Nancy: Writing Around the Web

Sometimes when writers are neck-deep in our own ideas and stories, we turn to other fiction for a mental reboot. Other times, it’s non-fiction, perhaps craft books. For the past week, I’ve been thumbing through Lisa Cron’s Wired for Story and Story Genius as I continue developing a novel with her brain science technique. For fun, I’ve been reading Stephon Alexander’s The Jazz of Physics. (Yes, that really is what passes for fun in my world.)

When I need a quicker fix, a quick shot of creative inspiration, or just a boost in the will to go on (because some writing days are just So. Damn. Hard.), I like to visit some familiar haunts on the web. A few posts have really struck a chord with me these past few weeks. If you feel yourself needing a boost, check out these articles for yourself, and poke around these sites – there’s so much good stuff to discover!

Arghink. This is the blog of Jennifer Crusie, mentor of the 8LW crew. Jenny’s blog is always chock full of great information, fun, and community, but recently, she’s also been sharing early drafts and revisions of her WIP. And it is as amazing as it sounds. Ever the teacher, Jenny is also sharing the way she approaches revisions. Continue reading

Nancy: Short Fiction Round-Up, and a Story!

Red Rain by Stefano Corso, courtesy of Creative Commons

Red Rain by Stefano Corso, courtesy of Creative Commons

For the past few weeks, I’ve talked about short fiction – about writing it, about ideas for using it as part of series and marketing campaigns, and about all its different forms. Each Friday here at 8LW, our own Elizabeth provides word lists we can use for writing sprints, which are really short-fiction warm-ups. (We even have a serial story going in the comments, thanks to Penny H! Check out the comments sections here, here, and here to get caught up on the sad fate of Timothy James Bartleby.)

If you really love short fiction challenges, either writing or reading them, you might want to check out Chuck Wendig‘s Friday blog posts for his flash fiction Friday prompts. You can also pop by Writer Unboxed, where they run monthly short fiction (really short, like 250 words short!) contests. The WU December contest is their Grand Finale, and is limited to the previous winners of the monthly contests.

This year, the WU monthly finalists were asked to write one more story, this one based on the image I’ve re-posted at the top of this post. As soon as I saw that picture, a story started forming in my mind. The bad news: I can’t participate in the challenge, not having finaled (or participated) in previous contests. The good news: since I wasn’t competing, I could make up my own rules. Hence, my Red Rain-inspired short story is 1000 words long. The protagonist is the main character from a future mystery book or series set in Copenhagen, which I will write someday in the (possibly distant) future. If you’d like to write a story or vignette about this photo, feel free to post it in the comments! In the meantime, I give you …

Copenhagen Blues Continue reading

Nancy: Borrowing From the Masters

In this terracotta relief circa 450 BC, Odysseus, disguised as a beggar, tries to make Penelope recognize him.

In this terracotta relief circa 450 BC, Odysseus, disguised as a beggar, tries to make Penelope recognize him.

There’s nothing new under the sun, or so say Ecclesiastes, Shakespeare, and conventional wisdom. When it comes to writing, there’s truth in that. You’re not going to be the first to write a love story, a murder mystery, or a journey into the depths of misery of the human soul. But, so continues the thought, that’s okay because you’ll bring something else to your story that no one else can – you.

Sometimes writers go even further and base a story on the structure and meaning of an existing work. In fact, they do it all the time, sometimes quite successfully (West Side Story, anyone?). Borrowing from existing works such as mythology, fairy tales, and Shakespeare allows us to learn from the masters as we write, and can give us guideposts for our own writing. And it’s not all bad for readers, either, as readers’ minds to attach to the familiar, even when it’s barely recognizable, and hopefully a story will bring enough new twists to surprise and reward along the way. Continue reading