The Page a Day Writers Group

Posts Tagged ‘writing tools

They’re not quite the Ten Commandments of novel writing, but they might be close.

Repeating yourself, list-loving, empty adverbs are a few of the slip-ups writers make as they attempt to unearth the fossil (as Stephen King so aptly advises) that will someday become a book.

In a recent blog post by Patricia HoltTen Mistakes Writers Don’t See (But Can Easily Fix When They Do) the editorial consultant outlines in a quick, nonjudgmental way missteps every writer — new or seasoned – has experienced.

I found her post useful. I suspect you might too.

–Claire Yezbak Fadden


Are you doing anything May 8 through 15? This is last minute notice, but if you’re a writer, you should know the Writers’ Retreat

Me at WRW

Me at WRW

Workshop (WRW) has a few spots left for the upcoming annual event that will change your life. This year, it’s being held at Purple Sage Ranch, just outside of Antonio, Texas.

Here’s how it works: A fabulous professional editor, agent, or bestselling author gives a workshop. Then everyone goes back to their rooms and uses their shiny, freshly acquired new tools to write or revise their butts off. Then you share in whole and small groups to give and get feedback to revise some more. The pros also view your work to give direction to take your writing to the next level. With all this guided practice, you and your fellow WRW writers provide some of the most amazing feedback in critique groups anywhere. Another bonus is the connections you make with writers from all over the U.S. and often from other countries, such as Belgium and Australia.

And there’s partying along the way for those who wish to join in the fun.

When you rejoin the real-world after your week-long reprieve with awesome, like-minded, creative people, WRW adds you to the list serve. WRW participants since 1987, many of whom are successful, published writers, post news and personal events through the site, available to members only. Any alumni may participate in any conversation. I’ve made friends through the list serve and on Facebook that I’ve never met personally.

Purple Sage Ranch: Home of WRW 2014

Purple Sage Ranch: Home of WRW 2014

The 2014 instructors include: bestselling thriller author Grant Blackwood (Briggs Tanner Novels, Fargo series with Clive Cussler), Literary Agent Mary C Moore (Kimberley Cameron agency), YA and romance author Emily McKay (The Farm, The Lair), writer/editor Les Edgerton (The Bitch, Hooked), director and instructor Jason Sitzes, co-founder and author Gail Provost Stockwell.

If you’re a writer who is ready for an intense upgrade in your craft, your understanding of the publishing industry, and the how-to of marketing your work, don’t miss this chance to become the writing professional you want to be!

If nothing else, you owe it to yourself to check out this amazing writers’ experience, so here’s the link:


Happy writing!!

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

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

A creative mind may be the most important tool for a writer, but nimble fingers run a close second. Fingers that dance across a keyboard, keeping up with the author’s thoughts as she develops characters, describes settings and fine-tunes dialogue.

But fingers, hands and wrists are just like any other part of your body. They have to be cared for, pampered and maintained. As cold winter mornings approached, I was reminded of these facts when I sat down to let the writing flow and my fingers decided they weren’t ready to join in.

Joints were stiff, and my fingers felt prickly. My brain was warmed up but my hands were not. I asked my yoga instructor, Linda, about this dilemma. She said it all about blood flow and shared a few hand exercises, to get the blood moving again in my fingers, hands and wrists. One of my favorites is placing my hand in namaste (prayer) pose, spreading my fingers wide, and then pushing the fingers away from each other. (see photo).

If your fingers are fighting back, craving a bit more circulation, check out these three yoga videos (links below) that offer great yoga exercises you can do sitting at your desk, sitting at a red light or on the couch while you’re waiting for the next great idea to appear.

Something as simple as opening and closing your hands slowly can get the joints lubricated. Don’t forget to occasionally, wrap your arms around yourself and give your self a hug. It’s a great way to stretch your back and shoulders after hovering over a keyboard.


Three youtube videos to get you started.

Jamie Shane (7 minutes)

Yoga for Arthritis: The Hands & Wrists–KimMcNeilYoga (7 1/2 minutes)

Bridget Briant (4-1/2 minutes)  

–Claire Yezbak Fadden


If you ask a published novelist how to get published, he’ll share his secret–Write. “Keep your butt in the chair,” he says.

There is no magic to it. No coveted shortcut to crossing the street from under-published to in-print. Writing is the only true passage. But it’s a solitary journey. Fortunately, we loners can join others who share our writer’s path at conferences.

Along with some members from my writers’ group–Pageaday Writers–I attended the Southern California Writer’s Conference (& Retreat) this past weekend. I love the retreat part. From Friday afternoon through Sunday evening, I learned, learned, learned. Not just writing skills, techniques and tips, I learned about myself as a writer.


Me, Trish Wilkinson and Ondine Kuraoka, excited and worn out on the final day of the conference.

Throughout the weekend–as authors, editors, agents and friends offered valuable information–I discovered, rediscovered, understood and re-committed myself.

My brain, fired up with promise and challenge, was on overload by the end of the conference. I couldn’t possibly write about all the inspiration I found, but here are a few gems to give you a sense of the weekend…

Author Judy Reeves encouraged us to write from the senses. When you wake up, before you start your day, take note of sensory detail – how the blanket feels, the sounds outside your window, the smell of coffee coming from the kitchen.

To make your work more powerful, Maralys Wills, author of “Damn the Rejections, Full Speed Ahead” instructed us “to end your sentences with the strongest word.”

Author Frederick Ramsay reminded us to approach each writing day expecting to be surprised.

Best-selling novelist T. Jefferson Parker cautioned us to notlet others steal your writing hours.

Editor Jean Jenkins turned a light on for me when, in her “Rewriting Novels” workshop, she simply said: “When going into flashbacks – one had to get in; one had to get out.”

Jean also offered the most truthful moment of the weekend for me, during a one-on-one critique. In response to my waves of self-doubt, she asked: “If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?” Her candid question hit me between the eyes with a truthfulness I hadn’t allowed myself. Writing is what I do. It is the core of who I am. Whether there’s a paycheck attached to the end of my project or not, I write. I see the world through words.

Thank you SCWC and Jean Jenkins, for helping me reaffirm my writing commitment. For sharing a roadmap, and adding a few more shades of color to my writing basket.

–Claire Yezbak Fadden

“Any number of how-to books combined may not give a writer the one priceless bit of clarity that can make the difference between being published or not. Rejection by an editor or agent seldom yields the reason as to why a manuscript doesn’t grab them, and almost never reveals how it can be fixed to ensure that it ever will.

Founded and run by professional writers the SCWC provides veteran and emerging talent with authoritative guidance to help distinguish those manuscripts that are ready for market consideration, having facilitated nearly $4 million worth of first-time authors’ book and screen deals. With extended one-on-one evaluation of advance submissions and dozens of read & critique and practical information workshops to choose from, the SCWC is among the only conferences specifically tailored to empower writers of every level with the vital tools, networking and industry prowess needed to sell their work.”

–Southern California Writers’ Conference

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!