Category Archives: Tools for Writers

How NOT to Dread Deadlines

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Why are deadlines important? Because publishing is a schedule based business. When a book receives a publication date, everything moves toward the date when that book goes to the printer. If the book isn’t ready, printing presses stand idle, and time is money.

Many authors feel enslaved by deadlines. But what if how they think about them could change that? On his leadership web page, author and motivational speaker, Stan Toler, offers five positive ways to perceive deadlines. He says:

Deadlines are friends. You created them to assist you. Treat them with respect and they will be loyal to you. Ignore them and they may haunt you. They are not there to harass you; they are there to help you. Like a friend, you check on them, give them space, and remember their birthdates and anniversaries.

Deadlines are property lines. They are the imaginary spaces where your ideas and ideals live. As property lines, they need to be detailed, recorded, and guarded from intruders—such as time-wasters or attention-grabbers.

Deadlines are destination points. Like entering a travel location on your GPS, you create a deadline so you can journey toward it. There may be “points of interest” along the way, but their destination is your end goal.

Deadlines are managers. You gave them permission to keep you on the straight and narrow. In return, they give you friendly reminders of neglect, lack of focus, or impulsive behavior. You don’t need to fear them. They are not immovable. And if they are not flexible, they may need to be replaced.

Deadlines are volunteer staff. You appointed them, not vice versa. They are the stagehands, but you run the show. They embody your vision. You are only bound to them by loyalty. They have no overruling authority.”

Incorporate Toler’s suggestions when you write and revise. Remember–you control deadlines; they don’t control you. Meeting, even exceeding, them is a sure way to forge a great relationship with your publisher.

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Filed under Deadlines, The Business of Writing, Tools for Writers, Uncategorized, working with editors, Writer's responsibility

Lost in a Sea of Lists

I recently downloaded onto my Kindle Bryn Donovan’s book, “Master Lists for Writers”. Since then, I’ve been blissfully lost in her sea of lists!

51bHYN1SlyL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_From the description on Amazon.com:

In this book, you’ll find: • lists of phrases for describing facial expressions, body language, gestures, physical appearance, and emotions • 175 master plot ideas, including romance, high-stakes, family, and workplace stories • lists of words for writing action scenes and love scenes • inspiration for figuring out character traits and quirks, backstories, occupations, motivations, and goals • lists for describing settings and writing dialogue • lists of good character names for contemporary stories…plus medieval England, Regency England, Wild West, and WWII settings • and more!

Trust me. Once you begin reading her book you won’t be able to put it down. And I’ve found a few other lists for you to peruse.

• Shaun Usher’s “Lists of Note”  A collection of notable lists including: 20 Rules for Writing Detective Stories, Orwell’s Rules for Writers, Henry Miller’s 11 Commandments and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Things to Worry About. Usher’s site isn’t updated as often as I’d like, but still, there is plenty of content to keep you interested. “Lists of Note” is also available as a book.

• Listverse is a huge database of lists on almost any topic you can image. Browse the lists and you will find plenty to write about. The site is updated daily.

Listverse_full-width_LeftLists are grouped into six categories:

BIZARRE
ENTERTAINMENT
GENERAL KNOWLEDGE
LIFESTYLE
SCIENCE
SOCIETY

You can also search the site by topic.

A few lists from the past week:

10 Facts About The Talking Knots Of Ancient Peru
10 Fascinating Facts About The Human Skeleton
Top 10 Bizarre British Ceremonies

• Finally, before you drown in a sea of lists, sail on over to the Encyclopedia Britannica site and ponder their list of lists. Similar to Listverse, these are grouped by category:

Encyclopaedia-Britannica-1HISTORY
MUSIC
ANIMALS
GEOGRAPHY
LITERATURE & LANGUAGE
ARTS & CULTURE
HEALTH & MEDICINE
SCIENCE
SPORTS & RECREATION
FOOD
POP CULTURE
SOCIETY
PHILOSOPHY & RELIGION
TECHNOLOGY
EDITOR PICKS

And, like Listverse, the database is mammoth. Here are a few of the Editor’s Picks:

6 Fictional Languages You Can Really Learn
Top 10 Must-“Visit” Fictional Lands
9 Mysterious Disappearances of People Other Than Amelia Earhart

Lists, lists, lists. Essential additions to a writer’s toolbox. Use them to brainstorm story ideas, plots, character traits and more . . . the list is endless!

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How a Mindset List can Help Your Writing

mindsetEvery August, Beloit College releases its Beloit College Mindset List to help professors understand the mindset of high school students entering college in the fall. A similar list can also work for writers. Look at this year’s list and consider how a mindset list might help with your writing.

