You start the editing process by binge reading a zillion articles on editing hints and tips. The phrase which keeps popping up is ‘delete the crutch words!’ According to the articles you waded through crutch words slow down your writing, are unnecessary and are a literary annoyance. Apparently some writers struggle to stay away from […]
Thanks to the #notchilled hashtag on Twitter- a very loose affiliation that’s been discussing what’s going on with Ellora’s Cave- here are screens of the email Jaid Black/Tina Engler sent out and contract EC is offering its authors to revert their rights back to them. As always- we report, you decide. 😉
(reblogged from TheWriteLife)
If you’re participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this November , you’re likely gearing up to plan your novel in October. Writing 50,000 words in 30 days takes work, and starting the month prepared makes it easier to hit your goal — or even surpass it.
Since all stories are about an interesting character solving an interesting problem in an interesting way, your first step is to figure out your main character(s), the story problem, and the main goal.
In a few sentences, describe what this novel will be about. This summary will be your guide for October, and help keep you on track all through November.
Week 1 (October 1 to 7): Focus on the novel’s setup
Beginnings introduce the characters, story problem, and story world or setting to readers, and they set the stage for the rest of the novel.
A strong start will provide you with solid scene goals, giving you something to write about every day.
Things to determine:
How the protagonist is introduced
What traits do you want readers to know right away? How might you show those traits in action? What likable qualities does your protagonist have? How can you show those qualities in your opening scene or first chapter?
The problem the opening scene deals with
An opening with an interesting problem to solve gives the story drive and the characters reasons to act. What problem might your protagonist face when the novel opens?
Remember, the goal of an opening is to a.) hook readers and b.) lead the plot to the core conflict of the novel.
The inciting event
If this event did not happen, there would be no novel. It either drives your opening, or is the bridge between your opening scene and the beginning of the middle (act two).
Anaklusmos, Caladbolg, Dyrnwyn, Elric, Excalibur, Fish Wielder, Guest Post, Jim Hardison, Lewis Carroll, Lord of the Rings, Michael Moorcock, Percy Jackson, Rick Riordan, Seven Superbly Ensorcelled Swords, Stormbringer, Vorpal Blade
Seven Superbly Ensorcelled Swords
He took out his sword again and it flashed in the dark by itself. It burned with a rage that made it gleam if goblins were about; now it was bright as blue flame for delight in the killing of the great lord of the cave.
Ever since I first read those words about Glamdring the Foe-Hammer in The Hobbit, back when I was about ten years old, I’ve been in love with magic swords. Since then, every time I’ve come across one in the pages of a fantasy novel, I’ve compared it with those excellent blades, Glamdring, Orcist and Sting that Bilbo and his companions recovered from the Troll cave in the chapter Roast Mutton. For your reading pleasure, and with a few, hopefully minor spoilers, here’s a list of seven superbly ensorcelled swords that I had in mind when crafting the magic sword Blurmflard for my epically silly epic fantasy novel, Fish Wielder.
- The Barrow Blade of Westernesse: This is the blade Meriadoc, the hobbit, uses to stab the Witch King of Angmar in the back of the knee in L.O.T.R. I’m starting with this blade because it doesn’t get nearly the credit it deserves. Yes, Éowyn delivered the killing blow, but her strike wouldn’t have made the slightest bit of difference if Merry hadn’t stabbed the Witch King first. Tolkien clearly states, “No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh, breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.” I was very upset when the whole Barrow-Downs scene was left out of the movies—and consequently the finding of the excellent magic Barrow swords never happened. Without that ensorcelled sword and Merry’s blow, the whole War of the Ring might have ended differently.
- Dyrnwyn: While we’re on barrow swords, my favorite is the flaming sword discovered by Taran and Eilonwy in the barrow under Spiral Castle in The Book of Three, the first book of the Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. Removing Dyrnwyn from the tomb destroyed the entire castle. The black blade had jewels studding its hilt and pommel, and an inscription was entwined around the hilt and scabbard (much of which had been scratched away) but which read, “Draw Dyrnwyn, only those of noble worth, to rule with justice, to strike down evil. Who wields it in good cause shall slay even the lord of death.” The blade was the most powerful in Prydain and when drawn, glowed with fire. It would, however, kill anyone unworthy who tried to draw it. So, there’s that.
