A Search Engine For Writers by Elizabeth S. Craig

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A Search Engine for Writers

By Elizabeth S. Craig

 

 

When you’re just starting out as a writer, it can be hard to figure out how to improve at your craft. There are an overwhelming number of writing reference books out there. There are courses to take. I tried both of those things, but never really felt as if I was getting the information I needed. That’s when I started combing through writing blogs for craft tips.

 

Before subscribing to writing blogs, I’d discovered that Google wasn’t helpful for delivering writing-related links. For example, a search on POV would return results for a show on American public broadcasting.

 

In frustration, I decided to build my own set of reliable resources to help me improve my craft. In a way, I started collecting writing blogs. I’d find a good one and then frequently found that those blogs linked to other blogs in their sidebars…so I’d hop over to see if those blogs were helpful. Finding these blogs and subscribing to them became a fun rabbit-hole of information.

 

I read a lot of blog posts and found tons of useful information on the writing craft, on promotion, and on the industry itself. That’s when I decided it might be helpful if I shared the posts as I found them. I figured that not only would it create some good karma for me, but it might also help to build my social media presence on Twitter at the same time.

 

 

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Since 2009, I’ve been finding writing and publishing-related articles that serve as resources for writers. I use an RSS feed reader and subscribe to over 1,000 writing blogs. Every day, I scroll through the reader, looking for the best posts to share on Twitter.

 

The only problem was that everything on Twitter seemed really ephemeral. The tweets were useful, and they were being shared. But the tweets weren’t the static resource that I wanted to create. I decided to share each week’s links as a roundup on Sundays on my blog. That helped (especially since not everyone is on Twitter). But there wasn’t really an effective way of searching for specific content.

 

In 2010, software engineer Mike Fleming was reading my blog and read on one of my posts: “I’m sure there’s got to be a better way to do this, but I can’t think of it.” He emailed me his idea: a search engine for the writing links. It could be searchable by topic and writers could find a list of resources for any writing-related questions they might have.

 

In January 2011, a special search engine for writers debuted, developed by Mike. Called the Writer’s Knowledge Base, or WKB, it’s a free resource for writers in conjunction with novel organizer Hiveword. You can search by topic or by category (e.g., business, creativity, promo). You can also sign up to have these posts delivered to you via email (customizable by frequency and category). More information about email delivery in Mike Fleming’s post here.

 

 

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I love that I have a hand in sharing all of the amazing information for writers out there. There are now nearly 45,000 articles in the WKB. If you ever find you need help with the writing craft, figuring out how to start your own writer website, or even researching a blog post, I hope you’ll check into this free resource.

 

 

 

Elizabeth S. Craig--Web (2)

 

 

Elizabeth is the bestselling cozy mystery author of the Southern Quilting mysteries, Memphis Barbeque mysteries, and Myrtle Clover Cozy Mysteries for Penguin Random House, Midnight Ink, and independently.

 

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Series by Elizabeth S. Craig

 

 

 

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Writing, Rewriting, and Craft with Elena Hartwell

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Writing, Rewriting, and Craft

By Elena Hartwell

As a novelist and playwright, I’m often asked where I get my ideas. Almost every writer I know gets this question, and I think we all feel the same. Ideas are never the problem. That’s the easy part. Ideas are a dime a dozen. The hard part, the magic part, is turning the idea into a polished, final manuscript.

 

The writing process varies wildly from author to author. Some write extensive, detailed outlines. Others sit down with an idea and write scenes on the fly. A number of writers fall somewhere in between, while they may not outline, neither do they sit down and write completely organically. They might write a synopsis or outline a chapter in advance.

 

The various combinations of these methods all work, depending on the writer and the project. There is no “wrong” way to write a novel. The “how” a writer works isn’t why their manuscript sells or doesn’t sell. The primary reason an author’s work has not yet sold is a lack of craft.

 

People who lack craft skills rarely sit down to write a novel. Or if they do, they can start, but never finish. Or if they do finish, they don’t rewrite. Or if they do rewrite, they quit after a single pass. Or, if they do continue to rewrite, they aren’t aware enough of craft to recognize the flaws in their own work. You get the picture. The problem is the writer stops too soon.

 

As a writing coach—I do one-on- one manuscript critiques as well as teaching workshops—there are some fundamental issues I see repeated in early drafts, over and over. These same issues show up in my own work, and probably on some level, in the early drafts of every writer out there. So the first thing aspiring writers can do to increase their chances of writing a successful manuscript, is learn how to identify these problems.

