Tag Archives: learning

Books for Improving Your Craft

Megan Norris Jones

Megan Norris Jones

I’ve been reading a number of books on writing lately, so I’d like to share a few recommendations with you.

1. The Scene Book by Sandra Scofield.
Most of the books on writing that I have devoured over the years have looked at putting together an entire novel, but this book drills down to the level of the individual scene and delves into what makes these building blocks of a novel work. It’s a thoughtful and insightful guide to this aspect of storytelling, and I learned a lot in the process of reading it that I’m looking forward to incorporating into my own writing.

2. Novel Metamorphosis by Darcy Pattison.
Pattison taught an intensive course on revision at the conference I attended in September, but I couldn’t get up there a day early to attend it, so my sweet husband bought me the book as a consolation prize. It’s as much a workbook as an instruction manual, so wait on this one till you have a finished draft in hand. I already have a running list of things that need to be improved in the next draft of my manuscript, but digging into Pattison’s perspective on revision gave me a solid approach to the process.

3. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King.
Written by two editors, this book gives great advice on improving your own writing that can take it from mediocre to exceptional. My favorite aspect was that most examples came from manuscripts the authors had actually edited, so I could see how to apply the advice in real life. A passage that sounded just fine to me would be taken to the next level with their editing techniques.

What books have you found most helpful in developing your craft?

Write to Your Strengths

Laura Ayo

Laura Ayo

I spent this past weekend doing a character interview with the antagonist in my work in progress. I’ve shied away from doing character interviews in the past because, frankly, they seemed silly. My characters lived in my imagination. I created them. I didn’t need to ask a series of questions of, in essence, myself pretending to be my character to figure out their weaknesses and goals. So why did I change my mind? I realized I was neglecting one of my greatest strengths as a writer. Continue reading

On demolition and darlings . . .

Alicia Finney

Alicia Finney

Every writer has heard the advice about killing your darlings.  How important it is to know when to let go, be it an idea or a beautiful passage of prose, a turn of phrase.  There is a maturity in sacrificing a small jewel in a project for the betterment of the story itself.  But let’s face it.  It hurts.  Like re-breaking a misaligned bone so that it can be re-set.  You are clearing something good to make way for something amazing.

I recently heard a somewhat extreme version of the killing your darlings concept.  It’s for those that are caught in a quagmire and cannot seem to move forward, or just those daredevils that want to see what other options might be out there.  The concept is this.  Take your best idea, or a couple of your best ideas, and throw it out.  Then dive back into the project and see what shakes loose. Continue reading

The Power of a Little Encouragement

Megan Norris Jones

Megan Norris Jones

I’ve posted several times about the role our regional SCBWI conference has played in my development as a writer. I can’t recommend it enough for improving your craft, networking with other writers, and expanding your knowledge of the industry. Laura posted about missing the conference last week, but being invigorated by the knowledge that two of our group won awards. Well, guess what? I won an award!

As soon as I sat back down with that beautiful piece of paper in my hands, my mind was racing through all the steps to my novel’s publication, ending with rave reviews and a long and successful career. I do realize that I have a lot of work to do between now and then, but that’s the power of a little bit of encouragement. A publishing professional said, “Hey, good job. I like that story,” and suddenly I have the renewed passion and energy to press on through the long, slow journey ahead. Continue reading

Bad Day? Here’s a Cure

Laura Ayo

Laura Ayo

I had a bad day on Saturday. Many things contributed, one of which was the knowledge that the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference for our region was taking place a driveable 180 miles away and I was at home having a bad day. My writing friends, including three fellow WriteOwls and two other members of my writing critique group, were all there. Together. Meeting new lovers of kid lit. Rubbing elbows with authors, illustrators, agents and editors. Talking about writing. Thinking about writing. Learning about our craft. Being inspired and motivated. And I was missing it!!! Continue reading