Tag Archives: writers’ group

Your Story Matters (Or… What a Reader Wants You to Know)

Hi, dear Villagers! *waves*

Let me take a brief moment to introduce myself. I’m Carrie, aka MeezCarrie, of ReadingIsMySuperPower. And I LOVE STORY!! I love short stories. I love epic stories. I love in between sized stories. I love contemporary stories. Historical stories. Mystery stories. Amish stories. Even some speculative and YA stories.

But most of all? I love THE Story. The one that starts with the ultimate ‘once upon a time’ – “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1) – and ends with the best ‘happily ever after’ ever (Revelation 21:4)

Because we are all part of that Story.

Yes, we all have a story in progress that is our own life. But everyone we meet does, too. And all those stories-in-progress are part of the Big Story that God is telling. Let me tell you – that is SO exciting to me!

I’m one of the new Seekerville bloggers, but I’m not seeking publication. I’m content to read other people’s stories and talk (incessantly) about them. But that up there? What I just said about being part of God’s Story?

That means I’m sorta like all the rest of y’all.

In a small way.

Ok.. not at all the same.

BUT… I am part of the greatest Story in the world. And so are you. That’s pretty stinkin’ incredible. The Author and Finisher of my Faith is telling a Story about me and about you. And He has promised to keep writing it until it’s completed – not when I die or when you die, but until the day Jesus returns. (Philippians 1:6)

Back in November, I had the pinch-me privilege of speaking with Cynthia Ruchti at the Art of Writing Conference just ahead of the 2017 Christy Awards gala. We talked about the darts of author discouragement and how to dodge them. After our session, a woman came up to me in tears. She whispered, “I didn’t know anybody else knew how I feel.” And then we both were in tears lol!

Author friends – can I encourage you a moment? You’re not alone. Writing may be a solitary career but the discouragements are consistent. Fear of rejection. The reality of rejection. Fear of the  possibility of a bad review. The depths of despair over an actual bad review. Your family doesn’t take you seriously. Your friends don’t take you seriously. It doesn’t pay the bills. It barely pays for coffee.

Oh… wait… I was supposed to be encouraging you. LOL.

I really was headed here, I promise.

You’re not alone. And you’re not left defenseless.

God has given you each other, and He has given you His Word. Community and grace wrapped up in a safe place like Seekerville.

You want to know another secret? YOUR STORY MATTERS.

Yep. I went there: all caps.

Because it’s so incredibly true and so incredibly important to understand.

The story you’re writing matters.

That story you’ve agonized over. The one that’s kept you up all hours of the night. The one that may or may not currently be taunting you with a blinking cursor of ‘I got nothing’. It matters. Even if no one else ever reads it. Even if no agent or publishing house wants it. Even if your beta readers and editors send it back with more tracked changes than you had words to start with.

Your story matters. Believe it. And believe in it.

But you know what? The story that God is writing in you and through you matters most of all. He is making you more like Jesus every day. He knew you before He formed you in your mother’s womb, and He had already had plans for your life. (Psalm 139, Jeremiah 1) He created you as a writer before you even had fully developed hands to hold a pen or tap away on a keyboard. Even better – He knew your role in His Story before you ever made your grand arrival on planet Earth. And that story matters on a scale we can’t even begin to imagine.

Maybe you’re like me and the only thing you write is a blog post… or a grocery list. Your story matters too. God placed you in His Story at just the right time and in just the right place so that you would come to know Him (Acts 17). He pursued you with an everlasting love and has engraved you on the palm of His hand. (Jeremiah 31, Isaiah 49). Think about that for a second – you matter so much to the God of the Universe that those nail-scarred Hands have your name on them.

Your story matters. Believe it. And believe in it.

I know good stories. I’m surrounded by them, à la the Dr. Seuss method of decorating. All the crannies, all the nooks, etc. This Big Story that God is telling is a good story. It’s the best story. It’s the standard by which all other stories are measured (whether they realize it or not). It’s also a true story. This fairy-tale to beat all fairy-tales – a prince on a white horse come to vanquish the enemy and rescue his bride – that’s OUR story (Revelation 19).

So when you’re tempted to throw in the towel and give up on your story – the one you’re writing or the one you’re living – remember this:

Your story matters. Believe it. And believe in it.

By Carrie Schmidt
Source: seekerville.blogspot.com

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How to Spark Your Story With an Inciting Incident

If you are planning on writing a story, there is something you need to consider besides basic plot structure. You need to determine your Inciting Incident.

What incident will compel your protagonist to act?

What Is an Inciting Incident?

I am reading The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne and Story by Robert McGee to learn how to write a compelling story. Both Coyne and McGee emphasize the importance of writing a compelling inciting incident.

To incite means to stir, encourage, or urge on; to stimulate or prompt to action.

An inciting incident, then, is an event that forces your protagonist to act, compelling them to stop sitting around and do something.

