Category Archives: Friday Links

Friday Links for Writers: 19 Dark and Quirky Research Sources for Writers No. 4

 

Listen, I’ve seen some gory things in all the research I’ve done for writing, so don’t go blaming me that this week’s Friday Links for Writers: Quirky Research Sources #4  goes a little dark. Fact is, most writers joke that they’d get more than a raised eyebrow if anyone caught a peek at the things googled in the name of research. And this week’s collection of odd sources I’ve come across in my reading goes just that dark.

Whether you need to know the actual metabolism of an overdose, or the bureaucratic processes a body goes through after death, there’s a link here for you. Half a dozen relate to journalism in conflict zones. And, if you’re squeamish, no worries: there’s one on art restoration and a couple on our community connection to the bodega, and one to help you track extreme weather happening at the time your story takes place. None of that fits the focus of your work? Find links to the last 3 Quirky Resource posts at the foot of this article, for more.

As you jump in, feel free to share your own favorite research links, or let us know what you’re working on this week, so we can cheer each other on. Have a great writing week, all.

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Often, Writing Requires Knowing Processes That Happen After Death:

192 Days as John Doe

Deborah Halber writes about a campaign to use current forensic processes to identify bodies that have remained John/Jane Does for decades. Interesting details of the processes and obstacles.

Learning to Speak for the Dead

Journalist Winnie Hu writes about the training and process of forensic pathologists in this 2016 piece on the Forensic Pathology Fellows Program, which she says “helped resurrect a long-troubled agency, the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner.”

Silent Witness: What Human Remains Can Tell Us

It’s a shame that this article by the Irish Times was triggered by the discovery of dismembered remains in the Wicklow Mountains. For anyone writing crime or mystery in the Irish Republic, it traces some of the bureaucratic and forensic processes that follow to resolve the crime.

Crematory is Booked? Japan Offers Corpse Hotels

Motoko Rich’s New York Times article reveals a funeral trend in Japan, provoked by changes in community lifestyles and a cremation industry unable to keep up with demand. Well-researched, it is interesting in revealing funereal traditions of a crowded island nation, Buddhist burial traditions, and demographic trends.

Sure, Setting’s Great, But What Drought, Fire or Storm of the Century Was Going On?

Global Hazards – NOAA

Reading Tana French, I noticed the million different ways she describes rain in Ireland. Living in Florida, I know how extreme weather is a part of seasonal culture. Visiting a friend overseas, I remember the drama of hiking through acres of trees blown flat by a hundred-year storm, climbing thick trunks suspended 10 and 20 feet off the ground… Got me thinking: what major weather events were taking place the year or months surrounding my novel? Sure enough, there’s a site for that. The “Global Hazards” page of NOAA allows you to search major weather events worldwide, by year and month. When reduced to simple ledes, I could quickly see how NOAA’s brief reports of massive weather events — from a tornado wiping out Happy, TX, to droughts, wildfires and monsoons — could inspire story ideas.

For Writing Authentically About Resistance, Reporting & Conflict Zones:

CJ Chivers' article is accompanied by stunning photography by NYT's Devin Yalkin

CJ Chivers’ article is accompanied by stunning photography by NYT’s Devin Yalkin @dedecim

The Fighter

I was gripped by this long read by war journalist C.J. Chivers in New York Times Magazine, which peels back layers to the story of the service, crime, PTSD and substance abuse treatment, and sentencing of Marine Corps veteran Sam Siatta. Chivers’ research is eye opening into training, engagement, battlefield protocol, citizens vs. targets, returning to civilian life, subtle development of PTSD (and alcohol dependency), as well as phases of trial, sentencing, prison and appeal. It’s an interesting read for anyone whose writing encompasses military life or veterans, an increasingly common detail even in non-military writing.

2017 Resistance Actions – Week One

How do you grab hold of issues that are unfolding as we speak? This post by Maud Newton is an example of some of the concrete daily actions people began undertaking in response to threats against human rights since the start of 2017. A couple other sources of info (or to support) include the ACLU (e.g., filing cases against unconstitutional legislation, lawyers manning airports during travel bans) and Women’s March.

“Experts in authoritarianism advise you keep a list of subtle changes”

Want one source for tracking the societal changes that have taken place, week by week, 2016-17? Amy Siskind has achieved near-legendary status for having started this weekly list. The link above takes you to a cumulative list, searchable by topic. You can also receive Amy’s updates by following her on Twitter or Facebook

CPJ Journalist Security Guide

I’ve followed the Committee to Protect Journalists in the (unfortunately) nearly 5 years since journalist Austin Tice went missing in Syria. The CPJ is admirable in providing a voice and conduit for information related to persecution of journalists around the world. This link takes you to a collection of 55 guides and checklists for safety and survival for journalists and photographers working in heated environments.

Turkey’s Crackdown Propels Number of Journalists in Jail Worldwide to Record High

This article and others on the website for the Committee to Protect Journalists provides statistics, profiles,  to the capture, release, and deaths of journalists, worldwide. Overall, the CPJ has been one of my leading sources for events and resources impacting journalists in the last decade. On Twitter: @pressfreedom

Drugs & Forensics:

Best Websites for Writers – Guns, Polices, Forensics & More

I’ve shared a link from this blogger before. This post includes links to multiple resources for researching forensics and more.

Everytown for Gun Safety

While writing has occasionally had me researching weaponry or forensics, I am in fact a strong advocate for gun safety and antiproliferation, so should provide a source for that as well.. Everytown is one source of information regarding the escalation in gun deaths in the U.S., particularly since the end of the ban on assault weapons in 2005.

The Opioid Epidemic:

This is Exactly What Happens When You Overdose

While it’s not a topic I’m interested in writing about, I’m sure the current opioid epidemic has some writers interested to write authentically about drug risks. In clear terms, this post walks through the exact bodily processes from drug ingestion through the ways it can go wrong. All the details you’d need to know that get your character calling 911.

Latest Harrowing Statistics of American Opioid Epidemic

If you didn’t know there was an opioid epidemic or wanted further statistics, this recent Vox post suggests that, “in 2016, drug overdoses likely killed more Americans than the entire wars of Vietnam and Iraq.”

Quirks and Specificity – Getting Your Cultures Right:

15 Behind the Scenes Secrets of Art Restorers

I loved the details of this piece on art restoration by Jane Rose at Mental Floss, which connected to my artist in Breathing Water and my museum display expert in “Jar of Teeth.” I can see writers riffing on these processes for characters in the arts, quirky concerns about a setting, or, dare we say, solving a crime.

Secret History of Victorian London’s Dirty Book Trade

In old cities and cultures, it can be hard to see beneath contemporary gloss and acknowledged history to find those remnants of more… textural elements of the past. This article is intriguing, that way. Victorian London your focus (it’s not mine)? Look for more on the site, as The Public Domain Review is a not-for-profit project “dedicated to the exploration of curious and compelling works from the history of art, literature, and ideas.”

What do You Call the Corner Store?

In a year I spent focusing on subtle ticks of spoken language between characters moving through foreign countries, I found Dan Nosowitz’s piece at Atlas Obscura as a great springboard for noticing specific character linguistics. “In many places, you’d be laughed out of the building for calling it a ‘convenience store’. It’s a bodega. It’s a packie. It’s a party store. What you call the store on the corner says a lot about where you live.” He may be talking corner stores, but it’s great prod to work more specifically toward character linguistics.

Earning a Spot in the Neighborhood

Continuing on that thread, Kristen Radke’s piece at Electric Lit had me thinking about the way community stores, pubs, and other locals are such a key identifier for the characters we write. Kristen captures the nuance of this relationship, specific to identifying with one’s bodega, neighborhood to neighborhood, in NYC: “Bodegas represent so much a neighborhood’s mood and energy… They also become beacons of safety, sometimes the only place open and brightly lit late at night, and makeshift meeting places in a city with such limited community space. It’s a mark of belonging… ‘that place is going to see you through some shit.” Beyond literal insight to NYC, it had me wondering: what locals would my characters trust to ‘see them through some shit’?

In the Ashes of the USSR: 5 Books to Understand Russia

In reading Anthony Marra’s Tsar of Love and Techno, I was impressed with his subtle and deep understanding of Russia’s evolution, which went way beyond my views, even having been a huge fan of Eastern European and Russian lit from the 80s on. So, this list by Matt Staggs struck me as that kind of insight.

 

Want more?

Here are the first 3 posts from this series:

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If you like this blog, be sure to click the WordPress +follow button, or use the email subscription button in the sidebar. You can find me on Twitter @elissafield or on Facebook.

At work on novel revisions. c. Elissa Field

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Friday Links for Writers 03.24.17

Fern Street, West Palm Beach, FL, 2016. c. Elissa Field

Not gonna sugar coat it: it’s been a rough week here. Got my grading in for the quarter ended Friday, so ready for writing and time with my kids for spring break. Instead: we spent 3 days in vigil as our awesome boxer, Gracie, was dying. She was all we could think about, yet I’ve barely had time to grieve, as I wrote 14 hours straight to make Sunday deadlines. I’m still under the gun with one more due… and want little more than to catch my breath.

 I’m not alone in balancing writing with teaching — it’s a common overlap. Nor am I alone in wrestling this competition for time. It’s great to have assignments due, but it’s sometimes heartless when you can’t stop for life’s bigger moments.

Watching for snow. c. Elissa Field

Our dog Grace has been an amazing family member. Condolences for her poured in on Facebook from people who know her from posts or from car lines at school when my kids were younger. Like other writers here, she was part of my work, too. How many of our days have we had a dog or cat keeping us company through long hours writing? How many times have we joked about all they do to steal attention from our drafts and keyboards? As well as I know writing, editing and agenting friends around the world, I remember the names and faces and stories about the dogs and cats who warm their days, and sad stories of their passing. They have our gratitude and love. So I can’t share this post without mentioning how deeply we feel her loss.

That said, this week’s Friday Links for Writers is full of some really great articles from this week. One gives brass tacks advice for formatting. Two are inspiration from poets for World Poetry Day. More: an international prize, campaigns to stop federal budgets that would upend the NEA and NEH, security advice for journalists from the CPJ…  As always, share your thoughts in the comments to let us know how your writing week has gone, or to share your own best reads of the week. Have a great writing week, all.

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How to Format a Book: 10 Tips Your Editor Wants You to Know

These 10 tips are a great checklist for anyone getting a manuscript ready for an editor or full read. Brass tacks advice, from not double-spacing after periods to best formatting for paragraph indents.

13 Authors on the Life Changing Impact of the NEA

In the face of Trump’s threatened budget cuts to arts, including the NEA and NEH, 13 writers share with Electric Lit how the NEA impacted their lives. Some really great stories, here, from Tayari Jones and more.

