Monday, February 27, 2017

Unexamined Lives

A popular post from March 2009

By Julie Wright

Plato said, "The unexamined life is not worth living." From that one could also say that the unlived life is not worth examining. And from that one could also say that a character without a life isn't worth reading.

Life is messy if you're bothering to live it well. It's all fine to live safely, but people who lock themselves into their houses and use antibacterial soap aren't usually the most interesting people out there. If your characters are like these people, your book won't make it past page five (and that's if the reader is generous)

We like to hear about people who are doing things. And we are never bored when our friends call us up to tell us their problems.

This is why your characters should have problems. They should be out doing things. Don't open your book with characters looking at a sunset (unless the sun is rocketing towards earth in a cataclysmic event that will burn us all up within the next 24 hours and the hero has to figure out how to harness the sun and put it back in its own orbit). Don't open your book with characters waking up, having a bowl of cereal, and brushing their teeth. The mundane is synonymous with life unlived. We need action!

And the best action comes from characters solving their own problems. David Gerrold said, "the bigger the problem, the bigger the character has to be to solve it." And if you want to justify telling the story you're telling, you'd better be writing that character and his problem absurdly huge.

Some problems come from a challenge. The character accepts a challenge or takes on a challenge and falls into crisis (think Lord of the Rings).

And your character must go through the try-fail cycle. He'd better go through it a few times (three is what they suggest) This means he tries to overcome his problem and fails, tries to overcome his problem and fails. But the real failure is the guy who doesn't get back up when you knock him down. So your character had better not be that guy. Your character had better be the guy hauling his backside up and shouting, "Is that all you've got?" Your character must win.

Give your characters life by letting them dive into the messy complications of REALLY living. And if you're starting to worry about yourself becoming boring, maybe take on a challenge or two for yourself on your off writing days . . . it'll give you more to write about.

Friday, February 24, 2017

The PERFECT Writing Quote

A popular post from March 2009

By Josi S. Kilpack

I love writing quotes and always tell myself I'm going to save them and have hundreds of them to look through at any given time. Sadly, this promise to myself is often lumped into the same category of "I will not eat sugar today" which really means "WHERE'S THE SUGAR!" and "Today, I'm going to do nothing but write." which really means "I'm going to feel bad about not writing, but at least my toilets will be clean." Therefore, I have no document full of writing quotes. But today I am writing and I wanted a quote to inspire me. I considered this one:

Writing is a lonely job, unless you're a drinker, in which case you always have a friend within reach. --Emilio Estivez

Unfortunately, I don't drink, hence I am lonely and this quote makes me feel worse. On to the next option:

For a long time now I have tried simply to write the best I can. Sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can. --Ernest Hemingway

No kidding! But still not exactly what I'm looking for.

And all writing is creating or spinning dreams for other people so they won't have to bother doing it themselves. --Beth Henley

I don't know who Beth is, but now I'm depressed.

A young musician plays scales in his room and only bores his family. A beginning writer, on the other hand, sometimes has the misfortune of getting into print. --Marguerite Yourcenar

Let that further convince you to never read MY first book:

"The ill and unfit choice of words wonderfully obstructs the understanding." -Francis Bacon

Uh, what? I'm going to have to keep looking. Meanwhile, which of these three best describe you today?

"I think I did pretty well, considering I started out with nothing but a bunch of blank paper." -Steve Martin

"By writing much, one learns to write well." -Robert Southey

"There is no great writing, only great rewriting." -Justice Brandeis

"I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell an interesting story entertainingly." -Edgar Rice Burroughs

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Great Debate: Outline or Discover?

A popular post from March 2009

by Annette Lyon

You've likely heard the debate between two basic camps of writers: those who swear by outlining and those who shun it, instead discovering their story organically as they go.

Which is right?

Well, both. And neither.

Outliners swear by the idea that if you think through the entire story from start to finish, you'll be able to write a pretty solid book in your first draft. The story will have a better shape, it won't be directionless, and you won't waste time wandering around and driving into ruts and having to back up. A lot of Outliners say that thanks to detailed outlining, by the time they've finish a first draft of the actual book, it's pretty darn close to the final version.

