Friday’s Fun Find: Writing Tips for Writers (And Stickers!)

ben-franklin-quotesI am like the worst when it comes to Pinterest.

Actually, I’m not like the worst. I am the worst. But as I was checking the old inbox a second ago, I came across something from Pinterest along the lines of “Words of Wisdom.”

Now, I am a sucker for words of wisdom. I love words of wisdom. I have words of wisdom plastered on sticky notes and stuck all over my office. And on the walls of my bedroom (which is also the Beneficent Mr. Hall’s bedroom. So yeah, it’s becoming a bit of a problem). So of course, I had to take a few seconds to click on “Words of Wisdom.”

Know what I found? WRITING TIPS ON PINTEREST!!!

Thousands and thousands of writing tips. On Pinterest. That I could follow! And whenever a new tip (or words of writing wisdom) comes along–zip! It’s in the old inbox! (I found these stickers there–Printable Planner Stickers, and I thought, oh my word! STICKERS! For planning your writing week! Not to mention a couple pdf’s of writing freebies on the same website! Well, it was a veritable smorgasbord of writing words of wisdom, right?)

Anyway, now that I’m following this neat little Pinterest group, I’ll be in the know instantly! Or whenever I get around to checking my inbox stuff.

I’m sort of the worst when it comes to checking my inbox stuff.

Fun Friday Finds (Or Who Says Friday the 13th Ain’t Lucky?)

Today was very lucky for the person who won Chicken Soup for the Soul’s Messages from Heaven. I threw all those names into Random.org and randomized away until this name popped up: STACY!

I sure hope you enjoy the book, Stacy. And for the rest of you non-winners, I have something that will make you feel so much better, you’ll laugh right out loud. (Stacy, you can read it, too.)  It’s Colin Nissan’s “The Ultimate Guide to Writing Better Than You Normally Do.”

I came across Colin’s article over at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and seriously, I could spend the entire day there, reading stuff and laughing out loud. But then I’d be breaking one of Colin’s rules and never get to writing better than I normally do.

I may not get to that point, anyway. But at least now I feel pretty good about blaming McSweeney’s.

 

MORE Amazing Workshop Wonders

First, you don’t want to miss the AMAZING wonder-ful discoveries I made while workshopping. That’s going on over at The Muffin where I blogged today.

Okay, back? Now it’s on to today’s AMAZING character wonder that will change your writing forever. But first a BIG thank you to Kathi Appelt, a pretty amazing author and teacher, who shared her wisdom about character-writing.

She shared lots of fine tips on writing about people. But the one that I’m in love with is the “controlling belief.” It’s such a simple concept (but I’m not going to lie. Figuring out the controlling belief can be a wee bit difficult).

When Kathi (I can call her that because we sat next to each other at the table) discussed knowing the controlling belief of your character, she explained its importance in terms of pushing and pulling. The “controlling belief” is what pushes your character through the story–the belief pushes and the goals pull.

And now I suppose you’ll want an example. Hmmm…let’s look at Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz again. She believes that it’s possible to find the way back home. (Of course, she wants to go home, but that’s not quite the same as what she believes, is it?). And her goal is to get back to Kansas.  So she follows the yellow brick road–and her belief pushes her through all the obstacles she meets along the way to the Wizard. But then she learns she has to kill the witch, so now she has a new goal within her bigger goal. Is her belief strong enough to push her through the next obstacle? I mean, suddenly, she has to kill someone!

Wasn’t it brilliant of L. Frank Baum to not make that the goal in the beginning of the story? Because I don’t think readers would have bought that a farm girl from Kansas, falling from the sky, could jump up and decide to kill someone.  Dorothy has to grow a bit (and we have to get on her side, too) before she can push through that obstacle, even though her controlling belief is in place. Of course, in the end, Dorothy finds that the way to get home was always within her. But doesn’t she learn a lot about herself on the journey? I mean, besides the fact that she’s kind of a bloodthirsty young woman.

If you know what your character’s controlling belief is, then you’ll know why he/she does everything. EVERYTHING. And you might want to find that CB for all your characters so you’ll know what makes them tick.

I’m not saying it’s easy. But I bet if you’ll think of some of your favorite stories and/or characters, you’ll get a handle on figuring out the whole controlling belief tip. Katniss in The Hunger Games believes she’s the only one that can save her sister/family. Scarlett in Gone With the Wind believes she will survive, no matter what. Sam-I-Am believes that green eggs and ham are amazingly delicious!

It’s pretty amazing when you start to think about characters this way, isn’t it?  And just think of the AMAZING things it will do for your story! (Um, try not to think about the amazing rewrite you’re going to have to do, now that you know all this.)

Where in the (Blog) World is Cathy C. Hall?

Didn’t you love Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? Honestly, you’d think I’d be much better at that whole geography thing, after watching that show a zillion times. But alas, I have trouble finding my way around my own neighborhood.

Anyway,  you’re not going to need an atlas (or even map skills) to find me today. All you need is the Internet so that you can click right HERE.

It would be so lovely if you left a comment over there, and let me know what you think. I’ve been invited to join the crowd, posting a couple times a month, and I’m sure it’ll be a fun gig.

That’s assuming, of course, I find my way back there.

Catching Up Is Hard To Do

With apologies to Neil Sedaka. (On the other hand, I’ll never get this song out of my head now. So we’re kind of even.)

“They say that catching up is hard to do…

Now I know, I know that it’s true.

Don’t say shut up and begin–

Instead of catching up I wish that I was all caught up again.”

So, I’ve been sort of missing for the last week. I applied to the Highlights Foundation Whole Novel Workshop and got accepted (Wheee!) And they offered me a scholarship, too. (Double wheee!) But then I kind of had to say I’d go (Fly on a plane all the way to Pennsylvania–eeeeek!). Plus I had to send my novel to my reader (Uh-oh.)

See, I had to make a few small changes in that novel before I could send it off to a Big, Important Editor Person. Changes in, oh, I don’t know…the goals and stakes.

Just for the record, I do not recommend making goals and stakes changes on a 60,000 word novel in 7 days. It’s doable, but only if you do the following:

1. Skim your emails, reading ONLY those that require immediate attention (roughly translated to “money is involved”.)

2. Dash through Facebook, skip Twitter, and ignore blogs (By the way, happy belated birthdays, y’all!)

3. Leave loved ones to fend for themselves (But do not be surprised if a. a Junior loved one shows up with a tattoo and/or fourth ear piercing because you said “uh huh” while you were typing and “talking”  on the phone or b. you have gained 6 pounds because your wonderful spouse offered to take care of the cooking. And by cooking, I mean “picking up tacos and/or  pizza” every day. P.S. You haven’t noticed you’ve been eating tacos and/or pizza every day.)

Now, I have a ton of catching up to do…emails to attend to, blogs to read, friends to (virtually) see, and all that other writing and reading that’s been waiting for me. Not to mention the matter of six extra pounds.  But still…

“I beg of you, don’t say goodbye!

Let me give this whole thing one more try.

Come on, y’all, I’ll start anew…

But catching up is hard to do.”