The risks to the NEA and NEH were central to lots of messages around the web this week, with a push to call your representatives to resist eliminations of this programming.

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Celeste Ng

Shortlisted for the EFG Short Story Award

The Times shares a link to the EFG Short Story Award website, where you can read stories selected for the prize’s short list. The £30,000 prize is the “richest” award for a single story in the English language. This year’s short list includes stories by Kathleen Alcott, Bret Anthony Johnston, Richard Lambert, Victor Lodato, Celeste Ng, and Sally Rooney.

Glory Edim

Brooklyn 100 Influencer: Glory Edim, Founder, Well-Read Black Girl

Book love, these days, is not just a matter of what we read, but — for many of us — making an effort to advocate for marginalized voices. If you’ve ever wondered how these kinds of literary advocates get started, check out this interview with Glory Edim, the founder of Well-Read Black Girl.

CPJ Journalist Security Guide

I’ve followed the Committee to Protect Journalists in the (unfortunately) nearly 5 years since journalist Austin Tice went missing in Syria. The CPJ is admirable in providing a voice and conduit for information related to persecution of journalists around the world. This link takes you to one of their survival guides — approaches recommended for journalists and photographers to keep safe while working in heated environments.

15 Favorite 1st Lines from Books from the Past 5 years

This blog post on Goodreads recognizes that most of us have appreciated articles with famous first or final lines from classics… But what about favorite books from recent years? Especially for writers revising with attention to those opening pages, these give an interesting cross section of opening lines.

The Weird Things People Leave in Books

Claire Fuller (author of Swimming Lessons) reflects on how readers leave their marks on books. Marks and a bit of wear and tear show a book was loved. But that’s nothing to the odd list of things librarians told Tin House that they’d found between pages.

For World Poetry Day:

Interview w Airea Matthews on Lit Hub

Airea D. Matthews: Texting with Anne Sexton

I always like to end these lists with inspiration from one writer, and I really loved Peter Mishler’s interview with poet Airea D. Matthews on Lit Hub. Completely different entry point led to a series of her poetry: “For about a year, I set up a secondary text account and sent messages to an imagined Sexton, which I began to transcribe and edit into the Sexton Texts poems.” Great read.

Maggie Smith Reads “Good Bones”

I discovered Maggie Smith on Twitter almost a year ago when her poem “Good Bones” went viral in the aftermath of one of the many world hardships we all sought to understand. Here, a profile on Ohio State’s website, and a recording of Maggie reading the poem.

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What Are You Working On?

What is your current writing goal? What resources or strategies have kept you moving forward? Share your thoughts or links you’ve found helpful in the comments.

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Want to be notified of further posts? Regular readers will know that I am glad to connect with other writers. Please do say hello or share your own experiences in the comments. While finishing my Master’s and completing this novel, I am not posting at regular intervals to this site, so it’s a good idea to use the WordPress follow button, or subscribe using the email option, to keep track of future posts. Both are on the sidebar (or footer, in mobile app).

I am always active on Twitter and Facebook, so it’s easy to connect with me there: Twitter @elissafield or Facebook.

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Notes of scene and personality of my character, scribbled in the margins while reading Ann Hood’s Creating Character Emotions.

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Friday Links for Writers: Week’s Best Reads 01.06.17

Scrivener underway, nailing down the final novel structure. cElissa Field

Scrivener underway, nailing down the final novel structure. cElissa Field

One of my favorite things about the holidays is claiming long days to read and write. From Christmas Day to New Year’s, I’d read 4 novels, revised a short story, got a dozen story submissions out, and continued working through the editorial list for this novel.

So satisfying to progress through writing, revision and submission — although, it was humbling to realize you never outgrow the fidgety feeling submissions leave you with. No matter my years’ experience waiting for replies, I’ve been bad as a newbie, with that nagging obsession that I was waiting to hear back. The only cure: move on to other work.

As always, today’s Friday Links for Writers shares a list of some of the best writing links I’ve come across in recent weeks. Jane Friedman’s roundup shares 17 of her best shares, so bonus there. Share your thoughts in the comments, to let us know how your writing week has gone, or to share your own best reads of the week. Have a great writing week, all.

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How to Write a Great Story: A Roundup of the Best Advicegreat-story-roundup

This is far from the first time I’ve featured advice from Jane Friedman — I’m sure others will recognize her as a great source of insight into writing and publishing. Call this post from her blog “the motherlode,” as Jane shares 17 links to what she considers the best advice she has shared from authors, agents and publishers from 2011-2016.

The Big Reason Why Agents & Editors Often Stop Reading

This post by Paula Munier has been my favorite read from Jane’s roundup. Drawn from her book Writing with Quiet Hands, Munier asserts that a lack of narrative thrust is most often the culprit. I loved reading what she had to say about the story question, at macro-, meso- and micro- levels. I know I am not alone as a literary writer quietly craving more talk about plotting – this is that kind of piece.

Take Five: Donald Maass and the Emotional Craft of Fiction

In the same spirit as talk of narrative thrust, this post on Writer Unboxed interviews agent/author Donald Maass on his new release, The Emotional Craft of Fiction. While the post serves primarily to announce the new release, Don shares insights about authentic emotional engagement. Considering the canon of literary advice he has shared over the last decade and more, I appreciated how one of his answers traced the thread between his various books, which maps a growth in what continues to make novels “breakout,” including that crossroad between litfic and genre.

Emotion & Suspense: the Essence of Rasa Theory

71ythcjiyl__sx342_Continuing with the theme of creating an emotional experience, Rita Banerjee shares her essay on Rasa Theory: “Rasa theory centers on taste. Not taste in the sense of sophistication or composure or discernment…But taste in its most primal, animalistic, emotive, and provocative form…Rasa is what happens to you, spectator, reader, part-time lover, when you watch or read a work of art with intensity.I read the full article in my print copy of Poets & Writers Magazine (Jan/Feb 2017), but share here an excerpt that was posted by Cambridge Writer’s Workshop.

Submission Strategies: Advice from a Literary Magazine Editor

Aerogramme shared this roundup of advice from editor Kim Winternheimer of the Masters Review. I like that her advice asks, what kind of writer are you?, in acknowledging that her advice may lead to different answers for different writers, with some tips on how to make those choices.

The Best Independent Bookstores in America

parnassus“Independent bookstores are not only surviving but thriving,” Allison McNearney reports in the Daily Beast. She shares her list of the best of the indies, including a few of my favorites: Powell’s Books in Portland, Parnassus Books in Nashville, and Books & Books in Miami. (If you’re looking to find an independent bookseller near you, check my indie bookseller list on Twitter or indiebound.org.)

2017 Resistance Actions – Week One

Okay, so this may seem an odd link in a roundup of writing advice, yet it is at the heart of the context many of us are operating in this year. Whether you engage in the Resistance, feel threatened by recent politics, or are otherwise engaging in activism, or if you are writing about it, Maud Newton’s plan for one week of daily acts is a concrete map of how many are standing up for right action in 2016-17.

Toni Morrison on the Power of Language: Her Nobel Acceptance Speech

Beautiful picture of Toni Morrison on a wall inside the Lillian Vernon Writers' House at NYU. I first knew I wanted to write fiction, hearing Toni Morrison read Sula. Love.

Beautiful picture of Toni Morrison on a wall inside the Lillian Vernon Writers’ House at NYU.

People sometimes ask, “What was the first book you read that inspired you to be a writer?” Mine was Toni Morrison, first Song of Solomon, and then Sula. I signed out a library room at VCU and listened alone to a recording of her reading Sula’s final scene. The wrenching inspiration I took then is repeated in the effect of her Nobel Acceptance speech, shared here by BrainPickings.

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What Are You Working On?

What is your current writing goal? What resources or strategies have kept you moving forward? Share your thoughts or links you’ve found helpful in the comments.

*    *    *    *    *

Want to be notified of further posts? Regular readers will know that I am glad to connect with other writers. Please do say hello or share your own experiences in the comments. While finishing my Master’s and completing this novel, I am not posting at regular intervals to this site, so it’s a good idea to use the WordPress follow button, or subscribe using the email option, to keep track of future posts. Both are on the sidebar (or footer, in mobile app).

I am always active on Twitter and Facebook, so it’s easy to connect with me there: Twitter @elissafield or Facebook.

More on this site:

copyright Elissa Field (use w written permission only)

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Friday Links for Writers: 06.03.16

tsar love techno 

It’s been a busy week for writing — some new work, some work for clients, and a ton of editing. I’ve made it through about half of draft 10, with draft 11 coming together with the fierce and authentic punch that broke through in the last rewrite. This makes me happy… albeit, with tons left to go.

Just as many hours go into reading. I recently shared my Spring Reading List — go check that out for the books that powering my writing world. Pictured above, a favorite: The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra (on my desk so I could transcribe a scene I wrote in the end papers while reading late).

This week’s Friday Links for Writers shares some of the most exciting, inspiring or useful links I’ve come across recently. As always, share in the comments to let us know what resounds with you, what you’d like more of, or share your own favorite links. Have a great writing week!

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Jimin Han on Rethinking the CW Workshop

I felt like this piece by Jimin Han on Pleiades is one of the most important ideas I’ve seen for those leading writing workshops. I’ve been struck, in forums with writers applying to MFA programs, the frequency with which minorities and marginalized voices feel unheard in MFA and other writing programs. Han and her teaching partner have a great approach to first learning a writer’s intentions and connecting all feedback to those intentions. Highly recommend this – not just for workshop, but critiquing peers, editing for clients, reading slush, etc.

CjQOA7_WYAE5aJW12 Things I Noticed While Reading Every Short Story Published in 2014-15 (or, Extremely Long Titles That Are Complete Sentences Are Still Very Much a Thing)

Ok, so this was another of the best things I’ve shared online lately. So often, writers are puzzled by what editors react to — something that felt powerful in draft didn’t light off sparks on submission. Kelly Luce’s piece at Electric Lit reveals surprising patterns, overused tropes, and useful insight into the most successful fiction in one year’s reading.

24-danai-gurira_w245_h368Danai Gurira’s Advice to Young Female Writers: ‘Go Where You Are Loved’

Here’s another one I absolutely loved and highly recommend reading. It’s easy to be inspired by Danai Gurira’s self-aware, fierce calm in The Walking Dead. How much more amazing, then, to find she is also a Tony-nominated playwright. She offers great inspiration to go where others embrace you and to get it done.

17 Best Flash Fiction Contests

On his Bookfox site, John Fox shares a list of details and links for 17 flash fiction contests. Are you thinking, “But I don’t write flash fiction”? Common thread among my novel writing friends is how novel edits can be repurposed into flash. Hmm…

Tell Me More: Creating Suspense with Information

This short piece by Marlene Zadig at Carve Magazine does a great job of challenging the idea of withholding information to build suspense. In my focus on reading suspenseful literary fiction this spring, I can attest to it. Readers appreciate being in on the story, not “ta-da!” moments when info is revealed.

