In her latest blog, For Your Holiday Table: “Cowboy in a Sack”, Women Writing the West member, Lynn Downey, shares some interesting tidbits she uncovered while doing research for her next book (March 2022). Read more about her findings and maybe add an old-fashioned culinary dish to your holiday festivities. Let us know how it turns out.
Get Out of the Room
“The editor has no place in the room while you’re writing,” says world-class developmental editor, Tiffany Yates Martin.
She enthusiastically encourages you to let your pure creativity flow without your imaginary inner-jerk editor, poking you, asking, “Really? Is that the best way to say it?”
There’s a time for the editor—but it’s later, helping you tame your draft into submission.
One way to hush your inner critic is find a book that’s well written. Read it. Enjoy it. Then go back and read it again, but this time, read it analytically as a writer. Ask questions. How did the author set this up? What created this tension? How did he/she do that? Make notes.
Learning to read analytically will “osmose storycraft into you,” says Martin. Then as you write, “… you’ll subconsciously put what you learned into your writing without trying to.”
What do you look for when analyzing a book?
One important facet is MOMENTUM. At the WWW Conference, Tiffany Yates Martin will share 30 years of her editing knowledge in a special Thursday workshop, How To Find and Fix Middle-Of-The-Book Sag. You’ll learn how to spot what’s derailing your story and how to get it back on track.
Martin works with national publishers and best-selling authors and loads tremendous value, information and inspiration into an afternoon. This is a value-packed workshop regardless of your skill level or genre.
Whether this is your first time tackling a novel or your fifteenth, the NaNo Prep 101 Workshop is ready to help you prepare to reach your goal. During September and October, NaNoWriMo Prep 101 provides activities for you to use. Visit NaNoWriMo Prep 101 for more information.
Are you planning to participate in NaNoWriMo 2021?
Are you a seasoned NaNoWriMo writer?
Is this your first time taking part in NaNoWriMo?
What Are You Bad At?
Folklorist, Kate Ristau, will tell you she’s bad at “description.” Then she’ll encourage you to ponder your own Don’t-Want-To-Admit, Not-So-Good areas of writing.
And you’ll let out a breath of relief when she tells you why it doesn’t matter.
Your awareness is what matters.
Now that you’re aware of your goods and bads, you can focus on picking up tools to make your fragile areas better. “You can learn how to fix it. You don’t have to wallow in your inability … just find the tools you need to do the things you can’t,” Kate says.
Fortunately, Kate will help build those tools. Her WWW Conference workshop, “Between the Quotes” will give writers at any level an effective, polished tool to write dialogue. You’ll learn to create riveting conversation that reveals the character, drives the plot, sets the mood, and grounds the reader in the story.
Having taught at University of Oregon and Western Oregon University, her method is affirming and inspirational. Hermiddle grade series, Clockbreakers, and the young adult series, Shadow Girl, have unforgettable characters in stories that live long in the reader’s memory. Her essays appear in the NYTimes and Washington Post. Visit Kate’s website to see more of her work.
Until you can attend this workshop to build your dialogue toolkit, keep Kate’s words in mind.
“Remember the things you’re good at, as well as the things you’re bad at because ALL of those things, ALL together, they come to define your own unique style.”
My first thought was that any writing does – emails, social media posts, reports, formal letters. They’re all a way of honing our skills. But the intimacy of writing to pen pals gives you much more freedom of expression — one of the fundamentals of good writing.
Read more about The Benefits of Pen Pals and How They Made Me a Better Writer by Karon Taylor (The Team Write Life)
Amp up Story Tension: Villains have Their Moments
You know what the villain, brute, or antagonist in your story must do. But is that character believable? Would he/she actually act that way in the real world?
At the October WWW Conference, we have the unique opportunity to hear from forensic psychologist, Frank Weber. This award-winning true-crime author and profiler will help you create spine-tingling scenes in his presentation: Creating True to Life Characters, Situations and Tension.
WWW recently asked him, “What’s one mistake writers make about villains?”
His answer will give you plenty of ways to twist your plot…. (and your characters).
Frank Weber says…
“As a forensic psychologist, I’ve interviewed killers. A common mistake is that villains are one-hundred percent bad. Even the worst people I’ve dealt with occasionally say kind or meaningful things.
