Friday Thoughts About NaNoWriMo

“But I am learning that perfection isn’t what matters.  In fact, it’s the very thing that can destroy you if you let it.” -Emily Giffin

 

“If a story is in you, it has got to come out.” -William Faulkner

 

 

There’s currently an open debate about NaNoWriMo (aka National Novel Writing Month).  Click on the image below to read about it:

 

There’s one post live discussing and debating about NaNoWriMo by Katherine Karch!

Want to add your opinion to this debate?  Follow the instruction above and we look forward to reading about it!

 

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Writing: How Short Is “Too” Short?

Here’s a question I posed on Twitter the other day:

“Thinking out loud. Is it possible to write bite-sized and still make the kinds of impacts as the longer ones?

I tend to get myself into trouble when I think too much.  🙂

So, is it possible to write short-short stories (for instance, less than 100 words) that can be just as satisfying to read as the longer ones?

 

Character Versus Plot

Book reading

 

This past week, I put out a poll on various social media sites asking writers what they considered was the most important element of any given story.   Not surprisingly, there seems to be a split between the Character element and the Plot element as evident below:

 

“I voted for Character, but beyond that, the narrative voice. There are some voices, like those from Flannery O’Connor, Sue Monk Kid, and even Anne Lamott, that I’ll listen to even if I’m not interested, per se, in the topic. It’s like wearing a warm flannel shirt that feels like home.”tomadaonline

“Compelling characters move the plot, make settings more than a travelogue, give themes meaning w/which readers can identify.”We PAW Bloggers

“Has to be plot. You can have compelling characters, intricate settings… but if they’re doing bugger all it’s a bad story!”The Written Ward

 

What about you?  Would you like to add your input to this debate?  Do you think Character is more important to a story than the Plot?  Or, perhaps the genre a story is in has a hand in determining which element would be the driving force?  If you’re interested on continuing or even expanding on this debate, how about writing a guest post?   Let me know via the Contact page!

 

Writing and the End of the World

Another writer and I were talking about writing and zombies the other day, and he said something that got the wheels in my head churning.  If something happened that destroyed technology (like the EMP storm due to a massive solar flare for an example), he wouldn’t bother with writing anymore.

I said, really?

He continued, what’s the point?  There would be no way to share your work with others, or get near-instant feedback.

I’m like, 0-okay.  What ever float your boat, dude.

Then that wheel started churning fast and furious, and would not stop.  So, here I am with yet another poll and a question for you, my dear readers.

What would you do?

 

Writer/Author Debate (Results)

The responses have been steady since I posted the poll that asked the question on whether “writer” is the same as “author.”  So far, most readers agreed that “writer” is NOT the same as “author:”

Facebook responses:

Mary McDonald: “I think that’s one of those debates that will continue through time. I think most see publishing being the point of transition from writer to author.”

Mark Carver: “I’ve always understood the key difference being that an author has published work.”

Stephanie J. Pajonas: “I say I’m an author. It’s my job writing books and publishing them. Writer is more generalized to me. I’m that as well, too.”

 

Blog responses:

Tiegan Dakin: “My definition of a writer is anyone who performs any literary creating, i.e poetry, fiction, nonfiction, etc.

I always saw authors as people whose works had been published online or in print, whether that be in literary magazines or their own novels.”

RYCJ: “A writer can be a writer without publishing his or her work.

An author on the other hand is published… whether he or she “authored” a letter to a friend or Congress, or wrote and published a full length book.”

Laurie Buchanan: “I agree with the other two responders (Tiegan and RYCJ): A writer is someone whose work is yet unpublished. An author is someone whose writing is published.”

It appear that many deem that in order to be considered an author, one must have been published.  What vary among these responses are what items (poetry, stories, books, etc.) that are published that would determine one’s status as writer/author.  Any further thoughts on these?