Noir is Protest Literature: Why It’s Having a Renaissance

I found inspiration in this article at Electric Literature, as it relates to an idea I’ve been exploring in the shift in safety felt during the first decade of the millennium. “The classic crime story…takes place in an essentially orderly universe, with a common understanding of good and evil. Crime here is a dangerous anomaly, but order can be restored,” contrasted with noir: “Noir, as it emerged in the middle of a violent century, said to hell with all that. Its world was chaotic, baroque and hypocritical. Crime doesn’t disturb this world, it’s foundational to it.”

Crowdfunding Usually Doesn’t Work for Writers – But it Can

This is an interesting piece by Jane Friedman. One could assume it is for writers intending to self-publish, but in fact connects to more clever usage I’ve seen, such as a friend whose successful, traditionally published novel used a Fund Me campaign to support production of a high quality audiobook. She gives great approaches for targeted use.

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What Are You Working On?

What is your current writing goal? What challenges or strategies keep your going or make hurdles in your work Have you come across any great writing links or resources lately? Do share your thoughts or links in the comments.

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cElissaField

cElissaField

Need Motivation?

I’ll be on Twitter all today, and each Friday June-July, with Wordsmith Studio  to host hourly writing sprints.

Find me @elissafield, follow hashtag #wssprint.

Learn more from my post for our last event: Join Wordsmith Studio’s Live Writing Sprints on Twitter.

Or, you can find saved feeds from prior sprints — complete with some incredibly productive prompts for developing fiction — on my Storify.

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If you like this blog, be sure to click the WordPress +follow button, or follow via email. You can find me on Twitter @elissafield or on Facebook.

copyright Elissa Field (use w written permission only)

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Friday Links for Writers: 05.13.16

copyright Elissa Field (use w written permission only)

copyright Elissa Field (use w written permission only)

I’m midway through a 4-week break between classes, at the tail end of my Masters. This perfectly coincides with having a printed draft to complete a read-through revision, which makes this a busy writing week.

I’ve been wrestling with technology — finding the most efficient ways to keep track of complicated novel structures while moving large chunks around. I’ve written about mid-level novel revisions often, here, and this revision has had its own insights.

This week, I’m debating moving my outline (the structural spine devised to guide the revisions) into Excel. Complete nerdfest: that allows me to not only graph the chapters and parts, but graph key reveals, reactions, crossing of internal and external conflicts… Not word-nerdy enough? I’ve been obsessively analyzing concepts of action-reaction — the dialogue and external conflicts comprising actions, and all the modes by which characters react, in layers. Worth its own post — a post requested by another venue — but for today…

It’s time for Friday Links for Writers. Not surprising at least one link is a piece on character action. As always, share in the comments to let us know what resounds with you, what you’d like more of, or share your own favorite links. Have a great writing week!

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Character Reaction — Make Your Character Respond

On The Editor’s Blog, Beth Hill discusses the need to reveal character in the written responses to action and events. While I’ve been considering a dozen different layers to response, she covers the big 4: action, dialogue, thought, and emotion.

Pixie Dust

Okay, so this will be, what, the third Donald Maass piece I share lately? Yeah well, he must be good at getting one thinking. His latest post at Writer Unboxed talks about using the most emotionally charged details to power your writing (and delete the rest). Experiences shared in the comments are just as inspiring as the initial piece.

a8b42ebd1d57086a0349245db28cc008Found on Pinterest: Plot Timeline Infographics
Plotter or pantser, I strongly believe in understanding (or planning) the best structure for the novel you’re writing. In revising Never Said, that backbone has been key to building a more complex story than would have been possible without it. The link above goes to pin for the “first act”. Click here to find Act 2 and here for Act 3. Want more? Clicking the pins takes you to the original articles.

How Mapping Alice Munro’s Stories Helped Me As a Writer

And, hey, if I’m confessing my inner word nerd… well, look, Elizabeth Poliner was geeking out on diagramming Alice Munro, too. For me, it’s been a mix of Anthony Doerr and Tana French – but, point is, if you’re diagramming your favorite writer, you’re not alone.

Print Products: Turn Your Book into a Notebook or Workbook

Many of my readers may already have stumbled on Joanna Penn, who has been generous, as her self-publishing career took off, to share creative ways to make a living with your writing. This post is just that, with advice on how to create accompanying workbooks or other print materials from your existing book (especially nonfiction). This would be a great approach for speaking engagements and workshops.

Santiago Caruso via The Guardian

Santiago Caruso via The Guardian

 

On Charlotte Bronte’s 200th Birthday: Illustrating Jane Eyre

This one is just for a little inspiration, for any of us kindling a love for the Brontes. A Guardian piece, featuring the Gorey-esque artwork of Santiago Caruso depicting scenes from Jane Eyre.

Ta-Nehisi Coates: the Privilege of Writing from in the Mess

I loved this answer Ta-Nehisi Coates gave to a Howard University student who asked him what responsibility he thought writers have. The link above gives that one answer. Or, here is the full conversation between him and professor Greg Carr, including a reading from Between the World and Me.

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What Are You Working On?

April seemed to be a huge month for writers using challenges to reach writing goals — and just as many of my friends hit May (and look forward to summer) with editing now on their mind. What is your current writing goal? What challenges or strategies keep your going or make hurdles in your work?

Have you come across any great writing links or resources lately?

Do share your thoughts or links in the comments.

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If you like this blog, be sure to click the WordPress +follow button, or follow via email or Bloglovin options in the sidebar. You can find me on Twitter @elissafield or on Facebook.

Round tower bend, Waterford, Ireland. copyright Elissa Field.

Round tower bend, Waterford, Ireland. copyright Elissa Field.

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Friday Links for Writers: 04.29.16

Round tower bend, Waterford, Ireland. copyright Elissa Field.

Round tower bend, Waterford, Ireland. copyright Elissa Field.

It has been another busy writing week. New fiction. Book editing for a client. Research and academic work to finish a masters class. Digital portfolio…

My biggest writing priorities this week have been getting my novel printed for read-through, and hosting #wssprint.

On the novel: I’d made it through the 9th draft of my novel, appreciating the ability to shuffle new chapters in Scrivener. But that also means I spent an undue amount of time this week hair-pulling in order to compile the novel back out as Word document. God love Scriv — a difficult child, requiring deep digging into its Advanced custom menus to simply ask it not to reformat everything in order to print (smh). I’ll still be working through this much of today, to get the 10th draft in printed form, ready for big read-through revision.

What is #wssprint? I’ll be hosting the last of 6, all-day live writing sprints on Twitter with my writing group, Wordsmith Studio. The sprints run from 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. EST, starting at the top of each hour. It’s been a fantastic experience each week. But also requires preloading 72+ organic tweets through twitchy Hootsuite, finding or originating prompts that take novels deeper, plus manning the live event. So do come visit, if you’re reading this 4/29 — or look for periodic events in the future. (On Twitter #wssprint or blog post)

But as with any week, time writing includes time for reading…  This week’s Friday Links for Writers includes advice on pitching, relevance, freelancing and more. Let us know what you find meaningful, or share your own favorite links.

Have a great writing week!

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22 of the Best Single Sentences on Writing

As Lit Reactor puts it: if good writing is succinct, shouldn’t the advice be, too? 22 single sentences with advice from Chekov, Gaiman, Oates, King and more.

Tips for Writing the Perfect Pitch

This piece by Estelle Erasmus on BlogHer is insightful as to what makes for an effective pitch — advice that resounds among my freelancing friends.

Thoughts on Pitch Contests

On the eve of another Twitter pitch madness event (#PitchMad or #pitchmadness), agent Julie A. Weber gave her thoughts on the process for pitching novels in these events, including do’s and don’ts.

Relevant

Agent and writer Donald Maass has a way of cutting to the heart of what makes breakout fiction today, and his posts on Writer Unboxed tend to stick with me. This, on “relevance,” came to mind as I was reading a recent bestseller and could see how, without particular threads of relevance the novel would have fallen flat.

Freelancers Roundtable

Interesting Longreads conversation between three freelancers — Josh Dean, May Jeong and Jason Fagone — about the state of freelancing and their experiences on various aspects of the business, from finding ideas to negotiating, and more.

Ontario

Colin Barrett is a slick & insightful writer whose collection Young Skins is described as voice of today’s young Ireland. Irish Times shared “Ontario” as a short story — to me, it’s more depiction of how we write (and don’t write) from reality. Here or elsewhere, Barrett’s worth reading.

Another Hidden Message Box on Facebook

This isn’t specific to writing, yet ran wild through writers’ posts recently. So, you know there’s a message/inbox in Facebook, right? Some folks freak out to discover there’s also a second inbox (called “message requests”), catching attempts to message you by people who are not your friends. Look at the foot of that: click the link that says “see filtered requests.” That’s a third inbox — and friends have found everything from letters from readers to requests from agents in there. Thanks for the confusion, FB.

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What Are You Working On?

Chime in to share your current writing goal or link to a recent favorite read in the comments. April has been a month with friends using a range of challenges to work through writing and editing goals. A group of published friends merely start a FB post each week to keep accountable, keeping each other going. Others have used #AprWritingChallenge, Camp NaNoWriMo, Poem a Day Challenge, A to Z Blog Challenge and others to claim time to write with the camaraderie of others. In conversation (#wschat), writers traded personal strategies for finding time.

What do you do to claim time to write?

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Need Motivation?

cElissaField

cElissaField

Don’t forget: I’ll be on Twitter with Wordsmith Studio all day today (4/29) to host hourly writing sprints. Find me @elissafield, follow hashtag #wssprint or read more in this prior post.

Even if you’re past the live date, you can find prior sprint days (with prompts) on my Storify — and continue to follow #wssprint and Wordsmith Studio, as we offer these events periodically throughout the year (current plans for a summer and October series)

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If you like this blog, be sure to click the WordPress +follow button, or follow via email or Bloglovin options in the sidebar. You can find me on Twitter @elissafield or on Facebook.

For more Friday Links for Writers:Thinking of Him

  • Friday Links for Writers: Quirky Research Sources for Writers #3
  • Scan summaries of the links shared on all Friday Links posts: hover over individual post-titles listed on the Links & Where to Find Me page

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Friday Links for Writers : Quirky Research Sources for Writers #3

cElissaField Happy bunny son watches crystal being finished, Waterford factory, Ireland.

cElissaField Happy bunny son watches crystal being finished, Waterford factory, Ireland.

