Thursday, January 19, 2017

Graphic overview to writing a series

Here's a helpful, concise graphic for anyone thinking about writing a series. It comes from a tweet from Author Accelerator (@AuthAccelerator).  
I'm just starting a coaching intensive with them and have great hopes for making lots of progress in the next 10 weeks. Check out Lisa Cron's book Story Genius and you can see what I've signed up for here.   Joyce Wycoff

Question for you: please respond in the comments section.

What's the best resource you've found to help your writing ... website, book, email newsletter, workshop, conference, coaching, or what? Please share your best learning resource.


 




Sunday, January 15, 2017

14 Stephen King Tips



















Stephen King is not only a great writer, he's great at offering powerful tips on writing, such as the following:
 1. If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.

2. Stories consist of three parts: 
  • Narration: which moves the story from point A to point B.
  • Description: which creates a sensory reality for the reader.
  • Dialogue: which brings characters to life through their speech.
3. The situation comes first. The characters - always flat and unfeatured to being with - come next.

4. Whether it's an epic of a single page or an epic trilogy like The Lord of the Rings, the work is always accomplished one word at a time.

5. The most interesting situations can usually be expressed as a What-if question.

6. The best stories always end up being about the people rather than the event.

7. With a passive verb, something is being done to the subject of the sentence. The subject is just letting it happen. You should avoid the passive tense.

8. Talk, whether ugly or beautiful, is an index of character.

9. Description begins in the writer's imagination, but should end in the reader's.

10.  The road to hell is paved with adverbs.

11. Never use "emolument" when you mean "tip."

12. Set a daily writing goal. As with physical exercise, it would be best to set this goal low at first. I suggest a thousand words a day.

13.  Call that one person you write for: Ideal Reader. He or she is going to be in your writing room all the time.

14. If you can do it for joy, you can do it forever.

Friday, January 6, 2017

What's the difference between one apricot tree and an apricot orchard? The answer could change your writing life.

 Medium Daily Digest has become one of my favorite sources of inspiration and information. Today it delivered two metaphors appropriate for writers.

Renee Hopkins shares the idea of "lighthouse questions" - What else would you call the question that reliably guides you through stormy weather on very rough seas — a question big enough and important enough to guide a process of transformation?

 And Benjamin P. Hardy tells us to to plant an orchard rather than a tree, giving us these stories:
Before writing the first chapter of Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling planned for seven years at Hogwarts. Harry Potter is one of the most read books of all-time.
Before creating the first Stars Wars movie in the 1970’s, George Lucas planned for at least six films and started at episode four, rather than episode one. Almost 40 years later, the entire world continues to be excited with the release of a new Star Wars film. This would not be possible if Lucas hadn’t thoughtfully and largely planned ahead.
The principle is simple: Don’t just plant a tree, plant an orchard.
Most of us know that "series" are the thing in the writing world. Readers like them, publishers almost demand them. What particularly interests me is the effect of thinking this way has on us, the writers. It takes confidence to write a series. And, I often wonder if confidence is the magic ingredient to writing success (or any other form of success), more than talent, more than education, more than resources.

If I plant an apricot tree in my yard, few people notice whether it survives or withers. There is little at risk and my commitment is casual. If I get a few apricots, I'll be happy. If I don't, life will go on.

However, if I plant an apricot orchard, I'm making a large, visible commitment. I'm telling the world that I'm going to do everything I can to harvest lots of apricots. I have to be come an apricot orchard master, learning everything I can about how to make an apricot orchard flourish. It takes huge confidence to plant an orchard. Confidence that you know, or can learn enough, to take it from tiny trees to harvest. Enough confidence to weather the storms. Enough confidence to know you can sell the apricots when they are mature.

It's fascinating how these to threads of information twined together. It is now clear to me what the lighthouse question for my writing life is: How can I build my confidence level enough for me to turn my writing into an orchard?


I've been planting trees ... it's time to plant an orchard. How about you?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Writers' Conference Gold going to San Miguel Writers' Conference

Going to a writers' conference is like walking into the most elaborate Sunday Brunch ever ...and this one is going to go on for five days!

If you choose wisely, it can change your writing life ... without adding unwanted pounds or that sense of overwhelm that often comes when you're faced with too much information and too many choices.

