. Think about what keeps you from writing. (Do you hear Jeopardy theme music playing?) Now, fill in the blank: I want to write, but ____________________.

Now that you’ve identified those gremlins, let’s talk about how to get rid of them, based on what we heard this evening.

What’s your Why?

When you find yourself stalling in your writing, write from your why. Remembering why you write can get you unstuck and provide motivation to get the words flowing again. If you don’t know why you are writing, take some time to find out. If you do know, remind yourself. The general reason of “I write because I’m a writer” may work or you may need to get more specific about why you’re writing a particular project.

Your turn again. Think about your why and fill in the blank: I write because ______________ or I am writing this because _____________.

 What’s your How?

How do you write? Think of a time when you felt productive in your writing. What led up to that point? What did you do before and during that session? (Of course, you have experienced more than one time of productivity, so look for commonalities.)

What would you do if you were to write right now? Picture what you would do. Do you have a pre-writing ritual or warm-up that helps you get going?

That brings us to the issue of preparing vs. procrastination. If you always walk the dog before you write, that is part of your pre-writing ritual. If Rover is about to collapse from the length of the walk, you’re avoiding writing.

How do you know if you’re prepping or procrastinating? One gets you ready to write; one takes you away from writing. Your job is to learn the difference.

Seek to learn a process that works for you. This will change from time to time, so being able to discern between warming up and wimping out will keep you on track towards your literary goals. It will keep Rover happy too.

 The How of Others

A major perk of Third Thursdays is hearing what works for others writers. Here are some suggestions gleaned from the evening’s conversation:

  • Write 500 words a day and stop.
  • Write 50 words a day.
  • Write a certain amount of time per day.
  • Simply make progress on your writing.
  • Fill your well with reading or listening to podcasts.
  • Watch documentaries about writers.
  • Write in the same place.
  •  Write in a different place.
  • Listen to music before your write.
  • Listen to music while you write.
  • Tell your inner editor you appreciate his or her gifts, but they aren’t needed until a later time.
  • Talk to yourself.
  • Talk a walk before your write.
  • Start a load of laundry before your write.
  • Figure out what it takes to find your writing groove, your dreamspace, and practice getting there often, if not daily.
  • Build your writing muscle memory by writing more often.
  • Don’t check Facebook.
  • Don’t wait for the muse. You dictate when you write, not the muse.
  • Remember that perfect is the enemy of good.

Finally, expect resistance from yourself. You may get better at talking yourself through it, but it may never go away. Our panel shared stories of accomplished writers who still have to make themselves write. You’re no different. Figure out a way to work with yourself. Tell yourself, “Resistance is futile. I will write.” Disconnect your what from your but, put your butt in a chair and write. No matter what.

Share your writing tips on the WLT Facebook page at Facebook.com/WritersLeagueOfTexas

Remember to join us at February’s Third Thursday at Book People.

LexieSmith_webLexie Smith is a WLT member who enjoys connecting people with information through LexicalLight.comBloggingForWriters.com and 64mascots.com. A University of Texas graduate, she taught middle school English and, until recently, homeschooled her children. She lives in Round Rock with her husband, five kids and two rescued Boxers.