Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Change of Venue

I’ve noticed that sometimes when I get into a writing rut, a change of scenery often helps. This morning, I realized that I had about 45 minutes to kill and As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in a Taco Bell. I’ve never written in a Taco Bell before, and I’m noticing that it’s generating new ideas and new avenues for my writing that I might not have thought about otherwise.

I realized that I’ve never had a Chihuahua in any of my stories and that I didn’t even know how to spell Chihuahua for that matter. And there’s no Internet access here. Being un-tethered, it forces me to write, instead of check my Facebook account, Twitter, or any of the other dozens of Internet distractions that usually derail my writing efforts.

So if you’re in a rut, get out of your usual routine. Take the notebook out of the house and drive around until you find someplace where you haven’t written before. It might be just the thing you need to spur that creative idea you’ve been looking for.

~Doug McIntire

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Art of Revision Workshop by Carol Dawson part 3

Five months later...

As many of you know, my wife gave birth back on October 30th of 2009 to my twins, Kade and Gwynever. I describe that time as exciting and crazy, and I loved every minute of it. But the timing caused me to miss the last three hour session with Carol Dawson and her Art of Revision Workshop. I wrote to her ahead of time that this would probably happen and she graciously offered to meet with me one on one once the dust settled.

Fast forward to March. The twins sleep through the night, now. Their parents act less zombie-like. I emailed Carol and set up a time to meet with her for that last session.

She gave me some great final pointers, helped me realize one major change I needed to make, and told me to quit holding off on submissions. Now I have no more excuses for not sending in those query letters.

I would like to highly recommend for anyone who needs to improve their self editing abilities to attend Carol Dawson's workshop. She is an amazing woman, a lot of fun, and most important, she is very knowledgeable about editing. For those who are members of the Writer's League of Texas or who live anywhere close to Austin, I believe the WLT has another session with her coming up. Sign up. Go. You will be glad you did.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Script Frenzy

By now you probably know about NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month that occurs every November. I’ve chatted about it more than once on this blog and others. But have you ever stopped to wonder what the people who run NaNoWriMo do for the rest of the year? I have.

And I just found they run a similar event for script writers. It’s called Script Frenzy and the idea is that you write a 100-page script during the month of April. A script could be a screenplay, a stage play, TV shows, short films, and even graphic novels. They have a website at where you can sign up and learn all about it. And if you’ve ever done NaNoWriMo, then your same username and password will work for Script Frenzy.

I think I’m going to give it a go this year. I have a friend who’s been trying to get me into script writing for a number of years now, and I think this year he’s actually convinced me. I’ve had an idea for a short animation running around in my head for a couple of months now and I think it’s time to try to get it down on paper.

The thing that scares me the most is the formatting of screenplays. So I asked my friend about it. He told me that he had been using a program called “Final Draft” but recently switched to “Movie Magic.” From what he told me, these programs handle most of the formatting for you.

So I think I’m going to go get one of those and give it a whirl. If you’re game to try it with me, look me up on the Script Frenzy website. I’m Dmac9000 and I’m looking forward to seeing you there!

~Doug McIntire

Friday, March 12, 2010

Dr. Wicked's WRITE OR DIE

Keep writing. Write every day. Use your writing muscles so they develop, not atrophy. Writers hear variations of this often. And we SHOULD write every day. But some days, I sit at the computer and type Chapter 12 or 14 or 17. And sit. And think, OK, now what? I look at the plot outline, review my main plot points, go over the synopsis I started. But I still wonder, right now, in this chapter now what?

This never happens in Chapter 1 or 5, or Chapter 27 or 30. Those are beginnings and endings, not saggy, baggy middles. I KNOW I have to force myself to type something. I know I can't edit a blank page.

Here's how to make yourself type: Write or Die, a wicked device if there ever was one. Take a peek:


Say you want to type 100 words in the next 10 minutes. Plug those values in, At the most extremes level of Consequences = Kamikaze Mode and Grace Period = Evil, you get only one pause. You start typing, but if you pause too long, your words start disappearing! The dang thing backspaces on you! You have to move forward. No editing here, no time.

The lovely green background turns pink, then darker and darker until it's angry red if you pause too long.

In less stringent modes, you get polite reminders that you've stopped typing, rather than backspacing. The background will turn red if you stop too long, but you don't lose your precious prose.

If you want to save what you've done, you have to copy and paste, before it all disappears. If you let all your words disappear, it will take you down to one word at the strictest levels The lowest time limit is ten minutes, the longest two hours! You can type in any number of words.

It's fun to play with and can help get you over a hump!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Rejections are Just an Invitation

I used to teach classes on writing resumes and the interview process. One of the things I always used to tell my students was that if you don’t apply, you’re guaranteed not to get the position. If you want the position, you have to apply for it. If you’re looking for a job, you have to keep your resume circulating among the places that are hiring.

Sending off stories to potential markets is a lot like that. If you don’t submit your work, it’s guaranteed not to be published. You have to keep the stories circulating among the markets that are publishing stories.

I know, you want it to be as good as it can be, and don’t get me wrong; you should polish your work. But the process of polishing can have diminishing returns. At some point, it’s time to kick your story out of the nest and let it fly.

Will you get rejections? Certainly. And if you don’t send it out, it won’t get rejected. Another way to look at it is if you don’t send it out, it can’t be accepted.

My advice? Keep sending those stories out. Keep them in circulation until you find that perfect market for your story. The way I figure it, a story sitting on my hard drive is doing me no good. A rejection is just an invitation to send it off to another market. And sometimes you get good advice in a rejection on how you can improve your story.

So don’t let your stories sit on your hard drive. Get them out there! Let them fly. They may come back to you, but if they do, just send them off again. Sooner or later, they’ll find the market where they find the wings to fly.

~Doug McIntire

Monday, March 8, 2010

Things I love to Hate

Sometimes its hard to find inspiration. Doug's prompts are awesome and always get the juices flowing, but while taking a creative writing class with Jeremy Shipp I got turned on to another way to stimulate ideas. What he had us do is for one exercise make a list of five things we love, then write a short passage incorporating those five things. Next we did the same thing but with five things we hate.

I know this sounds almost juvenile, but trust me. I absolutely LOVE the creepy story that emerged from the second exercise (I will be submitting it this week--cross your fingers). The possibilities are endless. You can keep making lists and using them to stimulate ideas. Plus, the more unusual the combination, the better the outcome!

Hope it helps. Happy Writing!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

One Day to Submit Them, and in the Darkness Bind Them

I’ve been writing stories for a few years now and I have a lot of stories in various stages of completion. One thing I’ve noticed that in a given week, I have anywhere from eight or ten stories I need to submit to potential markets.

That sounds easy enough, but it takes a lot of time, looking at markets in an attempt to determine which market is right for a given story. That adds up to a lot of work.

The problem with that is it detracts from me actually writing. I know it’s important, and I’m not willing to ignore the need to submit material to markets, but I have to admit that I became a writer because I like to write. And there are already enough things that take away time from my writing. So I’ve come up with a plan.

From now on, Sundays are my days for submissions. I’m calling them Submission Sunday and my goal is to make all the week’s submissions during this one day. That way I’m free to write on all the other days of the week, with one less distraction.

And I’m even going to post updates on Twitter. At first it will be #Submission Sunday, but as it catches on – and I know it will – I’ll be able to abbreviate it to #SS. So, if submissions are getting you down, then do what I do. Make it fun and tweet about #Submission Sunday.

Stay tuned for next week’s #QueryThursday. Okay, I might be kidding about that.

~Doug McIntire