Happy December!

How did it get to be December 2nd already?

Ah, look at that.  The Hamilton Mixtape is out today!

mixtape.jpg

In other news, another NaNoWriMo is here and gone.  Nope, I didn’t win this year.  Didn’t even come close.  But I’m A-OK with that.  I started a story that needed to be written, and I’m so excited to see where it’s taking me.  I’m back in The Writing Mode, which is the best place to be.  I’m editing and writing and excited to start querying again after the holidays.  (Most literary agencies close up shop in December and January because it’s such a crazy time of year.)

Also, here’s another fun writerly-resource that I stumbled across: it’s called Scapple.  It’s a plotting program made by the same people who made Scrivener.  Basically, it’s a plotting tool where you can outline events or characters and connect them and move them around and add notes about them.  And like Scriviner, it has a 30 day free trial.  (30 days of use, not 30 consecutive days.)  AND I LOVE IT.  I’m too much of an anti-plotter (pantser at heart, you guys) to stick to traditional outlines.  But I’m writing a series now and I really kinda need to know what’s happening when.  So Scapple has been wonderful and freeing. (I’m not getting paid to promote it or anything.  I just think it’s super cool.)  Here’s an example of what it can look like:

Sample Scrapple.png

Here’s the actual plotting I’ve done on it:

actual plotting.jpg

I really like it.  And I really like where this story is going.  It’s like I’m getting deeper and deeper into this world, discovering the heart of this series’ story.  The different story plots are weaving together and I’m madly in love.  Gotta go do some writing.  I have one week of classes left, and then I’ll have free days and late nights for hot cocoa and good books and writing.

Happy December everyone.  Turn on some Christmas music and write some words.  You never know the power your story has to change someone’s life.

The Ultimate Resource Page

Hello internet!  I’ve often included links to websites, blogs, videos, and helpful resources in my blog posts.  I thought it was time to have a Master Page with all that combined info on it.  As you all stumble across other helpful resources or posts, let me know and I’ll add them to this list for everyone to see.

Writing Community:

  • NaNoWriMo – Every November, hundreds of thousands of writers gather virtually to write a novel in a month.  There are also events in April and May each year, known as Camp NaNoWriMo.
  • Critique Circle – An online critique group, where you learn by giving and receiving feedback based on a weekly submission queue.  I grew a lot as a writer here.

Books on Writing/ Editing:

  • Self Editing for Fiction Writers – Taught me [almost] everything I know about good writing.  Funny and lighthearted and jam-packed full of good stuff.
  • Goal, Motivation, and Conflict  – I haven’t read it, but it sounds amazing.
  • On Writingby Steven King – Haven’t read this either, but I’ve heard many sources say good things about it.
  • The Emotion Thesaurus – a beautiful, easy-to-use resource for all emotion reactions.
  • Save the Cat!  – a book on screenwriting that I’ve heard applies brilliantly to novel writing.
  • The Art of Writing Fiction – this looks like a well-rounded, fascinating read that’s full of wisdom about all things writing.
  • A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver – a delightful, easy read giving some great advice and insight for the beginner poet.

Overall Helpful Websites:

Help for Editing:

Helpful Links for Specific Things:

Resources Specifically for Fantasy Writers:

Random Writing-Related Resources or Programs:

  • Coffitivity – This fun website creates a fabulous background chatter similar to being in a coffee shop.  Just enough noise to keep your brain going.
  • Scrivener – a program to download that helps you organize and edit your MS.
  • Write or Die – if you like to be motivated by punishment instead of reward, try this website.  It “punishes” you if you don’t write fast enough.  Flashing red screen, sirens going off… whatever it takes to get you to type as fast as you can.

Finding Agents or Getting Query Advice:

  • AARonline – a beautiful site with an agent index
  • AgentQuery – another agent index, though not quite as pretty
  • Agent Query Connect – a forum website where you can give and receive query critiques; super helpful and fast turn-around
  • KT Literary’s Query Reviews – this agent has people submit queries to her specifically for her to review and critique, and she posts those critiques on her blog.  Pretty awesome!
  • Query Shark – another online query critique system, although I feel like this one deals more with newbie mistakes than with helping people who have already done their homework.
  • Manuscript Wishlist – where agents and editors spell out exactly what they’re looking for in a novel.

Buying Books:

  • Thrift Books – where you can buy used books for ridiculously low prices

Have a favorite writing website?  A blog post that spoke to your heart?  Leave it in the comments, and I’ll add it to the list!  Also let me know what you think of any of these resources that you’ve used.

Happy writing, people!

The Emotion Thesaurus

The emotion Thesarus A few months ago, I bought this nifty little book on Amazon.  And I love it.

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Gide to Character Expression.  

It’s brilliant.

Each page in is dedicated to a particular emotion, for instance, fear, humiliation, regret, curiosity, anticipation, etc.

