Monday, July 28, 2014

Voice & Dialogue, plus Critique Giveaway Winners!

Fun business first. 

We have two winners in our 3-page critique giveaway! 


Congratulations, Honorary Warriors Tori K. and Christy K.! Thank you so much for entering and helping us celebrate our 20,000 views. We will be in touch soon!

Now, onto a little Revision Warrior-ing:

My take on authentic voice in dialogue…

Right now I'm working on strengthening voices in my dialogue. My current WIP, which is a middle grade fantasy stars a pair of best friends and a younger sibling. They share many, many scenes together. Keeping their voices distinct is paramount. The younger sibling is a touch easier, but the best buddies—I need to check on them from time to time. 

These are the techniques I’m using for dialogue as I go from scene to scene:

  1)   First pass—just get the dialogue out.  All I’m doing on the 1st draft of a scene is getting out their dialogue, making sure each character is hitting the points they need to say. 
  2)    Second pass—customize. After the conversation has been blurted out,  I go back through and customize. My MC’s name is Tobin. This pass I scrutinize the lines and think, “Is this how Tobin would say it?” Then I go back through for the supporting characters. 
  3)  Third Pass—READ ALOUD. Here’s where I get a good dose of, “Is this authentic sounding?” People don’t speak like instruction manuals. Real conversations are usually to the point, full of incomplete sentences, and often, grammatically incorrect. That’s okay! Run with it. You know the tone of each of your characters Trust it.  

  Do you have any go-to tips for dialogue?  Please share!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Become An Honorary Revision Warrior

We have something to CELEBRATE! Revision Warriors has reached 20,000 page views. Wahoooo! 

I know, right?! TWENTY THOUSAND is a big number.

But wait, there's more! Our very own, super fabulous RW'er, Michelle Smith, just released the cover of her book Play On due out in April 2015. Show Michelle some love and add it to your TBR list: Goodreads

To show our how much we appreciate everyone’s support, we want to invite two people to become honorary revision warriors for a day. Whoop, whoop! *fires confetti cannon*

At the bottom of this post, there’s a Rafflecopter widget thingy (totally the official name, btw. ;) ). You can sign up anytime between now and Sunday, July 27th at Noon ET, and we’ll pick two winners that’ll receive a 3 page critique from a mix of revision warriors. Click here to check out our bio’s.

Fun, right?

Now for the official stuff:

Critique will be of the first three double spaced pages of your manuscript. We’ll ask the winners to submit their pages within 72 hours after notification.

Completed manuscripts and WIP’s alike are welcome.

Your pages with our comments will appear on the blog. Critique is learning process for everyone, not just the author receiving feedback, and not everyone has amazing critique partners. We want to show what that process looks like. If you’re not okay with your pages appearing publicly, please do not enter.

Blog readers will be encouraged to leave respectful, constructive comments. If that makes you uncomfortable, please do not enter. 

Winners will be announced on the blog July 28th. We’ll also email winners with additional details, like how to get your pages to us. *Make sure you leave your email address with your entry * If we do not have your email address, or don’t hear back from you within 72 hours, another winner will be chosen. *

Critique #1 will go live on the blog Monday August 11th and Critique #2 will be Monday August 18th.

  • Because this is all about YOU, we want to make entering easy. Just leave a comment telling us you want to enter and fill out the Rafflecopter with your name and email. Tweeting and/or spreading the news about the giveaway is not required (but it is appreciated. hint, hint.) 

Again, we’ll contact the winners directly to discuss the who, when, and where, so please, please, please, make sure to leave your email.

Okay, on to today’s post. Because this blog about all things writing and revising, and we’re doing this fancy critique giveaway, I’m going to talk a little bit about critique groups. It’s kind of a big topic, so this is more like the tip of the iceberg, but if you're thinking about joining an established group or maybe starting your own, here are some things to think about.

Why are you seeking a critique group?

The obvious answer, of course, is to make your writing better. But can you dig deeper here? Better, how? Plot holes, character development, world building, dialog, pacing, grammar? Are any of these areas your specialty? Understanding your strengths, weakness, and what you hope to get out of a group, is a big step toward finding your people. And yes, my CP’s are definitely my people.  #CPLOVE, FTW

Once you know what your needs are and what you can offer others, here are some more things to consider:

 How much time can you dedicate to a group?

Joining or starting a critique group is a commitment, both of your time and the time of others. Respect that. Yes, sometimes life happens, but for a group to stick together long term, everyone involved is responsible for doing his or her part.

How often does the group meet? Weekly, biweekly, etc.
Will you meet in person or online to discuss critiques? If online, what service will you use? GChat, Google Hangout, Skype?
Will there be written critiques? If so, how will those be handled?
When is the submission deadline?
When are critiques due?
For written critiques, will you setup a Google or Yahoo group? Email only?
Are there word count limits.

What can be submitted for critique?

Will any genre be off limits?
Any content restrictions?
Are all categories accepted? A, NA, YA, MG, PB
Are short stories, poetry, queries, and/or synopses acceptable for submission to the group?

How will online critiques be run?

Is there a group leader?
How will you ensure that time is used efficiently?
Will you focus on big picture issues and leave nit picks and grammar for the author to read on their own?
Is there a time limit for each critique?

