Monday, December 14, 2015

The Top Five: Best Writing-Related Articles from December 7-11

5. "Fran Wilde: Editorial Marks, Explained!" on terribleminds.com (Fran Wilde, guest columnist)

Link: http://bit.ly/1Z4okhM

Send your completed manuscript away to an editor or proofreader, and you get back ... well, what is it, again? If the editor works the way a lot of us do (spoiler alert!) then it'll be a hard copy of the manuscript, double-spaced, perhaps with coffee ring stains on the dog-eared pages ... and packed with dozens of unintelligible editorial marks. Just what every author wants to take time to translate.

Fear no more! Expert Fran Wilde has the answers. What does the dot inside a circle mean every time it floats into view (in red pen, no less) on your abused ... I mean, edited ... manuscript pages? Now you'll know as you work through your revisions. (WARNING: Prepare for tongue-in-cheek humor and sarcasm.)

What editorial mark have you always wondered about? Where do you think the marks come from? (Be serious or not, as you like ...)

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4. "Character Lists: A Great Way to Coax Your Characters Out of Hiding" on How to Plan, Write, and Develop a Book (Mary Carroll Moore)

Link: http://bit.ly/1NnQqNr

Maybe your fiction manuscript is humming along, and then your main character does something completely out of the ordinary. Now you're scratching your head. What the heck? Or perhaps you've got a plot idea, but your main character just won't manifest himself or herself in your conscious mind so you can actually get the story off the ground. What to do?

Try some free-form, stream-of-consciousness-style writing. This post recommends that you feel out your main character, so to speak, and perhaps even lesser characters too, by letting your imagination and creativity flow and writing down whatever comes to you. If there are conflicting ideas about the character ... so much the better! Real people are full of contradictions!

How do you best learn about your main character?

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3. "Author-Editor Collaboration: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" on The Book Designer (Corina Koch Macleod and Carla Douglas)

Link: http://bit.ly/1RbHNvy

What do you know about the author-to-editor relationship? What's normal? What's out of the ordinary? What can you expect or hope for? What would you be foolish to hope for because you'll be holding your breath forever and ever, ad infinitum?

Here are the answers you've been looking for. Macleod and Douglas have compiled all the need-to-know points about author-editor interactions and relationships so you have a thorough resource for future forays into that necessary (and only sometimes evil) happenstance in the publishing world.

What have you always wondered about the author-editor relationship? If you have an editor, how would you characterize your relationship? (No names, please!) If you're an editor, what's your biggest pet peeve about working with authors?

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2. "How to Write What You Know --- And Then Change the Story" on The Writer's Dig at WritersDigest.com (Sejal Badani, guest columnist)

Link: http://bit.ly/1NnQZHg

A lot of industry experts say to write what you know. If you don't know anything about space travel, you'll have a harder time pulling together a science fiction novel set on another planet. (Though, of course, it can certainly be done, given enough research and passion.) But what if what you know is something everyone in your life will recognize? Or resent?

Try these seven user-friendly writing tips for how to "re-purpose" (Badani's word, not mine) familiar material, perhaps from your childhood or a past experience or a relative's often-told life story, in your work-in-progress.

Which tip leaps off the page at you as a way you could incorporate some of your own experiences into your writing?

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1. "Checklist: How to Write a Query Letter That Doesn't Suck" on The Write Life (Mridu Khullar Relph)

Link: http://bit.ly/1Q98lgW

Nothing like a very blunt headline to catch your attention. After all, who doesn't want to write the ideal query letter, the one that will net you an agent and/or an editor and/or a publisher and/or a publicist right off the bat?

Now you'll have all the tools you need to do just that. Follow the step-by-step advice in this article, which will take you from the subject line of your (probably emailed) query right down through your bio, and your query letters will go from mundane or just okay to well-written and attention-grabbing.

What's your preferred format for writing a query letter? What will you change about your query letter-writing process now that you've read this article?

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An excellent lineup from last week, I think, and lots of material for authors right now. With January and New Year's resolutions on the horizon, that's probably okay!

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