Sunday, January 31, 2010
The idea behind Six Sentences is that you get to write about anything you want; you just have to do it in Six Sentences. To get your six sentences published, you have to actually go through a submission process and face an acceptance or rejection, based on the quality of your work.
From a writer’s perspective, that’s wonderful. It’s not your great American novel, it’s not that memoir that you cried writing, it’s just six sentences. It seems almost blasé. In other words, it’s safe to submit your work because it’s only six sentences. There’s no stress. There’s no harm. If they don’t like it, so what?
But it gets you out there. You can’t be published if you don’t submit your work, and six sentences is a great way to get started. Now I’m not going to lie. Robert McEvil, the editor of Six Sentences, doesn’t publish just any old six sentences. It took me several attempts before I finally had a piece published.
And the surprise for me was that I really fell in love with Six Sentences. Not only has it helped me get me submitting my work, it taught me to write tight. Believe it or not, you can get an entire story arc in six sentences.
Give it a try. Write about whatever you want. Just do it in six sentences and then submit it. Maybe you’ll fall in love with Six Sentences too.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
The idea is to read more books than you read last year. Well, to read more novels, really. But I already read a lot of them. BUT, I have no idea how many. I'm resolving (a little late for New Year's, I know, I know) to keep track of what I'm reading. AND to give the books good reviews on Amazon if I like them.
At our last writing meeting, Brian Wittenbrook (http://brianwittenbrook.com/) introduced us to a writing exercise called The Exquisite Corpse. I’d like to take a couple of minutes to share the exercise with you because I was pleasantly surprised by the results.
There were five of us participating in the exercise and I think the more people you have, the more interesting the results. I can imagine that you need at least three people.
Start out by giving each participant a long strip of paper about an inch wide, give or take. Each participate writes an article and an adjective, something like “A blue” or “The long.” They then fold the paper so that what they’ve written is hidden and they pass it to another participant.
The second participant writes a noun, folds the paper then passes it.
The third participant writes a verb, folds and passes.
The fourth participant writes another article and adjective combination, folds the paper again, and passes it along.
The final participant writes another noun. At this point you can pass and open the paper, or just open it without passing.
We took the sentence we each received and used it as a twenty-minute writing prompt.
The sentence I received was, “A green duckling lollygagging the sweet whale.” Now I know that sounds kind of ridiculous, but I was actually able to create the beginning of a short story that I plan of completing. And what I found so wonderful about it, the sentence prompted me to write in a style that I’ve never tried before and is completely unusual for me.
So if you’re finding yourself in a writing rut, get together with some friends and give The Exquisite Corpse a try. It might be just the thing to kick you back into gear.
Friday, January 22, 2010
This happens every night.
I am a proud new parent of twins. My daughter, Gwynevere Anne, is the air raid siren going off. Could be a diaper, a hungry belly, or the fact that she is as social a creature as her mother and woke to realize at 4am that no one was holding/playing with her. My son, Kade Auren, is thankfully much lower maintenance and sleeping through the cacophany in the other room, oblivious.
Since October 30, 2009 I have average approximately 3 hours of sleep a night. The holidays were the next worst thing to the torment the rich man suffered in Hades in Luke 16 (because we got off our schedule thanks to my inlaws).
What does this do to a writer (who by day is also a mild-mannered Physics teacher)?
Don't venture a guess. It could be fatal.
It is obvious that things like blogging take a hit judging the chronological distance between this post and my last (nearly 3 months?). The website I was designing for myself never made it past a single piece of notebook paper with a flowchart on it. I managed to enter exactly one writing contest at the last minute just last week, the first major writing-related event that wasn't actually me editing the book I'm trying to publish right now. I'm still waiting to find the time to finish the last session of a three session class I started in early October of last year.
It's tough. My wife and kids come first. But I did write. At night, when my wife was in the shower or brushing her teeth, I had thirty minutes to write (edit). At school, during my off period when all the papers were graded and I had no meetings, I had fifty minutes to write. At lunch, I have twenty five minutes to write. I've even filled my phone with notes taken 2 minutes here, 3 minutes there, (3 hours at the mall...zzz...zzz).
I thought that when my kids were born, then my days as a writer were put on hold indefinitely. When you are a writer, you find the time. Love is a wonderful thing. There is no limit to it. It is infinite and cannot be divided, only multiplied. Having twins gave me two new things in my life to love and they have not dimmed my love for those things I already loved: God, my wife and extended family, and my love of writing. If anything, they have multiplied my love for all of them.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
- Mary Higgins Clark got forty rejection slips before making her first sale
- John Grisham received 15 rejections for his first novel
- Dr. Seuss was rejected 24 times before selling his first book
- Jack London received over 600 rejection slips --now he's required reading at most public schools
- John Creasy received 774 rejections--he now has over 560 books in print under 13 different aliases
- "the New Yorker rejected a short story by Saul Bellow after he received the Nobel Prize for Literature"
Don't forget that other famous books such as Catch-22, A Wrinkle in Time, Carrie, and The Tale of Peter Rabbit all received numerous rejections. So keep plugging along!
