Kurt Vonnegut’s eight rules for #writing a short story

When story ideas pop in my head, I jot them down in hopes of creating a wonderful novel. But as my list has grown tremendously, I realize that there’s just not enough time to devote to all in a way that would give them justice.

Enter the short story.

I’ve created a few short stories here on the blog, but for whatever reason I limited my time to only work on novels. Well that mindset changed this year.  As I review my list of ideas, I’m handpicking those that would be best served as a short story. Kurt Vonnegut’s eight rules for writing a short story is yet another welcomed tool to help with that.

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Kurt Vonnegut, one of the most influential writers of this century, passed down a simple list of rules for writing a short story, though I think they can be applied to longer narratives as well.

He did say that Flannery O’Connor broke all his rules except the first and that great writers tend to do that, but I believe his famous eight rules can provide a skeleton to writing fiction.

And I think that this is what’s really important in art. A foundation. Simply by reading or following rules, or by taking creative writing courses, but it’s also crucial for the artist to make his own decisions. The moment rules start feeling like a cage, you should escape. It’s like strolling through a garden and picking the flowers you like. If you absorb too much or if you simply follow rules (someone else is choosing what flowers you should pick)…

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The Future of #Writing: Will Artificial Intelligence Replace Humans in Deciding the Fate of Manuscript Submissions?

This quote from Georgina Cromarty’s post about writing and artificial intelligence practically blew my mind.

“Some writers will see AI manuscript evaluations as a blessing since it takes the subjective human out the loop.

…And some may see it as a threat.”

Yes, I’ve worked in the IT field for 20+ years.  Yes, I understand what the ones and zeros are all about, and the inner workings of software and hardware.  Yes, I know technology brings about modern convenience, and can spout an answer to the hardest equations with speed and ease.  But with all of that, do I trust it wholly?  No!  Here’s why.

Mankind believes computers are smart.  The reality is that technology is only as great as the humans that make it.  And of course we know that humans are bound to mistakes.  So, technology is too.  Nothing is perfect.

So when I think about artificial intelligence playing a role in evaluating manuscripts, a smile crosses my face because it means the process of submitting and getting a response will be shortened.  But then my smile fades, and my head cocks to one side like a questioning puppy.  What algorithm is used to decide what’s publish-worthy and what’s not?  How often is the artificial intelligence maintained and updated for optimal performance?

I get it from a productivity perspective. There’s a lot of reading and publishers want to watch their bottom line.  Technology can help, but in the end will it really?  When people read, they have the ability to experience feeling and emotion.  Can technology do that?  Of course not.  It can only do what it is told (and even then it’s not the real thing). So an award-winning manuscript may never see the light of day because it didn’t meet the criteria of a computer.   Not sure I like that.  What are your thoughts?

Check out the rest of  Georgina Cromarty’s post on other interesting takes on artificial intelligence and it’s place in various industries.

How to not lose your mind while #editing

This is excellent advice!

Bernadette Benda

Editing a novel. How shall I describe it?

Editing is like polishing silver, except with a blindfold, and the blindfold is on fire, and you are banging your head against a wall trying to put the flames out while still polishing the silver.

giphy (28) pretty much how it is

But it’s all worth it. I promise. (I really, really, really promise the editing is worth it).

But how – how do you not lose your mind while editing?? I got a few tips…they may be helpful…

*grins and shrugs*

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Write clear and concise notes.

This probably depends on your editing process…but if you’re like me, you take a lot of notes. A LOT.

As I have mentioned before on this blog, I am notorious for leaving undecipherable notes that make no sense to me or anyone else that Elrond himself would not be able to decipher. Or, I write notes…

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Why #writer’s guilt sucks

I’ve certainly been there. A way to overcome the guilt may be to document it. Write a paragraph about what the guilt feels like…thoughts…etc. That may be good stuff to use when writing a character for a scene, and it’s being productive.

The Wondering Scribe

Hello Peepz,

Have you ever felt bad for not writing? Or, in an opposite mood, felt guilty for wanting to write? Have you disliked yourself for writing a certain thing? I have too, and it sucks.

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11 Steps for #Writing the Perfect Scene

Some tips are so good, they bear repeating…

Melanie V. Logan

Ever have a great scene in your head, but when you write it all down, it seems flat?  I’ve certainly been there.  It can be frustrating to visualize everything, and even come up with a bunch of eloquent words that do absolutely nothing for the story.

A writer can show and tell all they want.  But when a story feels dull, chances are the book will be placed on a shelf or table to collect dust.  I certainly don’t want that.  So I enlisted the trusty assistance of Google to help me figure out how to improve my scene.

Lucky enough, I found

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Facing rejection from Agents: Remember No means No!

Confessions of a published author

I was ready to submit and had researched various literary agency websites. My covering letter, synopsis and manuscript were polished and ready to go. I felt a sense of euphoria when I actually posted that A4 envelope off or clicked ‘send’ on the messages I sent. There was nothing to do but wait for the positive replies to come in!

Unfortunately it didn’t turn out that way. You see rejection may be presented in many different forms, but they all the mean the same thing: No means No!

Let me run you through the different forms of literary rejection. Please note that these are actual replies and not ones I’ve made up.

I can’t be bothered replying to you ‘No’:

This is where the agent doesn’t even bother getting back to you. They may have read your work or may not have. For all you know there is…

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photo: Caro Wallis Sweet Sorrow via photopin (license)

Building Your #Writer’s #Brand – Sound Advice from E. Denise Billups

Writing can be easy…and hard.  The easy part is jotting down all the wonderful story ideas that float in our heads.  The harder part comes with editing and getting the finish product before the masses. Knowing what to do or how to do it can be frustrating.  But with great advice on brand building from fellow writers like E. Denise Billups, how can we ever fail.

E. Denise Billups, Writer

Indie authors are jack-of-all-trades. Not only are they writers, but also promoters and marketers of their finished product. This for most writers is difficult and for some an afterthought. Before you finish your book, you should have a well-defined marketing plan established and the first step is to create a mission statement.

In simple terms, a mission statement is short, concise sentence or paragraph describing your business and purpose (who you are, what you do, and your purpose or goals). This single statement is your marketing message, disseminating your brand, and the writer’s guide to reaching his/her ultimate goals.

Most people believe a mission statement is for major corporations or nonprofit organizations but for anyone building a brand whether you’re a painter, architect or writer, a mission statement is a crucial piece to crafting your image. For indie or traditionally published authors, a mission statement conveys your passion, your expertise, and…

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