Discoverers, on the flip side, don't want to be held down by a strict structure. They feel like half the joy in writing is finding out what happens right along with the characters. They do end up with several drafts this way as they find their way, and yes, a lot of what they might be considered a waste of time by Outliners, but they wouldn't have it any other way.

Do you have to pick a camp and set up your writing tent there? The good news is that no, you don't. There aren't just two camps, because the Outliner/Discoverer techniques are really two ends of one big spectrum. Most writers fall somewhere in the middle.

I personally lean just a teeny, tiny bit toward the Outliner side, but I'm pretty close to center.

I can't truly "outline" a book in detail. I tried once, and when I started the actual writing, the story fell flat. I'd already "lived" it, so to speak. The spark was gone.

On the other hand, any time I've gone into a story blind, without a clear idea of where I was heading, it's turned into unstructured mush.

The way I work is first having a clear story concept (what is this book about?). I need to know roughly where the story starts. I need to know where it'll end up. I must know several major landmarks along the way, including the major conflict/s, main characters, and several pivotal scenes.

That's it. I don't necessarily know how I'll get from one landmark to the next. My "outline" is pretty skeletal, but it's there in some form. As I write and "discover" an upcoming scene, I'll add it to the outline, such as it is.

This method is my writing method. Every writer's will be slightly different. The trick is finding what works for you. Let yourself discover where you fall on the spectrum.

Try outlining and see if it works for you. Remember that outlining is a spectrum concept. You don't have to write down every detail. Try different levels of outlines. Maybe you do need an outline--just not one as fleshed out as another writer's would be.

For example, if you don't know how you'll get your characters from scene B to scene C, no worries. Figure that out later. Not knowing the bridges doesn't mean you can't benefit from an outline.

On the other hand, maybe you'd benefit from trying your hand at Discovery writing. Maybe that works for you.

Or maybe you're a mixture of the two styles, falling slightly to one side over the other, like I am.

Try several styles and learn what "clicks."

Wherever you fall, don't let anyone tell you that your way is wrong or inferior. It's just different. It's YOU.

Monday, February 20, 2017

To begin is human . . .

A popular post from September 2009

By Heather Moore

I’ve been to many writers conference over the past eight years, and listened to maybe close to 100 presenters. I’m at the point where I’ve heard pretty much everything, so I rarely take notes anymore. Mostly I’m interested in publishing stories—as in how did this bestselling author get his/her start?

At the Book Academy conference held at Utah Valley University this past week, Brandon Sanderson was the keynote speaker. If you are a fantasy writer, for children, YA, or adult, his books are a must-read. He writes the Alcatraz series for middle-grade readers (they are hilarious for adults as well. Also, for you omniscient pov writers, this series is a classic example). He also writes epic fantasy. Elantris is his first published, and the Mistborn trilogy has propelled him to pretty much stardom. I'm dying to read Warbreaker, his newest release, but I'm trying to get my WIP progress drafted first.

Brandon talked about how he wrote novel after novel (I think it was 12-13) before he finally got his #6 book a publishing contract. When he heard from the editor who wanted to buy his book, he contacted an agent who he’d gotten to know over the years through various writers conferences. The agent signed him.

Brandon gave some advice on things he wished he would have known before he tried to follow market trends (which wasn’t successful for him). I won’t reiterate it here since I don’t want to plagiarize, although I did ask him if it was okay to blog about it. And I think he said yes. Or maybe I just told him I was going to, and he looked at me funny. I’m not sure (since when I'm around famous people I'm lucky to remember my name), so to be on the safe side, I’ll just tell you about one of the things he emphasized.

“Write what you like to READ.”

This sounds so simple, but when you really think about it, it makes a whole lot of sense. This can solve some of our writer’s angst when we are trying to think of a new genre to break into. Say you are published in historical fiction (like me!) and you see all of your friends getting huge advances in children’s lit. Hmmm. Should I switch genres? Catch the tide? Do I love children’s lit or am I just trying to copycat?