Fortunately, the San Miguel Writers' Conference board is offering you a FREE tool to help you get the most out of the conference ... the


Writers' Conference Gold
Conference Journal

 We're delighted to be joining the San Miguel Writers' Conference & Literary Festival for their annual conference February 15 - 19, 2017 in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

This is a great conference featuring top stars (Judy Collins, Naomi Klein and Billy Collins) and top authors and agents helping writers take their writing to the next level (see the LONG list here).

It's in a great location ... Read 10 Reasons why people fall in love with San Miguel.

And, it serves a great purpose ... bringing writing, creativity and arts to the children and residents of San Miguel. Read more here about The San Miguel Literary Sala and what it does.

What to Expect:

In early January, the conference planners will send you a link to a customized conference journal. You can print out the journal and put it in a binder ... or have it comb bound at a local print shop. The journal will help you know what to do BEFORE the conference, DURING the conference, and AFTER the conference. 

The Conference Journal uses the PREPARE model to help you know how to get the most from your conference experience:

                  P    Plan: What do I want and how do I get it?
                  R    Reframe:
Find something useful everywhere.
                  E    Embrace: 
Constantly ask: How could I use this?                   
                  P    Pitch: Be bold. Ask. Volunteer.
                  A    Align: Connect with others deeply.
                  R    Reflect: What have I learned?
                  E    Enact: What am I going to do?


 Here are some of the specifics the Conference Journal will help you with:


BEFORE:
  • better understand yourself
  • know exactly what to bring to the conference
  • develop your goals and objective
  • choose the best fit workshops and activities
  • create a list of questions that you want answered

DURING:
  • reminders to ask your questions
  • prompts to connect with people on a deeper level
  • simple way to capture ideas and information
  • how to engage others when you talk about your writing

AFTER:
  • follow-up with the people you've met
  • reflect on the lessons learned 
  • plan new actions
  • prioritize and implement actions



Friday, December 9, 2016

Writers Conference Gold Going to Sierra Writers' Conference

Going to a writers' conference is somewhat like walking into the most elaborate Sunday Brunch ever ... and this particular one goes on for a day and a half! 

If you choose wisely, it can change your writing life ... without adding unwanted pounds or that sense of overwhelm that often comes when you're faced with too much information and too many choices.

Fortunately, the Sierra Writers' Conference board is offering you a FREE tool to help you get the most out of the conference ...


Writers' Conference Gold
Conference Journal

We're delighted to be joining the Sierra Writers' Conference  for their annual conference January 20 - 21, 2017 in Grass Valley, CA.

This is an amazing regional conference featuring successful authors helping writers take their writing to the next level (see the workshop and faculty here).

What to Expect:

In early January, the conference planners will send you a link to a customized conference journal. You can print out the journal and put it in a binder ... or have it comb bound at a local print shop. The journal will help you know what to do BEFORE the conference, DURING the conference, and AFTER the conference. 

The Conference Journal uses the PREPARE model to help you know how to get the most from your conference experience:

                  P    Plan: What do I want and how do I get it?
                  R    Reframe:
Find something useful everywhere.
                  E    Embrace: 
Constantly ask: How could I use this?                   
                  P    Pitch: Be bold. Ask. Volunteer.
                  A    Align: Connect with others deeply.
                  R    Reflect: What have I learned?
                  E    Enact: What am I going to do?


 Here are some of the specifics the Conference Journal will help you with:


BEFORE:
  • better understand yourself
  • know exactly what to bring to the conference
  • develop your goals and objective
  • choose the best fit workshops and activities
  • create a list of questions that you want answered
DURING:
  • reminders to ask your questions
  • prompts to connect with people on a deeper level
  • simple way to capture ideas and information
  • how to engage others when you talk about your writing

AFTER:
  • follow-up with the people you've met
  • reflect on the lessons learned 
  • plan new actions
  • prioritize and implement actions


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Don't Write an Elevator Speech; Craft an Elevator Connection

Fall in Grass Valley
by Joyce Wycoff

Imagine you’re at a writers’ conference and you have lunch with three of your fellow attendees.

You’ve done your homework … you have your business cards ready, your writing sample has been polished to a fine sheen, and you’ve prepared specific questions you want answered during the conference.