This 3rd installment of Friday Links for Writers: Quirky Research Sources for Writers gives nod to the #Youknowyou’reawriter truism of worrying what the FBI might think of your random online search history.

Best ways to hold a battle ax. How long does it take to bury a body. You know, as one does.

Even without the excuse of writing thrillers or horror, I confess an undue number of searches related to weaponry, terrorism, reporting from conflict zones, specific jails, specific dangers. Particularly researching for Never Said. I’ve read and watched some shocking things. (It took awhile to get over the morgue tour — our ME is big on gravedigger humor and indelible images.)

jps norton 1990 robert dunlopAlthough, equally, my searches include finding unedited dashcam footage of TT motorcycle road races from twenty years back (in awe: pre-GoPro). And sweet things like sound of the native birds on a particular hillside, or finding a picture of the inside of a small village church. (Pinterest board for Never Said)

This week’s Friday Links for Writers shares the odd articles writers come across in weekly reading — a cross section of authentic info for everything from the gruesome to the sacred, the timely to the de ciecle.

Have a great writing week, all.

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Smelling Death: On the Job with New York’s Crime Scene Cleaners

A long read in The Atlantic. Some things you just can’t imagine accurately without hearing from the pros.

The Lonely Death of George Bell

A touching exploration on what occurs when one dies alone – but also unusual insight, tracing the various vendors and entities that go into resolving unidentified estates, or even just the path a body travels.

 Beretta-92Best Handguns for Detectives

This article is just one post in Benjamin Sobieck’s Writer’s Guide to Weapons.

Writing Tips from the CIA Style Guide

This won’t get you all 007 about how to speak 20 languages with ease or kill a foe with dental floss… but certainly is a twist on your average “how to edit your prose” advice.

Free Historical Costume Patterns

Thanks to Diana Terrill Clark, a writer in my circle, who shared this website with patterns for clothing and undergarments from historical periods. A good visual when describing historic apparel.

Untangling the Overlapping Conflicts of the Syrian War

An infographic and map-imbedded article breaking down the layers of conflict, useful to anyone writing about impacts of the war in Syria in the 4 years leading to October 2015 publication.

3 Maps that Explain America

The map that got me was the second, which shows the predominant national ancestry for each county in the United States.

Cfwc2XoWQAAuyoQWhy Are There Sea Monsters Lurking in Early World Maps

Here’s where we start to see what a map addict I am. Dory Klein of the Boston Public Library is amazing in revealing the layered stories behind sea monsters at the fringes of early maps.

17th Century London- by Air

This Open Culture piece shares link to an award-winning animation: “Six students from De Montfort University have created a stellar 3D representation of 17th century London, as it existed before The Great Fire of 1666.”

Church Architecture Glossary

Whether you grew up in churches or not, knowing the proper terminology for narthex and apse can be outside one’s grasp. Along comes this handy glossary from Ken Collins.

Glossary of Islam

Wikipedia offers this glossary, which provides an extensive list of definitions for terms related to Islam and Arab traditions. Want another great introduction to Muslim traditions? Check out the American Muslim Teenager’s Handbook, written by an American Muslim mother and her teens, with instructional insights intended to increase understanding for those inside and outside the faith.

Want more?

Friday Links for Writers: Quirky Research Sources #2

Friday Links for Writers: Quirky Research Sources #1

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What Are You Working On?

Chime in to share your current research challenge or favorite source in the comments below. My own challenges have included finding recordings of specific dialects, down to a county, or the sound of a particular engine during a race. Lately, I was searching to figure what alternative rock would have been playing in Dublin ten and fifteen years back. Often, it’s getting details of a specific process (taxidermy, for an unfinished story). What are yours? Share links, a challenge, or your best research strategy.

Need Motivation?

Don’t forget: I’ll be on Twitter with Wordsmith Studio all day today (Friday, April 15th) to host hourly writing sprints. Find me @elissafield, follow hashtag #wssprint or read more in yesterday’s post.

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If you like this blog, be sure to click the WordPress +follow button, or follow via email or Bloglovin options in the sidebar. You can find me on Twitter @elissafield or on Facebook.

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Friday Links for Writers: 07.03.15

“Thinking of Him” & its neighbor, by Roy Lichtenstein, photographed with students at the Yale Art Museum by Elissa Field 2015 (copyright, repro w written permission).

I am posting this on a raucously beautiful day in Fairfield, Connecticut, where I am rushing to finish morning writing in time to go gather a picnic dinner to walk down to the beach for tonight’s fireworks. That’s right, fellow patriots, the 4th of July weekend kicks off today.

And with this Friday off, you have little excuse not to be writing.

My morning was a hectic finish to a busy writing week: research for the intro to an academic paper, paperwork for a great new freelance client, wrestling with recording a screencast for a digital portfolio… I love the diversity of the writing I’ve been doing the past month — some great content and PR writing projects, and a great new educational client.

But draft 8 of the novel is also going like gangbusters, spread in ungainly documents all through my computer.

How on earth does one steal time to get that novel done? Rally your online communities! The folks at Friday Night Writes gave me excuse to pause for #writeclub word sprints throughout the day. And the fabulous and generous young adult author, Gae Polisner, lent motivation to take time out to find an excerpt to share as she kicks off Friday Feedback today, as the start of Teachers Write. Any excuse is a good excuse to take a break from other work to get this novel reassembled.

(Still pondering the relevance of Lichtenstein’s “Thinking of Him”? It’s from a trip I took as a volunteer with 5th graders who’d used fine art all year to extend understanding of how visual texts construct meaning, same as literature. I love how the diversity of my work takes me everywhere!)

Every busy writing week is also filled with great reading and resources, which brings us to another edition of FridayLinks for Writers — some of my favorite recent reading online. As always, let me know in the comments what was particularly helpful, what you’d like to read more of, or share your own favorite links.

Have a great writing week, all!

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Checklist: Is Your Novel Ready to Query?

In response to a writer wondering if it is okay to withdraw a query, the inimitable literary agent (and Query Shark) Janet Reid answers the question, but then also offers a 5 question checklist to know if a novel is actually ready to query. Also available on the page are several other useful query resources, such as a link to her query checklist and query letter diagnostics. If you are in the market to query, her site is a good place to start for tips.

 Writing Idol: Not for the Thin-Skinned

Speaking of testing queries, Melissa Cronin shares about the experience of participating in Writing Idol in this guest post on Brevity from last fall. With the intensity of American Idol tryouts, writers sit by as their story is read aloud to see at what point a panel of agents or editors would stop reading. This kind of event has popped up at a few conference venues.

Dear Writers: None of Us Know What the F We’re Doing

Forgive the expletives in this one, but Chuck Wendig usually makes them worthwhile. This piece on his blog is one of my favorites — an acknowledgement that we all have ideas about what works or what to avoid in writing, we know certain protocols about submitting… but, in the end, writing is not defined by rules or guarantees. A non-advice piece that has you wondering if there really are ice weasels, and also inspired to get to work without waiting for clearer instructions.

Writing Basics: The Act One Problem

I’ve mentioned elsewhere that screenwriting, plotting and structure have been a source of intrigue for me in novel revision, and this piece by Janice Hardy on her Fiction University website clarifies the concept of the problem that carries plot from inciting incident to door one. Understanding plot concepts is a good way to test for weaknesses in a story.

10 Resources for Writers and Bloggers

Nina Badzin shares a great list of resources, and on each of those links you’ll find multiple options for new publication routes, writing groups and more. It’s been a frequently shared resource among writers and bloggers.

Colin Barrett Talks About His Approach to the Short Story

I’m really intrigued by Colin Barrett, an Irish writer whose story collection, Young Skins, won last year’s Frank O’Connor International Award and the Guardian First Book Award. A silky paperback copy of the collection just arrived into my reading pile, having had to order it since it was not readily available in the U.S., and this interview shares some interesting insights.

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How About You?

What challenges are you working on in your writing this week, or what resources have helped you find clarity toward your goals? We’d love to hear from you — share your thoughts or links in the comments.

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If you like this blog, be sure to click the WordPress +follow button, or follow via email or Bloglovin options in the sidebar if you don’t have a WordPress account. You can find me on Twitter @elissafield or on Facebook.

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Friday Links for Writers: 05.01.15

 

c Elissa Field

c Elissa Field

I am writing this while looking out the window at nodding daffodils after a week spent appreciating the season of spring blooms, driving through 10 east coast states. Apple blossoms, weeping cherries, dogwoods, azaleas, forsythia, Bradford pears, redbud, wild wisteria, and the last bedraggled heads of tulips.

10634351_10100112304388454_1141723537_nNo small deal to me, as this was my first spring back in the northeast after years in South Florida’s tropics.

It’s also been a great week for writing. Two new business writing clients. Writing academic curriculum. Analyzing the structure of recent breakout novels. Celebrating the creativity of my clients and my writing community (including Wordsmith Studio’s continuing anniversary celebrations). And — no offense to all of that, but — most overjoyed by work on my novel. Revision to this story is like discovering hidden doors. This story — the one coming vivid, the writing on a roll, where it dragged when I knew the story was not yet ready — is the one I knew was there all along, so I couldn’t be happier.

My current challenge... or threat.

My current challenge… or threat.

That said, this post marks a return of Friday Links for Writers, which was on hiatus during my winter masters work. This week shares some of my favorite recent reads on process, form, inspiration and publication. As always, let me know in the comments what resounds with you, or what you are currently trying to learn more about. Feel free to share your own links. Have a great writing week!

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Tips for Non-converging Parallel Plot Lines

In a recent workshop, when trying to simplify my narrative to a logline to practice pitching with workshop peers, I realized that one of the complications I was working on is that my novel unfolds in nonlinear, parallel, converging plot lines. While conventional advice tends to steer toward linear lines, there are several different forms for parallel plot lines, in linear and nonlinear forms. This piece takes on one of the more interesting: non-converging (two stories that don’t cross). I share it as much for that discussion as the additional links on other structures.

 496 Words on Writing Flash Prose

Some of my writing friends are kings and queens of writing flash prose, and I can’t help envy them. Envy the crossing of all those finish lines, all those publications come to light. It’s therefore no surprise that I loved this short piece by Rebecca Meacham on Ploughshares’ blog about how she yields flash prose from her novel scraps.

The One Word You Should Probably Add to Twitter Searches

This was one of my favorite pieces on research this week, as Daniel Victor shares some common sense but not obvious advice for honing in on first person sources. The trick isn’t just the word to include, but the simple logic behind it. This was frequently shared by my journo friends.

Done is Better than Perfect

I am sure I’m not alone in appreciating this piece, in which Nanea Hoffman confesses how a need for perfection in her writing has held her back. It’s a great tonic if you need permission to let go and just get something submitted.

