Monday, May 28, 2007

Finding your Voice, Editing Your Fiction, Building a World

At Fiction Factor I found an article called "Finding Your Unique Voice" by Rob Parnell. In this piece, Mr. Parnell discusses how to find your own "voice" or "style" in your writing. He says:

You should always write in the style that is most natural to you. It may well be different from your speaking voice but should always reflect the way your mind works.
Another thing Mr. Parnell writes is:

Secondly, your voice doesn't have to be 'original'. You can waste years of your time wondering what 'originality' is and trying to define and acquire it.

When critics, publishers and agents say they want 'originality', I believe they have no idea what they mean. They merely confuse writers by demanding something so nebulous and indefinable. I think what they should really be asking for is 'honesty'.

The simple truth is you already possess all the originality you need. You are already unique. No-one else thinks and writes like you do - trying to undo your own originality by constantly striving to be anything less than yourself is counter productive. Trust yourself.
"Voice" is one of those things that is difficult to pin down for a writer, but this article explains it well and gives some methods that a writer can use to discover his or her own voice.

Another very useful article at Fiction Factor is "Editing Fiction" by Lee Masterson and Tina Morgan. It goes beyond looking for typos and grammar mistakes and gives you a list of questions to ask yourself about your piece of writing in an effort to make it much more interesting and readable. The questions cover plot, pacing, setting, characterization, dialogue, and point of view. Very helpful, I think.

An entire set of articles at Fiction Factor is on world building. If you are planning a novel set in an imaginary world (usually fantasy and science fiction, but you may find other uses for this information--perhaps in a poetry cycle or an epic poem), these articles should help you create a complete world for your characters to inhabit. Creating a consistent and believable (in the context of your story) world isn't the easiest thing to do, but it will make your story much better if you plan ahead.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

A Place to Submit Your Writing

A friend of mine forwarded to me a link to an article on The People's Media Company - Associated Content. While there, I looked at the site itself and found that they accept writing submissions from the public. Having only just discovered the site, I don't know much about it yet, so explore a bit before you submit anything. Here is the "FAQ" page, which should help.

It isn't just for non-fiction articles. On the menu in the left sidebar, you can click on "Prose" and be taken to a section for prose, poetry, short stories, and memoirs. You can also submit photos and videos. They pay for some content up front and some, it sounds like it depends on how much interest your submission generates. As I said, I just discovered it, so I don't know details yet. See the "FAQ" page I linked above.

You can write news stories, essays, commentary, and so forth also, and they have sections for many topics. You write about what interests you.

Just thought it was worth a mention. Enjoy exploring the site, even if you never submit anything!

Saturday, May 26, 2007


What should I write on
My writing blog today? I
Confess I don't know.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Cranky Librarians and Other Things

Not too long ago, I discovered another site with books online. It also has art, poetry, fairy tales, short stories, a book on making handshadows, and all sorts of interesting things. It's called The Cranky Librarian. There's even a little librarian to shush you! Have fun looking it over!

Over at Bartleby, you can read The Cambridge History of English and American Literature. Have a look at their reference page for all kinds of material to entertain and educate yourself.

English Literature on the Web is another site with a list of links for various periods so you can pick out what particularly interests you.

For news and reviews on new books, try Readers Read, a blog with all sorts of information and links.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Novella

At the blog, A Motley Vision, William Morris has a post called "Why Mormons should embrace the novella". A Motley Vision is a Mormon, or LDS, blog, but if you are not LDS, you can still benefit from his commentary. In fact, the whole blog has lots of interesting articles about the arts. As far as the novella post goes, William Morris describes the strong points of the form and why he believes it's time to bring it back into use.

As for more information about the novella form itself, you can find good descriptions here and here.

There doesn't seem to be much of a market for novellas now, but the possibility of publication exists, and the market may swing back in the direction of shorter, more focused fiction. Think about your writing style and what you like to write about and see if maybe a novella would be a good choice for you.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Literary Criticism

One of the many subjects I enjoy studying is literary criticism. It helps me to find new ideas in interpreting literature and inspires me in my own writing.

There is a website called The Internet Public Library which provides an enormous number of links to various resources on the web. The site has a page called "Online Literary Criticism Guide" which will lead you to sources for the study of literature that you might not discover on your own. You will find sites geared to specific areas of literature. There is biographical information as well as literary criticism.

It is interesting to read how others view a particular author's writing. You will also learn where a piece of writing falls short or succeeds well in what it tries to accomplish and this can help you with your own writing. You will also find yourself inspired to try writing in a particular genre or about a particular subject as you read about those things in essays on criticism.

Give it a whirl!