The Page a Day Writers Group

Posts Tagged ‘claire yezbak fadden

Every author — whether he writes  novels, essays or how-to articles —  wonders about their readers. Where did they find my work? Did they like it? Did they pass it along to a friend? Is it lining the bottom of their bird’s cage?

Well, as it turns out, readers are just about as organized as writers!  I enjoyed this post “Your Audience is Unorganized” by Dan Blank on the Writer Unboxed site about how to reach readers of every shape and size.

I hope you find it as useful, entertaining and informative as I did.

–Claire Yezbak Fadden

Never mistake activity for achievement. —John Wooden

It’s true. I used to confuse motion with action. As long as I was busy in the motion of writing a novel (taking classes, attending workshops, reading how-to books), I thought I was getting closer to my goal. The reality is, while I was in the motion of writing, I wasn’t truly engaged in the action of writing a novel. The possibility of producing an actual book was slim. I liken it to constantly going to the grocery store buying the ingredients for a delicious cake, but never actually baking it.

I was happy — highlighter in hand — with my nose in the latest or time-tested how to write books. I garnered every tip, idea, theory and tidbit imaginable. And I read every writer’s blog. Actually that last one may have been what saved me.  Thanks to a post from James Clear, I learned the folly of my ways.

Don’t get me wrong. It is important to learn about writing. The knowledge I’ve gained through my critique partners is invaluable. But after gathering ideas from other writers, wannabe writers, editors and agents, there comes a time to put all that learning to the test – or in my case – to the page.

I talked a lot about how hard it is to write fiction. Anyone who would listen, heard my lament. It is a much tougher task than writing a magazine article, where the challenge is to uncover the facts and put them into a readable prose.

One my critique partners, Sharon C. Cooper, called me out on my penchant for hovering around the idea of writing a novel . “You’ve taken more classes than any other writer I know,” she lovingly said. “Girl, you need to start writing.” Those words hit home. I got the message. I needed to stop preparing to write and start spending my  time getting words on the page.

Bum glue, butt-in-the-chair, chained-to-the-computer. It all amounts to the same thing. A writer writes. So get writing.

–Claire Yezbak Fadden

By the time the last of the sugar cookies are eaten and all the gift have been unwrapped, we barely have a chance to jot down a resolution or two and reflect on how quickly 2013 has passed. Another year is coming to an end and it’s time to usher in a new one.

Right after you share that midnight kiss for good luck, get started on some of these ideas for from Keith Cronin for a happy, successful 2014.

Five More New Year’s Resolutions for Writers

–Claire Yezbak Fadden

Every writer struggles with how to deepen their characters; how to make them come alive on the page so the reader connects with the story’s protagonist.

Editor Jean Jenkins recently posted a link to the Writer Unboxed blog highlighting “6 Ways to Make Sure Your Reader’s Brain Syncs With Your Protagonist’s Brain.” Jenkins cited it as “One of the best posts lately on deepening your characters I’ve ever come across.”

Blogger Lisa Cron shares some interesting and worthwhile thoughts on how to dig deeper into your characters to show the reader what really makes your hero tick. Her post is worth reading. Be sure to take notes. I did.

–Claire Yezbak Fadden

“Can you eliminate people and things that suck the creative energy out of you?”

“Are you ready to delete phrasing that feels comfortably familiar to you? Can you live afraid of clichés?”

“Can you survive for long stretches of time with no income?”

Advice-seeking, wanna-be novelists search for the answer to becoming a novelist. A clue. A key. Some formula that will unlock the magic of publishing.

At various literary workshops, author Kaye Gibbons is often asked by attendees to provide them with the one, true answer. Hopefuls want to know about her writing process in an effort to propel their own writing aspirations.

In Don’t Try This at Home, a post from 2005, Gibbons shares her insights and offers many questions that potential writers might consider asking themselves.

Perhaps an answer is in there for us to uncover.

–Claire Yezbak Fadden

Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” may have been the last time agents and book editors were excited about reaction words that don’t characterize and move the plot forward.

Shallow words like smiling, shrugging, grinning, nodding and laughing can make many agents and editors cringe. Sadly, I employ these “empty” words as placeholders in my prose, but they fail to give insight, depth or motivation to my characters.

Rewrite consultant Jean Jenkins advises her clients to give an internal reaction, a thought to interpret the mood of the character for the reader. “Have your characters do active things that show their feelings during a scene,” suggests Jenkins. “Or, couple these words with an action so the scene doesn’t feel choreographed, like a stage direction.”

What empty words are you working to eliminate from your writing? Let me know so I can add them to my list.

Here are some examples of wonderful word pictures from books I’ve recently read:

WORRY –“Mrs. Maguire dropped the silver polish. She fished a handkerchief out of her sleeve. She blew he nose mightily on it and said, “Dear Lord, don’t let a hair of head come to harm.” — Elizabeth George, “In The Presence of the Enemy.”

FEAR– “I crouched and kept my head low. I tried to swallow whatever was rising from my stomach, which tasted like lemonade, something fruity and sour.”– Tim O’Brien, “The Things They Carried”

LOVE –“She smiled at me, that sunrise of a smile that colored her whole face and seemed to enliven her whole body.” Robert B. Parker, “Mortal Stakes”

INSIGHT–”When Roark had gone, Wynand sat behind his desk, smiling. He moved his hand toward one of the plastic buttons–and stopped. He realized that he had to assume a different manner, his usual manner, that he could not speak as he had spoken in the last half-hour. Then he understood what had been strange about the interview: for the first time in his life he had spoken to a man without feeling the reluctance, the sense of pressure, the need of disguise he had always experienced when he spoke to people; there had been no strain and no need of strain; as if he had spoken to himself.” Ayn Rand, “The Fountainhead”

–Claire Yezbak Fadden

Every strong writer belongs to a book club, or two. Lively discussion of well-written novels, and even some not-so-well-written, trigger creativity, boost  imagination and inspire writers.

The ladies in my book club are no different. Each month, the 10 of us discuss, critique and discover new worlds through the words of a writer.

For our June meeting, we’re reading “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien.  His book is one of many listed as suggested reading as part of the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read.

The Big Read provides readers with the opportunity to read and discuss a single book within their communities. It includes innovative reading programs in selected cities and towns, comprehensive resources for discussing classic literature .

In 2004, a report by the NEA, Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America, revealed that not only is literary reading in America declining rapidly among all groups, but that the rate of decline has accelerated, especially among the young.

“A great book combines enlightenment with enchantment. It awakens our imagination and enlarges our humanity. It can even offer harrowing insights that somehow console and comfort us.” — NEA Big Read

The NEA started The Big Read as a pilot project in 2006 with ten communities featuring four books. It has expanded to include more communities and additional books. Their library is expansive, including: “Fahrenheit 451″ by Ray Bradbury, “A Farewell to Arms” by Enest Hemingway, “The Joy Luck Club” by Amy Tan and one of my favorites, “The Maltese Falcon” by Dashiell Hammett. For a complete list visit www.NEABigRead.org.

Click to learn more about “The Things They Carried.”  

–Claire Yezbak Fadden


Who are we?

The Page a Day Writers Group is a diverse collection of wonderful writers based in San Diego, CA. We've been meeting monthly since 2004. Our primary function is in-depth writing critique, marketing and brainstorming, but there's usually some wine, chocolate and ribaldry involved too. We write fantasy, humor, literary fiction, nonfiction, romance, thrillers and YA. Join us on our journeys to publication and the wonderland beyond!

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