Tips on How to Write Good Action Scenes with Detail?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Question:

Hey everyone! So my question is how do you write an action scene with good detail or description? I don't know how I've gotten by without this skill but I seem to go for things like "She broke down the door" or "he tried to break free" instead of more detailed sentences. So, does anyone have any advice on how to write action? And when I say action I don't mean ALL action, I mean like fight scenes, or scenes where a lot of things happen at once. I don't know if I explained it well enough but ah well, any reply would help.
-------
Alice


Answer:

Tip-1:
I tend to write action quite often, actually. I've written fan fiction for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and other things in the liking so I guess I know how to receive the appropriate materials.Well, for one...I believe "she broke down the door" isn't quite enough description. Get in contact and understand the characters emotions...if it's a fight scene, you should be able to try and understand what the character is feeling and set your description from there.Usually in fight scenes, people would be upset about something and have some motive, so use that as a tool.Hope I helped, -----------

Tip-2:
You always need to have your own 'voice' when writing, but when I had to write my first action scene, I borrowed a couple of books and looked at how well known and respected authors do it. Not just the scene, the foreshadowing that precedes an action or suspense scene is just as important.With a fresh perspective, I set to writing my first action scene set around my characters in my location and with my style. It took a couple of attempts to get that first one right, but I am pretty good at it now.So, two choices. Read some other authors or buy a well reviewed 'how to' book.

Getting Published Question

Question:

Hey, I have been writing for a few years now. I am only 15 years old but I feel I have a strong writing talent for someone my age. I am wondering if I should begin to try and be published yet. Here are my questions: What age do most writers start at?Are there any laws that would prevent me from getting published or paid due to my age (in Canada)?When I do send in a book to try and get it published is there anything that I could do to help it be picked?

Answer:

Tip-1:
I do not think there are any laws prohibiting you from publishing your books, but I strongly suggest against it....Develop your writing, you may think you're good now, but think how good you'll be in a couple of years. I used to think I was a fantastic writer at twelve, now I look back on those stories and cringe.
You don't want to make another Eragon do you? Well, maybe you do. I guess he made lots of money, but I'd rather be known for quality work...If you do pursue publication, then good luck!

Tip-2:
I can't give you any information about the publishing industry, but what I can say is if you have yet to do so, it would be a good idea to do at least 1 writing course first.I had finished writing my book when I was 19, and I was sure that it was publishable, but I then did a writing course by correspondence, and now I realize just how hackneyed my first attempt was, and now my writing is ten times better.I'm not saying that your work couldn't be good enough to be published, but you are at a great age to start honing your skills before trying to take up writing professionally.

Tip-3:
The only problem with sending out manuscripts is that you need to either have an agent, or have them appraised; otherwise a publisher won't touch them. And while I am not sure about whether or not an agent takes any money up front, I know that appraisal can be very expensive (especially for a 15 year old)

Tip-4:
Agents don't get paid unless you get published, so you don't lose anything if you get rejected.

Writing that Ignores the Norm & Typical Writing Rules

Monday, May 01, 2006

Question:

Just out of curiosity, do any of you break the rules with your writing? I'm talking about the textbook, sentences-must-have-an-subject-verb-and-object rules. Do you ever use fragments? Play around with punctuation? Space your paragraphs to give feeling to your writing? What else?


Answer:

There really are no "rules" to break. They are more "rules"-of-thumb than laws of the land. The trick is figuring out where you can go against the rules-of-thumb and have your work the better for it - and that takes experience reading and writing on the writer's part.

[-Frank]

Writing Without Revealing Gender

Question:

Anyone have any tips for writing about someone without revealing their gender? My character's gender is supposed to be a surprise. In my fight to avoid using "she" or "he," I've resorted to using a lot of "it"s and this has made my writing bland.

Would it work to make the reader think my character is the opposite sex by using pronouns of the opposite sex, and then surprise them? Somehow, that seems like cheating to me.

Any ideas?


Answer:

Tip-1:

How bout writing in first person?

Tip-2:

Well my advice is that by saying "it", the reader might thing you are referring to, not to be immature, a "he-she". I have a few alternatives
Instead of

she shot the gun and killed all of the Martians on the planet.
You can put....
I shot the gun and killed all of the Martians on the planet.

OR
The soldier shot the gun and killed all of the Martians on the planet.
^ I hope you get that one, I couldn't really explain it.


Tip-3:

Some people like to withhold demographic information when talking about a character that has some quirks that go against stereotypes... To prove a point or something.
Like perhaps a story about a person who's the best wrestler in their division, but at the end... She's a GIRL OMGsurprise!!11 (For example, a story from Chris Crutcher's "Athletic Shorts")
I think it's kind of lame and cliche and is a sign of a story-teller who has to rely more on surprise and shock value to be effective.

Writing Short Story Problem- Losing the Plot?


Question:

I often find that when I'm thinking about writing a short story that my ideas get way to big for the length I'm planning. I really do have a hard time keeping it simple.

For example, I recently planned a story in which a young boy had disappeared, coinciding with strange incidents happening in the place he disappeared from. Before I knew it, I had aliens, detectives etc. Way too much for a short piece.

Is there any way I can tone my head down a bit? Or even work these large plots into a short story?

Thanks in advance,
[Lesley xx]

Answer:


Tip-1:

Hmm well. Outline. That keeps you inline with what ever you're writing. And stop thinking so deep with the story. I write short stories a lot and usually I don't think about the story in great detail until I'm sitting down to write it.

I hoped that helped at all...

