Monday, December 30, 2013

How Reading and Watching Movies Makes us Better Writers

Watch Movies - When the movie ends pull out your phone or laptop and jot down notes about what moved you and why.  Remember back to which character you liked the most and why.  Think about what the director did to make you like this person.  What character traits do you remember?  What flaws did the character exhibit?  Recount the synopsis of the movie and what the major plot points were.  Think back and analyze the story taking note of what you liked and what you didn't. If you'd written the screenplay what would you have done differently?  Did you like the ending?  If not why?

Read Movie Reviews - Compare the reviewers description to what you put down in your notes after watching the movie.  Did your impression of the movie compare to that of his or her review?  If not what differed?  What can you learn from this?

Start a Movie Group - Invite friends to join and host a get together at your home to kick off the group. Ask a member to pick a film and host the group at their place for the discussion.  Make a rule that whomever picks the next movie will host the group at their home and rotate through the group with each member picking and hosting.  You'll gain friends and have a reason to go to the movies more often.  Prepare ahead of time for the group and introduce them to the basic principles of Plot, Character, Story Arc, 3-Act Structure, etc. I've been in a cinema group in my own neighborhood for the past year and it's a great way to get to know your neighbors and share a common interest. 

Read the Novels of Great Writers - Take notes as you read their books.  What stands out as a great sentence or paragraph?  Reread that section critically and figure out what it is about these words that invokes a response in you.  The more you read the better you'll write.  Our subconscious mind is an amazing tool.

Study the dialog of books - Read out loud. How does the dialog compare or differ from what you've written in your stories? 

Spend your free time reading - Carry a book with you in your car, on the bus, in your purse or backpack.  Always have something nearby to read. When your waiting in line at the bank or train station pull out a paper back or you kindle and read a few pages.

Read Genres other than what you write - If you normally read mystery, thrillers, and fantasy branch out and try some literary fiction, romance, or science fiction.  As writers we can learn from all types of writing.  Read books by foreign authors.

Support your local independent bookstores and libraries - as authors we all have a vested interest in keeping the institutions that exist to supply our written words to the general public.  While I enjoy reading books on my kindle I also buy books at the local bookstore and frequently check books out at our library.  Encourage your friends and family to visit their local bookstores.  Amazon is great, but variety is the spice of life.

Read before bed - Make a daily habit of turning off the television and reading for one hour before you go to bed.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Writers Cabin would like to wish all of you Happy Holidays!

Upcoming attractions for 2014

- More Author Interviews

- An interview with a business professional in the area of Author Promotions.

- An interview with a Private Investigator.

- An interview with a Professional Pilot. 

What would you like to read about here on The Writers Cabin?  Let us know in the Comments.

Friday, December 20, 2013

How do author’s maximize emotion when writing scenes?

A few years back while attending a writing workshop in intermediate fiction at Denver’s Lighthouse Writers Workshop I learned a technique for writing with emotion. The instructor, Doug Kurtz, stuck out his palm with a stack of index cards and asked all of us students to take a card, read it, and place it upside down on the table. 

Each card held an emotion - anger, fear, sympathy, etc.  He gave us a scenario to write about and asked us to write for 10 minutes using the emotion that was listed on our card.

The exercise taught me to feel what my characters are going through while I write a particular scene. It is my belief than many of us author’s struggle with the concept of inserting emotion into our writing. In my chosen genre, thrillers, I read all the bestsellers and see varying degrees of emotion in their writing.

When I switch to literary fiction I find plentiful use of character emotions. Is this because in mysteries and thrillers the author is concentrating on action and plot, and to a lesser extent the emotions of the characters, or is it because in thrillers we are struggling to keep the content moving forward, and the use of too much emotion bogs down the pace of the writing?

What do you think?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

12/4/13 - My novel, VENGEANCE, is complete at 90,522 words.

12/4/13 - My novel is done. I have renamed it VENGEANCE and will begin querying agents in the New Year. The final word count is 90,552 with ninety-two chapters, including the prologue and epilogue. Needless to say I was a little giddy at work this past Wednesday.

I entered VENGEANCE in The Minotaur Books - First Crime Novel Competition. The winner will be offered a publishing contract and receive a $10,000 advance against future royalties. The winner will be announced at the Edgar Awards Banquet April 2014 in New York City. Wish me luck.

Now it's time to roll up my sleeves and get back to work on book two in the Reece Culver Series.  The thought of having free time to spend on just one book feels so good.  For months I've been jumping back and forth between Book One and Book Two.  Both manuscripts have been screaming for attention like children in a sibling rivalry wanting a parent's sole attention.  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

How to Back up your Writing

I saw a recent discussion on Facebook about how a writer's computer failed and she lost a whole years worth of hard work.  As it turned out after receiving lots of tips and tricks from her Facebook friends this person was able, for a fee, to recover the contents of her hard drive.

Because of this I thought I'd post today about different ways to backup your writing.

E-mail a copy of your manuscript to a second e-mail account every time you write.  This gives you two copies, but since your emailing the file you expose yourself to a small chance of it getting intercepted by some 2nd party.  Also it's possible to have your e-mail account hacked.

Pay for an automated web based backup service.  A recent Yahoo search brought up 27 plans ranging in price from $5.99 per month for each computer at sites like CrashPlan, Backblaze, and
Mozy.  The next tier of pricing was close to $10 / month for up to 10GB of space.

The site I've used for the past year is JustCloud which is now advertised at from $9.95 to $6.95 per month if you sign up for 2 years.  I signed up for a multi-year plan and use it on both of my computers. Since beginning this plan I've used a total of 11 GB of my allocated 272 GB.  I like the idea that I can access my files from any computer with internet access.  I also like that it's not backed up in the same location where the computer is located.  It's a pretty easy system an not easy for a tired writer to mess up.

What's this GB of space mean.  To put a Gigabyte into perspective a 90,000 word manuscript is about 575 KB's.  This means you could store 473,043 manuscripts on the JustCloud system.  While I like to write and have produced lots of stories over the years I highly doubt I'll use up my storage capacity anytime soon.

The nice thing about this type of arrangement is that it automatically backups anything new on the computer once a day as long as it's connected to the internet.  It can be configured to back up more than once a day if need be.

Burn your work to a CD or DVD.
This is as easy as inserting a disc into your disc drive and using your software to copy files.  The bad thing about this is if you experience some misfortune that takes out your computer it may destroy the discs too.  One work around is to store the back up discs in a second location.

Back up your computer to an external hard drive.
These devices are relatively inexpensive and can be setup to backup your computer daily.

Save your files on a flash media stick such as LEXAR.
These devices are very inexpensive and have the added plus of being portable. You can hang one on your keychain and always have your writing nearby.

 Do you have any other creative ways to back up your writing?  If so tell us in the comments.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

What does a rocket launch look like up close and personal?

This is a photo taken during the launch of ORS 3 that blasted off on the evening of November 19, 2013 at Wallops Island located on the eastern shore of Virginia.
(Click on each photo to make them bigger)

The Minotaur 1 Rocket launched a record setting 29 satellites.  Not to be out done a rocket was launched in southern Russia a few days later carrying 32 satellites.

Here's a birds eye view of the launch.

This view lights up the surrounding area.