#WIPMADNESS WEEK #3 – Basics of the Craft

Welcome back for our Week #3 check-in, Wipsters.

“I’ve had a story rattling around in my head for years, waiting to be told. Maybe it’s time I wrote it.”

Hey, does anyone around here know who won this week’s draw?

If you’ve been a writer for very long, you’ve likely encountered similar comments. Whether you’re having lunch in the cafeteria at work, chatting over coffee after a club meeting, or making small talk with another parent in the bleachers at hockey practice, if you mention you’re a novelist your words may unbind the dreams of a wannabee writer. Suddenly a lot of gut-spilling happens. I think it’s a little like unburdening to a hairdresser or bartender!

After the above statement was made we chatted a bit about her ambition. I always like to encourage anyone who feels the pull to write, but it was soon obvious that she would benefit from doing some groundwork on the craft of writing before she began putting any words on paper.

C’mon, tell us who won, will ya?

“What genre will it be?” When she raised her eyebrows over a look filled with confusion, I added, “What kind of story?”

“Oh, it’ll be a fiction novel.”

Near the end of that conversation she asked if I could recommend a book that would tell her everything she needed to know. She wanted a magic formula. Not wanting to either discourage or overwhelm her, I offered to lend her something from my bookshelves that would give her an overview of novel-writing basics. After that I suggested she write a complete first draft of the story before reading anything more and perhaps getting tangled up (or bogged down) with too many mechanics.

The draw! The draw! You’re getting me all in a flap! Who won the draw???

Of the over fifty craft books on my shelf, I didn’t choose the first book I had read, which was TECHNIQUES OF THE SELLING WRITER by Dwight Swain (1965). Instead I chose to lend her WRITING A NOVEL AND GETTING PUBLISHED by Nigel Watts (1996, NTC Publishing Group), not because I thought it was the most comprehensive guidebook, but because it’s short, simple and straightforward… and not too scary for a very new and naïve writer.

This is where I ask YOU what book you would have recommended in that situation. Not the book you value now as an experienced writer and/or published author, but the one book you wish someone had given you before you began your first manuscript.


Now… before we start getting tweeted to bits, I suppose I need to satisfy all the birdie curiosity and announce the winner of last week’s draw for a review by Jessica Morrell of a synopsis (or query) and the first five pages of a manuscript.

Kiperoo – Kip Wilson Rechea

Congratulations, Kip! Please contact me at caroljgarvin [at] gmail [dot] com with your e-mail address and I’ll give you the scoop on claiming your critique from Jessica.

Now, for next week… since we’re talking about craft books today, one person commenting before next weekend on today’s post will win a $25 Amazon gift certificate to use towards the purchase of a book of your choice.

We’ve hit the mid-point of the month, so have you all made it half-way to the goal(s) you set for July? There’s still time if you boot into high gear. Go, go, go!!! (But don’t forget to leave a comment before you depart — or several. Every comment gets a separate entry in the draw.)


Ah, drat! It wasn’t me.

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#WIPMADNESS Week #2 – Excuses, excuses, excuses!

Summer finally arrived here last week. The temperature yesterday reached 31+ C. (about 90 F.) — nothing comparable to what central Canada and much of the United States are experiencing, but hot enough for me. In last Friday’s post I asked, “How will you combat the distractions and/or inertia that often accompany hot weather holiday time, excursions to the beach, bored out-of-school children, and visiting relatives?”

I offered suggestions to help carve out time for writing from summertime’s unscheduled days. But suggestions are only that… non-compulsory ideas. Unless we act on them they don’t help at all. I think most of us are guilty at times of offering excuses for why we have to be somewhere other than at our desks, especially in the summer.

“Every day, your life bombards you with perfectly legitimate excuses not to get your writing done: sick kids, leaky roofs, roots in desperate need of a touch-up.”  [Claire Cook]

Excuses are our enemy! Excuses will keep us from reaching our goals! DOWN WITH EXCUSES!! Oops… seems I’m a little rabid about this topic. Sorry Wipsters, but no matter how justifiable the reasons are, if we aren’t getting the writing done, we’re letting them bully us out of the one part of publication that should be ours to control.

How did last week go for you? Did you accomplish what you planned or did excuses wreak havoc with your intentions? What are you planning for this week?

Jaye Robin Brown

I hope Jaye will be able to say that excuses didn’t interfere with her writing last week, but either way, she won our Week #1 draw for her choice of a novel from my summer reading basket. Congratulations Jaye! Please e-mail me at caroljgarvin [at] gmail [dot] com with your title of choice, and a mailing address.

Now that everyone has had a week to contend with July’s schedules, I’m thinking we might need a little extra burst of motivation to face Week #2, so listen up…

Every comment on today’s post will be entered for the Week #2 draw, which is being donated by author, writing coach, freelance editor and workshop instructor extraordinaire Jessica Page Morrell. She has offered to review a synopsis (or query) and the first five pages of a manuscript. How’s that for motivational?

As was the case last week, the remaining names not chosen will be kept for an extra draw at the end of the month, for a copy of Julia Cameron’s book, “THE SOUND OF PAPER”.

Now go toss those excuses in the nearest trash container. Don’t let them bully you out of your writing time!

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A Quote of Note

Found on Jessica Page Morrell‘s blog yesterday:

“Forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.”

~ Octavia Butler

In my opinion, that’s worth memorizing!