Under each emotion, there is a definition, followed by a list of physical signs.  Each page looks a bit like this:

FEAR

DEFINITION: to be afraid of; to expect threat or danger

PHYSICAL SIGNS: 

Face turning ashen, white, pallid

Hair lifting on the nape and arms

Body odor, cold sweats

Clammy hands

All the way down to things like:

Tight shoulders

A shrill voice

Shaking uncontrollably

Next there’s a list of Internal Sensations, featuring responses such as

An inability to speak

Heartbeat racing, nearly exploding

Holding one’s breath, gulping down breaths to stay quiet

Followed by mental responses (wanting to flee or hide) and cues of having the emotion acute or long-term (insomnia, depression, exhaustion), cues of the emotion being suppressed (keeping silent, attempting to keep one’s voice light), and other emotions that may follow, along with the page number, such as ANGER (22), TERROR (154), etc.

It’s sooooo helpful when you find your characters doing nothing but smiling, sighing, and frowning.

Want to show excitement?  Try a wide grin, bouncing from foot to foot, squealing, or getting the giggles.

How about anguish? Experiment with Tugging one’s hair, checking and rechecking the time, rubbing the arms or legs, restless fingers, or rocking back and forth.

“This book comes to the rescue by highlighting 75 emotions and listing the possible body language cues, thoughts, and visceral responses for each… This writing tool encourages writers to show, not tell emotion and is a creative  brainstorming resource for any fiction project.”

Still not sure about it?  What if I told you it has an in-depth introduction (complete with examples) on how best to utilize emotion?  And that each page has a writer’s tip to refresh your memory on writing emotional scenes?

I not only keep this by me when I write, but I also pick it up for fun sometimes.  People watching me read it might think I’m crazy, however, because I tend to tap my foot, claw at my cheeks, lick my lips, and squeeze my eyes shut, trying each action as I read it.  And then I smile broadly, realizing how perfectly it fits the emotion.

Looking for some new action beats?  This is the book for you.

Scrivener: download complete

scrivener logoYesterday I took the leap of faith and downloaded the free trial of Scrivener.  I’ve gotten to the point where I’m doing serious edits on my MS and I figured it was time to check this program out and see if it could help!  I was pleasantly surprised with all of the cool features and gadgets it has.

For those of you who don’t know, Scrivener is “a powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents.” After fooling around with it a fair amount today, I decided I’d list some pros and cons (thus far) of Scrivener.

PRO: It is just as cool as the website makes it out to be — maybe even cooler.

CON: I can never remember how to spell / pronounce it.  Scri – ven – er.  Scree – vhon – noir.  S-C-R-I-V… oh whatever.

PRO: I love how it is organized.  Within your MS folder, you have separate folders for each chapter, and within each chapter folder, you have a text file thingy for each scene.  What does that mean?  It is really easy to move a scene from one chapter to another — just drag & drop, and BAM!  Moved to another chapter.

CON: If you’re importing an already-written MS (like I was), it might take you a few minutes to figure out how get your scenes and chapters organized.  Luckily, there is an “import and split” feature that will break up your scenes for you automatically.  All I had to do then was add in the folders for the chapters.

Scriv Scene Break

PRO: Once you’ve done that, it allows you to edit all your scenes & chapters together.  When editing the text, it will give you a single dotted line for a scene break (see pic at left) and a double dotted line for a chapter break.

CON: I got nothing for this one!

Cork Board - Labled Note Cards

 

PRO: There is an amazing “corkboard” feature that allows you to play around with virtual index cards.  Each “scene” file you create automatically has an index card that is linked to it.  Say you are looking at a chapter’s corkboard.  If you move around the index cards in that chapter, Scrivener will reorder your MS’s scenes to match what you did with your index cards.  Not happy?  Just drag the index cards back.  Or re-order your scenes with the navigator (“binder”) on the left.  Basically, re-ordering your scenes is just a drag-and-drop away.

And look! You can label your index cards “first draft”, “revised draft”, “done”, and the like.  You can also take notes on the index cards that won’t appear in your MS.

Scriv Glitch

CON: Scrivener does occasionally glitch on my mildly old computer when I try to view my enormously large document and ask it to do something complicated, such as zoom in.

PRO: There are a lot of awesome things you can do, like editing while in split-screen or full-screen mode.

Full Screen Mode
Full Screen Mode
Split Screen -- corkboard on the left, document editing on the right.
Split Screen — corkboard on the left, document editing on the right.

CON: If you’re like me, you might spend a few hours playing with all the features, instead of doing something more important, like, say, homework or actually working on your MS.

PRO: You can download a free 30 day trial from the website!  http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php  — AND that’s 30 days of actual USE.  If you use it twice a week, you can have it for fifteen weeks.

CON: After that, it does actually cost money.  It’s not super expensive though — just $40.

PRO: In the course of an afternoon, I have this thing up and running, with my MS all organized and ready to be edited in a fun, easy-to-navigate environment.

Note: There are a TON more features that I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of — name generator, built-in dictionary, outlining program, formatting, research management, and so much more.  Their website does a pretty good job of advertising for themselves, so check that out if you want the details of everything Scrivener can do.

So.  Who all out there uses Scrivener?  What are your favorite features?  Drop me a comment and let me know!