How to Navigate Editorial Feedback and Revise Your WIP – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by Tiffany Yates Martin

The idea of finishing a manuscript is exhilarating—especially if you’re in the thrilling rush of momentum that is NaNoWriMo. (Hope it’s going great, NaNoers!) But as rewarding as it is to complete a draft, most writers know that isn’t the end of the road, just the first rest stop. Before you reach your destination—meaning agents, publishers, readers—you have to get out of the echo chamber of your own head and see what’s actually on the page. And for that, writers need objective feedback.

Yet once you get that feedback—whether you’re hiring a professional editor, sending the manuscript to your crit partners, or soliciting input from beta readers—what do you do with it?

It can be overwhelming to look at pages of editorial letter (often upward of 6-7K words, if you’re working with me), dozens or even hundreds of embedded comments, or an array of varying opinions among your critiquers and readers and process it all, let alone figure out what (and how) to translate that to your story.

Here are my step-by-step suggestions for how to navigate editorial feedback and most effectively approach revisions.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

12 Lessons Learned From Writing Short – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by John Peragine

In the last year, short story competitions have helped focus my writing. I read many short stories in elementary school and always enjoyed them, but I believed they were some condensed form of a larger work. I never thought of short-form writing as something special on its own.

Fast forward to adulthood and the beginning of my own writing journey.

Over the years, I have written short stories, but mostly as a writing exercise. To me it was practice for long-form. I believe I was half right.

When I wrote the stories, I never really thought about word counts, genre, or anything else- I just wrote, and when I was done, I might tinker with it a bit, but then I would set it aside. It was not until the past year that I began to realize how wrong this was and how much I was missing.

I am a big Neil Gaiman fan and began reading his short stories, along with his book, Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and DisturbancesIn it he explains his process of writing the stories.

I was intrigued. Each story was the perfect length. They weren’t shortened versions of books at all, they were perfect miniature works of brilliance.

In my hubris, I thought I could try my hand at it.

In my typical (unfortunately too typical) fashion, I decided to try my hand at some serious short story writing. I entered the NYC Midnight Short Story Competition. It was one of the most frustrating and awesome experiences in my life, and I believe it is has helped improve my writing.

The lessons I learned from my experience:

1. You must enter to learn the lessons.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

Smart Writers Expand Time – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by Margie Lawson

You may have read portions of this blog on WITS in 2012. It’s still a winner.

Writers are all powerful. Well, in their fictional worlds they are all powerful.

Two of the 74,386 story dynamics that writers control are expanding time and compressing time. Today we’ll focus on the most fun of the two, and the one writers sometimes neglect: expanding time.

When would you want to expand story time?

When scene events justify zooming in on the POV character’s experience, minute by minute, or second by second. Maybe even picosecond by picosecond.

You’ve got to love that word. Picosecond, one trillionth of a second.

In real life, people can send and receive up to 10,000 nonverbal cues in less than one minute.

Yes. That’s a true statement.

We can process up to 10,000 nonverbal cues in less than a minute. Such a shocking number, and cool too.

When what’s happening in your scene is critical or crucial, decisive or dangerous, life-changing or life-threatening, you want to expand time, big time. Don’t hold back. I recommend writing it bigger than you normally would, then rein it back in until it’s just right.

I’ll share examples of expanding time from two mega-talented multi-Immersion Grads—Joan Swan and Laura Drake.

My first example is from Joan Swan’s debut paranormal romantic suspense, Fever. Now Joan has over twenty books out as Joan Swan and Skye Jordan.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

Nurturing the Creative Spark Through Sleep from the Writers in the Storm Blog

by Ellen Buikema

Like many writers, I am fortunate to have a varied and interesting dreamlife. However, for almost a year after beginning our retirement travels I was unable to recall any dreams.

No dreams. No writing. Not good.

My dreamtime, normally filled with weird and thought-provoking scenarios, became a void. Sleep is playtime for the brain, and mine didn’t seem like it was having any fun.

If we don’t dream, we lose contact with reality.

Normally I’d remember enough of a dream for a short film, so not dreaming was a real concern. The most I’d recall upon waking was a fleeting feeling or snippet. In one, a kitten ran at me and jumped into my arms with such joy and force that it woke me up.

As I’d prefer not to be psychotic, I needed to know why the wonderful and sometimes frightening series of unconscious escapades escaped from memory.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

An Important Writing Tool: The Wellness Wheel – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by K. Maze

Dear Writer Friends, it’s November. The time of holidays, deadlines and NaNoWriMo.

We have lives full of responsibilities, but we are also builders of amazing mind worlds, and if we don’t take care of ourselves, our stories suffer and so do we! How can we enter the season of celebration without wearing ourselves down to a nub?

This is my debut post at Writers in the Storm and I’m focusing on gratitude. To help you show your thankfulness for the gifts you have as writer, and to offer some advice on how to take care of those gifts. 

Take a minute to check in with your overall wellness.  

Writers get upper back cricks and lower back spasms.  We have underused legs from forcing ourselves to sit in the chair and write.  We deny ourselves the pleasures of spending time outdoors and write long after the rest of the household has gone to sleep, because most of us have another job to accomplish as well.  What is the price?  How do our bodies react? 

Behold, the Wellness Wheel.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

The Heart of a Novel: Its “About-ness” – From the Writers in the Storm blog

by Barbara Linn Probst

I’m delighted to join WITS as a regular blogger! Thanks for having me.

We’ve all had that question put to us by friends, relatives, colleagues, and potential readers. It’s a reasonable question.

“It’s the story of a woman who …”

“It tells what happens when …”

But that’s the setup. It’s not what the book is about.

Coined by R.A. Fairthorne in 1969, “aboutness” is a term used in linguistics, philosophy of language, and the informational sciences to convey both the subject and intention of a text. In other words: what is said, and why.

So what’s your book about?

The question can be surprisingly difficult to answer. That’s because we aren’t used to thinking conceptually about our writing. We’re taught how to create stakes, wounds, obstacles, turning points—but those are just landmarks, coordinates, strategies in the service of the book’s aboutness.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

The Woman Who Rewrote Me – From the Electric Lit Blog

Man whose face is obscured by smoke

What happens when the person you love treats you like a character in one of her stories?

Clothes

She bought me T-shirts. They were similar to the shirts she wore, bright with colorful pop culture designs. The disembodied head of Indiana Jones floating among the clouds. A kazoo with a cursive disclaimer: Ceci n’est pas un kazoo.

It was August 2007, and we’d been dating for about two months. This was a long-distance relationship, Massachusetts to California; we wrote letters and emails, sent each other small gifts. With T-shirts she was making me over into someone else. Someone more fun and more casual, someone younger.

I was 30 years old. She was 37 and a successful writer, the author of novels, comics, and books for children. I’ll call her Cynthia.

Cynthia’s friends were writers and editors, musicians and show business people. When I visited LA, I went with her to parties, readings, conferences, dinners, shows. She seemed to know everyone.

I wanted to be a writer, too, and I was more than a little in awe of Cynthia, who wrote full time, who mixed and mingled at the intersections of Hollywood and the LA literati. I wore the T-shirts she gave me, even as I began to understand that she was grooming me for a particular role. Younger boyfriend. Hip nerd. Suitable match. I would become the right sort of character for this story, which was of course a love story, wild and daring.

We told it to one another in our letters. One of her first to me was written on the backs of sheet music pages. “I wonder if you are a dream,” she wrote. “Will you still want me in a month? Say yes. Say yes.”

Read the rest of this post HERE.