So I pause and ask myself: “What do I READ?” That’s the answer. If I don’t like to read what I’m writing, then guess what? The passion will fizzle out all too soon.

So, like Brandon, who decided to not follow the tide and write what he was passionate about (Epic Fantasy), I think I’ll do the same—not the same genre, but you know what I mean.

One last quote from Mr. Sanderson, which I thought about putting on my whiteboard in my office, but then didn’t want to be reminded of a big revision in my near future:

“To begin is human.
To finish is divine.
To revise is hell.”

Friday, February 17, 2017

Spinning Wheels

A popular post from October 2009

By Julie Wright

Madeleine L'Engle quoted someone who'd said her success hadn't affected her, and then said, "Hasn't it? Of course it has. It's made me free to go out and meet people without tangling in the pride which is an inevitable part of the sense of failure."

I get tangled in pride every now and again, but not the way you'd imagine. I don't sit there thinking of how amazing I am, or better than anyone else I am, simply because I have a few books published. My pride entangles me when I'm not accomplishing what I want--when I am failing.

I see other people accomplishing, achieving, reaching, and feel that inevitable bruising of pride--that sense of failure because I am mired in my own mediocrity. I don't feel like I'm moving forward.

Things sit too long, freezing under me and I start spinning my wheels on the ice; I sometimes take a step or two back instead of forward. Those steps back affect me a great deal more than any success. I withdraw into myself--feeling less worthy. I find myself unable to cheer anyone else on their journey because I am so centered on my own self--which makes me selfish.

This is what happens when I spin my wheels. I become selfish.

The only way to end the cycle is to find some traction, create enough friction, and start moving again. This doesn't always mean getting the agent, the contract, the movie deal. Sometimes finding traction just means to submit another manuscript, to write another word, to DO something--anything that moves you forward.

When moving forward, I find myself better able to step *outside* myself and encourage others to reach for their dreams as well. It allows me to be a better friend, a better mentor--a better person. When I feel like I am succeeding in even the smallest measure, that measure allows me to dream bigger, climb higher, take another step forward--which leads to another step . . . which leads . . .

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Nothing But Trouble

A popular post from September 2009

By Julie Wright

I read a book several years ago where the characters did a great job of avoiding trouble. They skirted around it in all sorts of creative ways, but never actually confronted trouble head on. I never finished the book. I gave it a good shot--way more than it deserved and read 200 pages before frustration took over and I gave up.

Nothing was happening. YAWN.

Your characters have to get into trouble because that's what creates conflict. Conflict is interesting. Trouble is interesting. Trouble can also be . . . well . . . trouble.

I don't know about you, but sometimes my characters are great at getting into major trouble, but not so great at getting out again. They can wind up in all sorts of huge calamities, the entire world can be falling to piece around them and I agonize over how to piece that world back together again.

Over time I've learned that if my characters can get into a fine mess, they'd better just get themselves out.

Convenience is a writer's enemy. It's tempting to help your characters out and throw them the olive branch of convenience, but you aren't doing them (or yourself) any favors. Convenience looks just like it is--too convenient. You lose your reader's trust when you start making your characters do things that don't make sense to the character you've developed. You can't betray the persona's you've created simply because you NEED the character to get up in the middle of the night and go downstairs for leftover cheesecake so they can overhear a conversation that will lead them to the murderer when your character is a deep sleeper and they're allergic to cheesecake.

Stay away from convenience.

And your character got into their own trouble . . . make them smart enough and resourceful enough to get out of it. We like characters who can think on their feet. The damsel in distress who always needs to be taken care of by the hunky hero is really not compelling. A butt-kickin' chick who can break out of her own prisons? She's someone we want to read about, even if it is her own fault she landed herself in prison.

Also stay away from false conflicts.

The kind where the character thinks they are in all kinds of life threatening peril but in reality the character's best friend is in control the whole time. It's the difference between the tummy tickle of a roller coaster while you're strapped into the train car and the tummy tickle you get when jumping out of an airplane dependant only on a parachute that you packed yourself. Did you pack it right? Do you know how soon to pull the cord? That is the parachute on your back, right? You didn't grab your backpack by mistake?