Matthew Weiner’s Reassuring Life Advice for Struggling Artists

Close on the heels of that theme, Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner reassures emerging artists by pulling back the veil that implies real genius is effortless. The Fast Company essay suggests all masterpieces involved false starts, deletions and revision, saying that “hiding brushstrokes” does a disservice to emerging artists.

Her Stinging Critiques Propel Young Adult Best Sellers

To be on the receiving end of an editorial letter from Julie Strauss-Gabel may sting, but I can’t help think how empowering it would be to work with an editor with such vision. You might know her as the Dutton editor for John Green, whose experiences working with her are shared. In retracing the arc of her career, this is also a fascinating glimpse into the growth of young adult fiction.

This Week in Fiction: Colm Tóibín

I usually try to end with the perspective of one writer. Here, it’s interesting to read Colm Toibin’s observations and creative process as he discusses writing his story, “Sleep” with Deborah Treisman, in the New Yorker.

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How About You?

I love this sign from Atlantic Center for the Arts, which comes on the heels of a sign asking the public not to venture beyond a point where the center is reserved for artists. c Elissa Field

I love this sign from Atlantic Center for the Arts, which comes on the heels of a sign asking the public not to venture beyond a point where the center is reserved for artists. c Elissa Field

What challenges are you working on in your writing this week, or what resources have helped you find clarity toward your goals? We’d love to hear from you — share your thoughts or links in the comments.

Better yet… Have you read my posts for Wordsmith Studio’s 3rd Anniversary Blog Hops? Whether you are a member of the group or not: share your current writing process by responding to interview questions in this week’s blog hop post. Here are links:

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Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

If you like the idea of more blog hops, let me know, as I may host them in the future on this site.

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Friday Links for Writers 10.10.14

Beautiful picture of Toni Morrison on a wall inside the Lillian Vernon Writers' House at NYU. I first knew I wanted to write fiction, hearing Toni Morrison read Sula. Love.

Beautiful photograph of Toni Morrison — part of a collection of famed writers captured by photographer Nancy Crampton — on a wall inside the Lillian Vernon Creative Writers’ House at NYU. I first knew I wanted to write fiction, hearing Toni Morrison read Sula. Love.

I am writing under the gun this week — eking in this Friday Links for Writers and an hour of novel revision before a client meeting, plus writing for a course, and going over my query and excerpt for speed pitching with two agents at #BinderCon this weekend.

Client work this week had me thinking about the ways social media has crept into the end products and delivery vehicles for client work. Rebuilding my freelance business after four years teaching, it was quirky to find the ways several news outlets had me posting news in lieu of emailing our press release to an editor. And much of my day Friday was spent teaching Pinterest to a client as a multimedia means for us to exchange work.

Which leads to this week’s Friday Links for Writers, with links reflective of new influences, venues and media in the publishing world — continually creating new opportunities (and challenges) for writers, editors and others in the publishing profession. As I run off to volunteer at #BinderCon this weekend, the theme of sharing resources and seeing writing potential in new ways seems fitting. Let me know what links resound with you, or share your own in the comments. I hope you have a fabulous writing week!

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The Newsonomics of the Millenial Moment

Speaking of continual change and adaptation, if you are a journalist or otherwise impacted by trends in news outlets, this piece by Ken Doctor gives great insight into the impact of millennial readership on news outlets, including the rising wave of news site start-ups. I appreciated his breakdown of why this impact matters as well as the individual significance of outlets including Vox, Buzzfeed, Vice Media, Mic and more. It’s a great piece for better understanding readership and markets.

2014 Most Influential People in Publishing

As long as we’re on business trends, this listing posted on Bibliodaze in May is a really interesting round up of a variety of influential people within the publishing industry. As with any list, it’s not so much about the individual people as the discussion of why each is considered to be influential — reasons which often reflect on the diversity and dynamic changes occurring (or not) — and, in some cases, how individuals have invented platforms of influence that did not previously exist.

Why You Need an Online Writing Portfolio

Some writers might find this a little basic, but I liked this article from FreelanceWritingGigs.com because it simplifies the questions many working writers have about online portfoli0s. The article is a brief read, but includes useful links to more specific advice and platforms.

On Professional Editing and Why I Charge My Friends for Advice

The last of our freelance-focused links: for anyone writing or editing freelance who has ever debated their hourly rate, this post by Jennifer Margulis makes no apologies for the cost of her services. It is the blowing-caped superhero for honorable remuneration, and a great reminder of your value for anyone starting a writing business. (Well, it was my blowing-caped superhero a couple weeks back when I was wide-eyed over a too many pro bono requests. Stood my ground and paying clients took the place. Yay.)

A Reader’s Manifesto: 12 Hard-wired Expectations Every Reader Has

Early in my writing years, (at the same writing conference when I met Donald Maass) I met with a seasoned Hollywood screenwriter who quoted the classic advice, “If you introduce a gun in the first act, it has to go off by the third.” I’ve carried this as an overall metaphor for the fact that readers have certain expectations as they read — an idea spelled out with effective depth in this post at Writers Unboxed by Lisa Cron. Understanding the innate expectations of readers is a surprisingly effective way to clarify understanding of strengths or gaps in writing.

On Feeding

On the heels of that link about sharing work online, I absolutely love the premise of this post that Kasie Whitener shared on her blog. Inspired by a conversation during Wordsmith Studio’s weekly #wschat, she brings out the voice of one of her characters by having him appear as a guest blogger on her site. It is such an engaging way to introduce a character or your writing to established readers.

Everything You Need to Know Before Applying to an MFA Program

In this post on the Associated Writing Program website, Elizabeth McCracken gives some of the most down to earth and effective advice for anyone applying to MFA Programs. Many who have considered the degree feel batted back and forth in the arguments over whether one should or should not get the degree; thankfully, this is not more of that — but really useful, supportive guidance, like, “Don’t move to a place that you know will depress you.”

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 What About You?

What have you read this week that either fueled your writing or gave you new insight into the profession? What were your favorite reads?

I’m posting this while gearing up to head into the city for #BinderCon tomorrow — I’ll be volunteering and pitching and otherwise connecting with other binder writers. Shout out in the comments if you are there as well. Or, what conferences or writing community are you inspired by this week, large or small?

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If you like this blog, be sure to click the WordPress +follow button, or via email or Bloglovin options in the sidebar if you don’t have a WordPress account. You can find me on Twitter @elissafield or on Facebook. I love to connect with readers and writers,

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Friday Links for Writers 09.25.14

Ah, the dreaded "blah" in the margin. c. Elissa Field

Ah, the dreaded “blah” in the margin. c. Elissa Field

It’s been a busy week for reading and writing — from a Hedgebrook application to receiving acceptance to a Masters program, to finishing one client project and starting a pro bono project… In the meantime, I’ve been shifting gears to take a season off from teaching which has meant taking on new writing and editing clients once again. Networking with fellow writers has been a great (and fun and inspiring) resource and I’m getting ready to head into New York for a kickstarter conference of women writers, the BinderCon (Binder Women Writers Symposium) the weekend after next.

With all the business in play at the moment, it’s not surprising that this week’s Friday Links for Writers includes some great writing resources I’ve stumbled across for working writers: two on freelance writing or editing, one on Twitter pitch wars and another on the kinds of topics to write about when building platform. Work on the novel continues to be the heart of my work, so the last two links are for fiction writers: on critique partners and endings.

As always, let me know what resounds with you, what you wish you could find more information about, or share your own links in the comments. Have a great writing week!

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From Full Time to Freelance: How to Make the Leap

This feature by Laura Lin via Forbes is a great cross-section of concrete advice for anyone contemplating jumping from traditional employment to freelancing — and serves equally well as a diagnostic for any freelancer, with ways to make sure your business is on track for success. Related articles are available in the footlinks.

Negotiating: Theory and Practice

While on the topic of freelancing, the Editorial Freelancers Association is a great resource for writers and editors. As part of a weekly #EFAchat, the association shared this article with tips for negotiating rates and scope for client projects. Other resources on the site include contracts and job listings.

 The Ultimate Guide to Twitter Pitch Contests

As a guest blogger on the site Writers in the Storm, literary agent Carly Watters shares some great advice for anyone throwing their novel into the fray in any of the half dozen or so pitch wars that take place on Twitter. First off: pitch war? These are scheduled days for writers to tweet the pitch for their novel — that’s right: your beloved masterpiece in less than 140 characters — using an established hashtag for the event (for example, #pitmad). As with all query tips, Carly’s advice boils down to, “You only have one chance to impress an agent.” She gives concrete tips for writing your pitch. Overall, she say, ” My big advice is that if your book isn’t done, don’t jump in. There are many Twitter Pitch Contests every year so don’t feel like you have to be involved in every one. Wait until your book is ready.”

34 Blog Topics Just for Writers

This post by Frances Caballo at Social Media Just for Writers is a great resource for writers wondering what topics are best to share about on a blog, to give a sense of their work and direction as a writer. The post includes topics for nonfiction, fiction and poetry writers.

Cheerleaders vs. Critique Partners

This piece by Heather Jackson at WriteOnSisters.com does a great job of establishing the difference a cheerleaders of our writing, who constantly eggs us on with praise, and an effective critique partner, who pushes us to craft our best work. Complete with a tool to assess which category your writing partner tends toward, the post also helps one appreciate the value in having both cheerleaders and critique partners in your corner.

An Anatomy of Endings

“Endings haunt us because they are mortality formalized,” concludes staff writer Adam Gopnik in this great piece on types of endings in the New Yorker. “Endings are what life cheats us of. As long as a sense of the ending hovers, the story goes on.” I love the philosophy of this line — but any writer working on the structure of their novel or story’s ending will appreciate the concrete type of endings his article identifies. (Karen Joy Fowler mentioned this article during a workshop at Brisbane Writers Festival.)

Want more?

copyright Elissa Field; repro w written permission only

copyright Elissa Field; repro w written permission only

Check out yesterday’s Writing Prompt: Develop Setting – Inspired by Colson Whitehead on New York City.

Or, for great reading recommendations, check out tomorrow’s My Fall Reading List 2014 (link will go live Saturday).

If you’re curious what I’ve been working on, here are two recent posts sharing work or inspiration: Press Freedom for Journalists Covering Conflict: Free Austin Tice and Today’s Work: Sharing a Scene from Never Said.

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What About You?

What writing goals are you working on this week — or what great reads did you stumble across? Feel free to share links (including to your own posts) in the comments.

Do you ever blog about the books you read or post your Must Reads list? Let me know in the comments or by using the contact sheet on the home page if you would be interested in participating in a reading blog hop.

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If you like this blog, be sure to subscribe using WordPress’s follow option or via email, or the Bloglovin button in the sidebar. You can find me on Twitter @elissafield or on Facebook. I love to connect with like-minded readers and writers!