- Excalibur (Caliburn/Caledfwlch): And while we’re on swords that can only be drawn by a chosen few, what list of magic blades would be complete without Excalibur? Actually, there’s pretty solid agreement amongst experts on magic swords that Excalibur was not the sword from the stone, as Arthur was actually given Excalibur by the Lady of the Lake. You can read about Excalibur in literally tons of books, but I personally recommend Arthur Rex: A Legendary Novel by Thomas Berger. According to legend, Excalibur’s blade was engraved on one side with, “Take me up” and on the other with, “Cast me away”. Its flashing metal could blind the wielder’s enemies and its scabbard prevented the wearer’s wounds from bleeding. It was supposedly able to cut through iron like it was wood and conferred the holy right to rule on whoever could draw it (not a bad deal, if you can get it). The Excalibur legend was based on a blade from Welsh myth called Caledfwlch which is a compound of the Welsh words caled “hard” and bwlch “cleft” or “breach”. Don’t ask me how that got translated into Excalibur. I’m a sword enthusiast, not a linguist.
- Caladbolg: As long as we’re kicking around legendary Welsh blades (figuratively! Never kick a sword!), let’s not forget Ireland and the two-handed sword of Fergus mac Róich. When swung, it was said to make a circle like an arc of rainbows, and to have the power to cleave the tops from the hills. Some people have suggested that Caledfwlch and Caladbolg were the same blade, but I don’t believe that for a second. You should read about this sword in The Táin translated by Thomas Kinsella.
- The Vorpal Blade: This is one of my favorites, although probably the most mysterious of the magic swords. It is mentioned in the poem Jabberwocky in Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll and is used to slay the mighty Jabberwock. There’s really very little detail about it except this:
“One, two! One, two!
And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.”
So, apart from being able to chop off the head of a Jabberwock, it also clearly invented the Snickers bar as a tasty snack. Tons of people have borrowed the Vorpal blade for other stories, as in Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
- Stormbringer: Another black blade, but unlike Dyrnwyn, this one is as evil as they come. Stormbringer is actually a demon that has taken the form of a sword. Its edge can cut through pretty much anything not protected by powerful magic, and it has the nasty habit of drinking the soul from whomever it wounds, even if it just scratches them. Its wielder, Elric, loathes the sword but he’s such a wimp on his own that he wouldn’t survive long without it. Unfortunately, the sword has a mind of its own and it’s an evil jerk. It often betrays Elric by blinding him with bloodlust so that he accidentally kills his lovers and friends. You can read all about this wicked, wicked blade in Elric of Melniboné (and its sequels) by Michael Moorcock.
- Anaklusmos (Riptide): There are so many great swords from fantasy fiction that it’s hard to end this with only one more, but I’ll finish up with Anaklusmos from Rick Riordan‘s Percy Jackson & the Olympians series because my older daughter would kill me if I left this one out. Anaklusmos was originally the sword of Heracles (that’s Hercules for you Romans out there), given to him by a daughter of the god Atlas. The sword is made of celestial bronze, which means it can harm gods, demigods and monsters, but will just pass through mortal flesh without damaging it. Anaklusmos also has the power to change shape, so that when it’s not in use, it appears as a ballpoint pen (although whether the pen is mightier than the sword, I can’t say). It also magically reappears in Percy’s pocket whenever it’s lost—which is really handy. The sword was given to Percy by Chiron the centaur, on the instructions of the god Poseidon. Read the books to find out why.
Fish Wielder is J.R.R.R. (Jim) Hardison’s first novel novel (He wrote a graphic novel, The Helm, for Dark Horse Comics). Jim has worked as a writer, screen writer, animator and film director. He started his professional career by producing a low-budget direct-to-video feature film, The Creature From Lake Michigan. Making a bad movie can be a crash course in the essential elements of good character and story, and The Creature From Lake Michigan was a tremendously bad movie. Shifting his focus entirely to animation, Jim joined Will Vinton Studios where he directed animated commercials for M&M’s and on the stop-motion TV series Gary and Mike. While working at Vinton, he also co-wrote the television special Popeye’s Voyage: The Quest for Pappy with actor Paul Reiser.