That real peril--way more interesting.

At least in books. I don't personally make habits out of jumping out of perfectly good airplanes. I don't care who packed the chute.

Monday, February 13, 2017

When in Doubt: Kill Someone Off

A popular post from March 2009

By Josi S. Kilpack

They year is 1999.

The Place is my dining room in my house in Draper, Utah.

The book I'm working on is my first one, Earning Eternity

It happened like this.

I had never written a book before, but had spent the last two months creating this story. I was having a dang good time and loving what I was created, but I'd hit an impasse. I didn't know what came next. I had built conflict, but it wasn't enough. I had great characters, but they weren't enough either. I was faced with that 2/3 sag, where you're not quite ready to end the story, but you're running out of steam. I thought about some of my favorite books, trying to figure out what those authors did. That's when it came to me.

I broke into tears, pushed away from the table and stopped writing for the day. The next day I sat back down, let my fingers hover over the keys and burst into tears again. I couldn't do it. I was a mother, I had a son of my own. I couldn't do it.

Another day passed and I just knew--I just knew that if I didn't do this the book would suffer. To be true to the entire structure of a novel, I had to let my character suffer--REALLY suffer. So I did it. I wrote the car accident that led to the head trauma that led to the death of Kim's son. I cried the whole time.

My husband came home from work and my eyes were red and swollen.

"What happened?"

"Jackson died."

"WHAT?" (Jackson was also the name of a boy in our neighborhood)

"Jackson, in my book, he died."

Husband freezes and looks at me like I'm an alien life form (no worries, I've gotten used to it since then--happens all the time these days) "Huh?"

So I explain it to him; how Jackson's death was necessary, but it broke my heart, and it's just so sad and I'd been really upset about it. I start crying again as I try to explain. He thinks I've truly lost my mind (who's to say I haven't?)

It was my first fictional death, and it hurt to know that I'd done it. And yet, when the book was done I knew that I'd been right--the story did need it. The sacrifice had paid off, never mind the heart ache.

Since then I've become a regular serial killer of characters. Some are important characters, some are just 'props' we don't need anymore. They've died in a myriad of ways, and while I don't usually cry anymore, that's not because it's easy. I don't like random acts of violence any more than the next person, however, in the case of writing a good book-well, there are just times when somebody has to die. Here's why.

Death challenges the deepest fears that we, as humans have. Even those of us with a religious bent worry about death--the mess, the other side, the people left behind. Death is painful on many levels, and that being the case it's a powerful tool of manipulation. That's what we do, you know, we manipulate people into thinking and feeling what we want them to think and feel. Don't try and deny it--you know it's true. And while there are hundreds of ways to create this manipulation of our readers (kissing scenes, rain, tearful goodbyes, vampires that glisten in the sunlight) there are few quite as powerful as death--be it the bad guy getting shot in the head, the hero's lover falling victim to small pox, or, as in my first book, an only child dying as a result of a bad idea gone horribly wrong.

There is also a sense of relief about death that you can't get through other means of character torture--with death you know that that character's life is over, and then the remaining characters need to rebuild without that person. It's a huge 'change' that can then grow new conflicts and direction for your story. Even the bad guy getting what he deserves provides opportunities of reflection and growth. Because death is so difficult, your readers are hungry to see the remaining characters cope and grow because of this adversity, giving you a whole new tool belt of tactics to use for the rest of your story. Bad guys are made worse when they kill someone, and good guys are made gooder when they triumph over such tragedy.

You are likely reading this with one of two reactions--you're either nodding, thinking about some great death scenes you've read or written, or you're thinking I'm a little tipped in the head. Don't feel bad, I'm the last one to say I'm not tipped, but I will say that when I reach those parts of my books where I'm feeling it sag, or I need to get the story started but not sure how to get those first pages in there with enough action to hold my reader, the first thing I do is look around at my characters and see who is dispensable. That's not to say I don't shed a tear now and again--I'm not completely heartless--but you never know when death might be the very thing to save your story.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Keep the Doors Wide Open

A popular post from September 2009

by Annette Lyon

I imagine if you talk to virtually any published writer, they'd tell you straight out that their publishing life hasn't turned out exactly like they expected. Twists and turns and unexpected bumps happen along the way.

