Tag Archives: Writers Resources

Some of my favorite editors OF ALL TIME

Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment. So come closer and listen to what I’ve learned from experience: Editors are a writer’s best friend.

Not when they’re patting you on the back, because anybody can butter you up.

They’re your best friend when they take a red pen and blast through your complicated writing pets, when they check your wildest instincts and find order out of the natural chaos that comes from banging on the keyboard to create anything of length and importance.

So it’s wrong to say that every writer needs an editor.

You need more than one, if you want to get serious about any sort of real writing. Continue reading

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Filed under 6 Friendly Friday

Good things come in small, funny packages

Long is the enemy of all that is funny and good.

Writing long will suck the life out of your words and ideas. Embrace short and pithy. Hug the glory of writing short tightly to your bosum, even if you’re not sure where your bosum may be, or if the FCC will fine you for using that word on the Series of Tubes.

Take photo memes, which are really one-liners with an illustration. They’re boiled down and refined, without a word wasted. That’s why they work. Extra verbiage would drown the funny.

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This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

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Filed under 5 Random Thursday, Fiction, Red Pen of Doom

The secret truth about writing

When was the last time you went to a movie and wanted to stay behind and watch it again?

What was the last political stump speech that made you laugh and cry and want to go knock on the doors of your neighbors to make sure they voted? When was the last time you read a newspaper story that built up to an amazing climax instead of petering off into boring little details?

More people are writing more things than ever before. Movies and TV shows, blogs and newspapers, hardcover novels and digital e-books. Yet most of it is forgettable. Trite. Boring.

It used to be, blockbuster movies were the ones that had amazing special effects.

STAR WARS showed us things we’d never seen before, like lightsabers. Who doesn’t want a lightsaber?

JURASSIC PARK gave us dinosaurs that weren’t claymation or puppets. Today, though, any old TV show can afford to have great special effects.

And with the written word — novels, speeches, non-fiction and poetry — every author has the same unlimited special effects budget. You can do whatever you want for free. So what’s the problem?

Continue reading

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Filed under 4 Writing Secrets Wednesday, Fiction, Red Pen of Doom, Romances; also, novels with Fabio covers, Speechwriting, Thrillers and mysteries

Friendly Friday: Gwen the Hernandez, Scrivener Goddess

Chances are, anybody writing a novel, screenplay or regular-old play has come to love and hate Word.

Mostly hate.

Whenever a piece gets long and complicated, Word starts to fail you.

After 5,000 words or so, it takes five minutes of fussing with the mouse to scroll around to where you need to work. Anything of length becomes a chore. Navigating your immense document becomes more work than writing more words.

This is where Gwen the Hernandez can help.

Gwen the Hernandez

Gwen the Hernandez is literary muffin of stud. Also, not even the peoples who INVENTED Scrivener know more about it than her.

She is not only an author and blogger, but an expert at Scrivener, which is designed to help writers crank out stuff that is long. Especially novels and screenplays.

This was an accident. Gwen didn’t go to college to major in Scrivener or whatever.

From using it, and writing helpful posts on her blog, she branched out and is now busy writing SCRIVENER FOR DUMMIES, and getting paid to be, I don’t know, some kind of world-class expert on the thing.

This is good for Gwen, good  for writers and good for America.

(Sidenote: I’m not leaving out writers in the UK, Australia and whatnot on purpose. It’s just that the Bob Dole triple-play doesn’t work unless you end it on “good for America.”)

SCRIVENER FOR DUMMIES

SCRIVENER FOR DUMMIES by Gwen the Hernandez. If you’re a writer of novels or screenplays, and you are even thinking about using Scrivener, you want to check her blog and maybe, one day, save your pennies to buy her book.

Also, Gwen the Hernandez is blonde, wrote some kind of novel that was a finalist for some award, likes to puts on a gi to punch people / get punched and has ties to the Air Force.

It’s as if I have a female doppleganger on the East Coast.

Gwen, I raise my massive mug of caffeine in your direction.

