Friday, November 29, 2013

The Intriguing Structure of Claire Dederer's Poser--How to Link Different Topics, Timelines, and Themes in a Memoir

Author Claire Dederer came to book-writing after being a journalist for about twenty years, working as a reporter, critic, and essayist.  She began as a film critic then developed into a book critic and a writer on culture. Poser, her 2010 memoir, weaves together several disparate topics:  yoga, motherhood, the legacy of 1970s feminism.  I interviewed Claire this week to find out how she decided to structure Poser around all these themes.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Pros and Cons of the Workshopping Method--And How to Manage Feedback So You Keep Writing

We all have war stories from bad feedback.  If you've been writing and attending conferences or classes for more than a few years, you know the range of possible reactions to workshopping your stories:  from annoying to devastating, from "Let's ignore that comment" to "I'll never touch that piece again."

We're all searching for supportive (but not coddling) and careful readers who respect our ideas yet offer good ones of their own. 

Where to find this kind of feedback?  Some people get it from a writers group.  Some get it from workshops and classes.  Some exchange writing with a feedback partner.  Whatever works!  As long as the comments open you to new insights, keep you writing, keep you enthused and engaged with your own writing, they are useful.

But all of these methods are based on vulnerability--sharing ideas and images and attempts with people who don't see the full vision you do.  And most of these employ something called the "workshopping method," which has its pros and cons.  How do you set yourself up for success?  For the best possible outcome with the least risk?  It's not easy--but there are definitely things to embrace and things to avoid when workshopping your writing. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Crafting Your Book's Visual Map--New Ways to Use a Storyboard

Storyboards are a fast and easy template to check the strength of a book's structure.  More and more writers use them.  I hear about famous authors who now "design" their books via a storyboard.  It's a classy idea whose time has come.

Filmmakers will be yawning here.  Storyboards are the basis of most films--they are like cartoon boxes that show the scenes and can be rearranged to create the best flow. 

But book publishers use them too.  Twenty years ago, I hired on every six months to an all-day storyboarding session for a Midwestern small press.  Eight "experts" gathered in their conference room, bolstered by coffee and snacks and catered lunch.  A facilitator drew the empty cartoon boxes of our blank storyboard on one wall, gave us our topic, and off we'd go. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Using an Image Board to Get Closer to the Meaning of Your Story

Guest Post by  
Memoirist and Singer/
Songwriter Elisa Korenne

Elisa Korenne entered the creative-writing world as a songwriter.  

She'd written a lot of prose up to that point, mostly in the form of academic papers, but it was songwriting that acquainted her with the thrill of word textures, imagery, and choosing the right word for the right moment.   In this guest post, she describes her writing process and how she uses image boards to get closer to the meaning of her story--and her songs.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Cyber Inspiration--Great Author Websites and Bios to Kick Yours into High Gear

Nicki, a blog reader from South Carolina, is putting together a website for her book.  She wondered about great author websites or tips for putting together an author bio.   

Both are an essential part of an author's platform, a requirement for writers today.   

If "author's platform" is new to you, here's the short definition:  The stage you'll stand on, as you market your new book.  If your platform is solid, if it's developed at least a year before you publish, you'll likely garner more of those reviews, bookstore sales, internet sales, and interviews that will put your book in the hands of readers.   

You'll need to show agents and publishers that you're standing solid.  An engaging author bio and website are also part of your submission package to agents and publishers.