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Friday Links for Writers 07.25.14

word hoard postAnyone working on revision to a novel right now might relate to the kind of weeks I’ve had recently, when my mantra seems to be “less talk, more do.” There comes a point in editing when you don’t want to talk about it, you just want to get it done.

So I’ll offer few words of greeting, but simply get this posted.

I hope you’ll enjoy this week’s Friday Links for Writers — which range from writers sharing concrete steps of their process or advice on dialogue, to a checklist for reviewing female characters, to a podcast from the NEA. As always, let me know what resounds with you, what you wish you could find more information about, or share your own links in the comments. Have a great writing week!

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Is Your Dialogue Just Characters Talking?

Thanks to Roz Morris for sharing this great article by Monica Clark, which shares powerful advice on writing dialogue as inspired by author Walter Mosley. (Those 3 names in one sentence reveals how much we all trade and share together, doesn’t it? I love that about writers.) Monica points out the weight well-written or poorly-written dialogue can have in a reader (or agent’s) first glance at your book, while Walter lists the multiple tasks any line of dialogue should accomplish. (Want more on dialogue? Check the first link in Friday Links for Writers 7.11.14)

Embracing the Process

This is a guest post by Linda Mullaly Hunt as part of the month-long Teachers Write program. Those of you who love reading about another writer’s process — especially those who do not use Scrivener* — may really like the way she uses coded cards to organize and edit her novel as it goes through revisions. (*Linda’s method can be done digitally using features in Scrivener.)

An Unseemly Emotion: PW Talks with Claire Messud

Last year, I wrote a post about the need to let characters misbehave (Writing Character: Say the Things We Never Say). In that spirit, I loved this conversation with Claire Messud, via Publishers Weekly, summed up with this quote: “As a writer, I subscribe to Chekhov’s world view: ‘It’s not my job to tell you that horse thieves are bad people. It’s my job to tell you what this horse thief is like.'”

6 Things Not to Expect from a Literary Agent

Whether you are wondering about connections with your new agent or still in the aspiring phase, wondering what an agent will do for you, I liked this frank list of realistic expectations from Carly Watters at The Write Life.

8-Point Checklist for Writing Better Women Characters

A couple Friday Links back (6.20.14), I shared Tasha Robinson’s interesting discussion of ‘trinity syndrome,’ suggesting that there is an inherent weakness being written into supposedly strong female characters, particularly in film. Today’s link, on the screenwriting site Black Board, turns that lengthy article into 8 checkpoints to assess whether you’ve undermined your female lead. Not a bad tool for rethinking any female characters.

Julie Otsuka on Artworks

Need a good listen? Find inspiration from Julie Otsuka as she speaks on the National Endowment for the Arts’ podcast, Artworks, about the inspiration for her novel. It’s interesting to hear about her choice in leaving characters unnamed, as she wrote about the isolation caused by Japanese interment. (Or, read the transcript which will be posted soon)

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How is Your Writing Week?

I’ve been sharing here and on Twitter (#SumNovRev) my summer goal of finishing novel revisions. What are your current writing goals? What are your biggest hurdles (mine this week included a 20-hr vacation drive that left me with a crushed monitor on my laptop… ugh!)? What strategies help you get it done? Share your questions, thoughts or links in the comments below!

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If you like this blog, be sure to subscribe using WordPress’s follow option or via email, or the Bloglovin button in the sidebar. I love to connect with like-minded readers and writers!

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No so much a selfie as sign of how bad the glare on the laptop screen can be. c Elissa Field

No so much a selfie as sign of how bad the glare on the laptop screen can be. c Elissa Field

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Friday Links for Writers 07.11.14

My beach writing this summer: 2 novel manuscripts in print, laptop and a pair of flamingos guarding editing supplies.

My beach writing this summer: 2 novel manuscripts in print, laptop and a pair of flamingos guarding editing supplies.

It’s been a busy week of nonfiction writing, blogs, novel revisions, restructuring in Scrivener, software upgrades, query drafts and… have to say one of the best parts has been some great connections with other writers online.

So this is a shout-out to all of you working on your writing. I’m going to busily get back to the draft I’m retyping (read more about that process here: Novel Revision Strategies: Retyping the Novel Draft).

But in the meantime, enjoy this week’s Friday Links for Writers, which shares some of the best resources I’ve come across. Best wishes with your work!

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Find Dialogue Daunting? Expand Your Character Talk

Whatever your focus in writing or editing your dialogue, this post at Lit Central is a great examination of all the options available to vary how you communicate your characters words or thoughts.

To #%&* or Not to #%&*: Profanity in Fiction

I’ve drafted a post about this myself… Have you ever wondered about the need or inappropriateness of swearing in your writing? Check out this post by Roseanne Parry at the Loft Literary Center for a discussion and options for how to make your language-level fit your work.

MS Wishlist

Ever seen those #tenqueries series on Twitter, where a literary agent shares their review and replies to query submissions? Well, how about a central site that takes the greatest wishes of all those agents? You can search them on Twitter using #mswl – or check out this link for a summary of all those posts.

Is it My Query or My Sample Pages?

On her blog, literary agent Carly Watters answers what she says is the most common questions she gets in workshops: “How do I know when it’s my query or whether it’s my sample pages that are stopping me from getting full manuscript requests or offers?” In a list of solutions, she helps you identify likely answers. Definitely check this out – it has been one of the most recommended shares on Twitter this week.

How to Tell if Your Story is on Track

Kristen Lamb’s post on her blog addresses the importance of being able to summarize your story within a couple sentences. She is not alone in the advice that, if you can’t summarize your story in three sentences, agents and editors begin suspecting structural problems. She offers clear components of effective log lines.

How to Write: A Year in Advice from Franzen, Hosseini and more

This post at The Atlantic shares advice gathered through 2013 from 50 different writers for the By Heart series, including Khaled Hosseini, Tracy Chevalier, Andre Dubus III, Aimee Bender and Amy Tan.

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How About You?

What goals are you trying to reach this summer? Are you using any online communities, camps, challenges or communities to help motivate your writing? What works best (or worst) for you?

If you’re looking for writing community…

I’ll be posting separately about some of the inspiration I’ve found in connecting with others in some of the writing camps and challenges going on this summer.

On Twitter: I’ve been sharing my own goals, motivational prompts and revision activities in order to finish a novel by summer’s end using the hashtag #SumNovRev.  Say hello or share your own suggested strategies if you visit the thread.

 

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On my educator’s blog:

 

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Friday Links for Writers 07.04.14 – Quirky Research Sources for Writers #2

 

Dublin from World Bar. c Elissa Field.

Dublin from World Bar. c Elissa Field.

One of our favorite editions of Friday Links for Writers was the 3.14.14 edition that shared Quirky Research Sources for Writers. Whether writing a novel, a short story or researching a memoir or long form journalism, any of us who do research for our writing have a particular affection for the fascinating rabbit holes research leads us down.

You know what? A long holiday weekend (here in the States, at least) seems like a good day for Quirky Research Sources for Writers – Round 2.

Thatcher Wine of Juniper Books at http://juniperbooks.com/

Thatcher Wine of Juniper Books at http://juniperbooks.com/

If you’re celebrating the 4th of July, enjoy this, my favorite clip from HBO’s John Adams: the vote and reading of the Declaration of Independence.

And then make the most of this quirky set of research resources for writers. As always, share in the comments to let us know which links resounded for you, what kind of information you wish you could find more of, or share your own favorite links, including your own posts.

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Last Name Meanings in English

I took particular satisfaction in stumbling on this article as I’ve always had a linguistic curiosity in the origin of last names. My dad’s family name (Field) ironically has nearly the same meaning as my mom’s family name, Aho, which means “glade” or “forest clearing” in Finnish. Her mother’s maiden name, la Tendresse, is French for “a wave of affection.” For historic writers, the article touches on the history of when last names first arrived; for any writer, it’s creative fodder for character naming.

Thrill Writing

Fiona Quinn’s Thrill Writing site is about the most comprehensive blog I’ve seen, sharing the ins and outs of forensic detail specifically for writers. Individual posts give everything from detecting trace evidence in fur or hair, to surviving in a desert.

The Final Trip Home of Pfc. Aaron Toppen

Sad but true: war has touched many of our characters in current times, and begs to be portrayed with accuracy. Need to describe the path a fallen soldier takes, in being returned for burial? This Atlantic photo story documents the dignified transfer of Pfc. Aaron Toppen, killed this month by friendly fire in Afghanistan, from soldiers in mourning on his FOB to graveside. Shared in all respect for the soldier lost, as I feel some hesitation in photographing private grief.

Journalists Killed in 2014

Conflict around the world — possibly in your setting — has created significant dangers for journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists centralizes information on journalists missing or killed, and advocacy. This page: those killed in 2014.

SkyVector: Flight Planning – Aeronautical Charts

While writing Breathing Water, we had a pilot-friend staying with us, and I couldn’t help but find the aeronautical maps he spread across the coffee table fascinating. Cuban MiGs had shot down civilian planes that flew out of Miami on a humanitarian (some say “spy”) mission and, as I followed the trail of stories, his aeronautical maps assigned different names to air space than land maps, and identified legal borders set by international treaties. Whatever your research motive, SkyVector is an interactive site for flight plotting.

Audubon: View All Species

While we’re on the subject of flight… Growing up in Michigan, even as a little kid, I recognized and knew the names of all our local birds, including the seasons they were present and absent. Huh. Would that be a detail of setting your character noticed? Here’s a central resource from the Audubon Society, with facts about bird species. Some include sound recordings.

copyright Elissa Field; repro w written permission only

copyright Elissa Field; repro w written permission only

Birdwatch Ireland

And, because one of my novel settings is in Ireland, here is a resource for native birds in Ireland. (More about my story line’s Irish roots here: Celebrating my Irish by Writing)

Spice World

Now that you’ve stocked the skies of your setting, how about the smells? In 3 manuscripts, I’ve found myself writing a foreign culture and one of the first things I turned to was cookbooks, to know the tastes and smells of native cuisine. Knowing the spices used in native cooking can give you a quick resource to adding scent details, as you can raid your grocer’s spice aisle and get samples firsthand. This link gives you a simple listing that groups spices for several national cuisines.

Want more?

Elissa Field fiction Jar of Teeth

c Elissa Field

Here is the link to the prior Quirky Research Sources for Writers.

Overall, what is Friday Links for Writers? In my near-weekly column, I share the best links I’ve found with every range of writing and publishing advice, great reads and tools. For more, here are 3 ways to read more:

  • Most recent post: Friday Links for Writers 06.20.14
  • You can read all Friday Links for Writers – this link will load all current posts, including those posted after this one.
  • But… that loads dozens of posts. Here’s the best trick to search contents of all Friday Links: within the Links & Where to Find Me tab, there is a listing of Friday Links. As you hover over the title of any post, the topics of included articles will display so you can select posts that interest you.