Some final thoughts for critique-givers and receivers:

In the end, only you know what is best for your story!  Use the comments that resonate with you and don’t worry about the rest.
Critters, understand that a suggestion you gave may not be used, and that’s perfectly okay. Our job is to offer our help, not make another author’s story into something we would write ourselves.
NEVER share another author’s work with anyone outside of the group. This one should go without saying, but I’ve heard horror stories so I’m throwing it in here.
Be vocal.
o Be polite, but don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. You are responsible for making your writing better and getting the most out of your group. If you have specific areas you want feedback on, let the group members know.
o The opposite is also true—if you do not want certain types of critiques, make that clear with your submission. Ex: This is a first draft. Please don’t focus on grammar.
And most importantly, respect your group members. I cannot stress this enough. Be kind, supportive, and constructive. Always.

Okay – that was way more than I meant to write, and it’s only the starting point! If you have any questions about joining or starting your own group, please ask in the comments. We’d love to help! Or if you have experiences about critiquing you’d like to share, we want to hear ‘em!

And without further ado, Rafflecopter widet thingy is below. Please don’t be shy about entering! We won’t bite, I promise.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 14, 2014

Give Your Brain a Break

A while back, I came across a blog or tweet that mentioned The Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cirillo. For those of you who aren't familiar with the Pomodoro Technique, it's simply one way to produce more while avoiding the "my brain is fried" syndrome.

The Simple Steps:

1. Choose a project from your to-do list.
2. Set a timer for 25 minutes.
3. Work on that specific project until the timer beeps.
4. Take a 5 minute break and work on something unrelated. (Check email, listen to a song, unload the dryer, stalk someone on Twitter...)
5. After four 25 minute increments, take longer breaks between projects.

It's a great way to redirect your thoughts, much like sniffing coffee beans between smelling perfumes. I unofficially started practicing The Pomodoro Technique, and I've noticed that my brain isn't as tired after 30 minutes of work. When I go back to my project after a short siesta, I have a fresh perspective.

Try the Pomodoro Technique if you're experiencing brain freeze, writer's block, or seem unproductive. I've also used this with my kids when we do homework. It works great for them!

Have you noticed a change in your writing since the summer has started? What do you do to help increase your productivity? Any tips to share?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Writing Services

Abe Lincoln said, "Don't Believe Everything You Read on the Internet."
I inadvertently stumbled on a site offering seminars, critique services, retreats... You name it, this with the Utopia for writers and the website looked great! When I saw the organizer's / presenter's name I was very surprised. I knew this individual. And I knew this individual had been writing for less than a year and a half. In fairness, I haven't spoken with them for a while so perhaps since I worked with them, they've absorbed the knowledge to charge other writers for their services. But still, I wondered how many people would be handing over their money if they knew how little experience this individual had.

There are hundreds of writing classes and editorial services for writers. These can be great opportunities to refine your craft or to get your work in the best possible shape before you start querying agents. I've had the pleasure of working with a few and LOVE LOVE them. These mentors not only provided detailed feedback on my manuscript, but through their critique, they taught me to be a better writer. But before you spend money on an editorial service, seminar or manuscript critique, you might want to keep a few things in mind.

Don't let a professional looking website sway your decision. Seriously, the days of crappy sites being tell-tale signs of an unprofessional are long gone. Many domain services have user friendly programs and affordable website design services. Remember, you don't have to be a full-scale, non-profit organization to take a (dot)org domain.

Is this individual's work something you enjoy and have any of their clients experienced success? Testimonials are great -- but the proof really is sometimes in the pudding. Don't be afraid to ask questions.  

There are also awesome groups out there that have Writer Beware sites that track and expose questionable activities and / or scams in the writer industry. Here are a few:

Of course, before you pay for a service, get your work in the best possible shape you can. That way you can really get some bang for your buck. Here are some great ways you can do this.

1. Join a critique group. Other fellow writers like yourself are a great source for cleaning up your manuscript. If there's not a group in your area, start one. Ask local librarians and book store owners if you can put up a flyer. If there aren't enough writers in your area, establish an online writing group. You can find other writers at great sites like Absolute Write and Twitter.

2. Join a professional organization that fosters a community of persons within the industry. There may be an annual fee but that typically includes a magazine subscription and / or online resources, member discounts on conferences etc. I've been a member of SCBWI since 2010. One of the best decisions I made when I began writing.

3. Can't afford to go to a conference but want to participate in one? Look for online conferences. Children's writers should check out WriteOnCon. It's awesome and it's free; however, please try to donate what you can. 

4. Make connections on social networking sites like Twitter. There are great opportunities out there. Writer blogs that are dedicated to helping writers make connections and improve their work. Again, beware of anyone asking for money -- these are typically free. There are too many for me to mention here, but a few of my favorites include Brenda Drake and Cupid's Literary Connection 

Through organizations and communities such as these, I've met mentors and even some of my amazing critique partners. And as I wrap up this post, I have to give kudos to my very first mentor. Joyce Sweeney is AMAZING. Seriously, not only is she an extremely talented teacher, but she is one of the kindest people I've had the pleasure to meet. I strongly recommend her services -- you will not be disappointed.

photo credit: ucumari via photopin cc