Tip-2:

I used to have the same problem... I couldn't and still can't write a short story that has any amount of quality to it. The only stories of mine that people have said are good have all been 100+ pages, so I gave up on trying writing short ones. I'm not saying that's what you should do, but you should try maybe setting out to write a longer story and see what happens. Who knows, you might be a good novel writer.


[Rudder]

Tip-3:

You can keep all the detail, all the plot... just don't write it. Keep all that stuff in your head as background information, and then just write about one day, or a single incident.

Reviewed and edited by M.K Raza

Show Vanity in a Character through Actions

Question:


What’s a good way to show vanity in a character through actions? What kind of things would you expect a vain person to do? I want to show my character is vain, to avoid telling the reader he is vain...any Ideas?


Answer:

Tip-1:

I did this with one of my female characters about a year ago. She was really rich, spoiled, blonde, beautiful, stuff like that. Basically, make him make comments about how other people are inferior, especially his family. Make him talk about how everything bad that happens to him is everyone else's fault. Stuff like that. Does that help?

____________
Rudder

Tip-2:

Maybe have them always readjusting their clothes, like they're ridiculously worried about how they look - constantly smoothing down their hair, checking themselves in a mirror, etc.

Multiple Points Of View in Novel

Question:

Although every "how to write your first novel" website lists "stick to a single point of view" as one of the ten commandments for new writers, I just seem to be incapable of following that directive. While the bulk of my story will be told in 1st person (from the killer's perspective), I keep reverting to 3rd person when writing about other characters. I don't jump back and forth within a paragraph, or even within a chapter; but individual chapters do have differing points of view.


I realize that this is getting away from general topics that would be useful to a wide audience, and becoming a very specific question that really only pertains to my book, but....
Any chance that there is a website or other source for information, guidelines (warnings?) about writing from multiple view points? I realize that this lack of consistency could prove confusing to the reader, but I'm interested in learning about other potential problems that may result from switching Point Of View. Any suggestions for where to look?

Thanks.

Answer:


Tip-2:

If handled correctly nobody will be confused by multiple Points Of View. And if anyone tells you not to do it, poke them in the eye with a sharp stick and do it anyway.

The beauty of words is you can pull off almost anything; you can break rules and mess with convention. You just have to be able to write well enough.


Tip-2:

Multiple points of view are common with many published writers. Typically, they are written as everything in third person. I caution against mixing first person and third person. I always caution against first person in any case. In this instance if you do everything third person, including the killer's perspective, it will work better.

I did a work with two points of view alternating from chapters to chapters. All third person. In the last but one chapter, the girl's emotions take over and she kills someone in cold blood. It is written third person and it was described by someone as 'chilling'. It probably works better in third person, because there is this cascade of thoughts as to what this man has done to her family and then a brief omniscient view of the killing. It takes the reader by surprise, they aren't expecting it.

Don't underestimate what you can do in the third person.

How to approach revisions/rewrites?

Question:

Having finished my book, sent the first draft off for critique by a friend, and settled back into my chair before the computer... Revisions suddenly set up a Great Wall of China between my story and I. Help! At times I feel ruthless, like butchering the whole thing and gluing it back together, and at other times I'm such a ninny, and I don't want to ruin it, even though I know it needs lots of work.
Any suggestions about how to approach revisions/rewrites?


Answer:

Tip-1:

Man. Do I know that feeling? I have stories in which I think I've re-written the opening chapters like 40 times.
Here's a couple of things:

1) Be very wary of making changes that have 'big-picture' consequences unless absolutely necessary. Don’t go changing the continent your hero (or heroine) lives in for example... Unless you plan on rewriting half your chapters!

2) When the 'omg this needs to be made better' bug hits you... and you start re-writing, when you are done with your edit, pause for a moment, and ask yourself, as objectively as possible 'did this really make it better'.

3) Don't be afraid to use the 'Undo' key. Control-Z IS YOUR FRIEND. Remember, unlike the age-old environment of typewriters (shudder), in our electronic age we can take stuff out as easily as we can put it in! Don't be afraid to try to make it better... you can always go back in a few seconds!

4) Finally, don't bite off too much at once. Take it one chapter, one paragraph at a time. Don’t worry about the Elephant... Worry about the hairs on his left front foot's toe-knuckle! Do it 'one bite at a time' and have patience.

Hope that helps!
----------------------
Steve


Tip-2:

Hide it in a deep dark hole for as long as you need, forget about it. Right when you write something you're passionate about it and don't want to hurt it, so give it time to fall away to the old stuff, then hack at it so its beautiful If you're still attached to a piece, you'll get no where. And after you've done that, read over it. And if you still aren't happy, hide it again, and hack at it again. Just keep at it I hope that helped, and wasn't too vague...


Difficulty in Starting Writing Stories or Books


Question:

Ok, so this seems to be my problem... I've got a few ideas for some books/stories that I wanna write... But the problem is, I have difficulty getting started. I write about a page, or so then I'm stuck. It's a pain in the ass, and I was wondering if anyone had any advice on how to get past this...

Answer:

Tip-1:

We all know what is inevitable:
The only known cure is to just push through. Tell yourself you are not going to quit until you have X words. Don't write anything that comes to your mind, though; in case of a block just sit in front of your keyboard until you have the right words. After that, sleep well and the next day it's another X words waiting for you.
If you are certain that your idea has potential then all there is left is some serious headbanging. You may feel that after 6.000 words your novel (/la or whatever) just isn't going to happen. Your style is crap, your dialogue is lame, and your font is Comic Sans. At that point brute force is most important. X words a day.
Finally you reach the end of your story, total Y words!. If you have remembered not to write unimportant stuff to reach your daily X words, you have Y great words and you have yourself a story!
(Then of course you have to totally rip it to pieces and edit its buttocks sore but that's a tale for another time.)
This makes writing sound like a hard job but it really is

Tip-2:

Use one of my very own techniques I like to call flushing. Just take a break, and write down any words that come to you. The only rule is it can’t make sense. It sounds useless but it really has gotten me threw some writers blocks.