 

(The Beloit College Mindset List ©2015 Beloit College)

Students heading into their first year of college this year are mostly 18 and were born in 1997. Among those who have never been alive in their lifetimes are Princess Diana, Notorious B.I.G., Jacques Cousteau, and Mother Teresa. Joining them in the world the year they were born were Dolly the sheep, The McCaughey septuplets, and Michael “Prince” Jackson Jr.

Since they have been on the planet:

  1. Hybrid automobiles have always been mass produced.
  2. Google has always been there, in its founding words, “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible.”
  3. They have never licked a postage stamp.
  4. Email has become the new “formal” communication, while texts and tweets remain enclaves for the casual.
  5. Four foul-mouthed kids have always been playing in South Park.
  6. Hong Kong has always been under Chinese rule.
  7. They have grown up treating Wi-Fi as an entitlement.
  8. The NCAA has always had a precise means to determine a national champion in college football.
  9. The announcement of someone being the “first woman” to hold a position has only impressed their parents.
  10. Charlton Heston is recognized for waving a rifle over his head as much as for waving his staff over the Red Sea.
  11. Color photos have always adorned the front page of The New York Times.
  12. Ellis Island has always been primarily in New Jersey.
  13. “No means no” has always been morphing, slowly, into “only yes means yes.”
  14. Cell phones have become so ubiquitous in class that teachers don’t know which students are using them to take notes and which ones are planning a party.
  15. The Airport in Washington, D.C., has always been Reagan National Airport.
  16. Their parents have gone from encouraging them to use the Internet to begging them to get off it.
  17. If you say “around the turn of the century,” they may well ask you, “which one?”
  18. They have avidly joined Harry Potter, Ron, and Hermione as they built their reading skills through all seven volumes.
  19. Attempts at human cloning have never been federally funded but do require FDA approval.
  20. “Crosstown Classic” and the “Battle of the Bay” have always been among the most popular interleague rivalries in Major League Baseball.
  21. Carry Me Back to Old Virginny has never been the official song of the Virginia Commonwealth.
  22. Phish Food has always been available from Ben and Jerry.
  23. Kyoto has always symbolized inactivity about global climate change.
  24. When they were born, cell phone usage was so expensive that families only used their large phones, usually in cars, for emergencies.
  25. The therapeutic use of marijuana has always been legal in a growing number of American states.
  26. The eyes of Texas have never looked upon The Houston Oilers.
  27. Teachers have always had to insist that term papers employ sources in addition to those found online.
  28. In a world of DNA testing, the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington has never included a Vietnam War veteran “known only to God.”
  29. Playhouse Disney was a place where they could play growing up.
  30. Surgeons have always used “super glue” in the operating room.
  31. Fifteen nations have always been constructing the International Space Station.
  32. The Lion King has always been on Broadway.
  33. Phoenix Lights is a series of UFO sightings, not a filtered cigarette.
  34. Scotland and Wales have always had their own parliaments and assemblies.
  35. At least Mom and Dad had their new Nintendo 64 to help them get through long nights sitting up with the baby.
  36. First Responders have always been heroes.
  37. Sir Paul and Sir Elton have always been knights of the same musical roundtable.
  38. CNN has always been available en Español.
  39. Heaven’s Gate has always been more a trip to Comet Hale-Bopp and less a film flop.
  40. Splenda has always been a sweet option in the U.S.
  41. The Atlanta Braves have always played at Turner Field.
  42. Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic have always been members of NATO.
  43. Humans have always had implanted radio frequency ID chips—slightly larger than a grain of rice.
  44. TV has always been in such high definition that they could see the pores of actors and the grimaces of quarterbacks.
  45. Mr. Jones and Mr. Smith have always been Men in Black, not their next-door neighbors.
  46. The proud parents recorded their first steps on camcorders, mounted on their shoulders like bazookas.
  47. They had no idea how fortunate they were to enjoy the final four years of Federal budget surpluses.
  48. Amoco gas stations have steadily vanished from the American highway.
  49. Vote-by-mail has always been the official way to vote in Oregon.
  50. …and there has always been a Beloit College Mindset List.

Shocked Young Woman Reading A BookCreating a mindset list can serve writers in two different ways. It can provide them with insight into their intended audience, and by making a mindset list for each character in a story, writers can be accurate about where and how their characters exist in time.

Learn more about the Beloit College Mindset List HERE.

Meet the creators:

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