Best of the Web for Short Story Writers Aug 23, 2013

I do a lot of reading about writing, sifting through the fluff and the downright wrong, so you don’t have to. Here’s what I’ve found in the past month or so that you should find pretty inspiring. Dive in.

Forever Young

Stop Trying To Go Viral – by Dan Blank

Start reading websites for writers and you’ll inevitably find a whole bunch of articles about how you *must* be developing a ‘platform’ so that readers will flock to your books. Dan’s article introduces a little sanity into the debate.

And on that note, I particularly enjoy Chuck Wendig’s quote on the topic of platform: “Here’s the thing: a writer without a platform can still get published if he has a kick-ass book, but a writer with a great platform isn’t likely to get published if his book is better off being dragged out behind the barn and shot in the head.”

Along the same lines, you might want to pay particular attention to the last two paragraphs of Seth Godin’s short blog post: You Could Just Make Something Awesome Instead.

Simplify: Let Go Of Your Crutches by Leo Babauta

Not directly about writing, but if you’re looking for some motivation to help you stop stalling on your next (or current) story, take a deep, cleansing breath and go and read Leo’s article.

Mindy King’s Rules for Writing In A Voice from The Happiness Project

A short article about how a TV writer reminds herself to write characters who are more than cardboard cutouts. Really useful. (Your list may vary from Mindy’s but it’s an exercise you might want to try.)

Related: Elizabeth S. Craig’s recent post about voice. She give a great piece of advice about how to hold onto a character’s voice once you’ve found it and then gives you a rabbit-hole of further reading links to fall down. Go, enjoy!

Jealousing Is The New Writing Exercise bt Liz Argall

This is an exercise I have long advocated (It’s part of the Copycat Writing class in the StoryADay Warm Up Course). Liz’s writes about it in a way that will make you want to try it! (This page loaded oddly in my browser. You may need to scroll down.)

10 Ways For an ADD Writer to be OOH! SHINY! by Kristen Lamb

Because we’re all a little bit ADD…

And along the same lines:

What Do You Focus On by Charlotte Rains Dixon

“What you put your attention on, grows”. Seems simple when she puts it like that, huh? Tips and tricks for turning your writing habit into something you focus on and relish.

The Single Largest Cause of Writer’s Block Might Not Be What You Believe by Kristen Lamb

Kristen’s on fire this month! This is well worth a read.

Top Ten Pieces of Writing Advice gathered by Flash Fiction Chronicles

You may have seen some of these quotes from great authors littered abour the Web, but here are ten of the best in one place.

The Encyclopaedid of Ethical Failures by the US Department of Defense (Downloads as a .doc file)

Looking for a plot or a crisis ripped from, well, not the headlines but a Department of Defense list of its own cock-ups? Read through this instructional manual produced by the DOD and I defy you not to get a story idea or two!

BONUS (about reading, not writing)

How school reading lists have changed over the past 100 years from GalleyCat.
(I’m all for kids reading modern writers but I’m a big sad to see that nothing on the 2012 snapshot was published earlier than 1953. What say you? — Ed)

Best of the Web for Short Story Writers July 1-14, 2013

Here’s the current round-up of Great Reads for short story writers this month:

Charlotte Rains Dixon: Can Writing Set You Free?

“–Writing can free you to be who you are meant to be. Truly, there’s no faster path to self-knowledge (and yes it is important) than writing…”

Write To Done: The Secret Fear of Every Writer — And How To Subdue It

“We don’t talk about this hidden fear because if our life is writing, then everything we are is wrapped up in what we have to say. If we doubt what we have to say, don’t we then doubt who we are?”

Killer Chicks: What You Put Into it

“The real question most days is, how hard do I want to fight for it? It’s so easy to get discouraged and feel like I’m working twice as hard and getting half as much. When I start to feel that way, I have to stop and remind myself that this isn’t an all or nothing endeavor.”

Time To Write: For Those Of Us Not As Cute As Mickey

“We do what we really consider most important at the time, so this post isn’t about doing more. It’s about giving up excuses… ”

Angela Booth: Just Write

“You’ll second-guess yourself every moment of every day as you write…”

ZenHabits: Why Fear of Discomfort Might Be Ruining Your Life

Not exclusively aimed at your writing life, but easily applied to it…

GalleyCat: Avoiding The Passive Voice…With Zombies

A fun and foolproof way to identify the passive voice…

Women On Writing: What Veteran Writers Know

It’s all about the rewrite…

Bestseller Lee Child On Creating Suspense

“Trusting such a simple system feels cheap and meretricious while you’re doing it. But it works. It’s all you need…”


What great articles have YOU read this month so far?