 

Alex for Shaw offered the most extensive response that was different from the rest:

“Writer and author are very similar nouns in their common usage, but writer is a broad term that covers anybody who assembles words. Author usually refers to a writer, but one who is identified with their body of work (however large or small). The implication is that what an author writes has visibility beyond their private sphere.

There are some forms of writing where “author” is not the usual term, such as journalism: one usually refers to the writer of an article, editorial, column or feature rather than the author. With literature “author” is much more common, especially for a creator of prose. With poetry or dramatic works the more specialized “poet”, “playwright”, “dramatist” or “screenwriter” are often used, leaving “author” primarily as the term for novelists.

Finally, “writer” is descriptive of what the person does. It derives from the verb, from the action (just like the word “scribe”). “Author” in contrast is synonymous with “creator”, hence phrases like “author of one’s own misfortune” to describe someone who has gotten themselves into trouble. While “writer” deals exclusively with the mechanical acts of putting pen to paper (or an equivalent: finger to keyboard), “author” refers to the creative aspect, the invention.”

Personally, I’m still digesting this particular one.  Anyone agree with her insight on the topic?

New responses:

From pipermac5 (aka Steve) as of 12/29/2015:

“I am a writer, a blogger, and somewhat of a wordsmith, but I wouldn’t claim the title of “author”. My writings are online and available to all who wish to read them, but none have been “published” as printed-material.”

From bdaiken as of 9/5/2016:

“I think it’s about self perception to some extent. I used to describe myself as a designer who also writes. I would now describe myself as an author who does the occasional design job. Less about how much money you make from each venture, more about where the focus of your life lies.”

 

 

*I humbly thank all those who have responded so far. Keep checking back here for new responses as they are added over time!

 

 

Writer Vs. Author (Poll)

Saw this topic  on a Linkedin discussion forum, and the various answers intrigued me.  What are your thoughts?

I like to open a call for my fellow readers who would like to debate on this particular topic.  State your opinion and back it up, and I will post it on this blog for people to respond.  If you’d like to participate, use the Contact page to send me a message, or simply leave a comment below.

 

 

Plot vs. Characters by Craig Hart

Let’s welcome author Craig Hart this week for the on-going discussion about plot vs. characters.  What you will read below comes from his book, The Writer’s Tune-up Manual, in the section called “Thou Spelunker.”

writing

Thou Spelunker

spe・lunk・er noun \spi-y ləŋ-kər, y spē-y \ : one who makes a hobby of exploring and studying caves. (Merriam-Webster)

 

In this instance, the “cave” is your plot and the spelunker is you. The argument could be made that your readers are also spelunkers, but you have to go there first and lay down the bread crumb trail so the rest of us can find our way in and out.

Like an iceberg, the majority of a cave is out of the natural line of sight. It’s hidden from view. And yet, it is what makes an iceberg an iceberg or a cave a cave. Without this secret portion, an iceberg would be an ice cube and a cave would be a pothole. Not very interesting, are they?

Applied to your plot, this means that most of it is hidden, out of plain sight, but yet guides the story and impacts the reader. This happens in the way of motivation, backstory, and subplot. None of these should take over a story and yet without them no story is worth reading.

When I was younger I read a book by a much more experienced writer who said that plot is a verb. In other words, action was the key to plot. I get what he was saying. As it turns out, however, plot is more complicated. Stringing together action scenes will never result in a gripping tale. It doesn’t matter how many sharks are closing in on the stranded swimmer if I don’t care about the swimmer or their fate.

It might sound like this is more about character than plot. And, in a way, this is true. But as I have since learned, plot is character. Your plot will never be any better than the characters who populate it. Learning to connect the two is the key.

 

Craig Hart-writer, editor of The Rusty Nail literary magazine, publisher for Sweatshoppe Publications, and author of The Writer’s Tune-up Manual.  To learn more about Craig and his work, visit his website!craigHartBook

 

 

Next week, K. M. Weiland will be visiting with us!

 

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