Dramaquill's All Things Writing

June 30, 2008

Suspense/mystery links

Just thought I’d share some links that might be of interest to other suspense/mystery/thriller novelists.

http://www.hycyber.com/MYST/myst_writers.html
Alphabetical listing of mystery and suspense writers

http://www.writerswrite.com/fiction/michelemartinez.htm
Writing Suspense (article)

http://www.lisagardner.com/tricks/index.htm
Lisa Gardner’s site – articles, tips, tricks, etc.

http://www.hackman-adams.com/articles/index.htm
Lots of links about “thrillers”

http://ezinearticles.com/?Seven-Ways-to-Inject-Suspense-into-Your-Novel&id=177867
How to inject suspense into your novel (article)

http://www.mysterymentor.com/
Marilyn Henderson’s website (the author who did the professional critique of my
suspense novel)

http://www.thrillerwriters.org/thrillerfest/
ThrillerFest 2008

http://fictionwriting.about.com/od/genrefiction/tp/mysteryrules.htm
Ten rules of good mystery writing

http://www.poewar.com/mystery/
Ten tips for writing your mystery novel (but many of the tips just apply to good
novel writing in general)

http://www.writingclasses.com/CourseDescriptionPages/GenrePages.php/type/O/ClassGenreCode/MY
Mystery writing courses

June 29, 2008

Hello, is anybody out there?

The writing life is a solitary one, isn’t it?

Endless hours spent in front of the computer monitor writing, revising and researching. 

A single coffee cup, a notebook and a favorite pen pass the time as I people watch, listening for that one excellent snippet of conversation or finding that one unique character for my latest project.

The reference section of the local library, where I find it so easy to get distracted into researching several projects at once.

Whiling away the afternoon at my favorite bookstore, not caring that I’m sitting in the childrens’ section, reading the latest MG adventure novel.

Oh the luxury to find the time to read purely for pleasure!  Is that even possible now that I’ve embarked on my writing journey?

Writing can, for the most part, be a very lonely and isolating activity.  But thanks to the internet, that isn’t the case anymore.

With all the online writing groups, forums, listserves, critique groups and blogs, I no longer worry that I don’t live in a major metropolis, a stone’s throw from agents and publishers.

I really enjoy listserves.  I get the messages in digest form, downloaded into my Outlook Express, so I can read them offline.  Currently, Yahoo Groups has over 100,000 writing-related groups with listserves.  Some of my favorites are:

Childrens-Writers (for those who write PBs, MGs, YAs, articles etc.)
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/childrens-writers/?yguid=162578819

Fiction that Sells(Genre fiction markets and tips)
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FictionThatSells/?yguid=162578819

Musical Makers(for musical theatre bookwriters/composers/etc)
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/musicalmakers/?yguid=162578819

There are also tons of online resources for critique groups, workshops, conferences, writing sites and more.  Check out this page for a whole host of links to get your started:

http://www.thewriterssite.com/direct_pages/writing_feedback.html

So remember, no matter you live, you can connect with other writers online in a great number of different ways.

 

June 19, 2008

I owe it all to Mary Higgins Clark

As you all know, I’m furiously working on my final (I say this “tongue-in-cheek”) revision of my adult suspense novel, “When Love Won’t Die”.  It’s been a lengthy project for a couple of reasons.  After writing and rewriting, I decided to put my novel through a critique group and professional critique, adding more time to the year or so I had previously spent writing my first draft.

Sometimes as I sit in front of my computer screen, wading through all the critiques and weighing in on the suggestions from my peers, I wonder why I continue to plod along on this project.  Look at the odds.  It’s harder than ever for a first-time author to get a book deal these days.  More and more publishers are closing their houses to unsolicited subs.  And then there’s the catch-22 of needing an agent to get published vs. being published to get an agent.

Sometimes, when I’m stuck (usually doing research), I enjoy a trip to a local bookstore.  Seeing all the books lining the shelves reminds me that each of those authors had to start somewhere and hey, if they can do it, why not me?  And then I meandor over to the fiction section where the suspense/mystery/thrillers are kept and see the plethora of titles by Mary Higgins Clark.

I’ve read Mary’s books for longer than I can remember and I continue to enjoy how she interweaves her characters and plot twists into stories that keep me guessing until the last pages.  She has twenty-six suspense novels to her credit and her next one, “Where are you now?” comes out later this year.

But Mary Higgins Clark didn’t have an easy time of things.  She grew up in a one parent family (after her father passed away) and sought out a more prolific career in an ad agency before trying her hand at her passion, writing.  In 1956, she sold her first short story.  Even after marrying, Mary faced a huge challenge when her husband died, leaving her alone to raise five children.

Every time I think about not having enough time to write or how life is getting in the way of my creativity, I immediately see this young woman, getting up at 5 a.m. every day so that she would have 2 hours to write before her children woke up and had to get ready for school. 

I guess I’d have to say that I owe it all to my inspiration, Mary Higgins Clark.  Her story, her books and her accomplishments are what help keep me motivated when it would be easier to give up.

For more news on Mary Higgins Clark, check out this site:

http://www.simonsays.com/content/destination.cfm?sid=33&pid=352932

So thank-you, Mary Higgins Clark. 

Who or what keeps you going?

June 10, 2008

Pros and Cons of Critique Groups

Being a writer can be a very lonely profession. For some, this isolation becomes a real deterrent; preventing them from achieving any real kind of success.  Critique groups

provide a wonderful lifeline, especially for the newer writer.  But what exactly is a

critique group?

 

Before the internet, critique groups consisted of individuals living in similar geographic locations who desired to connect with others for support, networking and feedback.  Geographically, the internet has opened the door for writers from all around the globe. Online critique groups enjoy membership from a wide variety of places.

 

When making the decision to join a critique group, whether online or in your local community, writers should consider the following in their research:

 

1.  What do you want to get out of belonging to the group?

 

2.  How much time will participation take?

 

3.  What are the goals of the group?

 

4.  Is the group genre-specific or general writing?  (Know which you’re looking for

     when investigating potential critique groups.)

 

5.  How big is the group?  (More than 10 participants is often too large a group.)

 

Obviously newer writers can receive great benefits from participation, but many seasoned professionals consider critique groups a continuously useful tool as they prepare and submit manuscripts.

 

As with anything, there are always pros and cons. Let’s take a look at these as they apply to critique groups.

 

PROS:

 

1.  Receive feedback on everything from grammar and style to character, plot, tone, 

     POV and much more.  Critique groups are a great place to test out new works and

     first drafts as well as fine tuning a manuscript before sending it out.

   

2.  Provides a place for encouragement and interaction with other writers. 

   

3.  Critiquing the work of others is a great way to become a better editor of your own

     work.

 

4.   Writers are exposed to each other’s styles and unique voices.

 

5.  Although the critiques are the focus of the group, network opportunities also exist

    in everything from leads on contests to information about publishers and agents as

    well as wisdom from those with experience in different areas of the business.

   

6.  The submission deadline, usually once per week, is often the nudge many writers

     need to continue to produce new work or stay with a longer project (like a novel).

 

7.  Writers can easily miss small errors in their editing but the critique group offers

     several pairs of eyes who can spot these mistakes.

 

Critique groups, then, can be a great place to test out new works or give final drafts one last tweak before sending them out.

 

CONS:

 

1.  Is it safe to show your work to strangers?  (Although this can be of concern, the

     many writers surveyed for this post agree that critique groups are quite safe.)

    

2.  Harsh critiques can be discouraging.  (Remember, you must decide if the

     criticism is constructive and whether or not you choose to use the advice given is

    is always up to you.)

 

3.  The time it takes to critique the work of others can become time away from your

     own writing.           

 

It is apparent that the pros definitely outweigh the cons when it comes to critique groups.

Do your research.  Before you join any group, make sure that they meet your needs so that belonging to a critique group can be a helpful tool in your ongoing quest to become a better writer. 

June 3, 2008

Keeping yourself motivated on your revisions

Writing a first draft is an exciting adventure for me.  As I develop my characters and start to get to know them, I enjoy sending them into different situations and seeing how they react and respond.  I wait eagerly for them to push my plot into new areas and take me down new paths.  In fact, I even enjoy the research required to make my manuscript credible.

But we all know that the first draft is simply that.  It isn’t a polished manuscript, reading to submit to agents or editors.  (At least I hope we all know that!)

So, we send it through a critique group or writing partner and await feedback.  Again, an exciting time for me as I read comments and criticisms of my work, hoping to make the writing stronger and the book more saleable with each new batch of feedback.

Now comes the part of the process, and yes, I can hear some of you groaning, that I feel really takes the work:  Revisions.

When I first got my adult suspense novel back from Marilyn Henderson, with the 12 pages of single-spaced, typed critique, I cringed.  Could she seriously have this much to say about my masterpiece?  But as I read through her comments, one thing became clear.  Revising is necessary if I want a chance to get represented by an agent or publisher.

But with revision comes change – sometimes huge change. 

I took Marilyn’s advice to remove a character from my original draft.  This one revision sent a domino wave of changes through my entire manuscript, resulting in deleting complete chapters and totally rewriting others.  Sometimes it feels like I’m writing a whole new book.

Now, I’m submitting all my chapters to my online critique group, hoping to get enough feedback to make this final revision my best work possible.

But this project has dominated my writing life over the past two years.  There are times when I wonder if it’ll ever be polished enough to send out there.  And then, when it’s making the rounds, how long will it take before it gets noticed?  Or will it ever even get noticed?  When I think like this, it can become easy to just chalk the whole experience up to a exercise in the discipline of writing an entire novel and then move on to the new projects I’m anxious to begin.

So how do I stay motivated on continuing and finishing this final set of revisions?

* Knowing I have to submit to my critique group keeps me working on the
        revisions.

* When I get tired of revising, I research publishers and agents in my genre,
   which gets me excited to finish my manuscript.

* To help motivate me to workon the revisions, I keep a post-it on my
   computer that says, “How badly do you want it?”
 

* I re-read my book from the beginning and get excited about the story again.

* I read my favorite author, Mary Higgins Clark and picture one day being able
   to read a published copy of my own book.

* I talk about my project to friends who enjoy listening to the thoughts of a
   budding novelist, which gets me jazzed about my book all over again.
     

We’ve all heard it enough times:  Make sure you submit only your best writing.  Well, that’s what I intend to do.

Oh, and I forgot the most important way to get myself motivated to get back to my reivisions:  I blog about it!

Thanks for listening.  I’m off to re-write the next chapter.

 

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