Thursday, June 25, 2009

Writing Prompt

This week I'm going to throw a writing prompt out to you. It's something I've decided I may do from time to time. I think writing prompts are excellent ways to get started on short stories, articles, poems, or whatever.

Go outside after dark. Look up into the night sky. Write about the first thing you see.

If you feel like it, post your finished product in the comments section below. Or take it and try to get published. Or use it as simple writing practice for no one else to see. Whatever you do, just write! Until next week, keep reading and/or writing!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Updates to My Blog

I've added a few things today. First, at the top right, you'll see a badge for the "500 Words a Day Challenge." It's not a contest or anything, but just more of a promise to myself to write 500 words a day. It is from, and I think an excellent reminder to get my buns into my writing desk and get moving on my novel, which I'm using the challenge for. I'll be writing short stories and non-fiction pieces (not to mention blogs, twitters, and response posts), but I'm only counting words on my novel for this challenge. Started on Monday, and so far I'm batting 1000!

I also added a link to blogs I read. They're on the right hand side of the screen. Just scroll down a bit if you don't see them. I also added the search gadget in case anyone wants to search through what I've written about. And at the bottom of the page I have a guest book which you can sign. I'd be thrilled to get some more people in there. That's it for this week. Until next time, keep reading and/or writing.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Submitting Work

Today I want to bring up the subject of submitting work, be it short stories, novels, articles, or whatever. The most important thing is to appear as professional as possible. Read the guidelines. I can't state that clearly enough. Make sure you read those guidelines until you understand exactly what that publisher or agent wants. If you send something in that is contrary to their guidelines, guess what? Your work isn't even looked at. Maybe it's a perfect fit, but if you can't be bothered to send it how the publisher or agent wants it, it gets no chance.

In the guidelines, an important thing to look for is how the publisher/agent wants the submission. Do they want it sent in standard manuscript format? Do they only want a query letter? Do they only accept work through the standard mail, or do they want it via email? If they want it via email, do they want an attachment, or do they want it all in the body of the email? If you can't follow these instructions, you have little to no chance of even getting your work read, so make that first good, professional impression.

Also make sure you're targeting the correct market. A title of a magazine, for instance, might look like the perfect fit for your article, but in reality it might be about something else altogether. I'm not one that believes you absolutely have to read a magazine you are submitting to (though it can't hurt), but you have to at least know what the content of that magazine is (or what types of books a publisher publishes, or what types of work an agent represents, etc.). Read the entire guidelines; go to the Internet site; go to the library and leaf through the magazine or a book by the publisher (and read at least a bit of it if you've gone to that length). Don't show how unprofessional you are by sending a chilling horror story to a happy romance magazine. Do your homework.

One final thing I want to mention is to keep a log of where each of your stories/articles/novels have been sent. Sometimes it takes dozens of different tries to place your work, and it can go on for years. Don't forget that you've already sent a story to one place and send it back there. Just take a minute each time you send a story out to record where it's going. And when it comes back rejected, send it right back out to the next place. That's all for this week. Until next time, keep reading and/or writing!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Writing Without an Outline Pt. 2

I've discovered something about myself that I sort of figured. I can't write a long piece without an outline of some sort. The novel I talked about last week that I was winging just isn't happening. I've written myself into so many corners that I have to keep pasting entire writing sessions in a different file (the I don't like but don't throw away file). This seems counter-productive to me. I want to have freedom to play with the words, with the story, with the characters, but I'm learning that no outline is just too much freedom. It works for some other writers, but not for me. I don't like the idea of making a huge, elaborate outline with no wiggle room for fun writing time, but I do need something to keep me on track. My little writing exercise experiment has failed, though it really hasn't because I now know what doesn't work for me. That's a good thing.

While I get back to the drawing board, if you feel so inclined, add a comment about how you write. Are you a seat of your pants writer? Do you use an outline? Is it a bare-bones outline, or do you outline each chapter/plot point? Until next time, keep reading and/or writing!