The Benefits of #Handwriting vs. #Typing: Why the Pen May Be Mightier Than the Keyboard

For awhile now, I’ve been using a combination of keyboard and handwriting.  Most recently, I purchased a Microsoft Surface Pro to make it more convenient when I want to switch back and forth between the two.

When I’m ready to handwrite, I use apps like OneNote or Myscript Nebo.  The beauty of both is the ability to convert the handwriting to text.  The former is the primary one I use because of how well I can organize my thoughts and writings into notebooks, sections, and pages.  I can also share the pages via email or the entire notebook via invitation.

Another perk of OneNote is the clipping tool (downloaded separately and installed as a browser extension).  If I find something on the web I want to save, all I have to do is click the icon in the browser bar and viola!  It’s saved to the location I choose.

Myscript Nebo is a great tool as well.  However, the sharing option is limited, and I can’t clip and save like OneNote.  A positive for this app is the bar that shows your writing as text and auto-corrects.  So even when my handwriting isn’t the most legible, Myscript figures it out.

Which do you prefer, handwriting or typing?  What devices and tools do you use?

Melanie V. Logan

As I’ve mentioned in past posts, I LOVE infographics.  They offer a quick snippet of information in a visually pleasant manner.  So imagine my awe and delight when I ran across the one below.

Personally, I have noticed more fluidity of ideas when using my tablet and stylus to write compared to my laptop.

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Resources for #Writers…And Other Helpful Stuff

One of the things I love about the writing community is info sharing.  No matter where a writer may be in the journal, there are resources for everyone from beginner to advanced.

Below are a few of my previous posts about writing resources, and Nancy J’s helpful tip for Authors Publish Magazine.

AuthorToolboxBlogHub – monthly event on the topic of resources and learning for authors
5 Online Resources Every Writer Should Consider – think-outside-of-the-box list of resources to help the writing juices kick in
Vocabulary and Readability – vocabulary lists, emotion definitions, and readability checkers to assist in writing process

Life Time Writer

Nancy, youtube, memoir, announcement (3)

One of my favorite resources. Simply subscribe with your email address. I always do a quick scan of the resources I receive. It is a valuable tool for finding connections to submit your writing.

Writing Resource for Writers

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My Worst #Writing Bad Habits: Using Find/Replace to Scrub the First #Draft – Tips from K.M. Pohlkamp

Some of the most overused words in my writing are was, have been, or trying to find a better way to say smile or grin. A thesaurus is helpful in some aspects. But it only replaces the word with another. What I like about the example given, is it prompts a mental picture for the reader and evokes feeling and a connection.

K.M. Pohlkamp - Author Website

The first draft is finished. Great! Um… now what?

I am often asked about my “writing process” and the more I write the more procedural it becomes – it is the engineer in me.

Getting the first draft on paper/electrons is a monumental task. And if nanowrimo and write sprints have taught me anything, it’s that snails could crawl over the keyboard faster than I write. So when the words are flowing, the last thing I want to do is disrupt my train of thought by editing.  But when the words flow, my bad writing habits tend to sneak in. That’s OK, a first draft is just getting the story down so it can be molded.

But it needs molding.

So after completing a first draft, the next step in my personal writing process is a systematic scrub for my worst writing habits. I have a list of my issues and…

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Things I Learned From Finishing the First #Draft: Pearls of Wisdom from the Quippish Quill

Wonderful insight! I never thought of writing being like a relationship. The metaphor is perfect!

Quippish Quill

After 6 embarrassing years and a graveyard of unfinished WIPs, I finally finished my first draft today! Yes, that’s right. It actually took me the better half of a decade to finish a measly first draft that barely clocks in at 40k words. I blame my perfectionism and Netflix. To commemorate this rare occasion, I thought I’d write down the hard-fought lessons I learned.

Disclaimer: These are lessons I learned that worked for me. They obviously won’t work for everyone. I don’t claim to have universal writing advice that will apply to every writer out there. With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s get to it!

firstDraft

Passion Will Only Get You So Far

Writing a book is a lot like being in a relationship. In the beginning, everything is perfect. You’re crazy in love and blind to your partner’s flaws and you’re both busy barfing rainbows at each…

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What #Literary Agents Do (And Don’t Do) For #Writers

Querying a good literary agent is the first step in getting your novel or book project into the hands of a publisher. What is a literary agent? A literary agent is the middleman between you and potential publishers—they are your best hope for getting your book published. But what does a literary agent actually do for a writer? And what don’t they do?

What literary agents do:

1. A literary agent’s top job is to find an editor who likes your book enough to buy it. Reputable literary agents have a wide network of contacts and relationships with acquisition editors at publishing houses. They know what the editors are looking for, and they’re experts at sending your submissions to the right people. Because editors know that submissions by literary agents have already made it through a stringent screening process, agented submissions usually go to the top of the pile.