And so do massive shifts . . . like taking on a new genre. Or changing publishers. Or parting ways with an agent. Or finding success where you least expected it.

For example, when I first began seeking publication, it was with a YA fantasy. But I first got published with a contemporary romance. The shift happened after chatting with a friend at a conference and realizing that I had stories to tell that her publisher might be interested in. Several rejections (and one acceptance!) later, I was one of their writers.

Another shift happened when, two books later, **SURPRISE!** I found myself writing historical fiction. At the time, it was a shock to me. Now, that genre is what I'm best known for, and people laugh when they hear I didn't always plan on writing it.

And now? My next book is contemporary women's fiction (not a romance), and, on my publisher's request, I'm working on a (get this!) a COOKBOOK.

Sure didn't see that one coming.

I recently thought through the stable of PEG editors. Each and every one of us has had major shifts in our careers.

Lu Ann slaved for years on YA manuscripts and suddenly found her big break ghost-writing a memoir for the Herrin Twins' mother. She has since been hired to write a second and then a third memoir. Not what she initially planned on, but she's published and continuing to be published. I still think she'll get her own novel out there some day, but what if she'd said no to that first memoir? She'd have missed out on several fantastic opportunities (and the royalty checks that go with them!).

Heather began writing a bunch of different kinds of stories, not sure what genre what she wanted to focus on. I remember one book set in the Puritan era and another that was more of a mystery/suspense. She's since found huge success targeting the historical/religious fiction market. She didn't plan that right out of the gate.

Julie's first two books were with one publisher. She changed publishers midstream and suddenly vaulted into the spotlight with an amazing novel that got her massive acclaim. And then she had to switch publishers again. Talk about a roller coaster ride. Now she's got a new book out (yay!) plus an agent for her YA fantasy work, and we may well see her her science fiction books on shelves in the near future.

Josi got a name for herself writing books with "meat" dealing with serious issues like molestation, prescription drug abuse, and Internet predators. By a giant quirk of fate (that maybe she'll tell here sometime), she ended up writing the beginning of what turned into a culinary mystery, which has now turned into a culinary mystery series, and now she's got two novels for that series out with more to come. Again, didn't see that coming.

I could go on with more examples showing several of our other writer friends who aren't part of this blog and how they've had to morph and change with the industry, their publisher/s, their editor's demands, their audience, and so forth. Things change.

The point is that as a writer, if you 1) hope to be published and 2) hope to keep being published, you have to be willing to bend. Granted, you don't want to write just for the market, just what "will sell."

Don't sell out. Of course not. But be flexible. I couldn't write what Heather or Julie or the others do, but I can write a variety of different things that I am personally good at, in my own way.

I need to be willing to put my toes into different waters and try them out. I shouldn't be afraid of something just because it's different and I might be scared of it. (I was terrified of historical fiction the first time!)

Try it out anyway. Because guess what? See that new puddle of water? That might just be your big break. You never know.

As for me, aside from the contemporary women's title coming out next spring and the cookbook, take a wild guess what my next novel will be?

Nope, not another historical.

My editor suggested I pull out an old murder mystery I wrote years ago and revise it.

Bet you didn't see that coming. Frankly, neither did I.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Annie on What You Know

A popular post from March 2009

by Annette Lyon

I've talked about this before: how the old rule, "write what you know" is highly over-rated. (Read my rant about that here.)

In the last week, I got a great laugh when someone else wrote about the same thing in connection with my new release.

Regarding Annie is a blog written by a woman who is a fun writer in her own right. She's got a newspaper column of the same name that you can click over to on her sidebar.

Her blog post from last Friday was a bit of tongue-in-cheek journalism looking at my supposed in-depth experiences that helped shape the book: things like mine explosions, theft, rattlesnakes, 19th century printing presses, and horse training.

