Writers of a different league

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I was recently reading an older issue of Writer’s Digest and I happened upon the article “Short Stories Big Rewards”. It was a pretty informative piece, so if you can find a copy of Writer’s Digest: Writer’s Yearbook 2017, I highly recommend it. But the part that I latched onto and couldn’t seem to let go, wasn’t really about the short writing format, or even how to use short stories to boost your writing career, it was the couple paragraphs mentioning Hugh Howey.

Of course, I’ve heard of him before and his famous “Wool” book, but what I hadn’t heard was the story behind the publishing of his book. According to the article Howey said, “That’s it . . . I made the work available and did zero promotion for it.”

Seriously?!

book shelf 2He just plopped his book onto Amazon Kindle and he’s insta-famous?! How on Earth is that fair? I slave over my books. I spend hours just plotting new ways to get the word out about my writing, and I get nowhere. Howey put his work out there and walks away and the reading world pounces on it like a half starved cougar.

And then a sneaking suspicion crept into my thoughts and I realized I’d had this same experience before. Back when I was studying for my Fine Arts degree, I remember meeting people like Howey.

In my studio art classes I did pretty well. Well enough to get good grades. I demonstrated the techniques taught and I used them as they were supposed to be used. My paintings and drawing were very correct. They were good, but not great. But every class had at least one student who’s work was truly great. It didn’t matter what they were painting, every brush stroke was mesmerizing. No matter how hard I studied or practiced, I could never match these students . Even with all my skills, there was always something my paintings lacked. The difference between them and me was a difference between skill and talent. Skill can make you correct, but it can never make you great. img_0235

I have a funny feeling that Howey has some serious talent, and unfortunately there isn’t any writing manual for that.

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Writing advise that will make you laugh!

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I recently found this great channel on Youtube about how to improve your writing. The host of the videos is a self published writer named Jenna Moreci, and her videos are really funny. I love watching them! Not only are they really enjoyable to watch, they actually have some very handy tips in them.

For the past two months I’ve been trying to solve a problem with the development of a couple of my characters in the book I’m currently working on. No matter what I did, I couldn’t figure it out. Then I watched some of Jenna’s videos and they helped me to look at my writing problem from a different angle. After so long, finally the problem with my story is fixed! Now I just have a few more scenes and my book is done.

I highly recommend these videos!

Here are some of my favorites:

Ten worst female character pet peeves

Your love story sucks

Five haters you meet when you become a writer

 

Short and rarely seen

IMG_0128It has been so long since I’ve written a short story to add to my freebie page, I’m sure many thought I had completely forgotten about it. Honestly, it wouldn’t have even crossed my mind it if wasn’t for a picture book that I was responsible for processing.

The children’s book had such an odd title (Into the pumpkin) and I thought, Hmm, wouldn’t that make a great title for a Halloween short story. And then I remembered that I hadn’t written any short stories in a really long time. Oops!

Even for a novelist, writing novels isn’t enough. Writing short stories keeps you limber as a writer. The small format forces you to stay flexible in your story creation. It also forces you to cut out all the extra frills in your writing and only leave what is absolutely necessary to move the story forward. It’s really hard to have much character development in such a small format, so every word and every action your characters make have to convey their personalities. Short stories really keep a writer on their toes.

So I’m hoping that I will have enough time this month to write up a new Halloween short story.  It will probably have the  title “Into the pumpkin”. And hopefully it won’t be a complete disaster. After all, I’m really out of practice.

If you want to read last year’s Halloween story click here.