Visit her blog — and sign up for the thing by email or whatever: 
http://gwenhernandez.wordpress.com/

Also, follow her on the Twitter:
@Gwen_Hernandez

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This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

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Filed under 6 Friendly Friday, Barons of the Blogosphere, Worthy citizens of the Twitterverse

Writers, we are doing it BACKWARDS

Oh, it kills me to say this: we are doing it backwards.

Maybe you’re the exception to the rule. Perhaps you’re that rare writer who figured this out 10 years ago.

But I doubt it. Most of the writers that I know — whether they’re novelists or journalists, speechwriters or screenwriters — go about it roughly the same way.

Step 1) Research, whether it’s six months of intense study or six minutes of looking at Wikipedia and playing Angry Birds “to let it all percolate.”

Step 2) Boil down the research into useful nuggets of meaty goodness.

Step 3) Use their secret recipe of writing methods to cook up their piece (outlining first or winging it, 3 x 5 index cards or spiral notebook, Word 2010 or Scrivener, one draft or six drafts, coffee or bourbon).

Step 4) Hand the draft to our spouse / best friend / cousin Joey to get all coffee stained and edited. 

Step 5) Spend five or fifty minutes thinking about how to present and sell the sucker for SUITCASES STUFFED WITH TWENTIES.

Those first four steps, they’re essential, right?

Here’s the thing: We writers are incredibly talented at screwing up Step 5.

Continue reading

29 Comments

Filed under 4 Writing Secrets Wednesday, Fiction

Why are all writers lazy bums?

I don’t really think writers are lazy bums. I just want us all to talk about the elephant in the living room.

Why does writing TAKE SO LONG?

The average person types 50 words per minute.

And that’s slow. I type about 80 or 90. Faster, if I have coffee.

Quicker if I have coffee, a deadline and something to look forward to after.

Here comes the math.

Fifty words per minute =

  • 3,000 words per hour
  • 24,000 words per eight-hour day
  • 120,000 words per week

That’s a ton of words. An incredible amount.

Let’s do a little more math to see how much we should be cranking out, if we’re not surfing the net, Twittering our lives away and checking out Facebook photos all day.

Here come the word counts:

  • 200 words = letter to the editor
  • 500 words = five-minute speech
  • 600 words = news story
  • 800 words = oped
  • 1,000 words = 10-minute speech
  • 1,000 to 3,000 words = profile or magazine piece
  • 1,000 to 8,000 words = short story
  • 3,000 words = 30-minute keynote speech
  • 15,000 words = screenplay
  • 20,000 to 50,000 words = novella
  • 60,000 to 200,000 words = novel

If you work an honest 40-hour week, you should’ve produced 120,000 words.

That’s eight screenplays or 200 newspaper stories.

It’s 40 keynote speeches or one entire novel. In a single week.

Nobody writes that much. NOBODY.

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Filed under 4 Writing Secrets Wednesday

Vonnegut, Einstein and a Grand Unified Theory of Writing

Kurt Vonnegut was the Man.

Go back and read his books. DO IT NOW.

Once you’ve read his books, and fully appreciate his literary genius, you can watch this low-definition video with horrible audio that still rocks because it has KURT FREAKING VONNEGUT.

I would have paid monies to have him as my professor. Now that I think about it, I did pay monies to have professors. Hmm. Though my journalism profs were top-notch. Props to you all.

Now, it’s not so complicated, is it?

Hero in a hole.

Boy meets girl.

Girl with a problem.

Albert Einstein — and thousands of other people far, far smarter than you or I put together, even on our good days when our fingers spark magic and the coffee we drink would do better on an IQ test than Michele Bachmann — spent many years trying to come up with a unified theory of everything.

See, the whole E=MC2 was only part of the answer. That’s the equation for energy. He wanted to do an equation that also explained gravity and whatnot. IT IS COMPLICATED. We will not get into it.

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein was a muffin of stud with epic hair. I salute him. Image via Wikipedia

But writing isn’t rocket science. Not even close.

Oh, people get all mystical and complicated, and come up with their own jargon and rules. Yet these self-appointed writing gurus all disagree, and they specialize so much that they know more and more about less and less until they know absolutely everything about nothing.

Continue reading

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Filed under 4 Writing Secrets Wednesday