Minutes from February 11, 2019 Meeting

This week’s meeting focused on the query letter. The topic can be a little mystifying, but Thomasa’s been querying her novels for a while now and was able to break down the process for us: its importance if you’ve chosen the traditional publishing route, how to research and choose agents who are both trustworthy and a good fit for your work, how to write a query letter, and how to approach a contract once your letter is successful. You can get the handout from the meeting here. It includes a formatting guide and a sample query letter broken down and … Continue reading Minutes from February 11, 2019 Meeting

Minutes from February 4, 2019 Meeting

Yesterday we talked about our writing goals: what we’re looking forward to accomplishing this year, what we’re doing to stay on track, and whether we’ve had to reexamine our goals. Last semester’s character talks have inspired us to really focus on character development in all of our projects, as well as finishing projects rather than simply focusing on word counts, and we’re looking forward to more inspiring craft talks and opportunities to experiment with new forms and genres in the months to come. Thomasa recommends Pinterest for storyboarding your projects, which helps if you don’t have space for a corkboard … Continue reading Minutes from February 4, 2019 Meeting

Resolve, Review, Persist

New Year’s resolutions tend to start gathering dust around February, and the artistic kind can be especially difficult to justify, especially when things get busy. But there’s no shame in starting over, and in fact there’s something to be said for not even starting until February. Whether you’re a month into a new habit and reassessing your goals for the year or just starting yours out, here’s a reminder of why you made those writing resolutions in the first place, and permission to take them seriously, in case you need it: In 2019: Persist, Persist, Persist.   Continue reading Resolve, Review, Persist

Minutes from January 28, 2019 meeting

First off, from here on out meetings will be limited to one hour. Anyone is welcome to hang out longer than that, but the time limit will help keep some of our discussions on track and ensure no one’s driving home too late on winter roads. Our next meeting will be Monday, February 4th at 5pm in the library. There’s no discussion on the agenda for next week so everyone can focus on their own projects, bearing in mind everything we learned about dialogue. We talked about its many roles in a narrative, how it contributes to plot and characterization, … Continue reading Minutes from January 28, 2019 meeting

Dialogue

This week’s discussion was all about dialogue. If you missed the meeting and didn’t get the handout, you can find Thomasa’s tips for writing good dialogue over here, and here’s the rest of what the group came up with: How your characters speak is just as important as what is said. Be descriptive, but resist the urge to get too fancy with your dialogue tags—”said” is perfectly fine, and leaning too heavily on more interesting synonyms and adverbs can clutter up your writing; basically, make them count. Realistic speech isn’t grammatically correct, so dialogue doesn’t have to be and can … Continue reading Dialogue

The Business of Writing: Resources

During our latest meeting we talked a little about the business side of writing—where to submit your work, how to make sure a publisher or publication is legitimate, how to safeguard your work while seeking publication, etc. There were varying levels of experience with these concerns in the room and we’d like to dedicate a session or two to exploring the topic in depth, but here are a few resources that may come in handy in the meantime if you’re getting ready to send out your work. Poets & Writers Magazine maintains databases of journals, contests, small press publishers, and … Continue reading The Business of Writing: Resources

Rules of Writing

We’ve shared a lot of writing advice lately, and it’s had me thinking about the nature of the thing. Just about every writer has “rules” they live by; many have lists, whole books, even, of steps you must follow and things you must avoid at all costs if you hope to be published and successful. However, following someone else’s rules to the letter can sometimes do more harm than good, especially if a rule is internalized as law. My first book on writing was Robert’s Rules of Writing: 101 Unconventional Lessons Every Writer Needs to Know by Robert Masello. I was 15 … Continue reading Rules of Writing

Minutes from December 14, 2018 Meeting

For our final meeting of 2018, following up on our character discussions of the last couple weeks, each of our writers brought in a character, major or minor, to introduce to the group. Some came with lists, while others had chosen to stage interviews with their characters.  Pooled together, we had a range of internal and external details—family dynamics, educational background, personality quirks, physical appearance, religion, favorite foods, full family history, personal traumas, professional history, social skills, etc., and how some of those traits inform the others. It sounds like everybody came out of this exercise knowing more about our characters … Continue reading Minutes from December 14, 2018 Meeting

More on Character

We’re all hard at work on our character trait lists (or interviews, or spreadsheets, or whatever route you’ve chosen) for Friday. I can’t wait to meet everybody’s characters, but I’m having more trouble than I expected boiling mine down to traits on a list without going off on a lot of tangents. So I started looking around the internet for useful tips from established writers. Here’s Chuck Wendig on two nifty visual aids for writing characters: the mind map—a sort of visual-meets-textual reference of multiple characters’ basic traits—and a purely visual collection of abstract images that call to mind who a … Continue reading More on Character