A new year brings new writing goals and a swath of information to help writers develop their craft and challenge themselves with each new project. This past month, in addition to celebrating the authors honored with the American Library Association's YMA awards, we were also excited to find articles with tips on writer self-care, as well as loads of advice on how to keep readers turning pages and coming back for more, and encouragement for writers to stop following "rules" and forge their own writing path. Read on, and keep writing!
A new year often brings vigorous goals and renewed commitments to our manuscripts. We pour our hearts into them, sometimes pulling stories from our most meaningful life experiences. But let's face it, writing can be a challenging, daunting, and overwhelming task, and it's hard to create your best work if you aren't in good condition yourself. Chuck Wendig offered some tips this month on Self-Care for Writers.
And what about the days when you feel you can't go on? When you've received one negative critique too many and you're seriously doubting your manuscript--and perhaps even your abilities as a writer? Jane Lebak offers encouragement on how to pull the sword from the heart of your novel, see your work with fresh eyes, and soldier on in the writing battle.
Writers hear so many rules on the "right" way to finish that revision, polish that manuscript, land an agent/book deal, and become a best-selling author. But let's face it: writing is an art, not science or an equation. Books are personal in the emotions they invoke and the way we respond to them, and the process of writing is no different. If you've been struggling to keep the "rules" and aren't finding the success you hoped for, literary agent and author Sarah Negovetich explains why you should STOP following the rules and instead focus on the path and process that works for you.
And for those of you trying to land an agent or editor and struggling with rejection? Literary agent Lane Heymont offers insight into the selection process of a literary agent and how these agents search for works of value that are personally meaningful--to each one of them.
Craft of Writing
With so many distractions and so many options available, how can you keep readers (or agents and editors, for that matter) reading your manuscript? "Put a cliff hanger at the end of every chapter!" many love to implore. "But isn't that a little gimmicky?" you may ask. Author Rebecca Lund Belliston explains how to write chapter cliff hangers that fit organically into your story and keep readers turning pages.
Another so-called gimmick many love to hate: The Mary Sue. Having one of your characters dismissed as a Mary Sue is a nightmare many writers dread. But hold on a moment! What exactly makes a character a Mary Sue (or a "Gary Stu," for the males), why do so many people take issue with her ... and are all Mary Sues as heinous as they're made out to be? Writer Carlie St. George has kicked off a new guest series on the Booksmugglers blog with an article arguing why writers should, in fact, love their Mary Sue characters.
And of course, keeping readers turning the pages isn't always enough. As writers, we want to create works that resonate with our readers, stories that stick with them and keep them coming back for more. Author K.M. Weiland lists five simple steps to evaluate whether your book has good re-readability factor, including layers, twists, and depth that will keep readers revisiting the story, or that will keep them reading even if (gasp!) they've uncovered the ending in advance.
On PublishingThe American Library Association (ALA) announced their Youth Media Award Winners on January 11th. Numerous diverse books were honored this year! And on the YA front, Laura Ruby received the Prinz award for her magical realism novel Bone Gap, while Ashley Hope Pérez's novel Out of Darkness and Marcus Sedgwick's novel The Ghosts of Heaven were named Prinz Honor Books. For the complete list of the 2016 YMA winners, visit the ILoveLibraries site.