Writer Tips & Tools

Slow Down, Recharge

Posted by on Dec 18, 2014 in Writer Tips & Tools, Writing Inspiration | 0 comments

Slow Down, Recharge

As winter takes hold, the familiar desire to cocoon envelopes me. I like nothing better than to curl up with some hot chocolate or tea (I don’t drink coffee, but love the smell) and either read or write. There’s something about that whole winter hibernation thing that’s appealing, but I wonder if I can truly take advantage of it. Can I allow things to slow down so I can rest, take stock, and move more slowly so I have time to explore, think, and enjoy? The arrival of the holidays pushes us in the opposite direction with its feelings of frenzy–decorating, buying,...

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Running with Feedback (not scissors)

Posted by on Dec 6, 2013 in Writer Tips & Tools, Writing Inspiration | 2 comments

Running with Feedback (not scissors)

One of the most fun and valuable parts of what we do in the Picture Book workshop at Lighthouse Writers Workshop is manuscript critiques. Yesterday afternoon I was absolutely delighted to see the transformation of two manuscripts we had had the honor and pleasure of reading and critiquing previously. It got me thinking about the importance of not just hearing/receiving feedback, but also having the ability to process it and apply it to your work. This is a skill that writers who wish to reach a professional level will develop over time–our willingness to accept feedback and our ability...

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Friday Focus: Packrat Writing

Posted by on Oct 25, 2013 in Writer Tips & Tools | 0 comments

Friday Focus: Packrat Writing

I’m a packrat. Not as bad as some of the folks on those reality TV shows I’ve heard about, but it’s hard for me to throw something away, “just in case” I need it or because “it’s perfectly good.” (I’m getting better about giving away things that are perfectly good that I no longer need, though, so hooray!). This carries into my writing, where I save snippets of dialogue, scenes, and entire versions “just in case.” And thank goodness! Time and again I’ve gone back to a previous version and pulled something out to use in...

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Friday Focus: Pitfalls of Revising as You Go

Posted by on Oct 18, 2013 in Novels, Writer Tips & Tools | 0 comments

You have the pantsers (writing by the seat of your pants) and outliners. I fall mostly into the first camp, but tried to do more outlining for this current novel. For me, one of the things that goes along with being a pantserĀ  is a desire to fix things as you go. Revise a sentence here, a paragraph there, and keep going. On first read this might sound like a good idea. Get the early stuff polished and ready to go so when it’s done, you can just send it out. Wouldn’t that be nice. The reality for me is that much of the story I revised along the way ends up getting revised again...

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3 Tips for Dealing with “Declines”

Posted by on Oct 16, 2013 in Writer Tips & Tools | 2 comments

My friend and colleague, the funny and talented Claudia Mills, uses the word “decline” instead of the dreaded “R” word – “rejection.” Both my former and current agents use the word “pass” as in “They passed on it.” Both “decline” and “pass” are softer, more palatable words and describe exactly what occurred–the published declined or passed on the manuscript. “Rejection” can imply “I don’t want it.” The fact is, someone there may have loved it, but for a multitude of...

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Writer’s Studio: Finding the Emotional Resonance

Posted by on Oct 4, 2013 in Picture Books, Writer Tips & Tools | 2 comments

Last weekend I had the pleasure and honor of presenting at our 2013 Fall Letters & Lines Conference. The session I gave was called “What’s Your Picture Book About? Developing Effective Story Summaries.” One of the most wonderful things about picture books is that there is such a variety of types; not every picture book is a traditional narrative story with a character, a conflict, and a resolution. However, for those that follow this model, I encouraged writers to go deeper and find and exploit the emotional resonance in their stories. Using Maurice Sendak’s Where...

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