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Archive for July, 2011

Inkpop.com is a website run by Harper Collins Publishers for those interested in writing for young adults. It offers a blog, author interviews, a forum, live chats on publishing-related topics, and book reviews. Members have the opportunity to post their own novels, short stories, and poetry for critique by fellow writers. They can give input on the works posted via a ranking system, and the top 5 in each category are reviewed by Harper Collins editors at the end of each month. This doesn’t guarantee any of the projects will be accepted for publication, but it is a possibility.

Though I haven’t joined the site, I like many of its features.

  • It’s easy to navigate, colorful, and looks as though it’s designed by professionals.
  • The forums are active, and the threads I read show members interacting and trying to help each other.
  • The blog provides helpful information, including writing tips, interviews, and book reviews.
  • Live chats with authors, marketers, and other publishing professionals give members a chance to ask questions and receive answers from people with more expertise than themselves.
  • The instructions for uploading writing projects were clear and simple.

The site’s primary target is writers of young adult fiction, and many of the members appear to be young writers. Though I don’t fit into either category, I thought the site looked interesting and ended up reading several of the projects that were posted, as well as a few of the book reviews. Over all, I would feel comfortable using this site if I wanted to get feedback from other writers on a young adult project, or wanted to learn more about that genre.

Have you used Inkpop or a similar site? If so, was it a good experience? What advantages or disadvantages do you see to posting work on a site like that for feedback?

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I’ve frequently heard that writers are supposed to “show instead of tell,” but that isn’t always easy to do. When it comes to settings, I think it can be especially hard.

 

Setting is more than a location or time period. Among other things, it provides a frame of reference for readers, affects the tone, supports a theme, and adds to characterization. It can also detract from those aspects of a story if the setting isn’t appropriate or memorable.

Sometimes pictures speak louder than words, but unless we’re writing a picture book we must depend on words to convey our meaning. Long narratives describing the setting can be overwhelming and boring, and many people skim over those kinds of passages (me, too!). It can be more effective and interesting to integrate specific, important details of the setting into the story itself, allowing readers to imagine the big picture.

 

To illustrate my point, I’ve included a few photos from my recent vacation. With each, I’ve added a basic caption regarding the setting; underneath I’ve mentioned why the picture is memorable to me. I hope those comments will help you get a feel for the setting where each one occurred. (Plus this gives me a chance to share a few of my favorite vacation photos without violating my blog’s writing-related theme. :) )

 

Conservatory at the Bellagio hotel

Thousands of flowers blended with fountains, birds, and storybook characters in a fantastic panorama at the Bellagio hotel.

 

Bally and Paris hotels at night

The lights at night made even conservative structures like the Bally hotel appear amazing, while turning the beautiful ones into spectacles that took my breath away.  

 

Dinner on Thursday

This decorated chicken breast resting on a few pieces of asparagus was the main course in the most expensive meal I ever ate.

 

view from the plane before takeoff

I never expected to see palm trees lining the roads while mountains loomed in the distance. Nothing at all like rural Indiana.

 

 

Here’s one where the setting wasn’t important; it was the people I was with that made this one memorable.

Lisa and Carol

I don’t even remember exactly where we were, but I was so tired I couldn’t keep plodding along. Getting a picture taken with my daughter gave me a welcome break without having to whine that I was tired!

 

For more information on setting, I recommend these sites:

 

My post from 4/13/10 on the importance of setting.

Setting Is More Than Mere Time And Place    An article on setting. The site also covers many other writing-related topics.

Setting: Writing a Story With Atmosphere This article discusses setting in some depth. It also contains lots of helpful tips on writing novels.

 

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Do you focus on the setting as much as you do the plot and characterization? Is setting important in nonfiction? What details do you like to know about the setting when you’re reading a book? Have you gone anywhere interesting on vacation this year?

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