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WritingWednesday: Writer’s Block–Fact or Fallacy? July 10, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in WritingWednesday.
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“There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.”

Writer's Block - Infographic by Ian Lurie

Writer’s Block – Infographic by Ian Lurie

The above quote attributed to Terry Prachett confers what many successful authors claim as gospel truth. Well, at least the first part. Yet writers get stuck all the time in their manuscripts. What is it that mires the wheels of writing progress? We’ll discuss the fact or fallacy of writer’s block in this week’s #litchat WritingWednesday.

Ten Resources to Help You Understand Writer’s Block

What is Writer’s Block?
Tracy Culleton, Fiction Writer’s Mentor 

Writer’s Block—Is There a Such Thing?
Jan Russell, Archetype

The 10 Types of Writer’s Block (and How to Overcome Them)
Charlie Jane Anders, iO9

Breaking Through Writer’s Block
John Warner, McSweeney’s

13 Famous Writers on Overcoming Writer’s Block
Emily Temple, Flavorwire

Overcoming Writer’s Block
Roy Peter Clark, Grammar Girl

How to Think Through Writer’s Block
Sophronia Scott, Archetype

3  Steps for Overcoming Writer’s Block
Excerpt from You Don’t Have to Be Famous by Steve Zousmer, excerpted in Writer’s Digest

How to Overcome Writer’s Block Like a Bestselling Author
Excerpt from Revision & Self-Editing by James Scott Bell, excerpted in Writer’s Digest

4 Ways Inspiration Helps You Beat Writer’s Block
Sarah Maurer, Writer’s Digest

Follow this discussion in our dedicated #litchat Nurph channel


Literary Agent Week July 1, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in guest host, literary agents, MediaMonday, Uncategorized, weekly topics, WritingWednesday.
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It’s literary agent week in #litchat. This week we’ll discuss the down and dirty of getting an agent. Here’s a sample of what we’ll discuss throughout the week:

  • When to know when an agent isn’t right for you.
  • What you can expect from an agent.
  • How much do agent’s likes and dislikes affect their choices of manuscripts?
  • How much does the market sway their choices of manuscripts?
  • What grabs them in a query letter?
  • Do the first five pages of a manuscript really matter that much?

#Litchat runs through Twitter at 4 p.m. E.T. on the dates noted. Follow the chat through our dedicated chat application at www.nurph.com/litchat.

Here’s the how the week will unfold:

Monday, July 1, 2013: Discuss the recent #MSWL (Manuscript Wish List) feed from last week.

GalleyCat’s #MSWL curation of the feed in Storify is here.

A Tumbler with #MSWL feed is here.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013: The Query Go Round

Today we’ll discuss everything about writing the perfect query, to making sure your manuscript is agent-ready, to finding the right agents to query, to record-keeping, to success.

How to Write a Query Letter

The 10 Dos and Don’ts of Writing a Query Letter
Brian A. Klem, Writer’s Digest

Anatomy of a Query Letter: A Step-by-Step Guide
Writer’s Relief Staff, The Huffington Post

Successful Query Letters for Literary Agents
Jason Boog, GalleyCat

9 Frequently Asked Questions About Writing A Query Letter
10 More Questions Answered
Chuck Sambuchino, Writer Unboxed

Query Shark [ed: The best damn query letter blog on the web]
Janet Reid, Literary Agent

Friday, July 5, 2013: Agent on Record

Lucy Carson, literary agent with The Friedrich Agency, will take your questions between 4-5 p.m. E.T. Read more about Carson from this interview in Writer’s Digest.

Follow Lucy Carson on Twitter: @LucyACarson.

WritingWednesday: Symbolism in Fiction June 25, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in WritingWednesday.
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The light at the end of Jay Gatsby’s dock, Alice’s white rabbit, Atticus Finch’s mockingbird. Whether or not the authors intended these items as symbols, for years readers have been pointing at them as having weight beyond face value in the stories where they live. Symbolism is a thing that looks ordinary on the page, but represents so much more in subtext. This week’s WritingWednesday is all about symbolism in fiction. The following links provide a starting point for understanding symbolism in fiction and how to use it effectively in your own work.

