David Michaelson has received word from the Military Writer’s Society of America that three of his books are finalists in the annual MWSA awards competition. The three books are from three different genres and include, RAPSCALLION SUMMER (humor); BROTHERS LOST (adventure/thriller); BUTTERFLY DUST (young readers). Last year David won two awards in the Science Fiction category.
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When it comes to rough drafts, it’s all about production. Get something done.
I don’t like production writing. Rough drafts are always bad and I don’t like producing crappy work. Yes, I understand it’s the necessary first step yada yada. That doesn’t make it any easier to accomplish.
Enter writing buddies. Shared misery makes it more tolerable. There’s empathy. A hour of buddy writing can yield good results. Production happens.
Unfortunately, a typical rough draft can be three times the size of its final form. If I’m writing a novel or a user manual, I’m talking big word counts.
Enter writing marathons.
Natalie Goldberg is credited with popularizing the writing marathon concept. Her version involves several iterations of timed writes (often prompted) followed by short readings. Differing versions of her original program have since developed, the most well-known being the Annual New Orleans Writing Marathon sponsored by The Writing Project of Southeastern Louisiana University (SELU). SELU’s website http://english.selu.edu/writingmarathon has become the how-to home base for writing marathons around the globe.
A writing marathon makes fast work of that first purple draft. It’s also a great way to jumpstart a
fledgling project or push seasoned work into completion. Well-orchestrated marathons can inspire participants of every skill level into generating remarkable output with surprisingly little difficulty. The key is the iterative structure supported by changing surroundings, short periods of sharing, physical movement (usually walking), strong leadership and periodic instruction, motivation, and problem-solving.
I’ll be conducting just such an experience on Jan 25th, 8 AM to 8 PM starting at the Book Fare Café above Village Books. The price is quite reasonable: $69. Sponsored by Whatcom Community College, Village Books, and the Fairhaven Village Inn, the Winter Writing Marathon is a precursor to the already successful Chuckanut Writers Conference http://chuckanutwritersconference.com/home/
Of course not everyone has the time to attend. If this is your dilemma, then get busy and create your own marathon. Develop an agenda, set a date, invite friends, serve snacks and make sure everyone sticks to the schedule. There’s no reason we can’t all benefit from Goldberg’s concept. Let’s make 2013 a spectacular year not just for production writing, but also for manuscript completion.
Time’s a-passing, writers. Are you game?
For more information about the Winter Writing Marathon in Fairhaven, http://events.sfgate.com/bellingham_wa/events/show/295333365-winter-writing-marathon
Contact Dawn Groves, firstname.lastname@example.org
It goes without saying that it is vital to make sure you have all of your bases covered before handing in a piece, a chapter or a full manuscript.
How can you be sure?
Research is the backbone of quality writing. It’s how you support your points of view, your descriptions of eras, events and people; and it’s even important when crafting the vocabulary and dialect you choose for your characters’ voices.
There are many ways to conduct research. Here are some avenues:
- Other books
- Magazine and newspaper articles
- Archived interviews
- Reliable web pages
- Film (movies and documentaries)
- Conducting your own interviews
The manuscript I am currently working on is a time period piece; a historical fiction about baseball in 1932. In order to ensure I fully capture the zeitgeist of that era, I have embarked on extensive research. I have watched documentaries, I have watched movies set in that time period (“The Sting” and “The Natural” to name a couple), I have read books about that era and about the players I am using for characters—I have even listened to 1930’s music to round out the experience.
In my soon-to-be novel, I have chosen to use all of the real players, statistics, ballparks, umpires and public figures from 1932—even though this is historical fiction. I have chosen to create a ‘what-if scenario,’ in which I’m attempting to capture how events and results would have differed had the color barrier in baseball been broken fifteen years earlier by a different man (Satchel Paige). I have utilized a website called baseball-reference.com, which has archived players, teams, managers, umpires, statistics and box scores all the way back to the early 1900s. This has enabled me to get a better feel for which players and managers were a part of the two teams I am writing about (Yankees and Cubs). It has also provided good background information for each player as they are introduced in the story.
It has also been important to research things like automobile models, train stations, city nightlife, social trends and much more as I attempt to paint the picture of that era, enabling the reader to travel back to 1932 in his/her mind.
In summary, research is vital for successful work. It can be an exhilarating journey, as you discover facts and tidbits about what and who and when you are writing about. So, before you hand in your hard work, be sure to take a trip to the library, scour the Internet and find some knowledgeable people to speak with. You can never have enough information.
As I began my art career in Layout & Design, I learned to use fonts as a design element in advertisments, business cards, and posters. I learned that design work takes a particularly good eye for composition, and a love of shapes.
As a writer, I like to use New Times Roman as I pen my novels and short-short stories. It is easy to read, smallish, and clean. I try to avoid the overuse of italics and fonts that are scriptlike with lots of flourishes.
When I began formating my novel, Whispering, Idaho, for eBook publication, I researched the web and found Arial suggested as a good font to use for ePub. I think it looks decent and is easy to read. The suggestion is to choose a font sans serif (without serifs). Serifs make the type harder to read.
Upon discussing this with a friend recently, I was informed that she loves Georgia for her ebooks. She says Arial is boring. I tried it, but decided to go back to the Arial. Simplicity is akin to cleanliness and Godliness in my book. However, as I continue to ask around, I see that font-use is a personal choice…and though there are no hard and fast rules (except from publishers) we want people to be able to read our work. I’ve heard of people giving up on a book because of the typeface used.
What typeface are you using for your ePublications? Comment, if you like. I’d love to hear your opinion.
Cheers, Nancy Canyon, MFA I’m featured artist for Volume #65 of Bellingham Review. Here’s the link http://wwwbhreview.org/issue-65/