Tool Kit – Do-Over

October 26, 2007 at 9:58 am | Posted in Jessica, tool kit, writing | 3 Comments

Every so often I’ll wish that I could have a do-over with certain things in life. Then again, there are certain other things – as well as people – in my life that I wouldn’t trade for anything, and even the slightest change from my past could alter that precious balance of what I love and hate as my status quo.

But Meg has given me the chance to do one do-over this week . . . to offer up another post about the novel writer’s tool kit.

This time around, I wanted to share a number of resources from what I will call a panel of experts as go-to reference when leaning on the various tools in your tool kit.

Wikipedia defines writer’s voice as a literary term used to describe the individual writing style of an author. Voice is a combination of a writer’s use of syntax, diction, punctuation, character development, dialogue, etc., within a given body of text (or across several works). Voice can also be referred to as the specific fingerprint of an author, as every author has a different writing style.

A number of authors have created amazing workshops on voice. Barbara Samuel, Virginia Kantra, and Jane Porter among them. But I recently read an article on Julie Elizabeth Leto’s web site on Writing the Book of Your Voice that spoke about voice in a way I hadn’t heard before.  Check it out!

Plot is the rendering and ordering of the events and actions of a story, particularly towards the achievement of some particular artistic or emotional effect.

In RWA circles, most people lump themselves in one or two camps. Are you a plotter or a pantser? Best-selling author Allison Brennan posted a blog entry on No Plotting Allowed, which may be a great comfort to you pantsers out there.

I do like the freedom of being a pantser, but find myself a bit lost at times without a road map. One technique that helped me visualize my book came from Blake Snyder, who developed a Beat Sheet to help “beat out” the basic building blocks when writing a screenplay. I have found that Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet helps me with my fiction outlines as well.

Then there are those who fall somewhere in between, and Lisa Mondello has a great workshop on ‘Meyers Briggs for Writers’ in which she offers another category of plotting – the puzzler . . . one who doesn’t pants and who doesn’t outline, but who creates pieces of her books then fits them all together.

I recently read a most excellent article on revision written by Beverly Brandt. I don’t know what else to say about this resource other than to note that I first read this article on Tuesday of this week and it is what prompted me to create my do-over post.

Anyone who has tried writing a synopsis knows there is nothing brief about the dreaded process of effectively putting one together. There are lots of workshops out there on the subject, but there is a series of lectures posted by Lisa Gardner on her web site that provide some of the most helpful and comprehensive advice on the subject. She is excellent.

After conquering the synopsis, there are two equally dreadful tasks ahead. The query letter is one such animal. Fortunately, there are a number of writers willing to share their expertise as to how to assemble the query. One resource that I like comes not from a fellow author, but rather from an agent. Jenny Bent offers a great example of a query that hooked her on her web site. (PLEASE NOTE: Jenny is no longer accepting unsolicited material.)

And one other tool for your writing kit: how to structure a pitch. Kristin Nelson has started a series of blog posts on this subject that takes a different slant on what has traditionally been viewed as the way to structure a pitch.

Or take a look at Kathy Carmichael’s pitch generator for some quick brainstorming ideas.

And a post on the blog of the former Miss Snark talks about how to conduct your pitch appointment.

Stephanie Bond has an entire virtual tool kit on her web site. The information she has assembled and shared is invaluable!

This do-over has been a little like cooking pasta for me – I tossed it all in the pot, let it stew, then threw the stuff at the wall to see what would stick. I hope something sticks for you – that you find some new tools for your respective tool kits in the sources mentioned above.

And to borrow from Bria, maybe one of these ‘famous people’ will unwittingly turn out to be a guardian angel for you.

If you have some go-to tools in your kit, I hope you will share! It was a treat to be here with you this Friday. Have a great weekend!




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  1. […] Web Development Blog wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptBarbara Samuel, Virginia Kantra, and Jane Porter among them. But I recently read an article on Julie Elizabeth Leto’s web site on Writing the Book of Your Voice that spoke about voice in a way I hadn’t heard before. Check it out! … […]

  2. […] Read the rest of this great post here […]

  3. You got some of my favorite places to visit. . . and remember, it’s research NOT procrastination.

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