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Showing posts from September, 2008

Episodic writing

One of the Steeple Hill editors forwarded this link to an article on Episodic Writing that is simply fabulous:

Plotting Problems - Episodic Writing

Synopsis worksheet endorsements

I recently put together a Synopsis Worksheet that will guide you through the process of writing a synopsis.

The best part is that you don't need a full completed manuscript to use the worksheet--just a general idea of your characters and storyline.

The worksheet is available as a .pdf file download for only $5.

In case you were wavering about whether to buy it or not, here are a few endorsements from happy clients who used the worksheet in my recent Synopsis writing class:


Camy Tang has a unique gift for guiding you through the process of putting together a synopsis. Her great insight helps you wrap up the main ideas step by step. I love the way she ensures you have a strong spiritual or internal arc in your synopsis. I can’t say enough good about her Synopsis Worksheet. You can’t go wrong with it.

Debbie Lynne Costello

Camy's Synopsis Worksheet was just the tool I needed! I dreaded writing my most recent synopsis— summarizing a 95,000 word novel into a few short pages? Aah! But Ca…

When should you hire a freelance editor? Part six

Click here for part five

If your answers to the previous questions were “yes,” then it’s time to hire a freelance editor.

If you’ve gotten feedback, entered contests, studied the craft of writing, finished a book, and done your market research, you have most likely moved from a beginning writer to an intermediate or advanced one.

At that point, a freelance editor can use her experience to figure out how to push you to the next level of writing craft.

You might have submitted your manuscript to a few agents or editors and gotten some rejections. Sometimes the rejections are form letters, sometimes they’re a little more personal (although it’s still a “no, thank you,” which can be frustrating).

Often, your manuscript will get many rejections and while your critique partners are sympathetic, no one can pinpoint why your manuscript keeps getting rejected.

Maybe you’re finalling and winning various writing contests (consistently finalling and winning), but you’re still getting rejections from ag…

Blogging for promotion

I blogged at Seekerville yesterday on Blogging for promotion, even if you're not yet published.

How to write a query letter

I blogged at LaShaunda's blog yesterday on the five main parts of a query letter and give an example of one:

How to write a query letter

The Story Crucible

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This article I wrote originally appeared on Suite101.

The Factor That Keeps the Character in Trouble

Every story needs a firm reason the character can’t just walk away from the story trouble. This is called the story crucible.

If a character is able to walk away from the story problem at any time, readers will feel dissatisfied with the story premise. The character needs a solid reason why he struggles on and doesn’t just take the option of giving up.

The Crucible Has to be Something Vital at Stake.

The character cannot continue with his external goal simply because he’s too stubborn to give it up. There has to be more at stake for him.

Someone’s life has to be in danger, whether figuratively or in actuality. It could be the character’s life or it could be someone the character cares for. There’s something vital on the line that can’t be ignored or sacrificed.

For example:

In the movie and series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy is the Slayer, the chosen girl who has powers to fight the…

When should you hire a freelance editor? Part five

Click here for part four

Do you read extensively in the market you’re targeting?

For example, if you’re targeting Christian fiction, do you read a lot of Christian fiction? If you’re targeting mass market romance, do you read a lot of mass market romances? If you’re targeting fantasy, do you read a lot of fantasy?

If the answer is no, you are definitely not ready to hire a freelance editor.

You may not realize it, but freelance editors can really tell when you haven’t read extensively in the market you’re targeting.

Whether it’s a particular genre or a particular publishing house you’re targeting, if you haven’t done your research by reading those books, it’s obvious in your writing.

For example, I have read manuscripts targeting, say, a Harlequin category romance line, who don’t have the hero and heroine meeting in the first chapter. If the writers read those romance books, they’d know a requirement of the line is for the hero and heroine to meet in the first chapter.

I have also read manus…

When should you hire a freelance editor? Part four

Click here for part three

Have you finished your novel?

If the answer is no, then I’d suggest you finish it first before considering hiring a freelance editor.

Why? Because there is something that happens in a writer when they complete a manuscript.

Finishing a book requires perseverance and dedication. A writer is tested in these things when she writes a novel, and she can only know if she has those qualities when she types, “The End.” This perseverance and dedication is what separates “real writers” from “wannabe writers.”

There are also things a writer learns about the writing craft in finishing a novel—the “sagging middle” syndrome, what a rushed ending looks like, the intricacies of tying up all the story threads. A writer who hasn’t experienced these things is still only a beginning writer, and you want to strive to be an intermediate writer before you hire a freelance editor. That way, the critique will be more effective.