Tip-3:

Maybe you should try developing your ideas more before you begin writing? It may help you start your story if you have an idea of where you're going with it.

Tip-4:

When your brain shuts down and all you can write (if anything) is shit, STOP!
It's your subconscious telling you to get a life - recharge your experience batteries, give yourself something to write about. As I said somewhere else, life should only be a vicarious experience for your readers, not you.

Look at it another way. If you don't write today, will anyone die? Will you earn any less? No? Then why sweat it? Take a break, go out, enjoy life, and come back refreshed.

[Reviewed & edited by M.K Raza]

Creative Writing & Degree

Question:

I'm a junior in High School and college is rapidly approaching. I would really like to major in Creative Writing and I'm generally really good about research but I can't find anything about the degree. I know a few schools that offer it but I don't know which ones locally (I live in Dallas, Texas). Also, does anyone think this would be a poor decision? Perhaps I should just major in English and minor in Creative Writing. Any information that you guys have would be appreciated.

I would like to be a novelist, but I also want to teach English in the Peace Corps. Thus my dilemma.

Answer:

Tip-1:

what's your goal?... if it's just to 'be a writer' anything you take in that line can't hurt, but a degree isn't a requisite for being a successful one...

If you want to be an editor, you'll need a degree in English and/or literature, but not necessarily 'writing'... to teach writing, you should get your degree in something more writing-focused...


Tip-2:

if it is possible you can pick up the magazine poets and writers, they always have add for schools that offer MFA in creative writing.

Here is one site I found

http://www.utdallas.edu/~nelsen/creativity.html

MFA degrees in the Dallas area-type that into Google and you will get some sites you might need.


Tip-3:

There is no degree that will make you a novelist. Like many of the arts it takes lots and lots of practice. English or writing degree will help you but it won't make a novelist at the end of four years.

As for the Peace Corps, what they primarily do is teach English, and they only requirment for the Peace Corps is that you have a degree, any degree.

So I will tell you what I would tell anyone thinking about college. Study what makes you happy. In the end there is little difference between the majors, unless you of course are dealing with something technical. But since you want to be a writer that doesn't really come into play. Do something you find interesting. College not only teaches you about whatever you major is but it also teaches you valiable life skills. The later I think being the most important thing I took away from college.


Tip-4:

I think college would be great for getting the technical part of the craft down pat - that is, how to know a verb from a toaster-oven. But as for the creative part - you either got it or you don't.

Sure, I'd go learn technique, syntax, sentence structure; learn about great literature. But Creativity? Learn that from you. Thats the best teacher you'll ever find.

Career as a Writer

Question:

If I were to say that living as a writer meant everything in the world to me and that I would do it regardless of my financial position or anything else I might have to sacrifice, do you think it is possible to live a life like that and yet still be able to keep yourself alive? The more and more I look at it, the more hopeless it seems.

It might seem foolish for me to say this but I am quite determined to continue perfecting my craft not so I can make money but more so I can just live my life as I want to. . .if you understand what I'm saying.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you think financial sacrifice would be an inevitable goal if someone was to pursue that kind of a lifestyle?


Answer:


Tip-1:

No, it's not impossible, it can be done... Not everyone becomes a rich and famous author, like say, Stephen King, but you can make your own niche and live comfortably.

There are so many available positions in writing that you can take on, it just depends what you're willing to do...

Here's a site for free lance writers:

http://www.freelance-writing.net


Tip-2:

Forgetting the financial sacrifice, but concentrating on actually earning enough from writing to provide 3 meals a day and a roof over your head...

Do you really think that's what you want? Say for instance you get a junior job on a newspaper. When writing becomes not the pure thing you want it to be, but the 9 to 5 grind, day in, day out, necessary to support yourself, will it lose its gloss? Particularly when you find that it leaves you no more time, and possibly less inclination, to write the masterpiece you always wanted to write than a non-writing job that might pay twice as much?


Tip-3:

It's not hopeless, but you have to be not just a writer, but part business man too in order to do it. Assuming that you're talking about novels, screenwriting, freelance journalism etc then you MUST be able to pitch your work to agents and publishers. And you should be able to recognize a good contract from a bad one. And you should also be able to promote yourself, regardless of how much your publisher is putting into it.

In other words, you will have to learn a new set of skills to complement your writing skills. It's not too hard though - if you put the effort into it.

Then, there's the "grunt work" of writing. You could get a job as a writer for a paper, but will trade some freedom for that security - you will have to copy press releases, cover commission meetings, etc. You could become a ghost writer and get a steady flow of jobs, but would have little say in the "big picture" of your writings.

Good luck,


Tip-4:

Whatever work you do, make sure it doesn't suck too much of your energy away from the writing you care about. The higher up I went on the corporate ladder, the less writing I did. Once I became a freelancer, I did more writing, but even that started to dry up once I found myself devoting more and more energy to paying work.

I have a friend who's never had a problem with balancing work and writing. For me it's been a lot more difficult, but I have to find balance somehow if I want to continue to be able to live free and on my own. I have friends and family I love, but I can count on one hand the number of people I'd want to live with.