None of which I possess any firsthand knowledge of whatsoever.

All of which play important roles in the book.

If I'd clung to the adage of, "Write what you know," I couldn't have written it. Or any of my other books. In this case, I had a fun storyline and great characters, and I knew I could look up what I needed to and ask for additional help from experts. And that's exactly what I did.

Once and for all, toss out, "Write what you know."

Replace it with, "Write what you're willing to learn about," and (as a commenter said in my earlier post on the topic), "Write what you can imagine."

Then look up the rest.

Read Annie's post here.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Questions: Paragraph Length

A popular post from March 2009

Josi S. Kilpack

I'm in the middle of the first draft of a book and I was wondering if there were any general norms to paragraph length. All I can find is "don't make them too long" and "vary the length". Is there any more I should know?

*Typically a single paragraph should be committed to a single idea, when the idea transitions to another idea, end the paragraph and start another one. The single idea is relayed to readers by collecting sentences together, thus making the 'paragraph'.

*Paragraphs can be anywhere from one sentence, to infinite sentences (or what feels that way anyhow--chances are the reader won't finish anyway, so it will always be without end).

*Typically paragraphs are between four and eight sentences.

*Varying the length of sentences keeps your writing flowing easily, especially in regard to prose. Be careful about using the same type of sentence (complex, three word, beginning with a pronoun) over and over again, this often bores your reader and sounds repetitive.

*Signal the start of a new paragraph by indenting the first line (in the formatting menu of your Word processing program you should be able to choose this as a default so that whenever you manually return, the next line indents)

*When writing dialogue, each character gets a new paragraph when it's their turn to participate.

( I had an example, but I can't get the formatting to work in blogger, thus I put a # in the following block that shows where a hard return should be. The line following the hard return would then be indented 5 spaces. Notice how hard it is to follow the conversation when it is not broken into paragraphs)

"Don't eat the cheese!" she yelled.# He looked at the cheese, picked it up and stuffed it in his mouth. "I an ef I ant!" he said with his mouth full, giving her a challenging look. #"It was spiked with botulism, you'll be dead within twenty four hours, you idiot," she retorted. If he would just once listen to her, he'd have a long and happy life. But, well, as she'd just told him, he was an idiot. Idiots tended to die young whether or not they ate botulism tainted cheeses. #He swallowed and looked back at the cheese tray, fear in his eyes and beads of sweat forming on his forehead. "Botulism?" he asked, looking a little green. "Why is the cheese tainted with botulism?" # "I don't think the why matters any more, does it?" She hoped his funeral wouldn't take place on Saturday, she had a hair appointment that day and didn't want to miss it.

And all of this brings me to my personal opinion on paragraphs; paragraphs are good. Use them. I rarely have more than 9 sentences in a paragraph specifically because when a reader opens a book, seeing a solid block of text is daunting. I'm a reader and I can verify that this is true for me. I get lost when I move from the end of one line to the start of another line and the paragraph often SHOULD be broken into more paragraphs because it is rarely a single idea when it goes on that long. I have been known to put a book down when entire pages are taken up by one or two paragraphs. They remind me of a drawbridge of a castle, pulled up to prohibit entry. I often can't see past them and determine that the book is not worth my time.

I also love single line paragraphs, they are a great resource when trying to emphasize something. Such as:

. . . blah, blah, blah, blah, blah you better take out the garbage.
I didn't take it out.
The next morning I found the kitchen garbage poured into the front seat of my car. Apparently, she'd cracked a few eggs into it for good measure. Dang, I hate that woman. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. . . .

However, single sentence paragraphs only work if you use them the right way and don't over do it. Typically, your paragraphs should be 4-6 sentences long, using both complex and simple sentences, even a single word sentence works from time to time. Varying your sentences keeps your words flowing and your momentum up.

It's my belief that paragraphs are as much visual as they are semantic. The words need power, but the visual absorption of them also need to be pleasing to the eye.

