Monday, December 19, 2016

Peace and Joy

Welcome to the last post for IWSG for 2016. We'll be back on the first Wednesday of 2017 for our monthly blog hop. Remember in your post that the proposed question is a personal option if you're not sure what else to say in your blog. We all certainly want to hear about your victories and worries as we navigate this complicated business together. If you are interested in the question, here goes:
What writing rule do you wish you'd never heard?

Congratulations to the winners of Michael Burnett's audio book, The Independent Author's Guide to Audiobook Production: A Professional Narrator's Secrets for Success on ACX

Ellen Jacboson 
Geradine Bach 
Toi Thomas 
Karen Lange 
Lidy Wilks

As writers, we know other writers and probably a few are on your gift list.. There are no shortages of suggested gifts for your fellow writers. Here's one such list though it might be too late to order something and receive it in time. Still, ideas!

The past year has witnessed some wonderful things for IWSG with the publication of our first anthology, Parallels: Felix Was Here, and the gathering of more terrific stories for inclusion in the second, not yet named, anthology. The talent of this group is impressive.

It's the time when we look back on the year that was and start thinking about our plans, dreams and hope for 2017. This past year saw so much turmoil around the world and here at home, that many of us are still reeling with a gloomy outlook. As writers, we have the opportunity to bring cheer and laughter as well as a sense of hope into the lives of our readers. And we should gift ourselves with the same things.

I hope the holidays bring you the peace of being safe and warm. I wish you the joy of family and friends. I gift to you my belief in a better future for humanity. I share with you my love of our writing community and the goodwill we grace each other which every day.

Hopefully, you'll find time to write over the holidays and if not, indulge in some reading. And most of all, find peace and joy in the season. And believe. Believe 2017 will be great.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Christine Frazier and the Better Novel Project

Please welcome Christine Frazier, founder of the Better Novel Project!

How did the Better Novel Project begin and evolve over time?

I wanted to write a novel but I didn't know where to begin-- I felt comfortable with prose and description but didn't know how plot or structure worked. I decided to study successful books-- Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Twilight-- to see what structural elements they have in common. As I began my research, I thought I would start posting my findings online to both help other writers, give me some accountability, and start building a platform.

The biggest evolution over time has been the artwork. When I started, I purchased stock photos to accompany the articles. I learned a lot about blogging and copywriting from my older brother who writes He pointed out that I love to doodle, and suggested that drawing my own pictures for my posts would help me stand out. He was right! Now I spend just as long on creating an infographic or shareable image as I do the actual research (and it's a lot of fun!)

What common elements do you see in successful books?

There are probably 100 common elements in the master outline! In the beginning, I picked up on very broad similarities-- I think one of my first posts was about how Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games all involve a young adult protagonist and element of magic of science fiction. As I've become more familiar with those three books, I can pull out smaller similarities and zoom in on the structure of scenes themselves, like a fight scene.

You cover so many story aspects in your posts. What and where do you research to pull it all together in your articles?

For the first few months of my blog I consulted some great books like Hit Lit: Cracking the Code of the Twentieth Century's Biggest Bestsellers by James Baker Hall and The Key: How to Write Damn Good Fiction Using the Power of Myth by James N. Frey. They definitely set my off on the right foot. To get in the correct mindset for deconstruction, I also like Save the Cat by Blake Snyder and of course, The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. Now most of my research just comes from the main source novels themselves. I see something different every time I go back to them. I will also get inspired by films I love, like The Dark Knight or Star Wars.

You say you discovered the joy of research and outlines while in law school. How does it all figure into what you do now outside of Better Novel Project?

Yes, I loved law school! I was a practicing attorney for several years, and now I am taking a break to focus on my novel, Better Novel Project, and my other site

What’s the one thing that causes writers to struggle the most?

The most common e-mail I get from readers is asking whether something in their plot is "right." As much as I love studying patterns in writing, they are just patterns, not rules. I think structure is worthwhile to study so that you can meaningfully deviate from that structure as you see fit for your own story.

As for myself-- my biggest struggle is sitting down and doing the work. I can always find a legitimate-seeming distraction that bumps its way to the top of my to-do list, leaving "no time" to write. I can get overwhelmed easily by the prospect of a big scene I want to do and then end up doing nothing at all. My trick is to tell myself I only have to write for five minutes, and then I can get up if I want. It makes the getting started part a lot easier, even if I end up writing for longer!

Thanks again!

About Christine Frazier

Hi there! I’m Christine. I studied creative writing at The Johns Hopkins University, and then discovered the joy of research and outlines while in law school.
Yes, joy.
I love researching literary patterns and their creative applications. I’m also a compulsive doodler. (I do the illustrations for The Royal Hamster)
You can keep in touch with me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Forward Planning for 2017 #IWSG

It’s the first Wednesday of the month when all IWSGers post about their writing insecurities and/or offer encouragement to others. If the IWSG is new to you, please visit the IWSG Sign-up tab here. A big thank you to our December co-hosts: Jennifer Hawes, Jen Chandler, Nick Wilford, Juneta Key, JH Moncrieff, Diane Burton, and MJ Fifield!

We've made the IWSG Day more fun and interactive by asking a question each writer can answer, so here goes:

In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?

Now on to today's post:

Forward Planning for 2017

It feels like only a few months have gone by since it was January, however, the reality is eleven months have swept by since the start of 2016.

This time of year is great for assessment—looking at what worked, didn't work, and charting a path forward.  Some of the questions I ask myself every December are:

What have I achieved this year?

I look at what I've published and list the books I plan to write the following year. My son tells me I take on too many projects and I ought to cut back. Sensibly though, I'd say 3-4 books is a good target for the average writer and more for those who are writing machines.

What things didn't I complete?

Inevitably, I have some carryovers because I'm an overachiever. These get first pick as it pertains to new mountains to climb, and keep me focused on where I'm going in the New Year.

What can I do differently on my writing journey in the coming year?

Life and work become overwhelming at times and scheduling too much can cause burnout. To avoid this, I look back at what did not get done and scale back or decide how I can achieve greater efficiency.

Did I create SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Based) goals?

It's all well and good to throw a list of things together, but without a plan projects can and do go awry. It is the wise writer who plots the steps he/she will take and puts a time frame in place to achieve his/her goals.

What questions do you ask yourself at this time of year? Have you started planning your publication schedule for 2017? Any exciting plans or new direction on the horizon?

We have a special treat!
Audio book narrator Michael Burnette is graciously giving away five copies of his book - The Independent Author's Guide to Audiobook Production: A Professional Narrator's Secrets for Success on ACX.

This is perfect for authors who want to turn their books into audio.

See Rafflecopter for entries – open until December 13.

a Rafflecopter giveaway