 

 

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The first is a lack of clear objectives, obstacles, and stakes. It’s not enough to have a dead body to write a mystery. Someone has to investigate the murder. The person investigating the murder has to need to solve the crime. If they don’t need to solve the crime (objective) there’s no tension about the investigation. If the solution doesn’t matter to the investigator, it won’t matter to the reader.

 

The sleuth also can’t solve the crime easily, that’s not dramatic. Various impediments (obstacles) have to appear, one after the other, to prevent the protagonist from catching the killer. The more the investigator has to overcome, the more satisfying to the reader when they do.

 

Lastly, it has to matter (stakes). For example, the protagonist with an internal struggle, coinciding with their investigation, is far more interesting than someone who simply goes through the motions of solving a crime.

 

The more important solving the case is to the protagonist, the more dangerous or difficult the journey, and the greater the importance to find the guilty party, the more invested a reader will be. That’s what keeps a reader turning pages.

 

 

The 3d guy got over the challenge

 

 

 

Complex protagonists will also have personal objectives, obstacles, and stakes to go along with their investigation. For example, a crumbling marriage, a child in danger, or overcoming an addiction are common tropes within the genre. When we know an investigator has to choose between catching a killer and saving their marriage, the stakes are high and we breathlessly turn each page waiting to see what the character chooses.

 

Another common error I find is a lack of structure. All stories have an underpinning structure. While there are variations to that structure, for the most part, especially in crime fiction, we start with the world as we know it, which is disrupted by a specific event, followed by rising action, where events pile one on top the other, each more important than the one that went before. This ends with a climactic scene, with the maximum danger to our hero or heroine, followed by a glimpse into the new world order for our characters.

 

If any of these parts are missing, the story can feel unfinished. For example, if we don’t have some sense of what the character’s life was before the intrusion, we don’t know what they are putting at risk. The “world before” can often be well hidden, it might not appear in the first chapter, but later in reflections the character makes as the story progresses, but usually a reader can identify it if they look for it.

 

The middle of a manuscript might falter if a lot of exciting things happen at the beginning, then nothing exciting follows. Rising action is important, because it builds dramatic tension, making it impossible to put the book down.

 

 

 

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Lastly, an ending can feel unsatisfying if we have no sense of the outcome. Readers don’t need everything tied up in a bow, but they do want the primary threads to be resolved enough to know what the character’s lives will be like after they read “the end.”

 

Dialogue can also be difficult to master. One of the most common problems I see is when authors have their characters say exactly what they feel and exactly what they mean. That doesn’t ring true. People lie all the time. We lie because it’s expedient, it benefits us in some way, it keeps us from hurting others, or we don’t want to get in trouble. We rarely say what we mean, we obfuscate, we dither, we agree out loud when disagreeing feels like a mistake. Dialogue works best when each character speaks distinctly from the others, through word choice, sentence length, grammatical accuracy, and the use of slang.

 

If a writer can identify just these specific problem areas in their own writing, their next draft will be a much tighter, more polished manuscript. It can feel overwhelming to try to identify and fix all the issues I’ve outlined at one time. My recommendation for writers is to choose one aspect and rewrite just for that. Heighten the stakes in one rewrite. Focus solely on dialogue for the next. Breaking down the process into smaller chunks can make each rewrite a more successful venture. This will help the writer get through a series of rewrites rather than attempting one and feeling like the mountain is too high to climb. My final piece of advice. Don’t give up. That’s the only difference between a published author and an unpublished one.

 

 

 

Elena Hartwell author photo with horse

 

Elena Hartwell was born in Bogota, Colombia, while her parents were in the Peace Corps. Her first word was “cuidado.” At the age of nine months, she told two men carrying a heavy table to be careful in their native tongue. She’s been telling people what to do ever since. After almost twenty years in the theater, Elena turned her playwriting skills to novels and the result is her first book “One Dead, Two to Go,” followed by “Two Heads Are Deader Than One.” “Three Strikes, You’re Dead.” For more information on Elena, please visit elenahartwell.com or like her Facebook Page ElenaHartwell/Author. You may get to see cute pictures of her dog and her horses.

 

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Welcome to Mystery Thriller Week 2018

Welcome

 

 

Welcome to Mystery Thriller Week!

