Showing posts with label nonfiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nonfiction. Show all posts

Writers: How to Handle a Difficult Critique


There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation,
 hard work, and learning from failure. Colin Powell

THE FIRST PAGE. The most important page in your entire book. A recent SCBWI Shop Talk meeting focused on the keys to a successful first page, or rather the necessary keys to the first page of your novel or nonfiction book, that will either interest an editor or agent . . . or not.

The text I took was the first page of my second book, Book Two in a middle grade mystery series. It was the best I could do at the time. Was I in for a shock when my entire attempt got kicked to the curb.

On the ride home, I felt wrung out. I allowed myself to feel this way until the garage door opened. Then I put the meeting's papers to the side and took up an enjoyable pastime to ease the tension. It worked. I had a good sleep. The next day I got to work.

This technique has served me well over the years, learned from one of my writing courses upon receiving a rejection. Of course, you're going to be upset. You can't deny those feelings, so you go with them for fifteen minutes, max. Then you either take a short break like I did, or you get back to work. If you're feeling especially low, get out any praises you've collected from editors, readers, and critiquers, and pour over them. Believe you're a good writer. Then get back to work.
 
Same could be said for successes. Gloat all you want, but keep it short. There's work to do.

Heed the Advice of the Pros
Even though it didn't seem necessary to me at first, the leader of our meeting ran through how to accept critique of your work:
  • Do not take your critique personally.
  • Separate yourself from the work.
  • Comments made do not need to be followed. Decide whether you agree with them or not before changing anything.
  • Duplicate comments need to be taken into account. If more than one person notices something, it most likely needs to be changed.
  • Give yourself a day or two before working on the comments.
For the critiquer:
  • Stay positive
  • Be respectful
  • Remember: It takes courage for a writer to share her work.
  • Remember: Someone has poured their heart and soul into their work.
Comments Gathered from the Group
The next day when I began work on my first page, the first thing I did was make a list of the comments. I have tacked it up on my bulletin board in an effort to learn from the critiquers and avoid making the same mistakes again. Interspersed are the positive along with the critiqued comments—to stay as positive as possible while restructuring my first page.
  • Has the tone of a mystery, which intrigues!
  • The two voices are very similar.
  • Save backstory for later—keep us in the action.
  • Seems like an info dump.
  • Has a Nancy Drew feel.
  • Dialogue not realistic—too formal for kids.
  • Thank you for sharing!
  • Deceptive beginning.
  • Cannot tell the difference between the two characters.
  • Likes how it starts with a question.
Am I going to allow this critique to stop me? Not by a long shot. Rather, I am filled with gratitude. I am grateful for the help. It means the difference between a failed novel and a successful one, I am convinced of that. You can bet, I’ll be coming back for more at the next critique meeting.

Illustration courtesy of : www.freevector.com

The quote courtesy of: https://www.brainyquote.com


Needlepoint that hangs on my wall


Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 100 articles for adults and children, and six short stories for children. Her first book, a mystery/ghost story for children 7-11 years old, will be coming out in September. Currently, she is hard at work on Book Two in the series.  Follow Linda at www.lindawilsonauthor.com.









Books to Movies

I was pondering the best movies I've seen so far this year, and I realized that they all have a few things in common.  See if you can figure it out:

Bridge of Spies
Hidden Figures
The Zookeeper's Wife
A United Kingdom
Lion

Things I found in common:
-All take place in the recent past
-All are based on true stories
-All feature some sort of prejudice/segregation/class inequality and the fighting of it
AND...
-All are based on books.

Yay for books!

Bridge of Spies is based partly on Strangers on a Bridge by James Donovan.  The part I found most interesting was the ethical dilemmas centering around the rights of a foreign spy during the height of the Cold War.


Hidden Figures is based on Hidden Figures:  The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians who Helped Win the Space Race by  Margot Lee Shetterly.  I'd never heard about this corps of African-American women in NASA, and we all should have known.


The Zookeeper's Wife is based on The Zookeeper's Wife; A War Story by Diane Ackerman.  It's not hard to make Poland in WWII emotional, but this does an exceptional job.


A United Kingdom is based on Colour Bar;  The Triumph of Seretse Khama and His Nation by Susan Williams.  Another story I'd never heard, but a great inspiration in the fight against segregation and inequality.



Lion is based on A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley with Larry Buttrose.  It's a unique story I heard about first through an interview with the little boy in the story, now a man.  The movie didn't disappoint.


So if you're wondering about your next writing project...take some inspiration from these important and enduring themes or from the world around you.



Melinda Brasher's fiction appears in Nous Electric SpecIntergalactic Medicine Show, and other magazines  For an e-book collection of some of her favorite published pieces, check out Leaving Home.  

Her newest book, Cruising Alaska on a Budget; a Cruise and Port Guide helps budget travelers plan a trip to majestic Alaska.  Visit her online at http://www.melindabrasher.com.

How To Increase Your Reading of Books

By W. Terry Whalin

There is an old saying in the writing community: Writers are readers. As I child in the summers, I hung out in my local library and read stacks of biographies. That early experience shaped my continuing love of reading biographies. 

While I love to read, as an acquisitions editor, I have a lot of material coming my direction. I often say that being an acquisitions editor is like trying to drink water from a fire hose. The volume of information coming my direction is staggering.

As a part of being an editor, I'm always looking to see if the writer is reading the type of material that they are pitching to me. For example, if you are a novelist and writing romance (the largest genre), I'm probably going to ask if you read romances. And if you don't that tells me something about your knowledge (or lack of knowledge) about the genre that you want to publish.

In recent months, I've greatly increased the amount of books that I'm reading through audio books. In particular, I'm using Overdrive on my smartphone. Overdrive is a free app that I downloaded on my phone and it is tied to your local library. You can check out the audio book from your library for 21 days then download the entire book on your phone. Now that I have the complete book on my phone, I can use it anywhere. I listen to the book while I walk on the treadmill. Because of Bluetooth, I listen to the same book in my car—even when I drive a short distance. Recently I've been traveling and I've listened to these audio books in the airport or on the airplane. Almost always I have my phone and have access to the audio book. 

You can have different library cards on Overdrive. Each library has purchased different books so you can access a different selection. Currently I have three library cards and recently drove into Denver to get a Denver Public Library Card because they have a larger selection of books on Overdrive. Like any library, Overdrive has a wide variety of books—fiction and nonfiction.

I listen to a great deal of nonfiction—business books, biography, memoir and how-to books. You can see many of these books just checking this location on Goodreads. After I listen to the audio book, I will write a short review and post it on Goodreads and Amazon. This regular practice doesn't take much time but increases the number of reviews I write because of the increased number of books I've been consuming. 


Are you using audio books to increase the number of books that you “read?” Tell me about your experiences in the comments below.

Tweetable:

Discover How to Increase Your Reading. Ideas at: (ClickToTweet)

________
W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 books for traditional publishers and his work has appeared in more than 50 print publications. As a frustrated acquisitions editor, Terry wrote Book Proposals That Sell, 21 Secrets to Speed Your Success, which has over 130 Five Star Amazon reviews. Get the book exclusively at this link. He has over 180,000 twitter followers and blogs about The Writing Life.

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