Monday, January 18, 2010
But blogging is real writing. As a writer, I find that there are two, very different functions that I’m responsible for. First, I have to write to the best of my ability, which goes without saying. But even if I were the best writer in the world, if I’m not marketing myself, then no one will ever know how good I am. And that’s my second responsibility as a writer; marketing myself.
Blogging, as well as a lot of other social networking, is all about marketing myself, and as a writer, marketing is something I can’t afford to ignore. It’s just another way of getting my name out there. And if you’re a writer, it’s something you should probably be doing too.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
First of all, stop thinking about the synopsis as one of those crappy book reports you did in elementary or middle school. (No wonder most writers dread them!) Try to think of it as a simple summary of ideas that tells the reader about your characters or plot. If possible, write it before you finish the final draft. In this way, the synopsis can actually keep you on track and help guide you through the editing process.
We focused on two styles of creating a one page synopsis: Character based (my favorite) or plot driven stories (mystery/thriller/Action-Adventure). They both involve the use of 5-6 short paragraphs and start with your opening paragraph being the hook. Depending on what your genre and style is, there are two ways to approach the next paragraphs. If you are character driven, try this:
Opening hook (This can be cut and pasted from your query)
Summary of story (intro of main character, back story)
1st character description
2nd character description
3rd character description
Conclusion—resolution and consequences/relevance
For you plot driven genres, it might look like this:
Summary of story (description of main character and secondary characters)
Plot: initial conflict (who sets the story in motion)
Plot: 1st twist
Plot: 2nd twist
Conclusion: resolution and consequence/relevance
Of course, both of the above are designed to get you to a one page, single spaced synopsis. If you are writing a synopsis that needs to be one page, double spaced (manuscript contest, freaky agent requirement, etc.), then the same rules apply. You have to get less wordy though. Use your single spaced synopsis as a guide and cut to the bare bones. It’s a good idea to have several versions of the synopsis anyway.
We did cover lots of Do’s and Don’ts, most of which you can find on any website or book about the subject. The big one is still the importance of telling the end of your novel. No cliffhangers! Always write in present tense, as if the action is occurring right in front of us.
Mr. Pipkin offered a lot of insight, and I would highly recommend taking a class from him. As a result of his query writing class, I tweaked my letter and sent it out to several agents I'm interested in working with. Within the first four days, I had three requests to read my manuscript. Thank you, Mr. Pipkin!
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
He's proposing that you think about what you would say to someone, a child, a friend, a complete stranger beside you on the plane, the one thing you would say on one of these subjects: life, liberty, loss, love, loyalty, luck or lust. Pick one or address them all!
Jim hasn't decided how he'll use them yet, but an articles or even a book are a possibilities.
Here are his words, copied from his site at http://www.jamesmjackson.com/NonFiction/onething-main.html :
Feel free to pass this request on to your friends, family, business associates, anyone. I have no idea where the most intriguing thoughts may come from. I do ask that your response come in the form of an email to an account I have set up specifically for this project
I will not open any attachments. (It may be my loss, but so it goes.) In order to provide some identity, while maintaining anonymity, I am requesting your first name and state of residence. In a litigious society, I need something to grant me permission to use your words, and so I have included a release at the bottom, which must be included in the email.
Here is the format I would prefer you use. Please feel free to copy and paste this into your email.
If I could tell you only one thing about [choose one: liberty, life, loss, love, loyalty, luck, lust] it would be this:
First Name: ___________________________
State of Residence: ________________________
I understand that by sending this email, I certify I am over the age of eighteen; I have not quoted anyone else, the thoughts above are mine; and I give you permission to use my thoughts however you choose, including, but not limited to: books, articles, homilies and blogs (regardless of the media format).
Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts.
James Montgomery Jackson
Me, Kaye, again. This could be fun! I've already answer the "life" question and am pondering the others.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
You’ve heard me say it before, well maybe read it when I wrote it, that to be a writer, you have to write; everyday. Even you only do 20-minute writing exercises. So I’ve added some more writing prompts for this week. I haven’t done this in a while and thought it might be time again. Of course this has a horror slant. Hey, I am a horror author after all.
Sunday, January 10th – It’s the cold and flu season. And when you get sick, you just want to crawl in bed. But what if you can’t? What if you had the flu and also had to get away from zombies? Write about it.
Monday, January 11th – Instead of the flu like yesterday’s writing prompt, make it a virus, a really bad virus that you just thought was a cold coming on. How did you get it? Where did it come from? Is it terrestrial or extraterrestrial?
Tuesday, January 12th – What New Year’s resolution did you make? Are you sticking to it? How about a serial killer resolving not to murder anyone this year? Or it could be a monster or a vampire. Write about it.
