"If you write FOR a particular market or FOR a particular editor you will often miss the mark. But if you write because your fingers have danced across the keyboard, because a character has tapped you on the shoulder, because a story has settled in your heart, then even if you never sell it you have done the work you were meant to do. And sometime, dear readers, real magic happens." Jane Yolen


Writing Craft Recap for August

I have declared 2012 my year to learn the writing craft better. And once a month, generally on the first Thursday of the month, I will share some of the highlights of what I've learned.

Click here to check it out
I spent August soaking in the amazingly helpful, incredibly wonderful Bestseller Society - run by writing gurus Jeff Gerke, Mary DeMuth, and Thomas Umstattd. They call the site a writers conference in a box - and it is an ABSOLUTELY apt description. Audio and video classes on just about every aspect of fiction and nonfiction writing and marketing you could possibly want. I listened to/watched twenty-five different sessions on everything from the first fifty pages to dialogue to memoir to using fiction techniques in your nonfiction. If you can become a member, I truly cannot recommend it more highly.

And if you can't, just check out some of what I learned there, as well as from a few writing magazines.

From The Bestseller Society:
  • Often, when a book is published, only one person at the publishing house has actually read the entire book.   
  • When writing your first draft, dismiss the angry English teacher from your shoulder.
  • People are generally either plot-first or character-first novelists - and generally which ever one they start with, they're not so good at the other.
  • Myers-Briggs is a great way to create a complex character.
  • The three easiest ways to get your fiction manuscript rejected are telling and not showing, POV errors, and weak characters.
  • Description is not telling (as in "show don't tell")
  • Most readers come to fiction hoping for a movie in their head.
  • You are your voice - you are not somebody else's.
  • Memoir is retelling our story to ourselves.
  • The key of great writing is enticement: leave things out - enticing the reader all the way through until the "payoff" later in the book.
  • Fiction is about watching someone navigate a change.
  • The purpose of your story is to take your main character on his/her inner journey.
  • It takes ten thousand hours to establish yourself as a genius in something.
  • Your worth should not be tied to your work.
  • Failure does not automatically equal disobedience or sin. Failure is an important component of our lives - some lessons only failure can teach
  • Creating your plot is building the stage your character will change on.
  • The question to ask which will fix most telling is: Can the camera see it? (a couple others - can the microphone hear it? Can the senses pick it up?)
  • What makes a great writer is the village surrounding that writer – the people who are with you on your publishing journey. 
  • The first fifty pages of your book must engage your reader and set up the rest of the book.
  • Your story basically begins when your MC steps on stage - anything before that is a de-facto prologue. 
From the August and September Issues of The Writer:
  • Discipline, however it looks, is more important than writing every day.
  • We want to read about people who are more energetic, more motivated, and more driven than the average person.
  • This book looks WAY too fun!
  • A symbolic object in your story can represent something larger than itself and can be a shortcut to theme.
Good stuff, eh? Watch for my post NEXT month, when I feature, among other things, what I learn from the free ACFW course Plodding vs. Plotting.

Questions? Comments? Observations? What was most interesting/helpful to you?

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength


  1. Love all these tips and you're right, Forgotten Bookmarks looks amazing!

    Happy writing!

  2. Thanks, Jan :) IT was a fabulous month.

  3. I'm so bookmarking this page! I love the thoughts you've shared here, Joanne!

  4. These are good tips. I was a member for 2 months at the bestseller society and soaked up as much as I could. There is a lot to learn on that site. I wish it weren't so expensive. But if you have a a light load one month get a membership for that month and watch everything. It really is a conference in a box.

  5. So very VERY true Diana! I'm considering doing just that, possibly later this year.

    And thanks, Sarah and Writing. My pleasure!


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