Tip-5:

If that's the case, consider making your profession from something with short hours and use the extra time to write. You won't depend on your writing to be successful to eat but you will be able to attempt to gradually shift your focus from whatever business you enter to your writing, should it do well.

Or you can find a form of writing you're passionate about and would not mind putting your days into. If you like politics, for example, being a part of a magazine that focuses on politics may not get old, since the news would constantly change.

I considered making writing my career, but I realized I wouldn't be happy doing it. I like it because it allows me to turn my day to day activities and musings into thoughts, but I realized if I sat at home all day on the computer these musings would soon dissipate.

Considering a job that does not rely on writing but requires good writing skills might also be an alternative.

Good luck however you choose to pursue your writing. Just be sure of the risks of ending up as a high school English teacher who hates writing because he deals with so much crap on a daily basis, or something of the sort.

A Question About Possession

Friday, April 28, 2006

Question:

I realize that this is a really dumb question, and I'm sure I do know the answer, but right now I'm having a bit of a mental block!

When I'm saying that something belongs to somebody, am I right in using an apostrophe?
Like this:
Erica slipped out from Franny's trembling hands.
or is it:
Erica slipped out from Frannys trembling hands?

Answer:

Yes, an apostrophe donates possession. It should not be used for plurals, or almost anything else. Except contractions.

Characters Wearing or Clothing’s

Question:

At my school I have created a writer's club and right now we are working on our novels...But, some of my friends are stuck on what kind of cloths their characters should be wearing;

Any Tip about writing characters wearing.


Answer:

When I do character design, one of my activities is deciding what that character should wear.

Try taking into account what the character is like, their background, etc. A homeless guy wouldn't wear a tuxedo, obviously. (Or maybe he would? That would be interesting.)

Try surfing around online for different types of clothes. Look at the pictures. Check out gothic clothes, cyberpunk, renaissance, etc. The possibilities are endless!

Connections in Stories

Question:

I was wondering how many of you do what I call "long-range connections" in your stories? They're where you put an event in a story that is insignificant at that point in time, but then several chapters, or even many chapters, later, it makes a huge difference. An excellent example is in Hugo's Les Miserable when Eponine writes "The cops are here" to prove she's literate, and a few chapters later, Marius uses that note to get out of his dilemma of what to do with Thenardier. So, how many of you do that?

Answer:

I'm sort of doing that with what I'm writing now. I didn't go in with ANY planning, so I just forced several unrelated vignets together. After doing that, I found interesting phrases that cropped up, or internal jokes, or whatever, and turned them into plot points.

Answer:

I only recently started doing it, and I find it requires backwards planning. I think of an event that must happen, and then go backwards in order to make sure I put something in the story that connects to it. It's fun, IMO, to go back and look at it and go, "Yeah, that's good."

[Rudder]

Girls Character Description

Question:

I'm writing a story now that has three girls as the main characters...I guess what I'm asking is how vague or detailed should I make the descriptions without getting boring? They are all Greek, skinny and pretty.

Answer:

Go for one characterizing physical detail for each, and maybe a secondary one for the main persona.

After that, have them characterized by what they do and say or how others react to them.

[Ted Truscott]

Answer:

An example of your current descriptions would help. Perhaps they are not as boring as you think.

For my female characters I use detail, I mainly describe the face first, then the hair and then (*ahem*) the body. I use a respectable description of course, don't mention the breasts for the love of god! Unless that's what you're writing...

I would need an example and perhaps I could improve on it for you!


Answer:

What matters is if this is a story or a novel... in the latter, you have more time and opportunity to round out the characters both physically and emotionally... in a short story, you have to give a quick take on them that will still make the readers picture them and develop a like or dislike, as the case may be...

what you have is pretty boring and borders on an info dump... and, as anarkos wisely noted, if a detail isn't important to the plot, leave it out...

[Maia]

Lyrics Formation Questions


Question1:

If you are to have say, three lines of lyrics of a made up song (no copyright problem), how should it be formatted? Should it be centered and separated by "#" above and below? Italics (underlined)?

Answer:

That depends on where you're using it... if in a short story, or chapter of a novel, you can indent on both sides, but don't 'center' it... and italics aren't necessary...


Question2:


The other question...how do I create a header in Word to to show surname/title keyword/page as Shunn’s-ms format shows? There are other choices of headers but not that in header/footer. In "insert, auto text, auto text", there is an "author, title, page #" but how do you format it to yours and put it in the upper right corner. I need to add this header to all pages (not the first) after the story is written.
Any help would be appreciated.
Thanks,
Ken


Answer:

First, go to 'file' menu and open 'page setup'... click on the 'layout' tab. Check the 'different first page box... then click 'ok' at the bottom...

next [before you start--or now--not after the story is written!] click on 'view' and select 'header and footer'... header box and outline will then show on your document... put cursor in header outline, then hit tab to take cursor to middle of page... type 'last name / title key word(s) / page #...

close header box... your header will now appear on all pages but the first, and your page numbers will change automatically, as you write...

Obtaining Copyrights on Song Lyrics for a Book – Copyright Problem


Question:

So here's my dilemma. I have a book I am attempting to get published. Sounds simple right? Eh. A bit. HOWEVER, here's the problem.

I have approximately five songs that I want to use in the book, but I don’t even know where to start trying to get the copyright info. Can ANYONE give me advice on how I should go about doing this?

I would appreciate it. Thanks.