Jim has appeared on NBC’s The Apprentice as an expert advisor on brand characters, developed characters and wrote the pilot episode for the PBS children’s television series SeeMore’s Playhouse and authored the previously mentioned graphic novel, The Helm, named one of 2010’s top ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens by YALSA, a branch of the American Library Association. These days, Jim is the creative director and co-owner of Character LLC, a company that does story-analysis for brands and entertainment properties. He lives in Portland, Oregon with his lovely wife, two amazing kids, one smart dog and one stupid dog.
(reblogged from Live to Write-Write to Live)
I admit it: I’m a bit of a software geek. I can easily spend hours researching and playing with different kinds of project management, tracking, and collaboration software products. I love the way these digital tools help me wrest order from chaos and streamline my workflows and communication.
At the moment, I’ve fallen quite hard for a combination of Asana/Instgantt/Google Drive to help me manage my more complex client projects (the ones with longer lead times, more moving parts, and additional team members). However, I was recently reminded of a simple but powerful software called Trello, and I thought it was worth sharing it as a simple, beautifully visual, and FREE way for writers to track and manage all kinds of information from product status and submissions to lead generation and story ideas.
Here’s a 5-minute video that will give you an overview of how the software works:
The ways a writer can use Trello are almost endless:
To Track Submissions: Move “story” cards through a series of lists that track a story’s progress through the development process:
- New Idea
- Pitch in Development
- Pitch Submitted
- Ready for Follow Up
- Payment Received
To Track Networking/Lead Generation: Similarly, you might move “contact” cards through a series of lists representing the stages of relationship development with colleagues, editors, and potential clients:
- Outreach Targets
- Contact Initiated
- Ready for Initial Follow-Up
- First Meeting/Conversation
- Ready for Second Follow-up
- Project Initiated/Assignment Secured
(reblogged from Marketingland.com)
One of Amazon’s most appealing features is the unbiased reviews provided to members. Unfortunately, it turns out that some sellers have taken it upon themselves to feed fake reviews to their customers-to-be. This wouldn’t be a prudent idea. Amazon is (and has been) suing those sellers that are buying positive reviews.
Amazon has previously sued to stop websites that sell fake Amazon reviews, along with individuals offering to write fake reviews. This latest batch of lawsuits is against the companies that buy fake reviews for their products.
A story from TechCrunch this week reports that three new lawsuits were brought against sellers where the fake reviews made up 30 percent to 45 percent of the overall reviews. According to TechCrunch, the defendants are Michael Abbara of California, Kurt Bauer of Pennsylvania and a Chinese company called CCBetter Direct.
We reached out to Amazon for comment and received the following in regard to these cases:
While we cannot comment on active litigation, we can share that since the beginning of 2015, we have sued over 1,000 defendants who offered to post fake reviews for payment. We are constantly monitoring and will take action against abusive sellers by suspending and closing their accounts and by taking further legal action. Our goal is to eliminate the incentives for sellers to engage in review abuse and shut down this ecosystem around fraudulent reviews in exchange for compensation. Lawsuits are only one piece of the puzzle. We are working hard on technologies that allow us to detect and take enforcement action against perpetrators while also preventing fake reviews from ever surfacing. As always, it is important for customers to know that these remain a very small fraction of the reviews on Amazon and we introduced a review ranking system so that the most recent, helpful reviews appear first. The vast majority of reviews on Amazon are authentic, helping millions of customers make informed buying decisions every day.
The rules in this type of a case are fairly straightforward. Amazon has sellers agree to the following:
You may not intentionally manipulate your products’ rankings, including by offering an excessive number of free or discounted products, in exchange for a review. Review solicitations that ask for only positive reviews or that offer compensation are prohibited.
Furthermore, when sellers choose to break selling policies, they may find themselves without much recourse. The seller policies make it clear that any disputes or claims will be resolved by binding arbitration and won’t go to court and that each party waives their right to a trial.
So sellers take heed, if you want a good review, make sure your product/service earns it. To make sure that you are adhering to Amazon’s rules, read the full Participation Agreement in its entirety.