“Gary Gillmore was a very antisocial character who had the notoriety of being the first person executed when they reinstated the death penalty. He murdered two young fathers after robbing them, even though they complied completely with his demands. When Gillmore was on death row he received a letter from and eight-year-old boy stating, ‘I hate you with all the malice in my heart.’
“Gillmore wrote him back, ‘You’re too young to have malice in your heart. I had malice in my heart at your age, and look where I am.’
“Some murderers go for long periods of time undetected simply because they are not always evil. They always do have a moment when their lack of empathy is obvious. It’s often dismissed as, “He’s just having a bad day,” rather than honestly considering his deep psychopathology.”
No matter your genre, every story needs a villain (sometimes it’s the villain within the hero). Frank Weber will help writers learn about forensic techniques, what they get wrong on TV, and create spine-tingling tension that will have your readers turning pages.
Article Writing—It Benefits You in Ways You’ve Never Dreamed
Need to sell more books? Need to gain credibility and move to “published” status more quickly? Want to improve your overall writing skills for both fiction and non-fiction?
Writing articles will help you reach all these goals. It even pays, maybe not a lot, but the compensation can be used to support a research trip or buy a new keyboard.
At the 2021 WWW Conference, Melissa Hart will teach beginning and advanced classes to start growing or polishing your article-writing skills. We asked her to share one short tip to get us ready:
How to make an opening paragraph irresistible.
Hart says, “In this age of distraction, it’s crucial to command readers’ attention in your very first sentence. I pack my first paragraphs with equal parts conflict and surprise. When readers witness a protagonist immediately engaged in some internal or external struggle, we’re hooked. We want to find out what happens. And when you add surprising details in your description of a character or setting, or in dialogue or a well-crafted metaphor, I dare anyone to stop reading and go back to watching cat videos.
On October 9, Hart will share specific methods gleaned from experience as an award-winning middle-grade author, a journalist, and Master of Fine Arts creative writing instructor. Her well-researched articles and essays have appeared in numerous national publications and have helped thousands of writers.
Her value-packed information is for all writers. Those who have research material will especially find these presentations valuable in helping market their books.
Born among the rolling green hills of New Richmond, Ohio, Mary Archard was a thinker and achiever from the beginning. This can-do attitude must have run through her blood, for several branches of her family living in the villages of New Richmond, Batavia, Amelia, and in the city of Cincinnati, had been significant contributors to the settling of the region. Some became educators, others were abolitionists, and still others, preachers; everyone farmed.
The third of five daughters of James and Jane Archard, at twenty years of age Mary wed Edward Hempstead Latham, the son of a prominent Columbus, Ohio, family. To wed at twenty was not unusual at the time. They produced three boys, while Edward attended medical college, earning his degree. Also, not very unusual. But before long, the unusual occurred when Mary enrolled in and graduated in 1886 from medical college, earning a license to practice and the title, Dr. Mary A. Latham.
In 1888, Mary travelled to Spokane Falls, Washington Territory, seeking to improve her health and became the first female physician in the village. She led an extraordinary life there, until it wasn’t. She specialized in caring for women and children, though she never turned anyone away, male or female. The “unfortunate girls” of Spokane Falls/Spokane were especially fortunate when Dr. Mary Latham cared for them, sometimes inside her own home. And she found respectable homes for their unwanted infants. While keeping busy in her practice, she also helped establish a public library, travelled, and wrote numerous letters to editors of the various local newspapers. Mary always spoke her mind.
But at the tragic accidental death of a son, followed quickly by a stroke, Mary suffered great turmoil. The traumas took their toll upon her mind, until she battled depression and likely early dementia, once considering suicide. Her declining ability to make wise decisions combined with her proud, feisty nature would bring trouble. She would be taken advantage of by others seeking to profit from her vulnerability. Eventually, Mary finds herself inside the Spokane County Courthouse, accused of arson of her own property. Convicted on circumstantial evidence alone, but with a recommendation for mercy from the jury, Mary is nevertheless sentenced by a judge—one with a possible vendetta toward her—to four years at hard labor in the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. She returns to Spokane for her final decade still caring for others, until she and her final tiny patient succumb in January 1917.
As a member of the fourth generation of an Oregon pioneer family, Beverly Lionberger Hodgins has a distinct interest in all things historical regarding the settling and development of the Pacific and Inland Northwest. She lives in Spokane, Washington, and is a distant relative of Dr. Mary Archard Latham.