Answer:

How will you use the songs? References and quotes are fairplay; you don't need permission to use them. I'm assuming you're talking lyrics here, though sheet music has the same rules. If you wish to quote the entire song, you may still be okay. Typically, borrowing artwork for the purposes of creating new artworks is legal (if not always ethical) - Us3 (or was it Diggable Planets?) aside.

Your publisher or agent should be able to provide you with specific advice on whether or not to consult a lawyer and/or the musician’s agents.

How are you using the songs?

Explanation of Question:

I am using the songs for quotes. I only use one full song. They are used as in

Bob sat back with his headphones on. The eighties pop sounds of The Outfield allowed the world to melt away.

"Josies on a vacation far away
come around and talk it over"

they spoke to him. Bob just simply identified with the lyrics...."


Something like that. Plus, I don’t have a publisher yet. I'm just trying to cover all my bases.

Answer:

The only one I'd be worried about is the full quote. Try googling ASCAP or other recording artists' websites for usage information. Also you could google .gov sites for copyright information.

Good luck on your book!

Publish America--How Good is it/is it Worth it?


Question:

Hello every one! I'm just looking for some info about publishamerica.com I had sent in a lil' submission to them and they replied back wanting my manuscript and blah blah blah. I was just wondering, before i send it in, is it worth it really? How good are they, anything hidden, etc. anything would be helpful from people who ether know about it, or have gone through it thanks.


1-Answer:


Kinda funny. I actually sent them my manuscript and they said "Yeah, we want it, cool, great, wonderful" etc. And they sent me a sample contract.

I'm a bit wary though. I mean, I've heard a lot of talk about them (if you glance around this site a bit you might find some talk of them as well) and none of it is horrible.

But, and I know I will take some flack for saying this, I feel like they are just one eensy-weensy step above self-publishing. They have only online distribution, no shelf and a
LOT more of the legwork is up to you. Granted, legwork is not such a huge problem - and if you are afraid of it you shouldn't be trying to get published anyway - but they seem to be thinking you are going to be doing all of it.

In an age of gigantic bookstore chains and less mom-and-pop type places its much harder to talk your name onto shelves.

I would say submit your manuscript, see what they say, and then if they say yes, you can always say "no thanks"

As for me, I'm still considering it.

2-Answer:

I heard that it's a scam. Not your usual type, and those feedbacks sound very pleasant but I suggest that you look elsewhere. A traditional publishing house is always better than those houses who guaranteed you success, I know it sounds great when we all can be published but it's a bit too good to come true, isn't it? I got my manuscript accepted too and let me tell you, it wasn't good at all. After many revisions, it still needs work, and I send them the second draft. You get my point? Good luck!

Reading Fee's

Question:

I was wondering if anyone could help clarify some of this stuff for me. I contacted a couple of people who were advertised in the back of Writer's Digest. On the ad it said that there were no reading fees for work that is sent in. However the ad also said to call in before submitting (to make sure the idea is valid I guess). I was told that the fee for editing and line evaluation is $75 an hour. I'm in college so I really can't pay it. I'm just trying to figure out what the reading fee's actually mean. I'm new at this so I don't want to take any chances. But hey, they seemed enthusiastic about the idea.

The other situation is I'm not through with my book yet. I have 9 chapters but I want to eventually have 19 or 20. It's a short story book so I don't want it to be too long. Should I wait until the book is finished before I start submitting to editors and agents or publishers. I just don't know what I should do. If anyone can clarify this I would really appreciate it.
[Questioned by Eric]


Answer:


If your book is a novel, you definitely have to have it completed before querying agents or publishers...

if it's non-fiction, you need to show that you have some sort of qualifications for writing about the subject and prepare a good proposal...

no legit agent or publisher will charge a reading fee, so don't even consider any who mention money going FROM you TO them... the money is supposed to go in the other direction! [Answered by Maia]

Translator has tons of languages.


AltaVista Babel Fish Translation enables you to translate short passages of text or entire Web sites among 19 pairs of languages.


http://babelfish.altavista.com/

As an automatic translator, Babel Fish works best when the text you wish to translate uses proper grammar. Slang, misspelled words, poorly placed punctuation and complex or lengthy sentences can all cause a page to be translated incorrectly. Expect Babel Fish to allow you to grasp the general intent of the original, not to produce a polished translation.

Books for Self-Publishing

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

If you're thinking about diving into the world of self-publishing, you might want to do some homework first with any of these Top Ten Self-Publishing Books recommended by Donna Moss of the Apex Publishing Services:

"1001 Ways To Market Your Books: For Authors and Publishers"
by John Kremer, 2000. ISBN 0912411481

"Book Design and Production: A Guide for Authors and Publishers"

by Pete Masterson, 2005. ISBN 0966981901

"Complete Guide to Book Marketing"

by David Cole, 2004. ISBN 1581153228

"Complete Guide to Self Publishing: Everything You Need to Know to
Write, Publish, Promote and Sell Your Own Book, 4th Edition"

by Tom and Marilyn Ross, 2002. ISBN 1582970912

"How To Start And Run A Small Book Publishing Company: A Small Business
Guide To Self-Publishing And Independent Publishing"

by Peter Hupalo,2002. ISBN 0967162432

"Make Money Self-Publishing: Learn How from Fourteen Successful Small
Publishers"

by Suzanne Thomas, 2000. ISBN 0966469127

"Print-on-Demand Book Publishing: A New Approach to Printing and
Marketing Books for Publishers and Self-Publishing Authors"

by Morris Rosenthal, 2004. ISBN 0972380132

"Publishing for Profit: Successful Bottom-Line Management for Book
Publishers"

by Thomas Woll, 2002. ISBN 1556524625

"The Publishing Game: Publish a Book in 30 Days"

by Fern Reiss, 2003.ISBN 1893290859

"The Self-Publishing Manual: How to Write, Print, and Sell Your Own
Book, 14th Edition,"

by Dan Poynter, 2003. ISBN 1568600887

Guidelines For Self Publishing

Self Publishing Question

Question:
I'm beginning work on a how-to type book and am considering going the self-publishing route. Anyone have general information on costs involved. Also, what should I be aware of before embarking on this process? [Asked by Penpal]

