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The app that makes writing less lonely

bbc.co.uk – Monday November 26, 2018

If you see a writer in a movie, most likely she (or he) will be tapping on a laptop. But many young writers are doing it on mobile phones, and sometimes in teams.

Daniel, who uses the pen name LisVender, begins the story, which his writing team decides to call A Small Case of Writer's Block.

The tapping of Sara's pen against her glasses became so rhythmic that it sounded like a metronome set to allegretto. She spun in her swivel chair, watching the bookcases in her study swing by. She had to admit it: her story was stuck, her characters were stuck, and so was she.

Ella, pen name Elle, who has 313 stories under her belt, then picks up the tale.

Sighing, she slumped forward, forehead hitting the desk with a thump. How was she going to keep the plot rolling forward, give her characters the development they needed? Her eyes swivelled to the window, the glass frosted over with thin ice. Maybe a walk outside in the cold

At 276 characters, Elle has nearly reached her 280 limit, so she stops mid-sentence and passes the story to the next writer. (You can read the rest of the story at the bottom of this page.)

Welcome to the world of Inkvite, one of a number of creative-writing platforms popular with teenagers and young adults in the US. It allows users to share stories, comment on them, and also collaborate.

Here, five Inkvite authors explain its appeal.

[Read the full article]

Jonathan Franzen was mocked for sharing his writing tips. Me? I’m all ears

theguardian.com – Saturday November 24, 2018

Poor Jonathan Franzen, as literally no one says these days. Last week the acclaimed novelist and, to many, human embodiment of white male privilege published his 10 rules for aspiring novelists and, as tends to happen any time Franzen dares to open his mouth, he was thanked for his trouble with derision.

Small sidenote here, but I really don’t get the Franzen loathing. Sure, he could lighten up on the constant talk about birdwatching, but otherwise the things Franzen is hated for are either not really hateworthy or not actually his fault. This all began in ye olden times of 2001 with the famous, nay, legendary saga of Oprah Winfrey choosing Franzen’s novel, The Corrections, for her book club and him saying he’d rather not, thanks. Winfrey’s book choices were often, he said, not incorrectly, “schmaltzy”. It was the snub heard around the world and Franzen was for ever cast as an elitist snob, his every pronouncement since (he hates social media! He likes nature!) taken as further evidence of his hatefulness, even though surely most people would love to live a nice, Twitter-free, nature-based life in California, as Franzen does.

[Read the full article]

4am starts and spinach smoothies: Da Vinci Code's Dan Brown on how to write a bestseller

theguardian.com – Monday November 19, 2018

As he sets out to spill his secrets in an online masterclass, Brown talks about bad reviews, his habit of hanging upside down and the challenge of writing fiction in the age of Trump

The piano music is insistent, melodramatic. The scene begins under a vaulted ceiling and medieval candelabra reminiscent of the Great Hall in Game of Thrones. The camera pans across a vintage typewriter, intricately sculpted animals, antique bowl, statuette of a monk and relief carvings of knights. It roves around a dimly lit, dark wood library. Suddenly, unexpectedly, a bookshelf swivels on its axis to reveal a secret passage.

Out steps the master of the page turner in blue shirt and jeans, his sleeves rolled up. He settles into a chair, leans against a red cushion, crosses his legs and smiles. A screen caption says: “Dan Brown Teaches Writing Thrillers.” Brown, who has shifted 250m copies of his novels and seen them translated into 56 languages, is the latest big name to join MasterClass, the online celebrity tutorial company (he is donating his fee to charity).

[Read the full article]

Going with gut instinct: Lunch With literary agent Fiona Inglis

smh.com.au – Friday November 16, 2018

By the end of an opening chapter, Fiona Inglis usually has a good idea if the manuscript in her hands is potential bestseller material.

Call it gut instinct, says the well-connected head of the literary agency Curtis Brown who has made a career out of spotting writers readers want to read and counts bestselling clients Liane Moriarty, Markus Zusak, Andy Griffiths and Thomas Keneally as friends.

Story is everything. "Good writing will always rise to the top because it has something to say that is worth paying attention to," Inglis says. "I know immediately when I've found something fabulous because I want to interrupt everyone in the office and say, 'You have to read this!'

[Read the full article]

The Radicalization of Bedtime Stories

theatlantic.com – Monday November 12, 2018

More than 200 years ago, when books for children first became common, they delivered simple moral lessons about, for instance, cleanliness and the importance of prayer. Today, story time is still propelled by moral forces, but the issues have gotten a good deal more sophisticated.

In recent years, publishers have put out children’s books with political undertones and activist calls to action on topics ranging from Islamophobia to race to gender identity to feminism. “The trend has definitely exploded in recent years with the social-justice books and the activism books,” says Claire Kirch, a senior correspondent at Publishers Weekly who has been covering the book industry for 15 years.

[Read the full article]

Vary Sentence Structure

By G. Miki Hayden
Instructor at Writer's Digest University online and private writing coach

firstwriter.com – Saturday November 10, 2018

This past week I edited a novel written in a way meant to emulate the method used by a handful of successful mystery writers.

"He took the stairs down. He walked into the kitchen. He stood at the refrigerator. He got out a pitcher of cold water."

[Read the full article]

5 helpful books for National Novel Writing Month

syracuse.com – Wednesday November 7, 2018

If you've ever wanted to write a book, this is the month to begin! November is National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo, as it is often referred to, is an artistic writing project online that occurs every November. People who participate in this write a 50,000 word manuscript during the month.

Take part in this project by visiting nanowrimo.org and learn more about it by checking out books from your local library or by logging on to www.onlib.org.

[Read the full article]

We're winning the war on Word, fellow writers. Enjoy the freedom

theguardian.com – Sunday October 28, 2018

In a grim political season, there are signs that journalists are successfully challenging at least one odious tyrant.

In Slate, Rachel Withers has reported that in newsrooms throughout the United States, Microsoft Word is finally giving way to other programs, including Google Docs.

Some of the journalists Withers interviewed mentioned costs – Word may have become cheaper but in straitened modern newsrooms it’s hard to compete with free.

Others mentioned Google’s superiority as a platform for collaborative work. This is true, and it hints at a broader truth – Word is no longer fit for the purposes that many writers and editors need it to fulfil.

Word was launched in 1983. Then it was quite a simple program, running in DOS, and it emerged into a rich ecology of programs designed for writing.

[Read the full article]

How Writers Map Their Imaginary Worlds

atlasobscura.com – Tuesday October 23, 2018

One of life’s great treats, for a lover of books (especially fantasy books), is to open a cover to find a map secreted inside and filled with the details of a land about to be discovered. A writer’s map hints at a fully imagined world, and at the beginning of a book, it’s a promise. In the middle of a book, it’s a touchstone and a guide. And at the end, it’s a reminder of all the places the story has taken you.

A new book, The Writer’s Map, contains dozens of the magical maps writers have drawn or that have been made by others to illustrate the places they’ve created. “All maps are products of human imagination,” writes Huw Lewis-Jones, the book’s editor. “For some writers making a map is absolutely central to the craft of shaping and telling their tale.”

[Read the full article]

How to Find the Perfect Time to Write

lifehacker.com – Tuesday October 23, 2018

If you dream of becoming a writer, you have to eventually sit down and write. Whether you’re doing National Novel Writing Month in November, or you dream of being a writer “someday,” the first inescapable step is making the time to do it. Here’s a 15-minute exercise toward that end that you can do today.

[Read the full article]

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