Writing Tips, Tricks, Thoughts for the Coming Week

September 17

Birthdays: William Carlos Williams (1883), John Creasey (1908), Elizabeth Enright (1909), Mary Stewart (1916), Bjorn Berg (1923), Robert B. Parker (1932), Ken Kesey (1935), Deena Metzger (1936), Carl Dennis (1939), Paul Goble (1945), Gail Carson Levine (1947), Jennifer Crusie (1949), Brian Andreas (1956), Cheryl Strayed (1968),

John Creasey was a prolific English crime and science fiction writer with over 600 books and at least 28 different pseudonyms.

William C. Williams actually wrote a book called “The Great American Novel”

Elizabeth Enright won a Newbery Medal for her book “Thimble Summer”

Mary Stewart is best known for her Merlin series including “The Crystal Cave”

Ken Kesey is best known for his novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”

Carl Dennis won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for “Practical Gods”

Gail Levine received a Newbery Honor for her book “Ella Enchanted”

Quote: “Writing is part intuition and part trial and error, but mostly it’s very hard work.” – Cheryl Strayed

Tip: Finish the manuscript you’re working on, put it away for a week or more, then edit it, send it out…and then start on the next one!

Jumpstart: If you had one month to live, what would you do? What if it was a week? A day?

September 18

Birthdays: Samuel Johnson (1709), William March (1893), Christopher Ricks (1933), Richard Kluger (1934), Drew Gilpin Faust (1947), Lynn Abbey (1948), Anna Deavere Smith (1950), Steven Pinker (1954), Chris Hedges (1956)

Richard Kluger won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction for “Ashes to Ashes”

Drew Faust was the first female president of Harvard. Her books have been finalists for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer.

Quote: “Ideas aren’t magical; the only tricky part is holding on to one long enough to get it written down. ” ― Lynn Abbey

“Thanks to the redundancy of language, yxx cxn xndxrstxnd whxt x xm wrxtxng xvxn xf x rxplxcx xll thx vxwxls wxth xn “x” (t gts lttl hrdr f y dn’t vn kn whr th vwls r)” ― steven pinker

“There are always people willing to commit unspeakable human atrocity in exchange for a little power and privilege.” ― Chris Hedges, War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning

Tip: When you get a contract (yay!), if you don’t have an agent, be sure you go over every clause carefully and ask about the ones you are unsure about. If nothing else, take it to a knowledgeable attorney and have them go over it for you.

Jumpstart: You’re remodeling your home, a place you’ve lived for at least a few years. While tearing out a wall, you find a skeleton…

September 19

Birthdays: Rachel Field (1894), William Golding (1911), Penelope Mortimer (1918), Damon Knight (1922), Ingrid Jonker (1933), Keorapetse Kgositsile (1938), Thomas H. Cook (1947), Tanith Lee (1947), Rebecca Skloot (1972), N.K. Jemison (1972), Gina Trapani (1975),

Rachel Field is best known for her Newbery Medal winner “Hitty, Her First Hundred Years”

William Golding won the Nobel Prize for Literature and is best known for his 1954 book “Lord of the Flies”

Thomas Cook won the 1996 Edgar Award for “The Chatham School Affair”

Rebecca Skloot is best known for her book “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”

Quote: “Growing up with a writer for a father influenced me and my work in many ways. My father really taught me how to see the world through a writer’s eyes, especially when it came to character development. When we went out to dinner, we would make reservations as the Howsers, and we’d spend our time making up stories for different people in the restaurant. It was a character development game—we’d talk in accents, invent detailed backstories, even dialogue for what they were saying during dinner.” – Rebecca Skloot

Tip: Make friends with your local bookseller by not just stopping in, but by purchasing books from them. Talk with them. Get to know them before you ask for a signing.

Jumpstart: I’ve never done anything like this. It’s not who I am. But today, I…

September 20

Birthdays: Charles Williams (1886), Donald Hall (1928), Arthur Geisert (1941), Jude Deveraux (1947), George R.R. Martin (1948), A.A. Attanasio (1951), Upton Sinclair (1968), Chris Mooney (1977),

Quote: “My advice to young poets is pretty standard—read the old people. Read the 17th century. Don’t just read 20th century. Sometimes you get the impression that people think that poetry began in 1984 or something. And read the old boys and revise. Revise endlessly.” – Donald Hall

“There are no new stories. It all depends on how you handle them. In romances the characters are going to fall in love with each other; you know that when you see the syrupy cover. It’s how you get there that’s the fun.” – Jude Devereaux

Tip: When creating a title, keep it short, use common words…and check online to make sure there aren’t thousands of other books out there with your title.