Best of the Web for Short Story Writers – June 2013

What Happens When You Hate Your Writing

From the Women On Writing Blog: an inspiring article about how to get through those days when your confidences goes out from underneath you.


29 Ways To Stay Creative

A fun, short video from TO-FU, full of cheerful ways to keep your creative well topped up.


Six Questions for Kristy Harding, Founder, Paper Tape

This is part of an ongoing series at the Six Questions blog, which asks, youguessed it, six questions of aquisitions editors at fiction publications,t o find out what they really want from writers.


Flash Fiction Challenge from the Terrible Minds Blog

Every Friday, or so, Chuck Wendig challenges his readers to write a flash fiction story. The prompts can be weird and wonderful, but this one is one you can use over and over again.


Spend An Hour With Ray Bradbury

Jurgen Wolff shares a wonderful video of a lecture given by Ray Bradbury, and a nice summary of the contents, along with Bradbury’s prescription for becoming a fulfilled writer.


The Pomodoro Technique for Writers

An interesting article at Write To Done about how using this block-writing technique can help writers get more done. The article focusses on non-fiction writing, but could just as easily help you with a fast first draft of a short story.


Best of the Web for Short Story Writers April 21 2013

Jane Friedman’s ePublishing Class April 23

I’m all about creativity over here. I try to not to encourage you to obsess about the market and the audience and how to get published. But, when you’ve been writing for a while, it’s a logical next step. I’ve worked in and around publishing since 1998 and know enough to know that epublishing and self-publishing are often the best option for today’s writer. If you want to publish/be published, you need to educate yourself about the realities of the business. Jane’s is extremely knowledgable and rather smart, so I heartily recommend this class.


The Character Therapist

Written by a licensed therapist, this blog offers wonderful insights into character motivation, specifically aimed at creative writers.

The Best Of The Web For Short Story Writers — April 14, 2013

Here are the best of the articles, quotes and links I found this week for short story tellers. Enjoy!

Here’s What Makes Stories So Powerful
Benton Weyi, host of Orastories (a new site dedicated to oral storytelling), writes a passionate call to arms to each of us to value our stories and tell our stories. I defy you to get to the end of this without feeling like grabbing a pen!

The Short Story On Structuring Your Short Story
Larry Brooks, aka The StoryFixer is the host of and the author of Story Engineering, among other things (a great book that I recommend if you’re trying to structure a novel or longer work). This time he’s writing about short stories. At the beginning of the article I was worried he was going to say we should all be writing stories with some simple four-act structure and I was going to have to lose some respect for him. But of course he doesn’t. My favorite lines from the article?

Which is why short stories are so damn hard to put into a box.

Because the box comes in all sizes, shapes and colors, and can be made from virtually anything.

Which is why I love to write them. How about you?

Things That Make A Story Fail

Jurgen Wolff isn’t talking specifically about short stories here (he’s talking about a movie), but it’s an interesting reflection of good story practices that I found useful.

A Guide To Practical Contentment
Again, not directly about storytelling, but here Leo Babauta is talking about how to live a good life, how to connect to your passions and how to make small changes in your life that lead you towards the bigger ones (writing a little everyday, perhaps?)

Selected Shorts: The Sun and The Moon<
I just loved both of these short stories, one by Italo Calvino that will seem strangely familiar if you saw the Pixar short film “La Luna”, and one by Ray Bradbury about children who have never seen the sun. Sometimes listening to great short stories is so darned inspiring!


If you’re not lying awake at night worrying about it, the reader isn’t going to either.
James M. Cain

-quoted in The Paris Review

The Muse visits during the process of creation, not before.”
Roger Ebert

I suppose the more you have to do, the more you learn to organize and concentrate—or else get fragmented into bits. I have learned to use my ‘ten minutes’. I once thought it was not worth sitting down for a time as short as that; now I know differently and, if I have ten minutes, I use them, even if they bring only two lines, and it keeps the book alive.”
Rumer Godden, author

-quoted in The Happiness Project

Finally I am coming to the conclusion that my highest ambition is to be what I already I am.
Thomas Merton

-quoted in The Happiness Project