Answer:
You can get a general idea of the cost of self-publishing books by picking up a copy of Reader's Digest. I've seen dozens Print On Demand companies promoting their services in the magazine. There are also articles that discuss the highs and lows of self-publishing.
But I have a question for you...
Have you ever thought about publishing your book electronically?
The reason I ask is that online publishing is cheap, easy, and in some cases, free. You have total control over your work and you can sell an unlimited number of your electronic works. Your ebooks are delivered instantly to your customers, which cuts out shipping costs. And you know what else? You have no contracts to sign and you get to keep almost 100% of your ebook profits. Smiley Just something to think about...
Hope I was able to help.
[
Answered by Chantal Lima]

Also
Booklocker.com and pagefree.com are two ebook publishers you must check these for ebook publishing.

Also check out LuLu.com (http://www.lulu.com), a company that self-publishes ebooks for free and handles the transactions. I think it makes sense first to self-publish in ebook format to see what type of results it generates in the marketplace before self-publishing in paperback. Plus it's easier to send ebook review copies to people to garner testimonials for the paperback version.
[added by K.Brain]

Suggested Books
There are two comprehensive guides to Self-Publishing,

Complete Guide to Self Publishing by Tom and Marilyn Ross
&
The Self-Publishing Manual by Dan Poynter


for anyone considering publishing a children's book, Aboon Books has an ebook,
Could You, Should You Self-Publish a Picture Book? by Anne Emerick
although the title references picture books, it would be helpful for any format children's book.

Self Publishing - Writing for A Magazine

Writing for A Magazine

Question :
I wanted to start sending in my informational works to some magazines. Do you have any advise on which ones I should pursue? [by Christluv]

Answer:
The first thing you need to do is track down the writer's guidelines for the magazines you want to write for. They will describe what they want on what subjects at what length, submission info. etc.
Few magazines accept completed pieces. Most want a query letter first, which is itself an art. But there are lots of books out there about how to write them, and you can probably find info. on the web, too.
Most magazines post their guidelines on their websites, or you can find them through sites such as Writer's Digest.
I guess you're thinking of consumer magazines, but it you're interested in writing for the smaller, alternative magazines there's a great list of them, with links at NewPages http://www.newpages.com/
Perhaps this helps.[by Lois Peterson]
Reviewed by M.K. Raza

Article Writing Contest - Wincyclopedia

Wincyclopedia

Wincyclopedia offers cash prizes for the writers who contribute.
Wincyclopedia will be awarding four $25 prizes on April 1, 2006, and will be awarding monthly prizes thereafter.
prize Details

1. The writer who writes the most read article in the month of March 2006 will win $25.
2. The writer who writes the best article (as judged by the Wincyclopedia editorial team) will win $25.
3. The writer/editor who makes the most contributions will win $25.
4. One random editor/writer will win $25.

To learn about how to write articles you may want to visit:
http://www.wincyclopedia.com/wini/index.php?title=Writing_an_Article

Wincyclopedia.com accepts articles on any topic. For examples of some of the hundreds of articles that have already been submitted, visit the Wincyclopedia.com Web site:
http://www.wincyclopedia.com/wini/index.php?title=Special:Allpages

There is no cost to participate in the Wincyclopedia.com writer's contest, and no limit to the number of articles you can contribute.

Essay Writing Contest - Write on One Topic

YourOwnWords

YourOwnWords accepting entries for a website showcasing many voices on a single topic. Write from your experience, write from your heart. The best story will win a $25 gift certificate to Amazon.com.
You can email your entries to yourownwords@comcast.net

Rules
Word files are acceptable.
Please keep it to 500 words or less.

www.yourownwords.blogspot.com

Poetry Contest - The Sword Review

The Sword Review continue their week-long anniversary celebration by announcing The Sword Review 2006 Poetry Contest--
Entry is free!
Find out all the details!
http://www.theswordreview.com/item.php?sub_id=584

Writing Contests - Picnic Story

Share Your Picnic Story & Win Prizes

See the Prizes and Find Out More At:
http://www.picnic-basket.com/index.asp?PageAction=Custom&ID=18

What's your picnic story? Is it a fond memory of reconnecting to nature and delighting in the company of friends and family? Could it be the recounting of a family story lovingly passed down through the generations? Or is your story a vision of a "picnic to be" with fresh air and warm sunshine offering a serene backdrop for al fresco dining?
Whether real or imagined, your story is just waiting to be told. Why not share it with others through Picnic-Basket.com. In addition to deriving the pleasure that comes from sharing your story, you also get a chance to reap other more tangible rewards.

*They'll giving away some really great prizes to the winners.
*All writers will be given a section at the end of their story for a bio and link to their own website *Currently picnic-basket.com has a Google PR ranking of 5 so the author will immediately gain a nice link to their website which should only improve over time.