For a little self-exercise go to your current WIP, go to 'edit' and 'select all' this will highlight your text. Back up from your screen--what do you see? What kind of white-space do you see (meaning non-written on paper)? Are the edges jagged at both sides? Or is it blocky and solid looking. (hint: you want airy and jagged)

Happy writing people!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Writing Screenplays

A popular post from July 2009

By Julie Wright

My daughter wants to be an actress. She's beautiful and talented and would likely succeed in such an endeavor. She goes to movies and critiques the acting. I go to movies and critique the dialogue and plot twists. Then we go home and argue about why we did or did not like a movie based on our version of critique.

"He's the worst actor ever!" She'll rant. "Did you hear how clumsily he delivered that line?"

"It's not his fault. The line was stupid. No actor could've delivered it right because it didn't belong in the scene in the first place." This is my response.

She made the mistake of arguing that I was wrong. That a great actor could deliver a terrible line and still make it great. And she might be right a little but she's also wrong. It is true that a great line delivered poorly is a bad reflection of the actor. And it is true that a poor line delivered well makes the poor line a wee bit better. But the big truth is that all movies, plays, TV shows start with the writing. The writing has to come first.

I watched a movie the other day which I am sure robbed me of much needed IQ points. When the credits rolled, I looked over to my husband and said, "That is an hour and forty eight minutes of our lives we will never get back."

The writing MUST come first. A screen writer cannot depend on a hunky famous actor to cover up their poor writing for a couple of reasons:

1.The hunky famous actor will likely never sign up to act in a poorly written screenplay (not if their agent has anything to say about it).
2.Stupid is stupid no matter who says it.

I've worked on movie sets and sets for TV series. I've read a lot of scripts in the down time during filming when my particular job wasn't required. I've seen a lot of poorly written scripts and a lot of excellent ones. I've even written a few scripts (some grossly poor, and some better than average).

Consider your favorite TV series, or movie, heck even consider your favorite commercial. Who gave it to you? A writer.

A good writer.

There are many writers who would love to break into the Hollywood scene. People imagine more money exists there for the person with literary dreams. Shakespeare figured out the same thing with his plays. The truth is that more money does exist in Hollywood for writers. Someone who sells two one-hour scripts can (on average) make forty thousand dollars a year--a little less than the average annual wage of a teacher. But still, it beats the average of the poet's annual wages.

So how do you make your voice stand out above all the others clamoring to be on the writing team for Lost? Oddly enough it's the same for standing out for publishers of novels. You must demonstrate your talent, and abounding professionalism.

Professionalism means you need to know how the industry works, how to format a script, and how not act like a jerk.

Some great resources for would be script writers can be found in the Complete Book of Scriptwriting by J Michael Straczynski. Screen writing is a better page-for-page paid gig than novel writing if you are someone who NEEDS to tell stories. But it's a long haul--like novel writing. If it's something you want to do--you gotta read the above mentioned book. I'll drop in during the next few weeks with some advice of my own.

While you're writing your screenplay, please keep in mind that I don't want my IQ to drop any more than it has. Write something brilliant so my actress daughter can tell me how great actors are. Don't worry; I know where the credit really goes.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Do your Research

A popular post from August 2009

by Heather Moore

No, I'm not talking about historicals. In a few weeks, I'll be teaching a couple of workshops at the League Of Utah Writers Conference.

My two topics will be:
1. The Science of Writing Your First Novel . . . and you thought it was a Creative Art
2. Your Rock-Solid Submission Package: Making it Fluid

As a presenter, I had to turn in my outlines in advance, which started me thinking. I'd like to compile a comprehensive list of websites/blogs for writing, editing, finding agents and publishers that will be something useful for our sidebar.

So let me know the sites you frequent and I can add them on.

Here is my list so far.

Non-Fiction Proposal Package:
Agent Research: (free)
Agent Bloggers:
Nathan Bransford
Kristin Nelson
Janet Reid
Rachelle Gardner
Agents/Publishers List: (paid subscription)
Writing & Editing Blog:
Writer’s Digest: on-line newsletter, or magazine subscription
Preditors & Editors:
Writer Beware: