Tuesday, May 28, 2013

First person vs. third person in writing

Judy Blume and Author
Once when I presented a few chapters of my latest manuscript to an editor at a conference, she suggested changing it from third person to first person. More immediacy, she said. I tried it and it seems to work better for me. But then so did third person. How does a writer decide? And just what does first person versus third person really mean? Read this blog to find out the advantages and disadvantages of writing in one or the other. Author Nathan Bransford addresses this topic on his post First Person vs. Third Person.
Check out these cool bookshelves on the Cubesmart blog. How do they do that? And here’s another interesting thing to look at on the Explore.com blog: “J. K. Rowling's hand-drawn spreadsheet for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."

 We start writing books on the day something different happens." -- Judy Blume at the SCBWI-LA Conference

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Writing Historical Fiction

The following words caught my attention when I read the article, “Tackling Historical Fiction,” by Susan Sherman, author of The Little Russian, posted on the Writer’s Digest blog. 
Thorough research is vital to historical fiction, not only because it sets the stage, but also because it helps fill out the characters giving them dimension and drive.  It also helps us with the voice of our characters. … The writer must be careful with research, however.  We don’t want our research showing.  We don’t want to include so much detail that it ends up weighing down the story and distracting the reader.
I love reading historical fiction, always have. And that is why I decided to tackle a historical fiction piece myself. As noted in Sherman’s article, I too did a lot of research before I started my story. Mine is a multicultural story. My main character is a fourteen-year-old Latina. The setting is Southwest Texas. The time frame is in the late 1930s. I had an idea about the plot and characters. I just needed to research the times. 
If you love doing research like I do, the only problem is knowing when to stop. As you dig deeper into history, you find yourself going off track into other intriguing stuff. But I finally did finish my story. It is ready to send out. So wish me luck!  

Historical fiction tells a story that is set in the past. That setting is usually real and drawn from history, and often contains actual historical persons, but the main characters tend to be fictional. -- Wikipedia

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Slush Pile

Before you start sending out that manuscript to agents or editors, you might want to read the blog post below  to make sure you’re sending out your very best. No writer wants their work to end up in that dreaded slush pile. On Notes from the Slushpile, Agent Jenny Savill and author Sara Grant collaborate and offer writing tips on revision. That’s right, revision. I talk about it all the time. Writers, it’s part of the process. Some of Savill and Grant's advice: “ … perhaps you need to flesh out the world of the story. Perhaps you need to rein it in. It might be that the manuscript stays basically the same structurally and changes only in more subtle ways, but one of the things that tends to happen is that old stuff from earlier drafts lingers in the latest draft.” 
There’s a lot of good stuff on this post. See for yourself. Happy writing day!

Slush Pile: The stack of unsolicited or misdirected manuscripts received by an editor, agent, or book publisher. – Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner

Friday, May 10, 2013

Writing Contests

Listen up! A good way to get started in this business is to submit your stories to writing contests. I’ve
Santa Fe
mentioned before that I started out by submitting my first stories to magazines. If you’ve never published before, this is a great way to get in print. There’s nothing more exciting than seeing your name in a byline. Your confidence and your credibility soar. So here are three magazines that are accepting submissions. Make sure you follow the guidelines and submit before the deadlines. Wishing you luck with your writing!!

Byline: Name of the author appearing with the published piece.—Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner

Monday, May 6, 2013

First page of a manuscript

Well at Mission San Jose
I’ve attended a couple of writer’s conferences where a panel has read the first page of someone’s (brave souls’) manuscript in front of the audience. Usually the name of the author is not disclosed. But you know when it’s the first page of your own manuscript when the first three or four words are read and there you sit in the audience, holding your breath, straining to hear what the editors or agents are saying as they dissect your first page while you try and take notes hoping no guesses that’s your work up there. Or maybe the comments are great and you want everyone to know that’s your page. But most of the time, there is always room for improvement. 
We all struggle, at one time or another, with that dreaded first page that we hope will draw the reader in. Here is a link on Bookshelf Muse that offers a few tidbits that might be helpful as you revise that manuscript again. 

Synopsis: A brief summary of a story, novel, or play. As part of a book proposal, it is a comprehensive summary condensed in a page or page and a half, single-spaced. – Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Pitch

When an agent or editor asks you what your story is about, do you automatically come up with a genius pitch? Or are you like most of us who fumble around trying to come up with a good pitch using only a couple of sentences? Do the editors’ eyes glaze over or are they focused on what you’re saying because it peaks their interest? It’s hard to summarize your entire story into a few words. But maybe this post, “One Simple Way to Sharpen Your Pitch,” written by Zachary Petit on The Writer’s Digest blog will help. It’s never too late to start practicing that pitch for when you’re at a conference and come face to face with editors and agents.

Anatomy of a book? Really? This is a fun post to read. Who knew there were terms to describe the anatomy of a book.

Hook: Aspect of the work that sets it apart from others and draws in the reader/viewer. -- Writer's Digest Weekly Planner