Tag Archives: synopsis

Helpful Writing Sites and Blog Posts March 2011

I’m excited this month to introduce a new addition to my blog. If you look up at the tabs above you will see a new one titled, ‘Helpful Writing Sites and Blog Posts Masterlist’. In this master list I have gathered all the links from all the past editions of ‘Helpful Writing Sites and Blog Posts’ into one place. This way you won’t have to go searching through all the past editions to find the link you’re looking for. To make it even easier, I’ve put the links under headings, such as: ‘dialogue’, ‘openings’ and ‘queries’, so if you’re looking for information on query writing, go to the ‘queries’ section or if you want a stronger opening, go to the ‘openings’ section. From now on, whenever I do one of these monthly posts, the links will get added to the master list.

Now, onto this month’s edition:

Writing

How to Get Published: A Flowchart

A great flowchart (and checklist) on the writing process and a great way to know if you’re ready to query.

My Writing Success: The ONE Thing That Helped Me Most

Author Jody Hedlund explains the one specific thing that helped her most on her journey towards writing success.

On Story Openings

Using their soon-to-be-published anthology of stories as examples, The Australian Literature Review outlines the elements of effective story opening lines.

Story Skeletons: Teaching Plot Structure with Picture Books

Although this post is meant to be a teaching tool for young readers/writers in the classroom, it’s a great post for writers of picture books as well. It focuses on the basic structures used in picture story books and includes examples of each structure.

Where Should a Second Chapter Start?

There’s always a big focus for writers on getting that first chapter perfect, but what about chapter two? This post looks at building a strong second chapter.

Five Ways to Show Emotion in Your Writing

Based on the book From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction by Robert Olen Butler, this post looks at expressing emotion in your writing with a focus on showing vs telling.

Genre Novels – Word Count Rules, Subgenres, and Guidelines for Getting Your Book Published

A short guide to word count rules and subgenres for the various genres (fantasy, romance, historical, mystery, thriller, horror, YA, and Western).

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

Before you submit your work, double-check to make sure you haven’t made any of these mistakes that are easy to fix. (Sometimes this is where a critique partner can come in handy.)

NOTE: For number one, I find Wordle is a helpful website for weeding out crutch words. For number nine, reading aloud is a great way to pick up on awkward phrasing.

The Doctor is in the House – Novel Diagnostics

An exploration of common problems found in the beginning of a manuscript that can be an indicator of problems in the rest of the manuscript.

Queries/Pitches

The Twitter Query

A look at how to write an effective query in only 140 characters.

Rites of Submission: Cover Letters and Query Letters

This article includes two sample letters: an example of what not to do (including common mistakes) and a successful letter.

How I Got My Agent (Part 1: The Parts of a Good Query)

Author Susan Dennard shares advice on writing a good query letter, using her own successful query letter as an example.

Synopsis

How to Write a 1 Page Synopsis

A break down of the key elements needed for a one page synopsis. Includes worksheet.

Motivation

On Sticking With It

A reminder from author/agent Mandy Hubbard that is hard to become published, and why it is important to stick to it and not give up.

Social Media

Twitter Hashtags for Writers

Using these writer hashtags on Twitter is a great way to meet fellow writers. A comprehensive list of writer hashtags, including a schedule of writer chats on Twitter.

8 Sentence to Immediately Cut From Your Twitter

These 8 bio mistakes may be costing you followers and you may want to avoid them. Includes two things you may want to include instead.

Blogging Tips: Tips for Increasing Your Followers and/or Subscribers

Rachael Harrie has some great simple tips for building up a following on your writing blog.

Facebook for Authors: How to Get Started

Agent Nathan Bransford gives some helpful tips on starting up a Facebook author page.

For Fun

9 Things Everyone Needs to Know About Writers.

Very funny and very true. Pass this list on to all your non-writing friends.

Speaking of Facebook author pages, I’ve just started one of my own. You can find it here: http://www.facebook.com/JoHartAuthor or on the Facebook link on the sidebar of this blog.

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Helpful Writing Sites & Blog Posts January 2011

The first helpful writing sites blog post for the year. I’ve come across quite a few good ones this month.

Writing Advice

Writing in the Age of Distraction

Tips on how to balance writing with social media/the internet. What I most like about this post is that Cory Doctorow outlines how the internet has benefited his writing as much as it’s been a distraction and that there can be balance – you don’t have to black-ban yourself from the internet to get writing done.

Back Story and Exposition

Brooke Johnson talks about mastering the skills of back story and exposition without resorting to the dreaded ‘info-dump’.

How to Write Intriguing Male and Female Characters

A post on how understanding gender differences can improve your writing in any genre.

Want to Get High (Concept)?

A post explaining what makes a story ‘high concept’.

The Increasing Importance of the First Chapter

Author Jody Hedlund explains why the first chapter is so important. She also includes a link to a post on ‘Potential First Chapter Problems’.