 

Here is your chance to win captivating thrillers and exciting mysteries written by fabulous authors! One lucky reader will win one bundle. Can’t decide which one you want? Enter to win them all! Click on the link below and comment on the post to be entered to win. These giveaways end April 17!

 

 Bundle Giveaway: Enter Here

 

 

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To enter the giveaway you must comment on the link above that’ll take you to the MTW Facebook Group page. Once you’ve commented on the page you’ll be automatically entered to win a bundle of books. They’ll be grouped by categories so you can choose which you’d like to enter.

 

 

 

Stick around to discover more great books, author interviews, book reviews, podcasts, recommendations, blog tours, writing craft and more!

 

 

Join the FUN!

 

MTW lasts for 11 straight days, April 12-22nd, so there’s plenty of opportunities to celebrate the Mystery & Thriller genre that we all love to read.

 

MTW Thin Banner April 2018

 

Free Webinar

INSTAGRAM is quickly becoming one of the most powerful social media tools for expanding your reach and growing your business. But how can you leverage the platform to reach thousands of clients and customers, without spending hundreds of hours or spending thousands of dollars?

 

Save your spot for a Free Webinar Instagram Training! Publicist Dana Kaye has teamed up with Instagram strategist, entrepreneur & business coach Kelsey Chapman.

**Save your spot: Here

When: Friday April 13, 2018 12:00PM EST

 

Don’t forget to check the MTW 2018 Calendar of Events: 2018 MTW Calendar

Share this post using the hashtag #MTW_2018.

 

See you soon!!

 

 

 

Free Master Class: Connect with Readers, Build your Platform

Build your platform 2 Gabby

 

 

Monday, April 2nd at 1pm ET

 

In this live broadcast, you’ll learn…

 

  • My go-to technique or identifying your audience, so you can get off the content hamster wheel and connect with your reader authentically and with integrity.

 

  • How to identify your core message as a writer, so your platform has focus and intention.

 

  • Who your ideal reader is so you can envision that person while you write and revise your book, and…

 

  • How to identify actual potential readers because imaginary readers don’t buy books.

 

  • What the Breadcrumb Technique is and how to use it to research your potential readers, so that even if you have no platform, you can “borrow readers from more established writers.

 

 

 

Build your Platform 3 Gabby

 

 

What are you waiting for?

Sign up now and you’ll get a an instant cheat sheet download,
plus email updates about the live broadcast.

When: Monday, April 2nd at 1pm ET

Sign up now

 

 

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Gabby P

 

Gabriela Pereira is the Instigator of DIYMFA.com, the do-it-yourself alternative to a Masters degree in writing. While undercover as an MFA student, she invented a slew of writing tools of her own and developed a new, more effective way for writers to learn their craft. She dubbed it DIY MFA and now her mission is to share it with the world. Teaching at conferences and online, Gabriela has helped hundreds of writers get the MFA experience without going to school. She also hosts DIY MFA Radio, where she recreates the MFA speaker series in podcast form.

Before becoming a writer, Gabriela has done lots of wild and nerdy things like: playing violin at Carnegie Hall, singing madrigals in full Renaissance garb, designing toys for kids ages toddler to tween, and taking applied topology and number theory “just for kicks.” Despite her varied interests, Gabriela’s main passions have always been teaching and design. Now at DIY MFA she can bring these two elements together. Her favorite thing to do is come up with new dastardly plans and innovative resources for writers.

 

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DIY MFA Gabby P

 

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Masterclass

 

 

 

 

Introducing Felony Fiction.com Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense Books

Felony Fiction

 

 

Bestselling author Patrcia Loofbourrow  is developing a site called Felony Fiction where you can discover new sleuths, spies, and serial killers.  The site is currently under construction, but will go live on May 1st with a wonderful book fair on the front page.

 

 

Under Development Concept

 

 

How Can I Participate?

 

  • Lovers is mystery, thrillers, and/or suspense, this is for you!
  • Readers will find puzzles, action, and thrills – along with new authors for your library.
  • Promotion for free books.
  • Like the Facebook page.
  • Join the Author Promotion Group.
  • Felony Fiction Book Fair Sign up

 

 

Join now to get updates. Site launches on May 1st & sign ups close April 15th, so act now!

Felony Fiction Book Fair Sign up

 

 

 

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Masterclass: How to Get Reviews with Mark Dawson

Retro TV

 

SPF Podcast 106: How to Get Reviews

 

 

 

Audio | How to Get Reviews Tip sheet | Full Transcript

 

 

 

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