Wednesday, January 13th – I just watched The Hangover again. Funny stuff. Did you have a hangover from New Year’s Eve? Write about waking up with a hangover and finding something that is so out of place you don’t know what to make of it.
Thursday, January 14th – New Year’s is also about goals. Take the prompt from Monday and switch it around. Instead of resolving not to kill, make it a totally ridiculous goal, maybe to kill a person every day.
Friday, January 15th – And let’s not forget about snow and ice. Icy roads lead to accidents, even if you’re on your way to the hospital. What can you make out of that?
Saturday, January 16th – Speaking of ice and snow, what if you get snowed in and can’t get somewhere? Or maybe you can’t get away from something or someone. Write for 20 minutes.
Here’s another idea for a bonus writing exercise this week. Take two or three of these and combine them together. Or combine one of these with any of the numerous books out there that give writing prompts. What can you come up with?
Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to do these writing exercises. The important thing is that you write. That’s all for now.
You can find out more about this author by visiting his website at http://www.DougMcIntire.com/.
There is a way out--no, not that way!
First a little background, it will help follow my thought process (I promise). I'm a book and knowledge junkie. I read lots of books on every subject, but I do focus on personal development and spirituality. From the guy sharing secrets to becoming a millionaire to the Swami helping you get a grip on your karma, there is a common message:
DON'T BECOME ATTACHED TO THE OUTCOME, FOCUS INSTEAD ON THE ACTIVITY
Being a writer isn't about the sale, or the movie based on your book, or landing an agent. It's about the activity and practice of being a writer. Life is a journey, not a destination. So is writing. A writer is someone who writes everyday (or as close to it as possible) because they love to write. They constantly educate themselves, read, and write some more. It is the actual activity of writing that makes us happy. When we focus on other people's success and gauge or work's success or failure on them, that's we get that nasty little bug called "AMICRAZY."
When you get three rejections in one week, you also may ask yourself AM I CRAZY? I know, I've been there, but then I remember I write because its compulsive, therapeutic, and it keeps me off the mean streets of Lake Travis (sarcasm noted for those of you who don't know Lake Travis). Plus, writing is subjective. I'm glad they rejected me. I probably wasn't the right fit. My story belonged somewhere else. Or maybe I just needed someone else to tell me, "nice try but you still need a little something to make it great." That's how I learn. That's how I grow as a writer. Believe me, my writing has improved ten fold in the past year from understanding what I was doing wrong just as much as what I am doing right.
So, don't worry about when you finish. If you have a deadline, don't focus on the due date, focus on the daily activity of writing and you'll get there. Don't worry if your book isn't #1 or if you aren't the most talented writer. There are a lot of talented people standing by, scratching their heads, thinking "Am I crazy?" Focus on the activity and you'll pass them up. When you pass them, and success starts to cloud your judgement, remember:
DO NOT BECOME ATTACHED TO THE OUTCOME--FOCUS ON THE ACTIVITY!
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
(1)I got a story published in January that I'm proud of. [[http://www.geoffeighinger.com/Crooked1.pdf]]
(2)I got to join a new writers' group, and here I am blogging with them.
(3)My YA manuscript got requested, in full, by three agents, any one of which I'd leap through hoops to sign with. (And I don't leap through hoops easily!)
(4)I finished a good rewrite on the intended first of a series and hope to begin querying it soon. (As soon as it gels and I get a couple read-throughs back from trusted readers.)
(5)I got a story accepted for an anthology that should come out this year. This will be my first non-magazine short story, it will be something I can sign at book signings!
There were many, many rejections and disappointments, along with the scattered triumphs. I suspect 2010 will not be much different. A lot more rejections, BUT, I am holding out hope for the one agent, the one publisher, who will see something that appeals to him/her/them in my writing.
I hope this is a great year for all the writers I know! Now, let's go pound the keyboards. My motto for this year: GET 'ER DONE!
Sunday, January 3, 2010
New Year’s. January first. It’s an amazing time. Believe it or not, it’s a fresh beginning. It’s a time when the slate is clean and we get all the do-overs in life.
Maybe not quite, but close. Perhaps as close as you can get to a real do-over in life. It’s a time when you can forget the past and begin anew. So what does “anew” mean to you? Does it mean a new car? Does it mean a new job? Or does it mean that you’re going to work at something you’ve always wanted to achieve?
For me, “anew” means that I get a fresh start at becoming a writer. I get a fresh chance to sell my work. I get a fresh chance to sell myself. But most of all, I get a fresh chance to write. Because I am a better writer. I’ve been writing for a whole year and the practice has undoubtedly made me better. It’s made you better too.
And if you haven’t been writing for the last year, then get started. It’s a clean slate. And whether you’re a new writer, an in-between writer, or an experienced, published author, this is a new year and I guarantee that you’ll end this year better than you began it.
Now, let’s begin…
You can find more about this author at www.DougMcIntire.com.