Shawn Coyne has this to say about inciting incidents:

No matter the unit of story (beat, scene, sequence, act, or global Story) what the inciting incident must do is upset the life balance of your lead protagonist/s. It must make them uncomfortably out of sync . . . for good or for ill.

Robert McKee agrees:

If the protagonist’s toaster breaks it won’t compel her to get a job because she can afford to buy a new toaster.

However, if her bank manager steals all of the money from her account and flies to Brazil, she will be compelled to get a job. She is forced to act.

As Robert McKee says,

The protagonist must react to the Inciting Incident.

Why Do You Need an Inciting Incident?

If nothing happens to your protagonist you don’t have a story. Something has to happen.

Without an inciting incident nothing meaningful can happen. And when nothing meaningful happens, it’s not a story. —Shawn Coyne

If the story I am writing is about a toaster, but my toaster doesn’t do anything but sit on the counter, there is no story.

If the toaster catches on fire and burns down the house, then there is a story. Will the toaster get caught? Will the fire department blame the cat? Can the toaster be repaired?

How Does an Inciting Incident Happen?

An inciting incident can happen in one of two ways:

  1. By choice
  2. By accident

The protagonist might choose to adopt six cats, buy a one-way ticket to Japan, or decide to enter a hairy leg contest. All of these inciting incidents would compel the protagonist to take action.

Inciting incidents that are not by choice can happen as a coincidence, randomly, or as an accident. The protagonist meets a Naval Officer at a bar. A cat climbs into the protagonist’s lap and refuses to leave. You thought your flight left Bangkok at two in the afternoon, but it left at two in the morning, and there are no flights for another three days and you have spent all of your money.

No matter whether the inciting incident happens by choice or by accident, Robert McKee says it should occur “in the first 25 percent of the telling, no matter what the medium.”

If the writer, playwright, or screenwriter waits too long to incite the protagonist to action, the reader or audience might get bored and not continue with the story.

How Do You Resolve the Inciting Incident?

Shawn Coyne says the ending of a story must have two things:

  1. The ending must be reasonable and an inevitable result of the inciting incident.
  2. The ending must be surprising.

He gives examples of inciting incidents from different genres that have climaxes that are expected.

Murder mystery

  • Inciting incident = the discovery of a dead body
  • Climax = solving of the crime

Love story

  • Inciting incident = lovers meet
  • Climax = will the couple stay together?

Horror novel

  • Inciting incident = attack by the monster
  • Climax = confrontation between lead character victim and the monster from the inciting incident

An inciting incident creates chaos in the life of the protagonist. The story occurs when the protagonist tries to get their life back into balance. As Robert McKee says,

Characters are what they do. Story events impact the characters, and the characters impact events.

The climax or resolution of the story will put the protagonist’s life back together in some sort of new way, for better or worse. Hopefully, it will put their life back into balance.

What will your protagonist do? What is going to incite them to take action? Please let me know in the comments.

By Pamela Hodges
Source: thewritepractice.com

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Writers’ groups are really made for writers

“Marketing is a long and arduous process that I wish I would have known more about in the beginning…” opens today’s Publisher’s Weekly article about the professional benefits of joining a writers’ group. The quote came from Deeann Callis Graham, whose book, “Head On,” addresses the issue of areata, an autoimmune disease that causes baldness in men and women. Indeed, many writers embark on their craft in with the idea that a knight in shining armor attached to a publishing house will do the marketing, when in reality, it is largely you, the author, hustling for publicity, and putting your name and face and work out there for all the world to critique. Perhaps if many did know about the marketing process there would be even fewer writers.

But I digress. The PW piece likens writers’ groups to a kind of group therapy, where members strive to raise each writer’s spirit and technique, while offering constructive advice in a safe place. According to Graham, “Our group of seven are personally invested in our individual and shared successes, and we inspire each other to reach our writing and marketing goals.”

In addition, having a strong writers’ network, though it may not comprise Stephen King or Toni Morrison, nevertheless makes writers – especially first-timers – feel less alone while navigating the wild, wild world of publishing. Members learn from others’ successes and mistakes, and grow their network beyond a notoriously solitary writer’s world.

Graham self-published “Head On,” which a PW review called “heartwarming” and “a powerful compilation of profiles with a sincere and encouraging message.” Graham believes she would not have gotten this far without her group of creative cheerleaders. So if you need a kick in the rear to get going, or you’ve already in the middle of a manuscript you think has potential, consider sharing it with a group of your peers first, not only to learn about writing, but about the industry. Groups can be found at Meetups, indie bookstores (yes, they still exist), or, if push comes to shove, perhaps by starting your own.

By Heather Quinlan

Source: slushpile.netslushpile.net

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A Checklist for Considering Writers’ Groups

 

First Edition Design Publishing

From the good people at AuthorCulture

WEDNESDAY, JULY 30, 2014

 

People have a variety of viewpoints when it comes to belonging to the writer’s group or workshop. Some authors like Dean Koontz abhor them. Some say they will cause you to quit writing or destroy your writing style. Others say they could not write without them.