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How About You?

What are you working on this week? Does it have you following quirky research trail down the rabbit hole?

Share any questions you have, or advice and favorite links in the comments below.

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If you like this blog, be sure to subscribe using WordPress’s +follow option, the Bloglovin’ button or via email.  I love to connect with like-minded readers and writers!

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Celebrating the first days of summer writing at a French café. c. Elissa Field

Celebrating the first days of summer writing at a French café. c. Elissa Field

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Friday Links for Writers: 06.20.14

Thanks to the tropical showers that trapped me in a coffee shop long enough to make headway. c Elissa Field

Thanks to the tropical showers that trapped me in a coffee shop long enough to make headway. c Elissa Field

Getting into the thick of novel revisions this week has felt like parenting a belligerent preteen – not that I have one of those (apologies, boys).

Landlocked friends, this is for you: beach writing isn't always pretty. c Elissa Field

Landlocked friends, this is for you: beach writing isn’t always pretty. c Elissa Field

On the way back from a meeting midday yesterday, I forced myself to stop and write at a coffee shop for a solid hour. I’ve put so much pressure on myself to complete this novel revision and be ready to query agents by summer’s end (I’ve been sharing this goal and inspiration using #SumNovRev on Twitter – jump in, if you share that goal!).

Luck of nature: I was trapped at the coffee shop by a tropical downpour. It took headphones, a great play list and a good hour or more to get to a point where I wasn’t fighting this manuscript.

As I hit a groove (sympatico: just as Cristina Aguilera belted into “Fighter“), I tweeted: “Not in love with your WIP? Skip to a part you love. Work from there, build on strength.” So much gets deleted anyway, so why sweat the scene I hate? Still lots to go, but I’m probably about 20% through that project of retyping the draft, using the only the parts I really like.

That said, it’s time for me to share some of the Friday Links for Writers that were my favorite inspiration this week. As always, feel free to share your own favorite links (including your own) in the comments.

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Interview with Kate Kristensen

One of the interesting things revealed in Amanda Green’s Rumpus interview with Kate Kristensen — who has written several novels and nonfiction books, as well as freelance and magazine writing — is the ways she used blog writing to interact with, develop and be relief from other forms of writing.

The Writing Workshop Glossary

In this great New York Times piece, Amy Klein shares a great cross-section of writing advice under the guise of “defining” the feedback used in writing workshops. It’s great as a morning read to inspire revisions, with classic questions such as, “What does the character want?” This article is part of an ongoing series called “Draft,” on the writing craft.

We’re Losing All Our Strong Female Characters to Trinity Syndrome

With all the talk about diversity in the publishing industry, I thought this piece by Tasha Robinson at The Dissolve was one of the more interesting discussions. Tasha casts doubt on stories that simply add a female lead, even if it’s a strong, well-developed character, where the power in the story still remains in the hands of the male lead.

How to Get Published: 4 Debut Novelists on Elevator Pitches and More

I loved this Buzzfeed interview by Lincoln Michel with four debut novelists, for its down to earth insight into those publishing hurdles like phrasing the pitch.

How to Become a Literary Agent

This may be particular to my own interests in agenting, but I loved this piece by agent Juliet Mushens on Marie Claire’s blog, with her list of what it takes to be successful as a literary agent.

A Literary Expert on Driving in the Dark

Despite the ubiquity of Neil Gaiman advice articles, I loved this interview in the New York Times for some of his confessions of inspiration and his confidence about writing ahead, like “driving in the dark.”

 The Bridge and the Tunnel

This article by Donald Maass at Writers Unboxed is a repeat (included in Friday Links for Writers 07.05.13) but it’s one of my favorites — and kindred spirit with the part of the novel draft I fell back in love with at the coffee shop yesterday… So, enjoy. If you want more, this post shares some of Maass’s great novel writing prompts.

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Writing Communities

I can’t go without mentioning the explosive activity in my writing communities this week. You may have seen this show up as odd hashtags about #binderwomen or #binderwriters, and a couple others intended to go below radar. This isn’t the post to explain this completely, but I do want to take a second to give a shout out to the hundreds of women in my writing community who share such talent and energy. It’s great to connect with you (say “hello” in the comments!).

Elissa WAGI’ll also be explaining later the addition of the WAG Advisory Group badge that’s been added to the sidebar on this site, but for now, you will recognize Wordsmith Studios as the fabulous, supportive and talented group of writers I’ve been part of for two years now. Shout out to my Wordsmith friends. Find us in Tuesday chats using #wschat.

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What About You?

What writing goals are you working on this week? What resources or writing communities inspire you most? Please share any great links — including your own — in the comments.

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If you like this blog, be sure to subscribe using WordPress’s +follow option, or via email or the Bloglovin button in the sidebar. I love to connect with like-minded readers and writers!

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Celebrating the first days of summer writing at a French café. c. Elissa Field

Celebrating the first days of summer writing at a French café. c. Elissa Field

 

 

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Friday Links for Writers 06.13.14

Benefit of learning to write on the go: my "office" view for the afternoon.

Benefit of learning to write on the go: my “office” view for the afternoon. c. Elissa Field

If you’ve caught the pictures I’ve shared on Twitter or even the headers to my last two posts, you’ll get that we are in full-on summer status, here. Pool, beach, morning mimosas… Sweet!

Yeah, not so easy: for me, summer is all about long days of writing and revision, so those same pictures are attached to posts about the tough job of finishing this novel. I may be lounging, but the laptop and print novel draft are open in my lap. If you’re in that same status, I’ve been using the hashtag #SumNovRev to connect with others working on finalizing a novel over the next couple months — sharing goals, milestones and resources to keep us going.

Which brings us to today’s Friday Links for Writers, which shares some of the best recent-reads on mastering novel revision, from sentence-level to the first chapter to knowing when you’re done. As always, feel free to share in the comments about what resounds with you, what you’d like to read more of, or share your own best links of the week.

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Nail Your Novel’s First Chapter

Sometimes I feel like all the writing advice out there focuses on the first chapter — but of course this makes sense, since so much is riding on whether or not those first pages hook a reader, agent or editor. Which is exactly the point made in this short post by novel editor Ellen Brock.

Point of View Shifts and Head-hopping: Always Bad?

On Saturday, in my review of Anthony Marra’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, I admired Anthony’s control in navigating pov shifts. Here, this post from Roz Morris is a great examination of the how’s and why’s of what makes head-hopping risky.

The Sentence is a Lonely Place

Shared on the Believer website, this is a transcript of a lecture by Gary Lutz to writing students at Columbia University.  I first discovered this piece a year or so ago, as a link at the end of author Matt Bell’s “The Books We Teach” (behind the subscriber wall at Ploughshares).

11 Questions to Ask Yourself When You Reach the End

This article by Kathy Crowley at Beyond the Margins is a great list of questions to consider when you reach the end of a draft stage. As Kathy puts it, review this list without too much intensity, just making notes, before setting the work aside to hibernate. It includes great challenges regarding everything from character to setting to plot. A useful tool.

Book Launch Checklist

For those with a book done, in the querying process or even waiting for an impending release, this post at Kelsye Nelson’s site is the most comprehensive check list I’ve seen for launching a book — and was one of the most retweeted links I shared on Twitter this week.

Novelists Discuss the Magic in the Creative Process

I like to end Friday Links with inspirational interviews or lectures, and I really liked this one: from Aspen Institute’s Winter Words 2014, Authors Karen Jay Fowler and Carole DeSanti discuss the creative process.

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How About You?

Feel free to share your favorite links (even your own) in the comments below.

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If you like this blog, be sure to subscribe using WordPress’s +follow option, or via email or the Bloglovin button in the sidebar. I love to connect with like-minded readers and writers!

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(c. Elissa Field, no repro w-out written permission)

 

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Friday Links for Writers: 03.21.14

NY façade to Scribner & Sons... now turned retail. c Elissa Field

NY façade to Scribner & Sons… now turned retail. c Elissa Field

This week, among a group of writing friends, we were trading pep talks as each of us faced subtle challenges in our work. When you start out in writing, advice is all “big picture”: getting around a blank page, building a story, how publishing works. I was struck, in reading the support shared among friends in my writing group, how much more nuanced advice gets, the more you write.

This week’s Friday Links for Writers varies in that same spirit. Among the “10 Rules for Writing Fiction” from established writers, advice ranges from the big-picture-obvious to the kind of affirmation a mid-career writer will relate to. In the tips from writers and editors at the New Yorker, advice has the edge of those writing in the trenches, as long-form freelancers. Those experienced with submitting short fiction to literary magazines will appreciate the “So What” factor.

As always, share your own links or insights in the comments, whether to say which links resound most for you or what you’d like to see more of. Best, with your writing this week!

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Ten Rules for Writing Fiction

Lots of you may have read Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules for Writing Fiction (which are useful), but, in reprinting his 10, the Guardian has also solicited top writing advice from several other writers.  I like Anne Enright’s acknowledgement that “description is hard,” to which she adds, “Remember that all description is an opinion about the world. Find a place to stand.”

19 Writing Tips From Writers & Editors of the New Yorker

At a certain point, writing advice — particularly from established novelists — can feel a little predictable. Not this list on Buzz Feed, which shares advice from writers and editors in the trenches on streetwise topics like being successful as a longform freelance writer.

Writing Beyond Good: the “So What” Factor

Do you submit short fiction or nonfiction to literary magazines? Check out this series of articles from the Missouri Review’s blog, which offer insight into what it takes to “write beyond good.”  The link above takes you to the 3rd post in the series, which identifies the need for a story to have meaning. Links within the first paragraph take you to the first post in the series or this 2nd post on Creating Emotional Resonance. (If reading these leaves you wanting to address “stakes” in your work, try the process in October Fiction Challenge: Raising the Stakes on Character Motivation.)

Luck of the Irish

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, seven Irish novelists — including 3 of my favorite writers — share the luckiest thing that’s ever happened to them: Emma Donohue, Colm Toibin, Sebastian Barry, Alice McDermott, Colum McCann, Frank Delaney and Tana French.

The Turning Point: Perfecting the Look of “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Especially when I’m writing short fiction, I feel kindred spirit with Wes Anderson films. I also find inspiring connection to read about the creative process in film and other arts. In this Fast Co. piece, Joe Berkowitz speaks with the production designer of The Grand Budapest Hotel about the turning point decisions that led to the film’s visual impact. I love Berkowitz’s observation of Anderson films, that “every part of the house in The Royal Tenenbaums is awash in revealing residue from the characters who inhabit them.”