Jumpstart: You’re playing an online game that gets successively harder, but you stick with it…and win. The next thing you know, the FBI knocks on your door and say you have to come with them…

September 21

Birthdays: H.G. Wells (1866), Leonard Cohen (1934), Fannie Flagg (1944), Kay Ryan (1945), Stephen King (1947), Marsha Norman (1947), Kelley Eskridge (1960), Samantha Power (1970), Sarah Rees Brennan (1983)

H.G. Wells is best known as the “Father of Science Fiction”

Kay Ryan was the US Poet Laureate from 2008-2010

Samantha Power won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction for “A Problem from Hell”

Quote: “Strangely enough, the first character in Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe was the café, and the town. I think a place can be as much a character in a novel as the people.” – Fannie Flagg

“Before I was published, I really had no idea what  being published entailed: how suddenly I would have to learn, and come to care passionately about, covers and distributions and awards and what hills to die on when you’re editing and how to coax marketing departments and promotional items, and so much else I never dreamed of. It’s like a life-long apprenticeship: you keep on learning. Be ready for the learning!” – Sarah Rees Brennan

Tip: Put together a media kit for when your book is published. This should contain cover art, blurbs, author bio, excerpts, buy links and personal links. Anything you think someone might want for the purpose of promoting your work.

Jumpstart: Write ten of the best pickup lines. Then ten of the worst. Which one would your character use? Write a situation where they use one and the result.

September 22

Birthdays: Alice Meynell (1847), Esphyr Slobodkina (1908), Rosamunde Pilcher (1924),Fay Weldon (1931), Jo Beverley (1947), Elizabeth Bear (1971),

Esphyr Slobodknina is best known for her classic children’s book “Caps for Sale”

Quote: “Fiction stretches our sensibilities and our understanding, as mere information never can.” – Fay Weldon

Tip: Beware of overusing profanity in your story. A few words here and there are okay, but not every sentence. You’ll risk turning off more readers than you’ll gather.

Jumpstart: You’ve been stuck in meetings all morning and are starving. When you get back to your desk, you find a plate of cookies there with a note that says: for emergencies only. Do you eat them? What kind are they? Who sent them?

September 23

Birthdays: Euripides (480 BC), Emmuska Orczy (1865), Jaroslav Seifert (1901), Anne Desclos (1907), Jerry B. Jenkins (1949), Bruce Brooks (1950), Peter David (1956), Jennie Shortridge (1959), Frank Cottrell Boyce (1959), Bill Phillips (1964), Justine Larbalestier (1967), Wesley Chu (1976),

Jaroslav Seifert won the 1 984 Nobel Prize for Literature for his poetry.

Emmuska Orczy is best known for her books on “The Scarlet Pimpernel”

Quote: “Do not despair when you are rejected. Welcome to the club. There isn’t a writer in the world who hasn’t been rejected. Many, many times.” – Justine Larbalestier

Tip: Different genres usually have different lengths. For instance, category romances tend to be around 60,000 words while a high fantasy can be 110,000 or more. Like everything, there are exceptions to this, but in general, check the standard word lengths for what you’re writing.

Jumpstart: You’ve just won a three-minute shopping spree at your favorite store. Where do you go and what do you buy?

September 24

Birthdays: Horace Walpole (1717), F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896), Robert Lewis Taylor (1912), John Brunner (1934), Eavan Boland (1944), David Drake (1945), John Kessel (1950), Richard K. Morgan (1965), Eleanor Catton (1985),

Robert Tayloer won the 1959 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for “The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters”

John Brunner won the 1968 Hugo Award for “Stand on Zanzibar”

Quote: “All fine prose is based on the verbs carrying the sentences. They make sentences move.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

Tip: Figure out the GMC (goal, motivation, conflict) in your story. Every story should have this. In fact, each scene should have this. Try: (who) wants (what) because (why) but s/he can’t because (why not). For instance: Dorothy wants to go home because there’s no place like home but can’t because she needs to defeat the wicked witch and learns running away doesn’t help.

Jumpstart: “I’d never have done that with you if I’d known…”

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