Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The basics

So you love to write, but you're a little fuzzy on the grammar thing, sometimes. Well, as much as it's important to just get the writing down on paper without worrying about pesky details like perfection, (ha ha!), when you begin to edit, it helps to know a thing or two about the fundamentals of writing.

Annette Lyon has written a fabulous book, There, Their, They're: A No-Tears Guide to Grammar from the Word Nerd. She also has a great blog, The Lyon's Tale. If you're looking for grammar help, this is a great place to start.

When you write, you need to know the rules so you can decide whether or not you want to break them. ;-) And as a writer, I've found that the more books I can find and read on the craft of writing, the better I get.

Happy writing!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Best writing advice ever?

I've seen countless bits of writing advice throughout my writing career, and I believe the best you'll ever hear is to read.

And then read.

And then read some more.

Then write.

Every day.


I love books on the writing craft. I own about a million of them. But I think by far the most effective way to become a better writer is to read a lot. Read your favorite genres. Read in other areas you might not ordinarily try, because you may pick up something along the way that will help your writing. Choose a book you'd like to read, and even if you're reading a ton of stuff for school, give yourself a few minutes each day to read something of your choice. It may take you a month to read a book that, in the summer, would take only about, say, a week and a half, but if you're like me, it's hard to have assigned reading when there's so much other stuff I want to read just for fun. Give yourself a little treat and steal a few moments with one of your favorite authors.

And of course, you must write. Write something every day, even if it's only a paragraph. Keep a journal. Keep a book of lists. (These are especially fun!) Start a notebook, (sometimes the uglier the notebook, the better, because then you're not afraid to mess it up), and find a writing prompt, either on this site, (I promise it will be updated daily!), or another and make the time to scribble something down in it.

DEFINITELY start keeping an idea notebook, if you aren't already. Jot down every little thing, idea, concept, character type, cool job, conversation that you think could make the beginnings of a good story.

Your brain, your writing brain, is a muscle! You must exercise it! Pretend I'm Jillian. Go, go, go!

There's something so fun and creative about this time of year. I adore Halloween, and you could really come up with a lot of amazing stories or scenarios geared toward all things spooky.

Now, I realize you have tons of homework and about a gajillion things making demands on your time. If nothing else, give yourself 10 minutes of uninterrupted writing time as you lay in bed at night, preferably before you turn off the light, for the sake of legibility. I've learned this: if you don't make the time, it will not seek you out. Cut off the Facebook surfing 10 minutes early, text your friends that your mom is being a ...well, whatever you call her when you're mad...and that she's making you turn off your phone for the night. (Always blame the parents. They have broad shoulders. They'll take it for you).

Do consistent writing for a week, every day, if you're not already. Then let us know here how it's going!

Oh, and watch this site for contests! They're going to be good. :-)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My book is boring me, or I have writer's block...

What happens if you're writing along, loving it, and then you miss a day or two, or three, or four and you find yourself slightly bored with the thought of picking up the pen or opening the folder?

This happened to me while I was writing my first book. I put it away for weeks at a time, sometimes months, and it took me five years to write a book that ended up being just under 200 pages long. Kinda lame, yes. I got bored with it, I listened to the inner voices that told me I was wasting my time...

Well, I've since discovered some things that will help. If you do need to put the book away for a small amount of time to take a breather, fine. Do just that. But don't NOT write something else every day. Keep your writing habit alive by still writing/journaling/scribbling something down each day. We must ingrain the daily writing habit, even if it's only ten minutes at a time.

Another idea might be to try a fresh project for a bit and then go back to the original one that was giving you fits. When you get a little bit of distance from it, sometimes you can see the thing that was wrong, or you realize you really do like that idea and you're willing to work with it again. I don't suggest you put it away for five years, though, if you can help it.

Maybe it would help to brainstorm a list of possibilities for your characters. Start making a list of things that could happen to him/her. Raise the stakes! Do something horrible and let the character work her way out of it. Shake it up a bit.

Go for a walk and think about your book. Let the fresh air slip into your head and rejuvenate those tired brain cells. (Or something like that). Truly, sometimes just moving around does wonders for my writing abilities.

Sit somewhere crowded and listen to people talking. See if there's anything you overhear that might be useful in your story. Challenge yourself- see if you can find a way to fit in something you might not have thought of otherwise.

Don't give in to boredom or writer's block! Fight it!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The benefit of warm-up pages

Some authors use warm-up pages before they begin working on their current projects. Many describe them as just that- a warm-up to get them into the writing flow.

I used to think that it was just wasting valuable time I could be using to write my novel, but as I've tried it, I've come to realize what a valuable tool it can be. It's like any exercise; you need to stretch a bit before you just dive in.

Something you might try: Get yourself a notebook or create a file on your computer that is strictly for warming up. Give yourself permission to write about nothing or everything for at least five minutes. Some people say fifteen minutes is better. Use one of the daily writing prompts found on this blog or make up your own- just do anything to get the writing juices flowing.

Try it, see what you think, and let me know how it works!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Conference and jumping right in!

THE Teen Writing Conference, held yesterday at Ogden, Utah's Weber State University, was absolutely so much fun. I had the best time! The authors were wonderful, the classes were so good, and the KIDS! I met so many great kids.

My daughter has the pics on her camera and I'm going to post some of them here, soon, but first of all, I wanted to post this link for you guys. It's a link to The BookEnds literary agency, (very cool), and they offer a publishing dictionary that really has useful info. You should read it if you want to write for publication. Maybe consider printing it for future reference or copying it to your hard drive. Good, good stuff.

So my thanks to the conference attendees and all the wonderful people who made it happen. It was so good!!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Teen Writers Conference

It's almost here! THE Teen Writers Conference at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, will be this Saturday, June 6. It's the first time we've done this conference and it's going to be really, really cool.

My daughter will be attending, so I'll have her taking a bunch of pictures and I'll post them when we're done. Registration is closed for this year, (because we filled up so fast, YES), but this is something you definitely won't want to miss next year.

As for the purpose of this blog, it's all about being a teen who likes to write. I'll post links to helpful sites, provide articles about the writing craft and offer any advice and help I can from my experiences as a published writer.

I'm creating this blog for a couple of reasons. I love to write, for one. Also, I'm a teacher and I can't think of anything better than to share something I love with kids. Reading was such a huge part of my life as a kid and I would have loved the chance to get some feedback from a published author, so hopefully some of what I have to offer will be of use to you.

Enjoy, and if you're registered for the conference, I'll see you on Saturday!