Getting your entire novel critiqued by your critique partners …

Character external goals

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This article I wrote originally appeared on Suite101.

Why Characters Need Super-Objectives for Their Story Arcs

External goals are the backbone of your character’s story arc, and they give the reader something active to follow.

But what exactly are external goals, and why are they so important?

What is an external goal?

This has been called by different things: Super-Objectives, Character Purpose, Character Direction, or simply Goal.

They all mean the same thing—your character has an overarching objective/goal/purpose for the book that he is trying to achieve.

An external goal has a definite ending—a point at which the character knows when he has either succeeded or failed. It can’t be a vague desire or hope. It has to be a concrete, solid, physical something the character is striving for.

In Getting into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors, Brandilyn Collins states the character’s Super-Objective in terms of action. A character’s external goal should be some form…

When should you hire a freelance editor? Part three

Read part two here

Have you read any writing books, gone to any workshops, taken any classes (whether in person or online)?

If the answer is no, then you are not ready to hire a freelance editor.

The reason is similar to my answer in part one. Writing craft books, workshops, and classes can take you from a beginning writer to a strong intermediate one.

You don’t want to waste your good money in hiring a freelance editor who will point out the basic writing mistakes in your manuscript when you could buy a $15 book and learn that for yourself.

What book do you start with? I have a nice list of Books on Writing and a few suggestions in my article, “I want to write a novel and I have no clue what to do!”

If you have a hard time learning from books, go to a class. A writer’s conference can be expensive, but the workshops there are usually worth the investment.

Auditory learners have lots of options--in addition to conference workshops/classes, there are MP3 classes you can listen to. Randy Inger…

When should you hire a freelance editor? Part two

Camy here: I didn't even realize my Story Sensei blog wasn't publishing these articles the past month! I thought I'd scheduled them to post, but I had saved them as drafts instead. So here they are--better late than never!

Read part one here.

Have you submitted your work to contests?

If the answer is no, then I would suggest you hold off on hiring a freelance editor.

Like critique groups/partners, contests can give you honest (sometimes brutally honest) feedback on your writing to make it stronger.

Now be warned, contests are often a crapshoot because you never know if you’re going to get a really good judge or a really bad one. However, for beginning writers, contests can be invaluable because there’s a greater probability that you’ll get judges who are further along the writing journey than you are, and who can give you useful feedback.

Granted, sometimes you get that crabby judge who says all kinds of wrong and mean things. But weigh even those judged entries carefully, becau…

$10,000 FICTION COMPETITION

Zondervan and Mount Hermon Writer's Conference Sponsor Competition for Aspiring Fiction Authors

Winner Receives $10,000 Publishing Contract

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Sept. 3 /Christian Newswire/ -- Unpublished Christian fiction writers, get your manuscripts ready. Zondervan, a world leader in Christian communications, today announced All About the Story, a writing competition for first-time novelists. The winner will receive a $10,000 publishing contract with Zondervan, and all finalists will have their works recognized during the Christian Book EXPO in Dallas in March 2009.

Sponsored by Zondervan and Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, All About the Story is open to any unpublished writer who has attended a past Mount Hermon Writer's conference or who is registered for the 2009 conference. In addition to the opportunity for their work to be published by Zondervan, the winning author will also receive valuable feedback from editors and experienced judges, including bestselling…

Sorry for the unintentional haitus

Hi guys,

I didn't even realize that I hadn't been posting here on the Story Sensei for the past few weeks. I thought I'd scheduled Blogger to post, but instead I had saved my posts as drafts and they weren't posting at all.

I'll continue my "When should you hire a freelance editor?" series on Friday.

Camy

Writing quote: Bill Hull

This is a good quote for me as a writer, and I hope it inspires you, too!

What a great day it was when I finally came clean with God. My expectations had been wrong. I wanted a great ministry for me. There would be enough glory for God to have some too, of course, but I really wanted it for me. Then I was able to confess it as sin, repent, and turn away from good goals for wrong reasons.

I found simply imitating Jesus and leaving the results to God to be the scriptural approach. If God thought my contribution significant, He would arrange a wider hearing. It was not my business to be concerned about it. With this new outlook, obscurity was no threat, and fame no temptation. My reality was better, the anxiety space was closed, and my anxiety receded.

--Anxious for Nothing by Bill Hull (thanks to Cynthia Ruchti for this quote!)