I have experienced both points of view. Over the years, I have belonged to three writer’s groups. The first was the Frisco (Texas) Writer’s Group. It was a hybrid group. Some sessions focused on the learning the business of writing. Other sessions were for critique. Over time, I outgrew this group of mainly want to be writers. I attended the group from 2006 through 2009.

While attending the first group, I learned of the Dallas-Fort Worth Writer’s Workshop. It is a larger group with many full-time and published writers. They sponsor the DFW Writer’s Convention. In 2008, I attended convention.

I joined the DFW Writer’s Workshop in 2009. I was a paid member through 2012. For several years, I drove twenty-five miles each way through heavy Dallas – Fort Worth traffic and freeway construction to attend the group.

The meetings had a set agenda. They began with an introduction of guests and new members. Next was a time of sharing submissions, rejections, being asked to send a full manuscript, and getting an agent. You could also sign-up to read. You were assigned to critique groups for the evening. There you read. Then others commented on your work. You did not respond to their comments. The comments were extremely helpful and required a thick skin at times. The group has been around since 1977. Over the years, members have had over 300 traditionally published books. The group charges $100 per year to be a member. It meets 52 weeks a year.

I had published over two-dozen magazine articles before joining the group. I credit the group with keeping me motivated. It caused me to look at my writing at a level I did not know existed. It provided encouragement as I witnessed fellow members being published. The group was a first-amendment group where you could write anything. The critique group helped me write, as I needed something new to read each week. While in the group, I published over a dozen pieces. I also completed the 80,000 words book that I am currently shopping.

In 2011, I joined Wholehearted Writing Group. It is located less than two miles from my day job. The location was the reason for joining. The group is more about writing prompts than analyzing or working on your current project. It meets 26 times a year with the cost of $10 per meeting.

Whether you are joining the writers’ group to gain new friends, network, or to improve your craft and motivation, you need to make sure it meets your needs. Below are some points to consider when selecting, joining, and attending a writer’s group.

  1. Does the writer’s workshop have in writing defined goals?
  2. Does the group start on time and stay on mission? I will use the DFW Writer’s Workshop that I belonged to as an example.
  3. Does the group have an interest in your writing or is it just a niche group?
  4. Are there rules for people whose work is critiqued to follow?
  5. Does the organization allow you time to network and develop relationships with others in the group?
  6. Should I pay to attend a writer’s group?
  • Does the group know where it is going?
  • Does it regularly meet?
  • Are members submitting, progressing in the craft and publishing?
  • The group starts on time – 7 PM. It began with a large group session.
  • They recognize guests, ask them what they write, and how they found out about the workshop.
  • They ask for rejections followed by asking for submissions.
  • They ask is anyone has sold articles or gotten a contract for their manuscript.
  • After the large group session, they break into small critique groups.
  • Writer’s read for ten minutes followed by a critique of five minutes.
  • They have a monitor for a group who times and moderates the readings and critiques. The monitor keeps the group on track.
  • The group ends at 9:30 PM. Ending on time respects the participants.
  • Is it a first-amendment group allowing freedom of expression?
  • Does the group focus only on fiction or non-fiction?
  • Does it require you to filter your writing through the scope of the group? For example, you would not want to attend a Christian writer’s group if you write erotica.
  • Having guidelines is essential.
  • People get defensive when others are telling them what they did wrong.
  • The man or woman receiving the critique needs to have rules to follow.
  • We have him or her listen with no response or rebuttal.
  • You need to listen to what people have to say about your writing and learn from it.
  • Do the group members like each other?
  • Are they happy to see you and urge you to participate?
  • Does the group assimilate new members?
  • Does everyone get to read?
  • If the group members spend more time telling you how great they are or what they hope to do instead of staying on schedule and mission, find a different group.
  • Most writers’ groups in the USA are free and run by volunteers. Fee-based groups are also common.
  • One of the most expensive writer’s groups in the USA is the Original Los Angeles Writers Group™. The cost for new members is $475 a year while returning members get a break at $450. That is about $9.00 per week.
  • The Kansas City Writer’s Critique Group meets in ten-week sessions with each session costing $65.00 ($5.50 per week).
  • The DFW Writer’s Group in Texas is $100 per year (paid in advance). You must be a paid member to read.
  • The Burlington Vermont Writer’s Group cost $12.00 per month.
  • Wholehearted Writing in Dallas, Texas is $10 a session.
  • I have attended pay and free groups. Most pay groups are very polished, professional, stay on task honoring the attendee’s time by starting and stopping on time plus having a set break. Many are connected to educational institutions or are legal nonprofits with a constitution by-laws and elected leadership from the paid membership that manage / lead the group. They are not social in nature and have had an evaluation element. The leader in the pay group may receive your writing assignment in advance. They check your style, grammar, and transitions as a proofreader or outside editor. They may lead you in structured revisions.

While people have a variety of viewpoints when it comes to belonging to the writer’s workshop, a writer’s group is not for everyone, but it could be what you need to get to the next level.

 

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