100 Stories for Queensland Update

While the submissions for the 100 Stories for Queensland Anthology closes today (there’s still just over 12 hours left to submit – it’s for a great cause), this post is worth reading if you are a short story writer. Scroll down the page a little and Nick Daw gives some great advice on writing short stories.

Queries

Is the Query System Dying?

Author Jody Hedlund talks about query statistics and how you can improve your chances of getting an agent.

The Difference Between ‘Pitch’ and ‘Query’

Query Shark, Janet Reid, outlines the difference between giving a verbal pitch to an agent and writing a query.

Your Professional Bio: Query Letter and Cover Letter Tips for Writers

As part of a query or cover letter, writers are asked to include a bio paragraph. This post outlines the things you should and shouldn’t include in your bio paragraph, and what to do if you have no writing credentials.

The Biggest Mistakes Writers Make When Querying Literary Agents

This is a long post, but well worth reading. J.M. Tohline e-mailed 100 literary agents and asked them the same question, “What is the single biggest mistake writers make when querying you?” This post looks at the answers received from these agents, including some of the detail agents went into when answering.

Synopses

How to Write a Synopsis for Your Novel

7 steps to writing an effective synopsis.  This post gives advice on how to avoid ending up with a boring summary of your story (‘and then this happened and then that happened’), and tells you how you can include the emotional twists and turns that make your story interesting.

Manuscript Submission

Checklist for Submission

This truly awesome checklist has been compiled by an editor/publisher. The comprehensive checklist includes everything you need to remember when submitting your manuscript. It even includes a handy printable version with check boxes.

Formatting Your Manuscript – The Silent Scream

All the things you can do to ‘keep your editor’s hair from turning white’.

*image by nuttakit

Favourite Helpful Writing Posts 2010

Usually at the end of each month I do a roundup of the best helpful writing sites and blog posts I come across during the month. This month I will be doing things a little differently. For those who follow me on Twitter, or read my post from last week, you will know I have been a bit disconnected from the internet this past month due to some bad news I received early in the month. For those who don’t follow me, I found out I lost my baby early this month and I’ve been having a hard time emotionally. I’m starting to get back into the swing of things now, but as a result of my disconnectedness from the net I haven’t collected many great sites this month to share. Instead I’ve decided to do a roundup of a few of my favourite posts from throughout the year, ones I thought were so helpful I bookmarked them for future reference.

Helpful Writing Posts

Key Elements of Strong Fiction

Shennandoah Diaz writes about creating the foundation of strong fiction by establishing dynamic characters, an intriguing plot, a compelling voice, and a vibrant setting. She gives great examples to illustrate her points.

Top 8 Tips for Writing Dialogue

Ginny Wiehardt outlines eight ways you can improve your dialogue so it sounds more realistic, advances the story and fleshes out your characters.

Dialogue Tags

A great little reminder on the correct use of dialogue tags with examples of correct and incorrect usage.

Evil Overlords Lists

An excerpt from Teresa Neilsen Hayden’s lecture on ‘Stupid Plotting Tricks’ giving a look at cliches revolving around villains and the genres of science fiction and fantasy.

Counting Chickens: A Few Words About Word Counts

For anyone writing any form of kidlit (from picture books to young adult  novels), Hope Vestergaard’s post is handy to bookmark as a reminder on appropriate word counts for kidlit.

Workshop: Writing the Novel Synopsis

For any writer who dreads writing a novel synopsis or isn’t sure how to go about writing one, this workshop by Sheila Kelly shows you how to write a synopsis. She outlines the main elements you need to include and how to format it.

Helpful Writing PDFs

Book in a Month Worksheets

These worksheets are primarily geared towards planning for NaNoWriMo, but they are great planning tools for anyone thinking about starting a new novel idea. There’s a planning sheet for everything from story idea maps to character sketches to act one, two and three plot goals.

Eleven Senses – Who Knew?

I’ve mentioned this resource a few times on this blog. It outlines not only the five main senses we use, but six extra ones as well. It includes some writing exercises using the various senses and a great list of words for each sense (so you don’t always have to fall back on the same old sense words all the time, like saw and heard).

I hope everyone is enjoying their holidays and you all have a happy and safe new year!

Helpful Writing Sites and Blog Posts – August 2010 Edition

It’s that time of the month again, time to give a round-up of all the helpful writing sites and blog posts I’ve come across in the past month. I have quite a few this month so I’ll break them up into categories.

WRITING TIPS

Bring Your Characters to Life

Some great ideas on how to really get into your character’s head and make him/her come alive.

How to Write About a Real Location if You Haven’t Been There

Joanna Penn gives some ideas on how to write a location even if you’ve never been there.

Act First, Explain Later

Twelve dos and don’ts for writing a compelling first page.

Tension

Spawned from the #storycraft chat on tension, this post talks about ‘The Knitting Exercise’. By applying this exercise to your novel you can check to see how well tension is working in your novel. You can even apply it to your outline before you start writing.

