Creative Writing Reality Check: Authors DON’T Know The Ending Ahead of Time

Great post on whether writers do (and should) know the ending of their stories ahead of time.

Creative Writing with the Crimson League

Photo on 2011-02-22 at 15.31_3Everyone, please welcome guest blogger and fellow author Katie Cross to today, to talk about her experiences with creative writing, characters, and novels.

A bit of background for this post: as you know, my writer’s handbook, “Writing for You: A Novelist’s Guide to the Craft of Fiction” releases July 31.

Part of the first chapter involves a description of what I consider the most common and most counterproductive misconceptions about writing a novel.

To help pump people up for the release, I asked Katie to write about what she considers one of the major misconceptions non-writers and beginning-writers have.

How much does an author REALLY know what’s going to happen to her characters???

I’ll let Katie take it from here:

When I was a little girl, I would have given up my softball mitt to know who my future husband would be.

I was convinced it was Devin, the…

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Writing for You: The Writer’s Handbook

Writing for You: The Writer’s Handbook.  Exciting news from The Crimson League (aka Victoria Grefer)!

6 Tips for Staying Organized While Writing a Series

Are you writing a fictional series? Are you lost in a sea of characters and events that are increasingly difficult to manage? Then read Sarah Cradit’s post on how to get your series in order.

...and then there was Sarah

com.DreamFactory.ebook_.ASongofIceandFire_1Writing a series is not as simple as just writing several books in a row. Nor is it as easy as taking one long story and breaking it into several parts. There are a lot of nuances to writing a series that many writers just do not think about until they’re smack in the middle of it, and by that time its either too late OR you’ve just created a mountain of work for yourself that you might have avoided.

 Maybe, just maybe, I can help you avoid some of that work.

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Facebook Nation

I recently created a profile on Facebook, at first to follow the lives of the younger members of my families.  But I’ve since gone Facebook crazy with adding apps, including trying to add my blog posts.  Although this old gal has a bit of a learning curve with Facebook, it is insanely easy to set up compared to MySpace and much more fun.  But, you may ask, is there any value in Facebook for the aspiring writer?   Jump over to Wicked Wordsmith for a great post on “Using Facebook to Your Advantage.”  Blogger Angela Wilson interviews Mari Smith on the pros and cons of using Facebook as a marketing tool.  It’s a great interview with lots of tips and insights for tyros like me and, maybe, you too!

The Horror of Women Writers

Sunday’s NY Times Book Review section has a great essay by Terrence Rafferty called Shelley’s Daughters. Rafferty remarks on the irony that the “mother” of the horror novel gave birth to more sons than daughters, e.g., Poe, King, Lovecraft. And the few daughters she may claim did not always write prolifically in the genre of horror (Rafferty mentions Shirley Jackson and Charlotte Perkins Gilman to support this observation). The best part of his essay, of course, is the brief reviews he gives of contemporary women writers of horror. Don’t, however, expect to find reviews of the popular vampire novels by Laurell K. Hamilton and Stephenie Meyer: Rafferty notes that their novels “don’t appear to be concerned, as true horror, should be, with actually frightening the reader.” Rather, he comments on novels by Sara Gran, Alexandra Sokoloff, Sarah Langan, and Elizabeth Hand; writers new to me, but whose work I look forward to reading (especially, Langan whose novel The Keeper I just ordered).

Frankly, I would love to write ** good ** horror. I tried my hand at it in last year’s National Novel Writing Month and, most recently, in a short story that has been revised multiple times. But writing horror is much more difficult than I thought it would be. Anyone can write gory scenes of zombies eating humans or ghosts wielding axes and chopping off body parts; but to instill cold prickly fear in the reader requires skill and precision. I grew up addicted to horror films, mostly from Great Britain but pre-Hammer Film Productions, and the ones that always scared me the most were those that were heavy on suspense: What’s behind the door? Is the monster there? Should our hero open it? What’s behind the door?

Writing horror down is not for the feint of heart.

Writer’s Reality Check

JA Konrath, author of the Lt. Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels thriller series, has a great blog at  A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing.  In particular, check out his “Brain Check” post.  JA provides a list of instructions for writers trying to persevere in this information-laden and book-heavy age:

1.  Study the situation.

2.  Set attainable goals.

3.  Learn from both failure and success.

4.  Don’t compare yourself to other writers.

5. Value yourself.

6.  Bust your ass.

7.  Forgive.

8.  Dream.

Read JA’s full post for his elaborations on each item.  I struggle the most with items 4 and 5.  I’m always comparing myself to other writers.  That can be OK if I’m thinking, “gee, I can write as well as that,” but most of the time I’m thinking, “gee, I wish I had her gift for plot” or “gee, I wish I had his talent for humor.”  The thing is I love to read and the second best way to learn about writing is to read (the first is, of course, to write), so not comparing myself to other writers is an ongoing struggle.  

I definitely don’t value my writing as much as I should.  I’ve received enough encouragement from other writers to keep going, but I need to learn to be my own encouragement.  At the end of the day, I have to value what I do.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t raised to value my writing, so it is, yet another, ongoing struggle.  

And what keeps me from busting my ass is my perpetual self-criticism and doubt.  Hmmm … enough excuses already, don’t you think?

Setting Deadlines for Writing

Karen Zara, guest blogger at the Writer’s Resource Center, has a lively post on why deadlines may be almost as good as money to spur your writing. Yes, indeed, she makes a compelling argument for how deadlines can determine whether and what you write, and, of course, that (ideally) translates into making money. Click here to read her full post.

Her post resonates with me because I find myself adhering to externally imposed deadlines while forever adjusting my internally imposed deadlines. When someone tells me to jump, I ask “how high?” When I tell myself to jump, I say “later.” Sadly, this is particularly true when it comes to my writing. Recently I completed a two-and-a-half year mentorship for my fiction writing, and I am anxious about whether my production will grind to a halt without a “mail by” date hanging over my head. So my first effort at keeping the momentum going is to enter writing contests.

Writing contests have deadlines. If you miss the deadline, you miss entering the contest and having a chance to win (anything). Whether I actually enter the contest is not the point, however; it’s that I used a real deadline to spur myself to write. That’s one thing I like about contests–they have deadlines so if you snooze, you lose.

So, how do you keep your writing momentum going?

Sustainable Writing

Morgan O’Donnell, guest blogger at the Writer’s Resource Center, offers some great ideas for making your writing environment sustainable.  She uses the classic science fiction novel–Dune–to support her insightful ideas.  My favorite:  “All good writers recycle.”  To see what I mean, read her full post by clicking here.

Writers Can Have Lives Too

Guest blogger at the Writer’s Resource Center, Cesar Torres, argues that writers can (and should) have lives.  He presents five ways to “get your life back.”  They involve the usual (but critical) “using time effectively” to intriguing suggestions of being “present with people.”  To learn more, click here to read the full post.

Let a Newbie Stimulate Your Creativity

Sebastian Keller, guest blogger at the Writer’s Resource Center, has a stimulating post on using art to inspire one’s writing.  To keep inspiration alive, we must challenge the rules of our craft, which Sebastian admits is a lot easier for a newbie to do.  He encourages writers to “develop that magical perception. Everything is meaningful, everything is inspiring.”  Even a blank computer screen can be inspiring … hmmmm … I’ll have to think about that one.  But I take his point that even the most mundane circumstances, the most ordinary people can be vessels for inspiration.  So go and get inspired:  Read Sebastian’s full post by clicking here.

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