She’s baaaaack. Well, sort of. Today I have an extra special treat. This is going to sound super conceited but whatever, it is MY blog😛 . But first lemme caveat with this. I feel I DO have a knack for predicting the next big thing. Case in point, in 1993 I was at an air […]
(reblogged from Better Yourself Online )
Professional and Technical Writing – Purdue University
The Writing Process – Purdue University
Principles of Research and Problem Solving (Powerpoint Download) – University of Michigan
Introduction to Novel Writing – University of College Falmouth
Writing for Children – University of College Falmouth
Critical Reading and Writing – University of Massachusetts at Boston
Start Writing Fiction – Open University
Writing What You Know – Open University
Technical Writing – New Jersey Institute of Technology
Flash Fiction – University of Iowa
How to Find the Short Story Within Your Novel – University of Iowa
The Creative Spark – MIT
Writing on Contemporary Issues: Food for Thought: Writing and Reading about the Cultures of Food – MIT
Writing and Experience – MIT
Writing with Shakespeare – MIT
Writing About Literature – MIT
Genre Fiction Workshop – MIT
(reblogged from M.L. Gardener )
A serial is a short but captivating story published in installments. And I really, really love them. When I contemplated using a serial format to continue The 1929 Series, I did a lot of research on how they’re done. Like anything else, there’s tons of information and opinions. Some of it’s good, some not so much. But I muddled through it all and took away what made sense to me.
A serial is much more than just breaking up a book every 8,000 words and putting it out there.
I have found that if people get out of each written episode what they’d get out of a TV episode, they are happy.
If they feel like they are being drip-fed a few chapters at a time, they feel ripped off simply because it is impossible to price below 99¢ on Amazon and it undermines the episode experience. Episodes of a season are like mini books within a bigger book.
Serials aren’t crafted like novels. Nailing that experience is key.
A serial should be the equivalent of a book (80,000 words), and I chose to release Purling Road in ten episodes of 8,000 words each. You could do a few more or a few less. I wouldn’t advise going too short, though. It’s better to launch a second season than put out 4,000-word episodes that drag on and on. Eight to twelve episodes would be ideal.
For the episodes themselves, even when compiled into a one-season ebook, don’t follow the same rules as a novel. Serials don’t have the traditional three-act structure. To get a feel for how I wanted my serial to read, I abandoned novel advice and followed the guidelines of the experts—television. I binged-watched a few of my favorite shows and took notes on how they were crafted.
In every show, there is one overall problem or threat that lasts the entire serial, another that lasts the season, and every episode there are mini threats or challenges that are resolved in that episode.
In Downton Abbey, it’s the survival of the house/legacy as well as true happiness eluding every member of the household, upstairs and down, that continues throughout.
The Walking Dead is simple. Not to say the writers are not brilliant and creative and what I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall in the writers’ room. But the overall threat is trying to stay alive in a post-apocalyptic world.
Seasonally, the threat is surviving in what is currently home, fighting the alive and undead, and every episode that survival is threatened in one way or another. All the while, the evolution of each character is background noise and amazing. The strangest combination. For those of you who aren’t TWD addicts, just know they have crafted characters so well that it’s almost impossible to get rid of the main cast now.
I like Downton Abbey as an example because it shows how a serial at the opposite end of the spectrum can be just as successful. Downton isn’t the running, sweating, fight-for-your life, action-packed heart-pounder that TWD is, but it has its share of rabid fans. In my opinion, it’s a lot deeper and more complex too.
They layer drama like an ar-teest.
They’ve also done a good job with evolving characters and adding extra layers by giving each character seasonal and episode challenges. The ones that don’t have major challenges aren’t on screen (a point to note). High drama with high tea at all times. There is little to no fluff. There is a faster pace. There is a time gap between episodes. Downton is famous for having months and months go by between single episodes! (Also points to note.)
With such a large cast, it’s necessary to rotate through them so it doesn’t seem like they are picking on one character all the time and we forget that another still lives there.
Except poor Edith. Her serial, season, and episode challenge is all the same and like a running joke. The writers really beat on that girl.
So here’s a breakdown of what I learned by reading, watching, and doing.
—Have an overall threat to the entire cast that can carry over for many seasons to come. (Hint, it doesn’t have to be dramatic, only long-lasting.) In Purling Road, they are surviving the Depression. That’s the overall theme of every season and without it, the serial would collapse. The threat isn’t spoken about in every episode—it’s simply there.
—Have a seasonal threat (or two) that will be resolved by the end of the season, while leaving the series threat intact. This can linger in the background or mesh with the overall threat.
—Have a smaller threat in each episode that is resolved by the end of the episode. You have some liberty with this. Some drama is better played out over two episodes or left hanging so you can weave back in a later episode to resolve. Get creative but always resolve.