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How About You?

Do you have a writing goal you are working to reach this week? Are you working on revising a draft, or strategizing to stake out more time for your writing? Or are you busy with submissions?

As posts earlier in the week shared, I am in the throes (imagine: swimming in heavy seas) of another round of novel revision this week. As mentioned above, several of my friends are in varying ranges of novel writing, revision and submission. Congrats go out to 3 from my writing group whose drafts advanced to round 2 of Amazon’s novel competition.  And several of us are busy with applications for summer workshops or grad programs.

Join the conversation: share your goals, obstacles and successes in the comments. You are welcome to include links to posts on your site.

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If you like this blog, be sure to subscribe using WordPress’s +follow option, the Bloglovin’ button or via email.  I love to connect with like-minded readers and writers!

copyright Elissa Field; repro w written permission only

copyright Elissa Field; repro w written permission only

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Friday Links for Writers 03.14.14: Quirky Research Sources for Writers

Dublin from World Bar. c Elissa Field.

Dublin from World Bar. c Elissa Field.

Each week in Friday Links for Writers, I share links to resources I’ve found useful in the previous week, related to writing, editing and publishing.  This week’s Friday Links may become a special thread within the ongoing column, as I’ve stumbled across a handful of quirky sources in recent weeks. 

Readers researching a thriller may find a few of these links helpful, while others may like a couple historical resources. Considering the Irish setting of my WIP, the first 2 sources give a cheery nod to St. Patrick’s weekend. Less cheery but also linked to my own research, is the Committee for Protection of Journalists: sober tracking of dangers for journalists around the globe.

As always with Friday Links, let me know which links you find most interesting or ones you’d like to see more of.  Have you stumbled across a quirky info source of your own?  Feel free to add your own links in the comments.  Have a great writing week!

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What Do Ireland’s County Names Mean?

Writer and historian Elizabeth Saunders shared this article with an awesome list and map providing the names and history of Ireland’s counties. Elizabeth always impresses me with her diligent research into genealogy and history about Quakers and Irish descent — check out her blog for more.

Irish Insults Translated into English

Let’s have a contest: how many times do you have to play this vid before you can actually hear clearly the words spoken by the native Irish? It’s an entertaining demonstration of Irish wit and sharp tongues, with the brief English translation onscreen, courtesy of the Irish Journal’s Daily Edge.

A Tour of the British Isles in Accents

Irish, forgive me for shifting from the ole sod to GB, but another great link:  Writing about the British Isles?  No?  You still have to check out this short audio clip from the BBC that takes you on a tour of various regions by accent.  Useful for training your writerly ear, and entertaining to boot.

How Sherlock Changed the World

Write mystery or crime thrillers? As one with a familiarity with forensics and respect for the longstanding traditions in mystery writing, I thought this PBS special was a great perspective on the extent to which Sherlock Holmes both inspired and accurately reflects the true practices of forensic science.

Top 10 Handguns

Admit it. Your character plans to off somebody.  This list is not the end-all (in fact, you’re better off with one of those illustrated encyclopedias of guns frequently on offer in the Barnes & Noble “bargain books” section), but this list is a quick illustrated summary of common handguns in the world. (This link has been disabled.)

How Far Could You Get From New York Back in the Day?

Anyone setting a story in the northeast in a prior era might find this graphic and article by David Yanofsky interesting, as it maps the distance a traveler could cover in a single day in bands from 1800 to 1934.

ChronoZoom

Another intriguing tool for anyone writing in a prior era is this tool created for educators to explore historical events in perspective. Caveat: I haven’t tried this one, but a review of the resource on Edutopia (a respected site for educators) said the program is meant to be an expandable timeline of all of history. If you try it out, let us know how it works for you.

Committee to Protect Journalists

This has been my central resource for tracking journalists killed or missing while covering stories overseas, and is a resource for international dangers to journalists around the globe.

Native Tree Species – Carolinian Region

In the next edition of Quirky Research Sources for Writers, I’ll share links for naming native birds. One thing it’s easy to tune out on in writing setting is the names of local plant or animal life. This is one source I found for names of regional trees. For more details of trees, check out Arbor Day Foundation – Browse Trees.

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What About You?

The links here reveal some of the writing priorities (or at least curiosities) that have come up in my recent writing.  What kinds of research sources do you find yourself using?  Or, what kind of information do you wish were available?  Do you wonder about accurate clothing for a lost era or the sounds of television commercials that would have played in 1978?  Or do you have a great research source to share?

Whatever your writing goals this week, best wishes to you!

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If you like this blog, be sure to subscribe using WordPress’s +follow option, the Bloglovin’ button or via email.  I love to connect with like-minded readers and writers!

Watching for snow - perfect time for a great read. c. Elissa Field

Watching for snow – perfect time for a great read. c. Elissa Field

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Friday Links for Writers 02.21.14

BlackrockIn months when carving out writing time is challenging, I remind myself that Toni Morrison wrote The Bluest Eye while working full time and raising 2 boys as a single mother, by writing before they woke and after they went to sleep.  Doesn’t make it easier, but busy months take constant self-coaching to get it all done.

This week, I was thrilled with a provocative question from a friend that led to a new way of looking at a key scene. The upside of fighting for time to write is it is that much more satisfying when the work that comes out really rings true.

The week’s work has also led to discovery of some great links online, which is your benefit as I share this week’s Friday Links for Writers.  As always, let me know in the comments which links resound with you, what you’d like to read more of, or share your own links.  Best wishes for a great writing week!

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Sally Clements: How to Write a Synopsis

Among my writing friends, several are somewhere in the process of submitting novels as part of their winter goals.  This article by Sally Clements, on the Irish Writing Center’s website, does a good job of addressing how to write a synopsis as part of the submission process.

Secrets to Querying Literary Agents: 10 More Questions Answered

Along the same lines, this round-up of querying advice from Chuck Sambuchino (at Wendy Tokunaga’s site) answers some more interesting questions about query strategy.  Bonus: click the link in the first paragraph for another 10 answers.

Style Sheet: A Conversation with my Copyeditor

Here’s a good resource on copyediting basics, whether you are trading manuscripts with a beta reader or your novel is in the hands of your publisher’s editor, or you are providing copyediting services to other writers.  This article at The Millions includes a chart of standard copyediting notations and an interview with writer Edan Lepucki’s copyeditor.

Clashing Tones: a peril when we spend a long time writing a book

It’s time to share another great post from Roz Morris. I like this post on shifting tones within a manuscript, because it addresses a revision issue we not have heard others name, point-blank: the need to read for consistent voice or tone in a novel that has been written and revised over long stretches of time.

Interview with NBCC John Leonard Prize Winner Anthony Marra

I’ve said before that I am very excited to see the success of Anthony Marra’s debut novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, as I first ran into Marra in an online forum around the time he would have been writing it.  He has received nods for several national and international awards, and has just been awarded the National Book Critics Circle’s first ever John Leonard Prize.  Here is an interview with him from the School of Writing at the New School.  So many of us could relate to Marra’s inspiration: “I wrote this book as much as a reader, as a writer.  It was the kind of book I wanted to read and it wasn’t there yet.”  I love the revision process he shares: “I retype everything.” As soon as he finishes a draft, he prints it out and retypes it, revising with new eyes as he goes.

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What About You?

What writing goals are you working on this week, or what other priorities interfere with your writing time?  My best wishes go out to several of my regular readers who have been sharing their February goals and helping to keep each other motivated.  Feel free to share yours in the comments, below.

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c. Elissa Field

c. Elissa Field

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Friday Links for Writers 02.14.14

c. Elissa Field

c. Elissa Field

Ah, Valentine’s week.  This isn’t quite a valentine, but is sent with heartfelt wishes to all my writing friends who have been sharing and supporting one another’s goals over the past weeks. 

As so many friends are slowed down with winter storms or (in my case) distracted with pre-spring priorities that take time away from writing, at the same time, at least a dozen of my writing friends have been trading goals to keep each other accountable and supported.

Part of my month’s goals have led to some great reading online and, as always, this week’s Friday Links for Writers shares the best.  Let me know in the comments if any links were particularly helpful, and feel free to share your own links as well.  Best wishes for all your work, this week!

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On Beginnings: Ann Hood

If you’ve been a repeat visitor here, you may know I am partial to advice from certain authors, and this article by Ann Hood at Tin House epitomizes this. Ann quoted much of her advice on writing beginnings (including kinds of beginnings that work vs. those that rarely do) at a workshop I attended with her 2 years ago, saying she had amassed her lists while writing this article for Tin House.

How to Reveal Your Character’s Backstory Wound

Something about this piece by Martha Alderson on character backstory flipped a switch in my understanding of the newer backstory I’d written for my main character. Alderson writes both about the deep pain, and also the likely hidden nature of backstory wounds. She says, “Because a backstory is usually filled with fear, loathing, and pain, it is often buried. Thus, the backstory reveal toward the end of the middle of the story is often painful and difficult for the character to discern and integrate. Often, before a sense of freedom and a tranquil heart prevails, first comes forgiveness.”  (Thanks to Roz Morris for having shared this link on Twitter.)

5 Apps for Copyediting

This roundup from GalleyCat opens, “Whether you are a self-published author, an editor that works in traditional publishing or a journalist on the go, everyone can benefit from a little copy editing.” The first is my new resource: an iOS app for viewing and editing Word docs.

Shape-Shifting Poems and Other Monsters

Too often I share links on fiction and neglect all my poetry-writing friends, so this one is for you, poets.  I thought this piece by Alan Michael Parker, in vol 49 of Puerto del Sol, was an interesting take on how poetry collections are put together.

F.T. Bradley, author of Double Vision

F.T. Bradley, author of Double Vision

7 Things I Learned So Far: F.T. Bradley

I’m glad to share this installment in the “7 Things I Learned” column at Writers Digest, as shared by F.T. Bradley.  True to her word in the interview, I “met” Fleur in an online writing community before her debut middle grade novel, Double Vision, was released.  The advice shared in her “7 Things” is great — and my students have all given fabulous reviews to her series.  In seconding her advice: I have to say I appreciate and admire that Fleur is quick to respond to tweets and contacts from readers.  If you have a book rolling out, don’t overlook the power of that connection.

How to be Popular

This essay by Melissa Flashman (excerpted from the book MFA v. NYC: The Two Cultures of American Fiction, featured at n + 1) is an interesting take on how her interest in popularity led her on an unplanned path to becoming a literary agent.

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If you like this blog, be sure to subscribe using WordPress’s +follow option, the Bloglovin’ button or via email.  I love to connect with like-minded readers and writers!

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Watching for snow - perfect time for a great read. c. Elissa Field

Watching for snow – perfect time for a great read. c. Elissa Field

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