Tag Archives: writing tools

Beta Readers For Your Writing

This week on Hide and Create, Joshua Essoe, Diana Rowland, Moses Siregar, and Jordan Ellinger talk about beta readers.

For some writers, beta readers are an integral part of the writing process. But how do you know what advice to take and what do ignore?

Well the most obvious answer is that if you see a particular critique popping up over and over again, you can be pretty certain that it’s a point that needs to be looked at. If a particular point was only brought up by a single beta reader, there’s a good chance that it was just a detail that struck that particular person wrong, and does not need to be addressed.

That’s not always true — you have to keep in mind the levels of expertise and knowledge-bases you’re working with. If you have sexist Uncle Tito tell you he thinks it’s wrong where you have the female lead punch her boyfriend in the chops when he smacks her, maybe take that with a grain of salt. But if you have your history buff tell you that they didn’t use flintlocks in the 1500s, then you probably want to double-check that.

Listen on for more.


On Writing Names

This week on Hide and Create, Joshua Essoe, Moses Siregar, Jordan Ellinger, and Diana Rowland talk about naming things in your stories.

When it comes to naming characters or stories, trust your ear. In fact, it’s always a good idea to try your names aloud. Especially if you’re planning an audio book. What might look great on paper could sound awful or unclear or confusing or unintentionally funny when spoken.

Some ways you can come up with a title:
1. Copy out of your draft a sentence that could serve as a title.
2. Write a sentence that’s not in the draft to use as a title.
3. Write a title that is a question beginning with Who, What, When, Where, How or Why.
4. Write a title that is a question beginning with Is/Are, Do/Does, or Will.
5. Pick out some concrete image—something the reader can hear, see, taste, smell, or feel.
6. Write a title beginning with an -ing verb (like “Writing Names”).
7. Write a title beginning with On (like “On Writing Names”).
Write a title that is a lie about the story.
9. Write a one-word title—the most obvious one, and this may help stimulate creativity.
10. Draw inspiration from a familiar saying, song, or movie.
11. Take one of your titles and twist it with a pun (look at Piers Anthony’s Xanth series).
12. Using two you’ve written, see if you can combine the best elements for a single title.

Superstars Writing Seminar’s Panel on Editors

We’re back! Technical difficulties (gorillas and alligators) aside, and best forgotten about.

This week we have something different, and special for you. I was asked to moderate and speak on a panel titled “The Importance of an Editor” on Feb. 7th at the Superstars Writing Seminar held by Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, David Farland, Eric Flint, Brandon Sanderson, and most recently joined by James A. Owen.

It is the most comprehensive seminar for writers about the business of writing available, held every year in Colorado Springs. Jordan, Moses, and I are all alumni, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. The information and the access to New York Times best-selling authors and guest speakers can create contacts and ins into the business that are hard to duplicate.

Next year Hugh Howey and Baen editor n’ chief, Toni Weisskopf, will join the crew as guest speakers.

With permission, here is that panel discussion.

Writing Blogs with Jim C. Hines: Part 2

This week on Hide and Create, Jaye Wells, Joshua Essoe, Moses Siregar and Jordan Ellinger continue talking with Jim Hines about blogging!

Some standard advice is if you are a writer you should blog. Blog consistently and interestingly and [slowly] you will build a platform. I see why people dig it so much. You write stuff and others see it. And they see it immediately, there is no waiting around. Your content is available for anyone who cares to read it the moment you upload.

So why is having a blog good?

1) You can show off your awesomeness. A blog is a great way to show that you are, and why you are, an expert in your field, or that you’re entertaining. Obviously that means you have to write compelling content that appeals to your target audience.

2) You can build platform. A blog is a great way to get readers talking about you, to you, and to each other—again, assuming your content is interesting enough to talk about.

3) Search engine rankings. If you’re blogging about writing and publishing, the search engines will pick up all the keywords you’re using that readers might search for. The more relevant your content is, the more traffic, engines will divert to your site.

And why is having a blog bad?

Time sink. I mentioned consistency, and that it is important. Why? Because your blog is like a locomotive. It’s slow to get moving, but if it keeps being fed, it will pick up steam and get more and more momentum. But what happens if you stop feeding it? It starts to slow down until it grinds to a halt. The only way to keep your momentum is to keep feeding it new content. If you don’t have the consistency, you’ll lose what you spent so much effort and so many words to get. Readers are fickle. Especially now — it’s a reader’s market. There is so much out there, that they can afford to be as choosey and picky and finicky as they want. No new content on your site? Oh well, on to the next author who does.