You ask the woman across from you, Sarah, what kind of writing she does.
Sarah says, “I’m writing a memoir.”
You wait but she doesn’t say anything more and you don’t know where to go with the conversation, so you turn to Tim and ask him the same question.
Tim says, “I’m writing a nonfiction book about the watershed of Nevada County.”
Water is important, so you exchange a few remarks, but the conversation runs out of steam, so you go on to Alice with the same question.
Alice says, “I’m writing a young adult fantasy novel set in the jungles of the Yucatan where a young heroine has to fight the forces of evil with no weapons or super powers.”
 You thought all young adult fiction was about vampires or zombies, so you say hers sounds refreshing. She says thanks, but then silence prevails.

Finally, Sarah asks you the same question.
You say, “Do you guys remember that girl from high school who married her high school sweetheart and had two perfect children and lived happily ever after in the same town?”
 Everyone nods their heads.
Tim says, “Yeah, that’s Jane, she’s in charge of our annual reunion.”
 Alice says,”That was me … until I got divorced. Is that what you’re writing about?”
 You nod and ask, “So, what happens when she wakes up one morning and it's all gone?”
Suddenly everyone is talking about how life changes and telling stories, theirs and ones they know about. By the time lunch ends, you know a lot about each other and they’ve asked for your card and volunteered to be beta-readers for your book.

What happened?

Sarah was winging it. She hadn’t thought much about how she would answer a question that is the foundation of writers’ conferences.

Tim had a basic elevator speech ready. But, it was boring. Sam Horn, a guru of intrigue whom we'll talk more about below, calls this Bore-Snore-Chore. Even if you’re a little bit interested, it leaves the work up to you to ask a question. It’s a chore.

Alice had worked a little harder on her elevator speech. She has some specifics and a challenge built into it. It’s not as boring, but it’s still a chore. She’s telling us but not connecting it to our lives.

And you? You’re the star.
You’re asking a question that almost everyone can respond to.
You’re engaging them, connecting with them, sparking a conversation.

I met Sam Horn when she keynoted the Central Coast Writers’ Conference and she basically exploded the whole idea of elevator speeches.

Here’s what I took away … the normal elevator speech is like a mini-lecture … and few of us like to be lectured to. It’s still lecturing even when you craft an interesting description of your writing. The main problem with the standard elevator speech is that it starts with *me* rather than *you.*

Sam suggests that you craft an elevator connection rather than an elevator speech. You want to kickstart a conversation. One way to do that is to ask a question that gives you some information about what the person wants or needs.

Let’s go back to our lunch table and assume that everyone has watched the Sam Horn video below and crafted an "elevator connection" for their writing. You ask again, "What kind of writing do you do?"
Sarah says, “How much do you know about the challenges your great-grandmother faced?” 
     You answer, “Well, almost nothing, actually. Interesting question."
Sarah says, “That’s what I thought, so I decided that I wanted to write stories for my grandchildren about how my great-grandmother struggled to come to this country. It took her months to travel with her husband and three children by boat to San Francisco. She lost her husband and her infant during the trip, and landed penniless, speaking no English with two children to take care of in a strange land.” You want to know more and a conversation begins.
Tim says, “When you turn on your tap, do you know where that water has been and what it took to get it into your glass?”
     You say, “Well, no, other than it comes from snow pack in the mountains, I don’t guess I do. Tell me more.” A conversation is kickstarted.
Alice says, “Have you ever had to make a tough decision where everyone around you was giving you their advice and all saying different things?” 
      You say, “Omg, yes! I was trying to buy a house once and people kept telling me all these different things about mortgage rates and which loan broker to use. It made me crazy. Is that what you’re writing about?” 
 Alice says, “Exactly! The heroine of my story is a young girl who has to make a tough decision. She’s so overwhelmed by all the conflicting advice, that she runs away into a dreamworld. She faces great challenges and gradually learns to use her own creativity and voice to fight great battles and know what she wants.” 
     You say, “Wow, that sounds interesting. I should read that book.”
As writers, we repeatedly say, "Show, don't tell." Sam Horn is advising us to "Connect, don't tell." Try it.  
Click here to watch.
  For more information about creating an “elevator connection,” watch this video interview  above with Sam Horn.


****************************

Joyce Wycoff writes intergenerational fiction focused on the often small things that change everything. Thus the title of the on-going series: It Changes Everything! Book 1: Sarana's Gift (young adult fantasy novella); Book 2: Yellowstone Howling (contemporary women's fiction with a young adult component); Book 3: Mobius Dreamtime (young adult contemporary fiction).

Wycoff also creates specialty journals: Writer's Conference Gold (learning journals for writer's conferences) and Gratitude Miracle: the 5-minute journal that could change everything.