Surf Report, May 9, 2010

Writer Unboxed blog member, Barbara Samuel, on Layering Depth of Character:

“I’ll begin with a character bio, third person, interviewing her, but not in the usual ways. Alison Hart (Jennifer Greene) once posted a trick she uses, which is to look inside the purse or glove box of a character, or both. I do both. I also like to see the inside of the car—is it messy or tidy? My car usually looks like someone is moving—books and canvas grocery bags and change scattered all over the floors. My partner has tools and running clothes of various weights and dog clutter from his side business.

“Next, with this character who is so tangled with her family, I’ll ask her to talk about her relationship with each family member. Mother, father, sisters, brother, aunts, grandmother, etc. I’ll ask for a memory of each person.

“When that is finished, I’ll write her timeline—what are the 5 most important events in her life? The five that should have been important but turned out not to be? If nothing new is revealed, I’ll ask for the next five most important moments and memories.

“Then I will ask her what her secret is —I can’t remember where Jenny Crusie picked this up, but I took it from a craft post she put somewhere: What is your secret? No, what is your real secret? And then again, No, what is your REAL secret?”


Nathan Bransford on:  The Series Bible is a lifesaver when your brain has reached capacity.

I was working on JACOB WONDERBAR #2 the other day and it came time to reintroduce a teacher that plays an important role in the first book. I summoned my mental image of the teacher… which was completely blank.

Nathan gives a list of necessary descriptions to include in your Series Bible.  An excellent idea for those who write sequels. 


Coloring outside the lines by Hope Ramsey

“How many times has someone waved some writing rule in your face and told you that if you didn’t follow it you had no chance of selling your novel?” asks Hope Ramsey, of the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood.

She gives her top ten list of dumb writing rules.  Rule #10 is my favorite since I break it every time.  Right on, Hope!


Emily Bryon on “What an editor wants…”

Excerpt:  If you turn in a manuscript riddled with little errors it says you don’t respect the work, the editor or yourself. (That last sentence dropped verbatim from an editor’s lips.)


Writer’s Digest: 8 Basic Writing Blunders

These big-picture writing errors might make you cringe with recognition. But shake it off: Bestselling novelist Jerry B. Jenkins will help you fix them.

  1. Morning-routine cliché
  2. Answering-the-phone cliché
  3. The clutter of detail
  4. Skip the recitals of ordinary life
  5. Don’t spell it out
  6. Pass on the preachiness
  7. Setting the scene
  8. Coincidences (I was guilty of this in SWEET SALVATION.  A requesting agent pointed out that I had one too many.  Lesson learned.)

For in-depth detail, click the link.


Nabbed from Nathan…  (everyone needs a little humor 🙂 )

A Day in the Life: Special Rejectionist Edition

TH. Mafi call meTahereh – Interview with the Rejectionist


DID YOU KNOW? Weighing yourself once a week increases your chance of weight loss by six times!   (As reported in Men’s Health)


31. Jane Austen, according to Mark Twain (1898)

I haven’t any right to criticize books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.


Alan Rinzler with The writer’s toolkit: Eavesdropping for dialogue

Listening in on random conversations — okay, blatant eavesdropping — is a time-honored technique for writers fine-tuning their ear and seeking authentic feelings with distinctive ways of expressing them.  Norman Mailer did it…


Jennifer Jackson of Donald Maass, letters from the query wars 5/7/2010

# of queries read this week: 268
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: YA

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