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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Guest Post by Tim Kane: Is Your Productivity Turning into a Time Suck?









After several excruciatingly painful minutes of my bothering him, Tim Kane (who is signed with an agency now) finally agreed to do a guest post. Plus, he owed me. And if you're not following him on Twitter, I strongly suggest you do. He's a great writer and a nice tweeter. You may also want to visit his blog. The links are at the end of the post. Enjoy!

Is Your Productivity Turning into a Time Suck?
We all look for excuses. I’m a school teacher. Trust me, I know how to avoid doing my work. Sometimes it seems like I’ll be buried under teetering towers of grading. Yet in a creative venue like writing, some endeavors disguise themselves as productivity. 
Blogging
Yes, what I’m doing right now. This is fun, and it stretches different writing muscles. Yet it does not write my novel for me.
It’s so easy to fall into the blogging trap under the auspice of marketing and building a platform. You want readers, right? Hook them with your blogging skills, and they’ll transition over to your fiction. Really, what’s that? Fiction. You haven’t finished writing that novel yet. Step away from the blogsphere and get some serious words slapped on pages.
Twitter
If I had my druthers, I’d hardwire Twitter to my brain and scan the timeline while I sleep. Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but I don’t think I’m alone in my addiction. Those @replies have a way of sucking you in and keeping you there.
Twitter gets us addicted through intermittent reinforcement. This type of conditioning is like crack on the brain. Animal trainers use this to effectively indoctrinate their critters. Animals (and people) work harder when the reward isn’t guaranteed. They also continue the trained practice longer once all the rewards are gone.
Think about it. You never know when you’ll get an @reply or a retweet. Because you aren’t guaranteed any reward, you continue to plug away at your timeline, even if nothing’s going on.
The Long Form
Each of these delays is not a substantial time suck in itself. A few minutes here or there. Hardly matters to most creative types. A musician? Tweet between practices. Artist? Whip up a blog as the paint dries. But nearly every other creative type falls in the short form in terms of inception to completion. Novelists writing a manuscript have months, or years, to slave over their work. 
The little time sucks start to add up. Instead of completing your manuscript in six months, it’s pushed off to nine months, or a year. You can easily see how someone could be writing that novel indefinitely. And he might not be mucking around. He might really be trying to complete that novel. Just, things get in the way.
The Solution
I’ve spent this whole time telling you what you’re doing wrong. Come on. There has to be a way around these distractions, right? Let’s unplug the Internet. That should do it. 
Hold on there Tex. The answer is simply budgeting. Keep your blogging and tweeting on a schedule. Limit the time you regularly devote to these endeavors. Of course, there will be occasions where you’ll hit them a little harder. But don’t let it compete with your writing time.
Remember, you can’t bundle up your history of tweets and turn them into a manuscript. And your host of followers can’t read your novel unless you actually write it.
Tim Kane
Bio: Tim Kane researched every major vampire film from the 1931 Dracula to Underworld and Twilight. His study was published in The Changing Vampire of Film and Television, but McFarland Publishers. Visit timkanebooks.com (www.timkanebooks.com) or read his blog at timkanebooks.wordpress.com (http://timkanebooks.wordpress.com/). You can also follow him on Twitter @timkanebooks.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My guest post on Haley Whitehall's blog

I did a guest post a while back for a friend, Haley Whitehall. The title of the short post? The Auto-Corrector, the Devil in Disguise. Read it here. You might find out what my real name is.


Aaaaaand the comment below made me search on YouTube for that bit. It was funny. Here's The The Impotence of Proofreading

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Have a laugh. Happy writing~

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Twitter Writetip and EditTip #1




