Tag Archives: learning

Writing Doesn’t Have to Be Lonely

Megan Norris Jones

Megan Norris Jones

Last August, I attended a new book festival hosted in my hometown. The daylong schedule was slam-packed with fantastic author panels on all kinds of topics, including an outstanding one on children’s literature. An opportunity to hear from so many authors gathered fifteen minutes from my house—for free!—was a dream come true, so as soon as I got home that night, I marked the date for this year’s festival on my calendar.

So, Saturday morning, I headed downtown to talk to book people about books. The authors were insightful and engaging, and I went to sessions for picture books, middle grade and young adult, in addition to several panels on adult literature. But one of the best parts of going to a local festival was discovering people I thought I knew in the sessions with me. Not only did I find people who loved books, but I discovered other people who created books, both writers and illustrators. Continue reading

Learning the Lingo

Laura Ayo

Laura Ayo

If you’re a swimmer, you know you swim fly, back, breast and free in that order in the IM. If you know nothing about swimming, you are likely feeling like a foreigner in a country where everyone but you speaks the same language. It’s an uncomfortable, frustrating position to be in. Yet, every hobby and sport has its own lingo, just as every profession, including writing, does. I was reminded of this fact last week while talking with some writer friends. I used the acronym WIP during our conversation and one of the women interrupted me to ask what it meant. “Work in progress,” another answered. Since then, I’ve been thinking about how much there is to learn when it comes to writing terminology. Continue reading

Learn to Write By Reading: Scene Structure

WriteOwls

WriteOwls

Successful writers say it all the time: To be a good writer, you need to be a good reader. So we challenge you to read more and to read outside of your comfort zone.

This month, find the underlying scene structure in the current book you’re reading. Good writers keep readers turning the pages by crafting one scene that builds on the next in an inevitable, but surprising way. As you read this month, make note of patterns you see from scene to scene so you can identify what keeps you interested in the story and what makes you want to skip ahead. Below are some books we recommend, but feel free to chime in and offer other options to our readers. Then stay tuned for some practical prompts based on our Reading Challenge that you can apply to your own writing.

Alicia: Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Laura: The disreputable history of Frankie Landau-banks by E. Lockhart

Megan: Arcadia by Lain Pears

Naomi: Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

Stacey: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

My Favorite Apps for Writers

Megan Norris Jones

Megan Norris Jones

In my never-ending quest to become a better writer, I periodically discover new resources that teach me the skills and industry info I need to improve. In past posts, I’ve shared my favorite books, magazines, newsletters, and podcasts. Today, I’m sharing my favorite apps for writers to help us all squeeze in a little more writing wherever we go. Continue reading

They’re more like guidelines, really . . .

Alicia Finney

Alicia Finney

I love that moment in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Elizabeth Swan standing there, even as she is being taken hostage, citing the pirates’ code like an attorney standing on the firm ground of the law, only to be greeted with that knowing gleam in Barbosa’s eyes. He knows what she doesn’t. He’s the ship’s captain, and, while he may give a respectful nod to the code, when the hull meets the surf, even the code is just shifting sand beneath the weight of his authority. The code, along with the crew, bows to him. 

There is a hazard in learning to be a writer. It is the danger of taking good advice. Because, quite often, that great tip or daily ritual guaranteed to make you a better writer turns out to be no guarantee at all. All writers are different, and the habits that improve us as writers are as diverse our stories. No two are quite alike. The more experience we have, the less likely this is to trip us up, but none of us are ever fully immune to that siren call of being better or more productive. Continue reading