Homework for Writers: Writer’s Digest January 2011

The next assignment in my Homework for Writers series!

Writer's Digest magazine

January 2011 Writer’s Digest

Writer’s Digest January 2011

Obviously looking to meet the New Year’s resolution crowd, this issue is all about writing and outlining a novel.

– Differentiating between idea theft and simultaneous discovery. This isn’t something I am worried about. This issue lists three ways to tell the difference: Plagiarism is a theft. Trends occur in submissions and not avoiding critique groups out of fear.

– A round-up of ‘literary goodies’ in the Top Shelf section suggests gadgets for writers like AquaNotes, a waterproof notepad for when ideas hit in the shower and the website I Write Like that lets you upload some of your own writing and tells you which famous writer you resemble.

– There’s a good piece on how to fix email blunders. I’ve had my fair share of these but don’t really see myself implementing an email checklist before I hit send. That’s too big of a behavior change for me. Right now I’m just working on slowing down before I hit send.

– A profile of agent Daniel Lazar from Writer’s House who loves historical fiction. I think I could be friends with this guy. In the Breaking In section, I skimmed the books until I saw a YA novel that intrigued me, and was again reminded of the time involved from pitch to publication: over four years.

– I enjoyed the article about the value of a good mentor but actually haven’t found one for my fiction.

– I am working on a YA novel of my own, and my favorite chapter is my first. This issue of WD offers eight ways to write a great first chapter and I think I’ve already incorporated several, including a strong character, the tense, careful amounts of detail. Next is a big article on the emotions that drive our characters is valuable if we want them to live and breathe on our pages. There are basically writing prompts and cues provided here, questions we should all ask ourselves as writers.

– Three secrets of great storytelling: cause & effect, it needs to be believable (even if it’s not real) and escalation – ‘the heart of a good story is tension, the heart of tension is desire.’ Make the reader want what your character wants, or at least know what your character desires.

– When your novel stalls, you realize it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Good thing I’m a runner. I used to let this common occurrence bother me, limit me, but even though I’ve stalled on working on my current manuscript I haven’t let it get me down. And I haven’t stopped thinking through the story. Just like these tips recommend, taking a step back and evaluating the big picture can help. I need a build-up of ideas in my tank and then they flow right out on to the page.

– The publishing world expects writers to handle much of their own promotion today, and there’s a good article in this issue on the benefits of selecting and working with other writers, in your genre and out, to promote the group of books and benefit together.

Other posts in the Homework for Writers series

September 2010 – The Big 10 Issue

September 2011 – Best Selling Secrets

October 2011 – Get Your Agent

About: Elizabeth

Writer, Author, Social Media Coach, Reader, Runner, Triathlete, Wife, Mother.

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