Why Writers Should Use Literary Symbols
Harvey Chapman, Novel Writing Help

Fiction Writing Exercises: Symbols and Symbolism
Melissa Donovan, Writing Forward

Elements of Fiction: Symbolism
Tracy Duckart, The Cache (CSU Humbolt)

College of DuPage, The Literary Apprentice

Symbolism and All That
Crawford Kilian, Writing Fiction

Enhance Your Writing With Symbolism
Julie Eshbaugh, Pub(lishing) Crawl

WritingWednesday: Conflict in Fiction June 18, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in WritingWednesday.

Conflict is the heart of story. Without conflict, a story is nothing but a flat line on the EKG of literature. What are the types of conflict? How does one increase conflict without compromising plausibility and character empathy? What does it mean when an editor suggests that you increase the stakes? We’ll discuss these and other questions in #litchat WritingWednesday. Take a few minutes to read through the following resources and then join us at 4pmET for #litchat.

5 Ways to Increase Conflict
Chuck Sambuchino, Writer’s Digest

Conflict: Beyond Arguments & Fist Fights
Beth Hill, The Editor’s Blog

Essays—Conflict in Fiction
William H. Coles, Story in Literary Fiction

Conflict in Fiction 
Tina Morgan, Fiction Factor

What is Conflict?
Caro Clarke, caroclarke.com

Increasing Conflict in Fiction
Meredith Efken, Fiction Workbench

Where’s Your Conflict?
James Chartrand, Fuel Your Writing

WritingWednesday: Transitions in Fiction June 11, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in WritingWednesday.

Characters moving through time and space is the essence of fiction. How they pass through story is done through scenes and transitions. Transitions can be as simple as a double space break to indicate a new scene, or they can be one paragraph—even one sentence—expeditionary passages. Transitions can imply the passage of time, unveil a change of setting, or introduce new characters. In this week’s WritingWednesday, we’re going to discuss transitions in fiction. Listed below are some resources to support your knowledge of transitions.

Ask the Writing Teacher: Transitions
Edan Lepucki, The Millions

Scene Transitions and Hooks
Shirley Jump, shirleyjump.com

Mastering Scene Transitions
Beth Hill, The Editor’s Blog

Anne Rice on Transitions (video)
Anne Rice, Bedford/St. Martin’s Facebook

Transitions: Getting Your Story Through Time and Space
Caro Clarke, CaroClarke.com

Passages of Time and Transitions
Scott G. F. Bailey, The Literary Lab

A. J. Humpage, All Write – Fiction Advice

WritingWednesday discussion begins at 4 p.m. E.T. in Twitter using #litchat hashtag. See you there.

Summer Reading Round-Up June 3, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in guest host, MediaMonday, WritingWednesday.
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June is here and summer is just a few paragraphs away. This week in #litchat we’re celebrating the books of summer with our annual Summer Reading Round-up. Check out what’s going on this week and then pop into our chats to share news about your summer releases or discuss the books you’re looking forward to reading.

MediaMonday for June 3, 2013: Summer Reading

Today we’re discussing this piece in the New York Times“What I Read That Summer,” by Louise Erdrich, a compilation of 12 authors recalling their favorite summer reading experiences. Read the piece, then join the conversation with your own summer reading memories.

GoldWritingWednesday for June 5, 2013: What’s New This Summer

We’ll have authors, editors, agents and others chatting about their summer books.

Guest Host for Friday, June 7, 2013: Chris Cleve

Novelist Chris Cleve, author of the critically acclaimed Little Bee joins us from the U.K. to discuss his newest novel, Gold.

WritingWednesday: Pacing in Fiction May 29, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in WritingWednesday.
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Pacing is the time measure of a story. Some writers compare it to the rhythm of a musical composition, with high notes and low notes, fills, trills, and thrills. Finding the right pace for a story isn’t as easy as it sounds. Slow pacing can stall a story for readers, while excessive speed page after page can exhaust readers. This week in WritingWednesday we’re discussing pacing in fiction. Take a few minutes to review the following resources to help you understand the importance of pacing in fiction.

7  Tools for Pacing a Novel and Keeping Your Story Moving at the Right Pace
By Courtney Carpenter, Writer’s Digest

Pacing, Dialog and Action Scenes — Your Story At Your Speed
By Holly Lisle, hollylisle.com

Techniques to Establish Pacing
By Gerry Visco, Writer’s Store

By Dr. Vicki Hinze, Fiction Factor

Pacing Your Story
Fiction Writer’s Mentor

Writing A Page-Turning Novel: Pacing With Words
By Kathy Steffen, The How to Write Shop

Pacing Anxiety: How to Stop Padding and Plot
By Caro Clarke, caroclarke.com

WritingWednesday: Exposition May 22, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in Uncategorized, WritingWednesday.
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Exposition may be the most maligned element of fiction craft. Too much exposition and the writer falls into the telling trap. Not enough exposition and the writer risks losing details in overwrought scenes. What exactly is exposition? How is exposition different from narrative? How is exposition used effectively? How can a writer recognize when he/she has exposition excess? We’ll discuss these questions and more in this week’s WritingWednesday. Listed below are some helpful links about exposition.

Show and Tell
By Nancy Kress, Writer’s Digest

Exposition vs Narrative
By Dr. Vicki Hinze, Fiction Factor

Handling the Exposition of Story
By Harvey Chapman, Novel Writing Help

The Four P’s of Exposition
By Sarah Brand, Alpha

Balancing Exposition and Scenework in Fiction
By Lori L. Lake, Just About Write

By Carlos J. Cortes And Renée Miller, On Fiction Writing

Exposition in Fiction
By Elle Carter Neal, Hear Write Now

WritingWednesday: Lessons From The Great Gatsby May 15, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in WritingWednesday.
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The Great GatsbyContinuing  The Great Gatsby theme from Monday, we’re taking a look at what writers can learn about craft from successful novels. In the following essay in The Huffington Post by Andromeda Romano-Lax. If you know of other breakdowns of craft within well-known novels, please post it into the comments and I’ll add it below.

10 Things I Learned as a Writer from Fitzgerald’s Gatsby

I’ve been reading and re-reading Gatsby a lot this year, and finding more novelist’s nutrition in it as a 40-something than I ever found as a high school freshman. A swift read and half the length of most novels today, Gatsby rewards the aspiring novelist looking less for obvious symbols and themes — the prey of the analytical assignment-conscious readerr — than for things like macrostructure and revision, the quarry of the craft-conscious writer.~Andromeda Romano-Lax

WritingWednesday: Theme in Fiction May 8, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in WritingWednesday.
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May 8, 2013: Theme in Fiction

When someone asks about the novel you’re reading or writing, how do you respond? Do you say: “A middle class woman too smart for her own good and a proud aristocrat fall in love despite their initial first impressions.” Or do you say: “It’s a story about the fallacy of first impressions and how love conquers all.”  If you say the first example, you would be describing the plot. But if you say the second example, you would be explaining the theme.

Plot is what happens in a story: character + conflict + resolution. Theme is what goes on between the lines,  the subtext or meaning drawn by the reader. Theme can be meticulously woven into the fabric of the story, or it can develop unintentionally in simply telling a good tale. Today in #litchat we’re discussing theme and how to identify and weave it into your fiction. Listed below are some resources to refresh your understanding of this important element of fiction.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg: Index of Theme-Plot Integration

Lerner.org Interactives: Analyzing Theme

The Editor’s Blog: What is Theme

Purdue Online Writing Lab: Theme

Holly Lisle: Finding Your Theme

Writing Forward: Fiction Writing Exercises for Exploring or Developing Theme, by Melissa Donovan

Find Your Creative Muse in Ficiton: Elements of Fiction–Theme, by Dave Hood