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Showing posts from February, 2009

Common Contest Problems

My friend Danica blogged about some Common Contest Problems, and her post might be a helpful checklist for anyone trying to strengthen those first 50 pages of their manuscript:

I'm doing my civic duty and judging some contest entries today. I had really high hopes for this one. In years past, I've read such good entries that I wanted to write the contest people, begging to read the rest of the manuscript.

This year, not so much.

As I read each entry, I realized that they all had the same problems in common. So I thought, for the writers who read my blog, I'd share the commonalities.

Click here to read the rest of the post.

Article interview with Barbara Scott

In the ACFW Afictionado ezine, there's a good article/interview with editor Barbara Scott from Abingdon Press:

A Few Moments with....Barbara Scott

A few friends of mine are being published through Abingdon, and I knew Barbara when she had been editor at Zonderkidz. She's a terrific person and I like her a lot. I'm also really excited about the new Abingdon fiction line--there's a huge variety of stories that are sure to appeal, and Barbara is collecting a lot of fresh writing voices for her stable of authors.

Check out the article if you think you might be interested in submitting to Abingdon!

Serial Killers and the Writers Who Love Them: Facts about Popular Myths

For those of you writing suspense, thriller, and mystery, Pat Bertram had Katherine Ramsland on her blog. Katherine is a respected writer who has published several books on criminals, criminal psychology, and CSI. (I have one of her books around here somewhere...)

We have many myths attached to serial killers in our culture, most of them from outdated studies or from fiction and film. While those early studies had their merits, they’re not, and never were, representative of serial killers as a whole.

Click here to read the rest of the article

Inexpensive Writing Retreats

Today I'm blogging at Seekerville about options for inexpensive writing retreats:

Camy here, feeling the crunch of the economy just like all of you. But sometimes, you need something to jumpstart your creativity or to kick you out of a writing block.

Writing retreats are wonderful things, because they can do many different things:

--Help to immerse you in that creative right brain mode so you can get “in the zone”

--Give you that kick in the pants you need to plow through a writing block or a difficult patch of writing

--Eliminate distractions that might be keeping you from writing effectively or efficiently

--Help you to focus and pay attention to details

But let’s face it, writing retreats are expensive.

Click here to read the rest of the article

Make Great Character Names

Did you know that the right character name can make your manuscript more vibrant or powerful? I wrote this article, which originally appeared on Suite101.

Make Great Character Names

Add Depth and Emotion By Naming Your Characters Carefully

Be judicious in how you name your characters, paying attention to details and not just name meanings, in order to add color, depth, and power to your characters.

When naming characters, many writers only pay attention to how a name sounds or what a name means, but there are other things to keep in mind when you name your characters.

Choosing a good name and paying attention to certain details can:

Add power and depth to a character

Make the manuscript less confusing

Make the manuscript more polished and professional

Create smoother reading pace

Evoke an emotional reaction in your reader

Choose a Name With Meaning

These days, the Internet has many resources to find names and their meanings. Any baby name site will offer almost too many to sift through…

The first page, part 3 - Establish the protagonist

This is continuing my series on things to look for in your first page.
Click here for part two.

Establish the protagonist

Your first paragraph (ideally—or at least the first several lines of the book) should mention one of the main protagonists by name.

The first page of the book is one place where you can break with deep point of view and mention the entire main character’s name, even though technically, in deep point of view, the main character would only think of him/herself by a first name.

This was not the smartest way to die.

USAF Pararescue Jumper Manny Péna grunted, tensed his muscles and tried again to flare the canopy on his parachute.

No go.
--A Soldier’s Family by Cheryl Wyatt

It’s usually best to start the story in the main protagonist’s point of view, opening the storyworld from the protagonist’s eyes, being in her thoughts and body.

Allison Stewart’s future hung in the balance. Her job. Her research. Her attempt to make a difference.
--Countdown to Death by Debby Giusti

Sometime…

Join a critique group

As many of you know, I belong to the American Christian Fiction Writers organization, and a topic came up on the email discussion loop that I wanted to tell you guys about.

Sometimes, an ACFW member will email the loop asking for a quick critique, and usually people are more than willing to take a quick look at a piece of writing. One member did that last week.

In response, another member raved about his ACFW critique group, and encouraged other members to take advantage of ACFW's free critique group service.

What ACFW offers for every member is their free critique group program. A coordinator will assign a member to an online critique group. The groups are usually small, no more than 5 or 6 people, and most of them are smaller than that.

The groups are matched according to genre, if you prefer.

You can also request a group that can keep up with your writing speed--critiquing one chapter a week or one chapter a month, whichever you can keep up with.

If a group doesn't happen to work…

Ten Mistakes Writers Don’t See (But Can Easily Fix When They Do)

Writing despite myself

I'm blogging at Seekerville today about writing despite my own lack of motivation, whether from depression, stress, or distractions.

Camy here, talking about the one thing I struggle against the most when it comes to writing—myself.

I don’t like it, but I am a very emotional writer. Meaning, my writing motivation is often fed by my feelings.

Click here to read the rest of the post.

Strengthen Prose With Judicious Words

I wrote this article, which originally appeared on Suite101, about how you can self-edit yourself into more vibrant prose.

Strengthen Prose With Judicious Words

Be Selective in Word Choices for Vibrant Writing and Strong Writer’s Voice

A writer can bump their writing up to the next level and make it sparkle by being careful and thoughtful about each word used.

Many times, editors will say that the writer’s “voice” in a manuscript is what catches their attention.

Voice is hard to define, even for industry professionals. It’s that intangible something that makes a string of prose unique to the author, and a strong voice is what will make an editor interested in a manuscript.

But one thing common to all writers who have strong writers’ voices is that their word choices and phrasing are very unique and vibrant.

Whether you have discovered and developed your writer’s voice or not, here are a few tips for polishing your writing to make it stand out more with strong words and brilliant prose…