I should write a long, thoughtful blog post filled with wise and helpful writing tips. But the time eludes me...as well as logic. I'm just going to take a tweep's advice and compile those #writetip tweets of mine. Hope they help. xoxoxo
Positive #writetip If you can show me that your MC is nervous w/o using words like nervous, trepidation, anxious, antsy, you win! xoxo meow
ALWAYS check the facts right before you write. Like....WW2. You might want to google it before you refer to it as the war of the orient.
My only evil today. Before you self-pub, the best thing is to run it by an editor, preferably a human one. Just an idea. @_@
Writers. Writers. Writers. Run your MS through QUALIFIED beta readers for review, NOT your girlfriend who owes you money. #SheLied
Redundant dialogue tags-shouted loudly. cried tearfully. glared defiantly. whispered softly. crept sneakily. laugh happily #stabby #writetip
Eye-bleeding dialogue tags. Ex: "Give me the money!" He demanded. "Please." He begged. #amediting #amcutting #redundancy
Writers. Before I go back to #amediting Try the standard MS format. Indent paragraphs, not double double space. That's crazy. @_@ #writetip
All writers have to do is research. The information is everywhere! Just like single space after a period. It's not that hard.
Writing for teens doesn't mean you should butcher the language. It's condescending to your readers, you know, the teens who actually read?
Overuse of slangs & accents in dialogues doesn't make characters sound authentic. It comes off as stereotypical, 1 dimensional, & irritating.
"BTW, have you seen this? Lol." translates to someone saying, "Beeteedoubleyou, have you seen this? Elohel." DON'T BELONG IN BOOKS!! #stabby
Precisely. Don't circle around the block or give me your creds. Get to the good part. Unless you're incapable...then me gone. (This was re: prologues)
No preference. Roll over or cuddle. As long as it has closure, I can live with it. (Re: epilogues)
Major issue in 3rd POV. Head hopping. 3rd subjective, 3rd objective, or 3rd omniscient? Pick one and be consistent.
I read aloud before I edit/revise. Writers! Please use , . ! ? so I can pause to breathe. Plus, punctuation is important...so I've heard.
Writers often bleed their own life stories in their first book. Next one? Less of the real life. That makes it fiction. That makes it good.
Dialogues shouldn’t be more than 4-5 lines. Real people pause to breathe, twitch, or let others respond. Unless you're a douche. #writetip
Another repetitious word "as" Don't have the MC do or say something "as" they do or say something else ALL the time. #amediting #writetip
"She had sexy legs" is not descriptive writing. It's a "telling" summarization. It's only acceptable in your own diary. #writetip #amediting
Write down a short conversation you had w/ anyone. Read it. That's how dialogues are supposed to be written. Learn from yourself. #writetip
Writers! If ALL of your characters have funky names w/ lots of silent consonants that I can't pronounce even in my head, you're dead to me.


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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Where To Start A Novel-Prologues







This is a very broad yet a simple topic to cover. I'm pretty sure there are loads of ideas, advice, and techniques on this topic alone. Why? Because the first 5-10 pages of your book will be the deciding factor when it comes to being noticed by agents or readers. One of the most common mistakes a writer makes is starting their books in the wrong place. So let me try to explain this to you in the best way I can. I think I'll take the layman's approach to clarify instead of cluttering your brains with pretentious words. Here it goes.
In the last few days, I've ranted about my discontent toward prologues on Twitter. Probably because they make me shudder and/or send a chill up my spine. But not in a good way. In the publishing industry, especially among literary agents, prologues are frowned upon, to say it mildly. I've seen some agents who flatly refused to read anything with prologues. So I always advise my friends to not just to shy away from it but to avoid it at all cost by setting it on fire and running the hell away from it. 
And yes, there are published books out there that have prologues. But out of all the books ever published world-wide, how many of them were absolutely necessary? In my opinion, and I'm not alone in this, prologues are not necessary UNLESS your novel is some kind of high fantasy with big world-building or a historical type fiction for example. Actually, one of my friends just encountered a book where it was necessary to draw a Venn Diagram and take notes on the funky, extra-consonant-filled names of the characters. In that case, I said a prologue was probably warranted. That way, the pace wouldn't have slowed down in the middle of the first chapter.
Having admitted to that, I'll give you some bad examples or the misuse of prologues. If you're using it to "introduce" all of your characters, everything about your MC, or everything about the world you've built, you should delete it immediately. That's called info-dumping. That's very bad on so many levels. Think about meeting someone for the first time. If at the first meeting that person rambles on about everything including the boyfriend who dumped her 12 years ago on a hot summer night in small town Georgia for example.....you probably wouldn't ask her for any more questions. Readers are the same. Give them time to get to know your character and fall in love with the story. Don't bombard them all at once. Work it into the story, gradually.
In conclusion, make your first few pages the "hook" that grabs the readers. Try to get the story moving, starting from the first sentence. Chances are, if your story doesn't move along by the middle of the first chapter, it won't be read to the end. Okay, that's it for now. My eyes are beginning to glaze over again. I'm guessing it's due to my pure stabby feeling toward....I don't know...prologues!!
P.S. If you're so inclined to leave a comment because you know one or two fabulous books that had prologues? Don't. I know them. They're not what I'm discussing here. I'm discussing the current trend and what didn't or will not work in future books. xoxoxo <3333(If you followed my tweets, you'll understand why these were placed here.)

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