What Did You Learn?

October 18, 2009

Writing Exercise #4- Fan Fiction

Filed under: Writing Exercises — Tags: — ax20 @ 12:49 pm

Ever watch something or read something and think you could have done it better? Made it more exciting? Finished with a better ending? Don’t just think you could have done it, do it.

Try rewriting a story/movie/tv show with your own unique take. If you’ve ever seen Wicked on Broadway (I say seen because in my opinion the book left something to be desired), you know that retellings can be really interesting and popular.

Some things you might discover in your retelling:
1- it turns out the author knew what they were doing
2- you might have the newest bestseller on your hands
3- nothing important other than it’s fun to relive your favorite characters, there’s a reason there’s so much fan fiction on the web


October 9, 2009

Be Prepared: Proposals

Filed under: Getting Published — Tags: , , — ax20 @ 6:10 pm

For nonfiction, many places request that you submit a proposal. Proposals vary based on the specific topic and content, but there some general things you can follow. You want to give as much as information as you can to entice the agent/publishing house that your book is interesting and viable.

Format: Cover page with the title and author name as well as a picture if you have one, a Contents Page listing all the sections to come, and then the contents themselves. An overview of the book is a must. Always include an Author’s bio with any information that is relevant (so if you are writing a cookbook some information on where you learned to cook and if you work as a chef somewhere would be good information to include). Marketing potential, competitive titles, and media connections (if you have any) are great things to include if applicable. If they think they can’t make any money off your book, they won’t want to publish it or represent you. When writing about competitive titles (similar books, cost, how they’ve sold if possible), make sure to also write why your book is different than these books and will stand out. A Table of Contents and Sample Pages ranging from 1-3 chapters is helpful to allow for an idea of how the book will read and show that it is well planned out.

Check for typos! Make sure all writing is smooth and fluid. Even though the proposal isn’t the book itself, if the information feels dense, they won’t want to read the material.

Something to keep in mind is that the more prepared and fully detailed, the more impressive your proposal will appear. If you’ve done your research and put in the work, that will come through in your proposal. Agents and publishing houses want to feel that the authors are invested in their books. If they feel confident in the author they will have more confidence in the book itself.

(In the reverse, a poorly written proposal is a turn off and can bury a great book idea.)

General Writing: Lighten Up

Filed under: General Writing — Tags: , — ax20 @ 5:52 pm

You can write about serious, weighty things without writing heavily. An already heavy subject matter doesn’t need to buried under depression and sad, slow language. Misery loves company but the people who aren’t miserable don’t want to partake so give them something more.

“You can portray weight by contrasting it with lightness.” This could be something like a beautiful day weather wise when something really sad is happening (like a funeral on a sunny summer day), having someone not take something serious seriously (for example in Book of Dalia where the character is very flippant with her life threatening cancer), or some innocence mixed within the significance (like Boy in the Striped Pajamas where the friendship and playing of the boys only served to highlight the danger of the Holocaust).

By incorporating something more lighthearted, you allow the reader to immerse themselves within the solemnity of the story while not weighing them down with it. (If a reader feels overwhelmed they may not be inclined to push on.)

General Writing: Don’t Intellectualize

Filed under: General Writing — Tags: , — ax20 @ 5:39 pm

Readers are both smarter and dumber than they are given credit for. By not being the writer, they don’t know the whole story, they only know what they are told. As such, you need to give them all the pieces of information that will allow them to form the bigger picture.

That being said, they’re also smart enough to put pieces of information together. In mysteries, the writer often gives enough information that when combined, allows the reader to discover the truth. All stories should be like this in a way. Even if there’s no killer to discover or stolen jewels to find, a story is a mystery, full of hints and clues needed to create a whole. Allow your readers to make those logical connections.

Something specific that you should allow your reader to do is infer some of the character’s thoughts and intentions through their actions. This goes back to the idea of show don’t tell. Show the characters doing things, don’t spend all your time telling us why. Don’t intellectualize and analyze everything. While you should have a reason behind each character’s behavior, you don’t always have to list those reasons. So don’t say something like “because when she was nine her father hit her, now, at thirty she is afraid of being hurt by men.” Give the information about the father (perhaps in a flashback or a discussion–how is up to you), show a scene where she shies away from a guy. Maybe include a brief thought about the father when it happens. But do NOT intellectualize it. Trust that the reader can understand this connection. It’s fairly obvious even without being specifically told anyway.

Writing Exercise #3- Point of View

Filed under: Writing Exercises — Tags: — ax20 @ 4:37 pm

Write a story from one character’s point of view. Then write it from another character’s perspective.

Writing Exercise #2- Picture Story

Filed under: Writing Exercises — Tags: , , — ax20 @ 2:33 pm

Find a picture (drawing, painting, photograph) with people in it, though not of people you know and write a story about what is happening in the picture. The picture could be just one scene from the entire story, but make sure you are descriptive enough in the story in order for a reader to be able to picture the image you are writing about.

Writing Exercise #1- Ten Words

Filed under: Writing Exercises — Tags: , , — ax20 @ 2:29 pm

This is an exercise that you do with a friend and can be a lot of fun. My friend and I used to do this in class in High School and it really challenged us to be creative. First, you should sit together and brainstorm. Come up with ten unrelated words. Each of you should write a story including all ten words and then compare.

To make this more difficult, you can either have more than ten words or add a writing technique requirement such as write the story in second person, make sure a cat dies, or include a flashback, etc.

Quick Tip #3- Write A Lot

Filed under: Quick Tips — ax20 @ 2:20 am

Try to write something every day. Even if you have a busy schedule, take 15 minutes to write something, anything. Practice makes perfect!

Quick Tip #2- Edit!

Filed under: Quick Tips — Tags: — ax20 @ 2:08 am

There’s nothing more frustrating than reading a manuscript rife with errors. You’re never finished editing until the book is published and sometimes not even then.

Quick Tip #1- Read Your Work Out Loud

Filed under: Quick Tips — ax20 @ 2:07 am

Read your work out loud. This is the easiest way to identify cumbersome, awkward wording.

Older Posts »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.