Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Another Year, Another Picnic

On Saturday, July 27, Indiana Writers' Consortium held it's forth annual picnic at The Spencer House in Lowell, Indiana. The weather showed its approval by providing mild temperatures and sunny skies.

The picnic is always a fun time, with networking opportunities, good food, and plenty of games. Here are some pictures.

Combining networking with good food
Games and prizes to entertain the children
And the adults

The annual White Elephant Auction was another highlight of the picnic. As always, it kept participants guessing with written jingles and catchphrases as the only clues to the contents in the wrapped packages (show below).
What do you think was in the package with this clue?
Fury said to a mouse,
That he met in the house,
“Let us both go to law:
I will prosecute you
Come, I’ll take no denial:
We must have a trial;
For really this morning
I’ve nothing to do.”
            By Charles Lutwidge Dodgson
An additional hint that the picnic goers didn’t have: Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was Lewis Carroll’s real name.
The item turned out to be a Lewis Carroll themed book, Writers in Wonderland: Keeping Your Words Legal by IWC member Kathryn Page Camp and a copy of two Lewis Carroll classics: Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.
Join us next year and see if you can stump the audience with your White Elephant clue.
IWC extends a special thanks to Tom Spencer for hosting the festivities.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Going Into the Community

Indiana Writers' Consortium is always looking for opportunities to partner with community organizations. Last Saturday, July 20, we partnered with the Westchester Public Library to celebrate the completion of its summer reading program for children. The celebration took place in Thomas Centennial Park in Chesterton, Indiana. IWC provided writing activities for the children and a book fair for the adults. Here are a few pictures.

Children at the activities table.
Sandra Nantais and Jennifer Lesniewski (on right)
reading poetry on the children's "stage." The poems
were by young winners from IWC's Power of Poetry Project.
Three of our authors.
Even grownups liked creating magnetic poetry.
It was a fun day in the park for everyone who participated.
A special thanks to Sandra Nantais for locating and arranging this partnership opportunity.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Writing Fiction

Good fiction writing isn’t a formula, but it does have structure. It also has conventions, and ignoring them is one way to guarantee that a publisher isn’t going to be interested.

Yes, there are always exceptions. Well-known writers can get away with almost anything. Some established authors ignore the conventions out of laziness, knowing that their fans will read whatever they write, even if it is garbage. Others make a conscious choice to violate a particular convention because they are going for a certain effect. This is a good reason and can improve a story. Still, if a beginning writer is trying to attract a publisher, it is safer to stick with the conventions.

But maybe you don’t know what the conventions are. Examples include point of view, showing versus telling, and the difference between a plot-driven and a character-driven story, and they are too complex to explain in this blog post. So how can a beginning fiction writer learn them? College classes and writing conferences are always good choices. Or maybe you would rather start by reading a few good books.

Last week’s post recommended several books dealing with writing in general. If you are looking for books on fiction techniques, one place to start is the Write Great Fiction series from Writers Digest Books. This series includes:

·         Plot and Structure, by James Scott Bell;

·         Dialogue, by Gloria Kempton;

·         Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint, by Nancy Kress;

·         Description & Setting, by Ron Rozelle; and

·         Revision & Self-Editing, by James Scott Bell.

Of course, there are many other good books that cover the same topics, and we would love to hear your suggestions.

Every writer is different, and what works for one may not work for another. But the writer who understands the elements of fiction will craft a better novel.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Classic Writing Books

Every writer should own a few classic writing books. As used in this post, classic doesn’t mean old. Instead, it refers to books that many writers have on their bookshelves: books that are also frequently mentioned at writers’ conferences.

Let’s start with two books on general writing techniques.

  • On Writing Well, by William Zinsser is is billed as “the classic guide to writing nonfiction.” But even though it concentrates on nonfiction, Zinsser’s book is really a classic guide to good writing of any type.
  • Stein on Writing, by Sol Stein covers both fiction and nonfiction but, again, is mostly a guide to good writing. Next week’s blog post will discuss books that are specifically aimed at fiction writers.
Then there are the books that talk about the writing life. Both of these were written by women but are frequently recommended by men.

  • Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg; and
  • Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott.

Or maybe you want to read a book that combines both matters and/or was written by an author even the youngest readers of this blog are familiar with. Try On Writing, by Stephen King, which starts as a memoir and ends as a craft book. Those of you who write horror may also want to check out King’s Danse Macabre.

These suggestions barely make a dent in the many good books out there, and we would love to have you leave a comment with your recommendations. Still, for the writer with only a few dollars to spend, these books are a good place to start.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Writing Fireworks

Does your writing contain fireworks? Not literal fireworks, but does the text dazzle the reader and elicit oohs and aahs?

Adding fireworks to your writing takes hard work and dedication. But you also have to know the craft.

If you want your writing to explode in readers’ minds and hearts, you must understand what works—and what doesn’t. So where do you start?

Good writers start as good readers. Listen to the counsel of three authors who managed to make a living at it.

·         “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read and lot and write a lot.” Stephen King

·         “If you read good books, good books will come out of you.” Natalie Goldberg

·         “First we eat, then we beget; first we read, then we write.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Start by reading timeless literature and books in your genre. If you don’t know which books qualify, ask your librarian for help.

The library is also a good place to start when looking for books on writing, but so is this blog. Stay tuned for next week’s post, which will suggest a few classic writing books.