It could be your time would be better spent writing your next story.

And in case you want to jump down the rabbit hole, here is the link to RaceFail ’09 we talk about in the show.

Writing Blogs with Jim C. Hines: Part 1

This week on Hide and Create, Jordan Ellinger, Joshua Essoe, Moses Siregar and Jaye Wells talk with Jim Hines about blogging!

Get to know Jim, one of the kings of blogs. Next week we get more into the nitty-gritty of blogging and how, why, and even if, you should.

Jim’s URLs
Blog:  http://www.jimchines.com/blog//
Benefit Calendar: http://thetinkerspacks.bigcartel.com/product/2014-year-of-the-poser-calendar 


Stupid Writer Tricks! For Writers!

This week on Hide and Create, Jaye Wells, Jordan Ellinger, Moses Siregar and Joshua Essoe talk about stupid writer tricks.

We all use them, we all have them, and we’ve all heard of some of them. This is where we each share more of our cool and perhaps not-commonly-heard-of tips and shortcuts of the trade.

And here is the post Moses references from the book he recommends, Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer.

Developing a Unique Writing Voice

This week on Hide and Create Joshua Essoe, Jaye Wells, Moses Siregar, and Jordan Ellinger talk about creating your voice.

It’s interesting to me how a writer can have a strong voice and be a very good storyteller, but fall down when it comes to the line-by-line writing. Everyone has gifts and genius, and some can do things that others just can’t duplicate no matter how much they learn or practice. But I don’t think that should bother you, because you have your strengths as well. Everybody does. Don’t discount them. Figure out what they are, and take advantage of them. If you kick ass at writing battle scenes, then you should have battle scenes in your book. If you write amazing dialogue, then you should have a lot of dialogue in your book. If you’re genius at pacing, then you take advantage of that and make sure that your readers a glued to your pages for the whole ride. If you’re really good at dissecting ideas and creating compelling, thoughtful arguments, then emphasize your themes.

And if you get an MS back from me or another editor, and it’s absolutely filled with red ink, that doesn’t mean you suck and you shouldn’t write. If I include in my critique that I really liked the story and think it has huge promise, I’m not lying, and all that red ink isn’t the proof of that. What that means is that you have an awesome voice, you’re a good storyteller and you need to work on your technical skills.

Creating Tension In Your Writing

This week on Hide And Create, Moses Siregar, Joshua Essoe, Jordan Ellinger, and Jaye Wells talk about creating tension.

Maybe it need not be said, but don’t use one of the tools we talked about in this episode, use a bunch of them and mash them together. Take a time-bomb, use short, punchy sentences, be unpredictable, and present lose-lose choices all in one story, and really drag your readers through the trenches before giving them the release of a satisfying conclusion.

A final note. If you fear that your tension is getting stale, the cause is probably that you’re hitting the same emotional beat too many times, and you and your readers are going deaf to it. When that’s happening you have to defeat your reader’s expectations and use an opposing emotional beat. If everything is haha-funny, and you think that your humor is flagging and things just aren’t as amusing, throw in something profound, like Jack Palance telling you the secret of life. If you’ve got action-action-action, sigh, action-action, change it up and throw in a romantic beat or a mystery beat. This is an emotional twist, like a plot twist except it doesn’t affect the story, it affects the mood.

As promised, here is the link to Margie Lawson and her workshops that Jaye gushed over. Also to David Farland who has marvelous things to teach about creating tension and all things writing related.


Writing the Hero’s Journey Part 1

This week on Hide and Create Joshua Essoe, Jordan Ellinger, Moses Siregar and Jaye Wells start talking about the Hero’s Journey.

The Hero’s Journey is a skeletal framework that should be fleshed out with the details and surprises of the individual story. The structure should not call attention to itself, nor should it be followed too precisely. The order of the stages given here is only one of many possible variations. The stages can be deleted, added to, and drastically shuffled without losing any of their power.

The Hero’s Journey is infinitely flexible, capable of endless variation without sacrificing any of its magic, and it will outlive us all.

Writing Religion in Science Fiction and Fantasy

This week on Hide and Create, Joshua Essoe, Diana Rowland, Moses Siregar and Jordan Ellinger talk about creating religion.

Religion and spirituality and questioning the meaning of life are part of the most basic part of being human. It’s in our nature to think and believe. We have faith. Even if that belief is that there is nothing to have faith in. A world can be made richer, deeper and more vibrant with the inclusion of the belief systems of its inhabitants.

So how can you create one?