That’s right, fonts! If you’re serious about writing, odds are you know better than to distract yourself by messing around with fonts — though you may do it anyway from time to time (guilty!). However, there is one occasion when messing with your font is a good idea: proofreading. According to author Keith Donohue (who, by the way, wrote his entire first novel on the subway on the way to and from work), changing your font before reading over your manuscript can help you catch things that you wouldn’t otherwise see. It makes errors that didn’t look out of place before jump out. This is especially useful when your manuscript has gotten long enough that printing it out is a major drain.
Posts Tagged With: resources
Writing Excuses is an SFF writing podcast, and a pretty amazing one at that. My personal favorite episode is the first one with Mary Robinette Kowal (who is now a regular member of the cast), in which she applies the principles of puppetry to writing. The other regular cast members are Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn series), Howard Taylor (Schlock Mercenary), and Dan Wells (Partials). Several of their podcasts are applicable to non-genre fiction.
Disclaimer: I know this service is available to all Maryland residents, but I’m not sure how people from out of state are handled.
Maryland’s public libraries have a great service called Ask Us Now where you can chat with a librarian about research questions. It’s a good idea to have done some preliminary reading first — librarians are underpaid and often unappreciated, so wasting their time when a google search would suffice is rather unkind — but for harder or more specialized research questions, this service is a real boon.
The quality of service may vary somewhat, but in general you’ll get good advice on useful sources online, or, if you happen to live in Maryland, in print.
Critique.org is the hub for several online critique groups modeled on the long running “Critters” online SF and fantasy workshop. Despite my own inability to stick with it for more than a month or so, I wholeheartedly recommend it, especially to people with longer attention spans than me (ie, everyone short of goldfish). You have to maintain a certain ratio of critiques given to weeks of membership, but it’s really not that onerous for people who don’t forget about their responsibilities every time a new idea wanders by. As far as I know, the SFF workshop is still the most active, but there are now workshops for everything from romance to literary fiction. At least in the SFF workshop, you come across some real gems to read, too. Nebula and Hugo award winner Ken Liu has put several stories through the workshop.
I’m trying to decide if Pinterest is a boon or a distraction for me as a writer. On the one hand, I love being able to make inspiration boards online. On the other hand, I have a tendency to get far too distracted by pretty pictures that fit into my cultural categories (I’m writing secondary world fantasy) and character ideas. On a third hand (because in SF and fantasy we can have as many hands as the story allows), I’ve actually found it useful for brainstorming. I have a better idea of where one of my characters is going because of the pictures on my Misc. board, which contains inspiring content I think I can find a place for at some point. In the end, the I don’t think Pinterest is either a good or bad thing for me in and of itself. As is often the case, what matters is knowing when I’m avoiding writing for one reason or another, and when I’m allowing myself some mental space.
The Poetry Archive is a collection of English language poetry read by the poets. I’ve found that listening to a poem or two before I write improves the quality of my prose dramatically. Poems are also organized by theme.
So, I wrote down everything I know about what I’m trying to write, and it comes to about seven pages of increasingly vague, surprisingly helpful, outline. I’ve tried to outline the whole shebang before, but I’ve always gotten distracted by formatting, phrasing, etc. This time I just let myself write, not even stopping to fix it when I noticed I’d shifted tenses. It took me a couple days, which worries me. Hopefully I’ll build endurance. That’s one of the purposes of this blog; to help me write something everyday, even when I can’t wrap my head around fiction. Habit building, ya’ see?
(If anyone is reading this, please let me know if I used that semicolon back there correctly)
Writing Resource of the Day
Rock Your Plot by Cathey Yardley, $2.99 for Kindle: I’ve bought a couple of ebooks on outlining recently, and having finished this pamphlet-sized one, I can say it’s worth the money. It’s more distillation rather than innovation, but I found it a lot clearer than many of the writing books I’ve read, and definitely more succinct.