Literary agents will NOT purchase the rights to your book and then turn around and try to sell your book to publishers. Nor can they promise to sell your book.

2. Literary agents pitch your book project to publishers and try to get you the best deal. It is in their best interest to negotiate lucrative contracts with publishers, as literary agents work on commission (usually 15 percent). They also manage your business affairs with the publisher once the deal goes through—contract disputes, royalty statements, collecting money—leaving you on good terms with the editor and freeing up your time to write.

Literary agents are NOT always attorneys, but they do specialize in book contracts and are well-versed in authors’ rights.

3. A good literary agent will often edit or critique a manuscript and offer valuable suggestions to increase its marketability. BUT you should never query an agent unless you have a completed, professionally formatted, and carefully proofread novel or memoir in hand. (Only how-to and self-help books can be pitched without having been finished first.)

Literary agents do NOT offer line-by-line edits or make rewrites. It’s up to the writer to incorporate the agent’s suggested changes. Agents are not interested in helping you master the art of writing. Their focus is on the business of writing, as in “How can this book sell the most copies?” Read more about how to hire the right editor for your writing.

4. Literary agents are authors’ advocates. They don’t make money unless you make money, so their goal is to get you the best deal. Most reputable agents will make a commission of 15 percent for domestic sales. They offer encouragement and support and help keep you on track with deadlines and rewrites. They can also help shape your career by suggesting new ideas, finding wider audiences, and keeping you abreast of changes and trends in the publishing industry.

Literary agents are NOT tax consultants, publicists, personal bankers, or writing coaches. They often offer moral support, but they are not interested in being your therapist. They will not handle your advertising and marketing. And they’re certainly not interested in being your personal answering service.

It’s up to the writer to take advantage of all the services a good literary agent can offer. As an author’s ally, a good literary agent can make a writer’s life more successful and rewarding.

This article has been reprinted with the permission of Writer’s Relief, an author’s submission 
service that has been helping creative writers make submissions since 1994.  Their work is 
highly recommended in the writing community, and there are TONS of freebies, publishing 
leads, and writers resources on their website. Check it out!

How To Find Short #Story #Ideas In Your Own Life

Is your short story idea well running dry? Fear not! New short story ideas might be closer than you think! Your life is full of ideas for fiction—you’ve just got to know where to look. Start with our suggestions.

5 Ways To Find Ideas For Short Stories Based On Your Own Life

1. Order up a slice of life. Many writers come up empty when trying to think of story ideas because they’re focusing on traditional story arcs. The fact is, life rarely offers neat little narrative packages that are gift-wrapped with easy conflict resolutions and clearly rendered characters. Fortunately, every short story doesn’t have to have a neat, traditional ending. You can write a short exploration of a scene, idea, or character—as opposed to a whole story. Slice-of-life vignettes are trending right now with lit mag editors; find out more about how to write good slice-of-life stories.

2. Make a scene. Physical places are rife with inherent conflict and problems that are just waiting to appear. You might discover a good story idea in your own backyard, the local park, or the mall—maybe even at the neighborhood senior housing center or hospital. Trees fall. So does rain. So do people. All of this has consequences for your characters, your setting, and your town. Learn more about scene and craft.

3. What a character! Think of the colorful people you know. Readers (including literary magazine editors and agents) love larger-than-life characters. Uncle Joe, who claims he was abducted by aliens. Aunt Dee, who talks more to her parrot than to her neighbors. Great stories often start with great characters.

4. Be afraid. Be very afraid. What are you afraid of? What’s the worst thing that could happen to you right now? What would stop you from reaching your goals? Your answers will reveal great story ideas, full of realistic conflict and emotional authenticity. Don’t be afraid to exploit your own fears. Learn how to write with fearful bravery!

5. Listen up. With every conversation, people are telling you stories. If you’ve watched the latest reboot of Sherlock (courtesy of the BBC), then you’ve seen how the titular detective can look over a person and deduce intimate secrets of that person’s life based on the smallest physical cues (a dog hair on the cuff of black pants, cracked nails, etc.). As a writer, you can do the same. Study the people you talk to. And remember—what you can’t glean, you can always invent.

One Last Warning: The Paradox Of “But It Really Happened”

Often, when a new writer hears a critique group member complain, “This doesn’t feel like it could really happen,” the author might reply, “But it did!” Here’s the problem with that logic: Whether or not a story feels true is actually more important than if it is true. Even if Uncle Joe really was abducted by aliens or Aunt Dee’s parrot truly can hold sophisticated conversations about classic literature, your story will fail if readers don’t buy into the truth of it. Listen carefully to readers’ reactions. And remember: there’s always more where that idea came from—your real life is replete with inspiration for fiction.
 

This article has been reprinted with the permission of Writer’s Relief, an author’s submission 
service that has been helping creative writers make submissions since 1994.  Their work is 
highly recommended in the writing community, and there are TONS of freebies, publishing 
leads, and writers resources on their website. Check it out!

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.

irevuo

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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