See the Prizes and find out more here:
http://www.picnic-basket.com/index.asp?PageAction=Custom&ID=18
Picnic-Basket.com

Electronic Publishing

Self-Publishing

Book Publishing

Poetry

Fiction Books

Fiction Books

Nonfiction Books

Books Club

Book Signings / Author Appearances

Workshops and Seminars

Writing Contests

Marketing / Getting Work

Freelancing

Business of Writing

Screenwriting

Technical Writing

Copywriting

Writing for Kids

Novel Writing

Journalism/News Writing

Travel Writing

Fiction Writing

Nonfiction Writing

Magazine Writing

Character Name in Script Writing

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Character Name-Definition

Couldn't be more obvious, the Character Name element is where you indicate who's talking.

Description


Not much to say, except that you want to be consistent. Don't call a character MR. JONES in one part of the script and DAVE somewhere else (with Scriptware, it's easy to check to see if you've done this; you just look at the Character List and see who's on it... then you can change the wrong ones with just a keystroke or two).
If you have two characters speaking simultaneously and saying the same thing, you can make a character name out of both of their names. For example:
BOB AND RHONDA
Wait! Stop!

If you had two characters saying different things at the same time, use Dual-Column Dialogue.

Try to avoid using Names that look similar to avoid confusing the reader. Some suggest that you don't have two characters who have names that start with the same letter for this same reason.

To introduce a Character in a mysterious way, by hearing her/his voice, without revealing who it is, call the character something like MAN'S VOICE or WOMAN'S VOICE. Since we're hearing but not seeing them, it would typically be: MAN'S VOICE (V.O) or WOMAN'S VOICE (O.S.). (You wouldn't underline the extension, that's happening because those are links). Then, in the Action, you can reveal to the reader that:
...we see that the voice belongs to:
MARTHA
Hello, dear.

Formatting

A Character Name is uppercase, 3.5" from the left edge of the page. There is one blank line before a Character Name.

What is Dialogue and its Description

Dialogue Definition

Dialogue is simply every word we hear on the screen. Everything that comes out of everyone's mouth (whether we see them on the screen or not).

Description

Simply, write what you want your characters to say.

BOB
But I don't know what to say.
It's not like I, well, it's not
like this is something I enjoy.

There's not a whole lot of advice to give here beyond the ever-present, "show it, don't tell it." Apocalypse Now could have been a guy's head, on the screen, as he narrated the story, but who would pay to see that?! Same thing in your dialogue: see if there's a way to write so that we get to see something rather than hear someone talk about it (unless you have a good, dramatic reason, to not show us... ooooohhhh, mysterious).

In a similar vein, be careful of monologues. Readers get a bit concerned when they see a page that's 99% Dialogue. After all, for movies and TV shows at least, we want to see something beyond a talking head. If you have a monologue, ask yourself, "Are there ways to break this up with some action (either the speaking character's, the listening character's, or something in the environment)?" Breaking up a monologue makes a page read faster and, remember, we want them to keep turning the pages!

Formatting

Dialogue margins are 2.5" from the left and 2.5" from the right.

Ten Writing Tips To Help You To Write More

Friday, March 17, 2006

Top Ten Writing Tips To Help You To Write More

Here in no particular order, are the ten best writing tips I've discovered in 25 years of writing. They may work for you, too. Try them.

Tip One:Pay attention to images
Your right brain thinks in images, and when you write, you translate images from your right brain into words. Usually this process happens so quickly that you're unaware of it. If you can make this process conscious, you can goose up your own creativity. Stephen King calls this process "writing with the third eye --- the eye of imagination and memory." To get the hang of this, try Jean Houston's process, adapted from her book, *The Possible Human*.

Tip Two: Making mud/ laying track
Your first draft of any piece of work is "mud" --- raw material. Julia Cameron refers to your first draft as "laying track", another term I like. If the first draft's awful, great! It's meant to be. It's only raw material. However, if you don't create the first draft, or you wait until you have a really great idea that's worth a first draft, you won't write anything. Write. Make mud.

Tip Three: Just write --- think on the page, or on the screen, NOT in your head
Thinking too much while you write is treacherous, because you can spend two hours "writing" and end up with half a page of work. Write-think. That is, think on the page, not in your head.

Tip Four: Grow your writing with lists
Listing is a form of brainstorming. It grows your writing, and it's fun. Listing is an excellent technique to use when you get stuck in your writing, and it doesn't matter what kind of writing you're doing, whether it's fiction or nonfiction. Listing also helps you in the revision process, to add texture to your work. Here's an excellent FREE software program to help you to produce lists, and to save them.

Tip Five: Use your magical thesaurus
Your most useful listing tool is ---- a thesaurus. Keep one on your desk to kickstart your brain. Your thesaurus and dictionary are perfect kickstarters. They're also vital tools whenever you're revising.

Tip Six: Make writing the FIRST thing you do each day
If you write at least page, by hand, as soon as you get up, you'll find that writing comes more easily to you for the rest of the day. You're also more focused and relaxed for the rest of the day.

Tip Seven: Set WIG goals --- the best goals are always unrealistic
Writer Martha Beck calls unrealistic goals WIGs: Wildly Improbable Goals. In the September 2002 issue of Oprah magazine she says: "... learning to invite and accept your own WIG can awaken you to a kind of ubiquitous, benevolent magic, a river of enchantment that perpetually flows to your destiny." A WIG is exciting. Just thinking about a WIG will get your heart pounding. Working toward your WIG (writing a book, writing a screenplay, getting signed on as a contributor at a mass-market magazine) takes hard work. Lots of hard work. And at the end of that hard work, as Beck points out, you achieve your goal, but there's a twist. You never achieve it exactly as you envisioned it - you achieve something even better, something you could never have imagined. I'm a great believer in writing ABOUT your goals. This is because when you write, you're using both sides of your brain, and are accessing your unconscious mind as well. You live in your left brain, which you regard as "you", but you have a silent partner, your right brain, which is also you, and which communicates via images and feelings.