In A Series, Foreshadowing A Character

Using the Harry Potter series as an example, this post shows how characters can be foreshadowed in a series before making their major appearance.

Tips For Writing A Great Second Draft of You Novel

Five tips for those who have finished the first draft and are ready to start editing.

Make Your Characters Earn Their Keep

Author Wendy Lyn Watson offers a trick for weeding out unnecessary characters.

GETTING READY TO SUBMIT

20 Questions to Ask Before Submitting Your Work

A great checklist for making sure your writing is perfectly polished.

Top Ten Novel Writing Mistakes

Check this list to make sure your novel doesn’t contain any of these common errors.

What Writers Wish They’d Known Before Pitching

A list of 12 things that matter to agents and editors when being pitched by writers.

Are You Ready To Submit Your Novel?

This post covers three critical elements to knowing if your work is ready to submit.

Are We Done Yet?

How do you know if your writing is as polished as it can get and is ready to submit? This post covers ways to know it’s ready and ways to know if it’s not ready.

Write on Con Forums

Even though Write on Con is over for this year the forums are still open. If you write picture books, middle grade or young adult there are sections for each where you can get critique or connect with fellow writers.

QUERIES/SYNOPSES/AGENT ADVICE

Writing the Dreaded Synopsis

Author Ebony McKenna gives some helpful advice on writing a novel synopsis.

Some Query Mistakes

Agent intern Amie (who also does great query sessions on Twitter using the hashtag #queryslam) lists 4 big mistakes you should avoid in your writing. And even though the post is titled ‘Some Query Mistakes’, the mistakes she lists can really be applied to your writing as a whole, not just your query letter or first five pages.

16 Reasons Why Your Manuscript Got Rejected Before Page 1

A former assistant editor outlines 16 common problems found in query letters and offers some solutions.

Interview with YA Agent Mary Kole

Mary gives some insightful answers to questions ranging from what she believes are the qualities of a successful manuscript to what books she would recommend to hone your writing skills.

How to Ensure 75% of Agents Will Request Your Material

This post caused a little bit of controversy, and not everyone agrees the 75% request rate is accurate, but nonetheless Marcus Sakey makes some noteworthy points.

How To Write A Query Letter

Agent Nathan Bransford outlines how to write a query letter. This is a really good post for anyone in the process of writing a query letter as it has lots of great information on the steps involved, from researching the right agent to the most important points to include in your letter.

AUTHOR PLATFORMS

10 Things Authors Should Never Blog About

Some things authors should remember when blogging.

ENCOURAGEMENT/MOTIVATION

Don’t You Dare Give Up

I quoted this in a blog post last week, but I thought it was worth linking to it again. Agent Natalie Fischer gives some encouragement to all of us querying and facing rejection.

50 Strategies For Making Yourself Work

If anyone else is like me, procracstination and distraction can sometimes get in the way of getting writing done. This post has lots of ways you can stop the distractions and get down to writing.

Happy Potter Day

In celebration of J.K. Rowling’s birthday (and her of course Harry Potter’s birthday too) last month, Harry Potter for Writers posted some quotes from J.K. Rowling relating to her writing journey, including some on getting rejected and being persistent.

P.S. Speaking of birthdays, my blog is fast approaching its 1st birthday and to celebrate I will be announcing a contest in one week, so be sure to check back.

More Helpful Writing Sites and Blog Posts

Fresh back from my holiday away I thought it was time for another post on helpful sites and blog posts I’ve come across in the past month.

Twitter Chats for Writers

A comprehensive list of the various twitterchats for writers (from children’s writers to script writers to genre writers) and the days and times they take place. It also outlines what twitterchats are and a few tips for those who are new to twitterchat.

25+ Favourite Twitter Hashtags for Writers

A list of the best hashtags for writers on Twitter (with links).

Three Act Structure

Jenn Johansson posted on her blog this great article about the three act structure of a novel, including a diagram of what the 3 act structure looks like.

Three Simple Stages of Self-Editing

If you are in the process of editing or about to start editing your novel then Jody Hedlund’s blogpost is worth a look. She describes the three main types of edits: Substantive/macro-edits; line-editing; and copy-editing/proofreading.

Workshop: Writing the Novel Synopsis

This in-depth article by Sheila Kelly sets out step by step how to write an effective synopsis for your novel.

Secrets of a Great Pitch

If you ever go to a writer’s conference or happen to meet an agent in an elevator, do you have a pitch prepared? Literary agent Rachelle Gardner outlines the important points you should include when pitching your novel (and also what you should avoid).

Process of Writing: From Draft to Published Novel

In this four minute video author Kate Forsyth describes her writing process, with visual examples, from the initial idea all the way through to receiving her author’s copy of her book. It’s a bit of insight into the entire process.

Hopefully there is a little something here for everyone, no matter where you are on your writing journey.