Tip Eight: Separate writing and editing
Writing comes first, then editing. If you try to combine the two, you will block. Writing should come as easily to you as chatting to a friend. If it doesn't, you're trying to edit in your head before you get the words on paper, or on the computer screen. If you're not aware of the danger of combining writing and editing, you'll make writing hard for yourself, when it should be easy. If you don't have trouble talking, how can you have trouble writing?

Tip Nine: It's good to struggle with your writing
In his book The Breakout Principle, Dr Herbert Benson (who also wrote The Relaxation Response) describes a struggle/ release process that leads to a new level of awareness. When you struggle, and then completely give up the struggle --- just give up --- there's a chance that you can achieve a peak experience which leads you to a new level of functioning. How does this work in your writing? Let's say that you're writing a novel. This work is hard for you. However, you keep at it faithfully, working on your novel each day. You struggle with it for weeks. Then you give up. Although you keep writing, you say to yourself: "I don't care any more what garbage I write. I'm just going to do it. I'm just going to write." This release leads to writing magic. Suddenly you're inspired, and you finish the book in a rush. Although you will still occasionally struggle with your writing (because struggle is a part of life), you've broken through to a new level of functioning in your work. This new level would not, and could not, have happened without the struggle.

Tip Ten: Good writing = truthful writing

Writing truthfully can feel like undressing in public, so many beginning writers worry about sharing their writing. Be compassionate. Firstly, to yourself. Write. Write for yourself. All writing takes courage. When you finally show your writing to others, you discover the amazing truth that _no one cares_. In her book "Writing To Save Your Life", Michele Weldon advises: "Get over yourself". No one is judging what you write.
So write.

Craft: The Most Serious Screenwriting Mistakes

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Now that my university class is over, with a new one to begin in January, I have a break during which to wonder, as I always do, what I can do to help students avoid the most common and serious screenwriting mistakes. Term after term, year after year, I keep seeing the same errors, especially early on before students begin to understand how different screenwriting is from all other narrative forms. Here then is my list of the most common errors, in no particular order.


Fiction Rhetoric. Many of my students come from a fiction background -- and it immediately shows. They overwrite at every level. They describe too much. Their sentence structure is too complex. Their paragraphs are too long, giving the script great text density and the look of a literary document. Here are some guidelines to avoid fiction rhetoric:

• Write in simple sentences only. Remember what a complex sentence is? Right, a sentence with a subordinate clause. Avoid them like the plague! They slow down a quick reading and all screenplays are read quickly, even skimmed, before they are read carefully. Direct, simple sentences. Don't be afraid to use sentence fragments. Pretend you're in Junior High.

• Write in short paragraphs. Each paragraph should take no more than four or five lines across the page before you double space and start a new one. This opens up the script, making it vertical, making it easier to read. If there is a new subject, a new focus, start a new paragraph. Though you can't "direct the film" in a spec script, you can in a way by your paragraph spacing. Make each paragraph a new shot.

• Too much description. You are not the costume designer. Every time you describe a piece of clothing or something in a room, anything, ask yourself: is this essential or is it an option? Is Mary's red coat necessary? If the coat is blue, does her character change or the story fall apart? Get rid of the options, letting your collaborators make the decisions, and retain the essentials.


Expository dialogue. In general, dialogue is a clumsy way to communicate facts and figures. It takes skill to pull it off. Until you reach this level of craft, avoid doing it. Find other ways to relate essential information, preferably visually.

Chit chat. The problem with most dialogue in beginners' screenplays, however, is that too much of it goes nowhere. It is realistic, yes, but life moves much more slowly than a well crafted story does. Again, the final test is elimination: if you remove this line of dialogue, what happens? Do the screenplay and story collapse into incomprehensible gibberish? Is an essential character trait lost? If nothing happens, then why is it there? Like descriptive writing, keep your dialogue lean and mean. Exchanges of dialogue that are short and quick play much better, in general, than wordy exchanges.

Poor focus. Who is your main character, what is his or her goal, and what is stopping success of reaching it? These are the immediate questions we need answered to understand your story. You need to address them sooner rather than later. Poor focus on the main character is a common error I see. Keep your protagonist on screen as much as possible -- even two or three pages off the screen may be enough to knock the story focus askew. Keep on the main character like glue.

In my classes, I try to get students to solve the rhetorical challenges of screenwriting (fiction writing, slow dialogue) as soon as possible so they can concentrate on the story issues like focus. Screenwriting, in fact, is more about storytelling than writing as we usually think about it. Yet the rhetorical issues occupy some students for most of the term, as if they have a hard time accepting that screenwriting is not literary writing. Some have observed a trend in screenwriting to greater literary quality (The Hours script comes to mind), but it must be remembered that these examples are written by established writers. The plight of the spec script writer is different and much more competitive. To be read in such an environment requires special attention to economy so that your story is easily found and understood.

Screenwriting is the only form of writing about which it can be said: don't let your writing get in the way of your story. Keep it simple. Keep it clear. Keep in focused.


Charles Deemer teaches graduate and undergraduate screenwriting at Portland State University. He is the author of the electronic screenwriting tutorial, "Screenwright: the craft of screenwriting". His book Seven Plays was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. His new book, Practical Screenwriting, is due in 2005.