Friday, May 8, 2009

Writing tips, winding down, preview of new feature coming

Hi WestCoastWriters blog readers,
There are only a few more postings of writing tips coming up, and after that I am planning to post some interviews with writers about writing for you. If you want to suggest people I should interview (including yourself) please post a comment and I will contact you if your idea works for the blog.

More writing tips:

Keep your blog posts short: say what you have to say crisply, then stop. Use lists, and keep the formatting clean. For those who want to read further, include links to more detailed articles. More tips at "Blogging Tips & Techniques" From Jonathan Lockwood Huie

“For fiction: Take inspiration from your life, especially for comedic writing. There is nothing more absurd than reality! Listen to the conversations of friends, family, and strangers. Some of my most successful pieces have been written after overhearing a snippet of conversation!” From Andi Enns

“As for blog tips, linking to other people’s blogs and/or articles is a great way to cross-promote and get traffic you might not otherwise get. Anytime I am published elsewhere or quoted elsewhere, I put up a blog posting about it, linking back to the other website/ blog/ article.” From Caroline Ceniza-Levine,/

Assume your reader won’t read: Online reading is different than print. People skim, skip ahead, and generally avoid the “reading” aspect of reading. People often DON’T scroll down. Put the most pertinent info at the top, and keep your entries to about a page (single-spaced) or less. With your website’s margins, pictures, etc, that one page will look long enough. Be interactive: I hate when bloggers/online magazines basically just post print online. A good blog is interactive, it has helpful links that enable the reader to learn more (a la Wikipedia). It should have pictures or video, if you can and it makes sense. It is not static. A good blog references other blogs. Robin Levinson

My own best tips:
1) Schedule your writing time. Mark it in your calendar just as you would a dentist appointment or regular trips to the gym.
2) Network, network, network. You never know where your next good contact or story lead will come from.” From Flo Selfman President, Independent Writers of Southern California (

Draw! No matter if you're not an artist. Do a quick line drawing of your setting: a living room or restaurant where action takes place, the streets of the town, the configuration of a dresser or significant piece of furniture. This will accomplish at least two things: first, the sketch serves as a "bookkeeping" tool so you won't make an error when you refer to the item/place again. Second, the act of drawing often inspires further description in the book and or more action.” From Camille Minichino/aka Margaret Grace, author of eight books in the Periodic Table mysteries and three in the Miniature Mysteries.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Writing tips continue again

Here is a new set of tips, general as well as blog-related:
“Be realistic. What do you want to accomplish with your blog? Change the world? Sell something? Get a job? Improve your writing? Connect with others who share your interests? It helps to know what your goals are and set reasonable expectations.
Be adventurous. Don't be afraid to experiment. There are no "rules" for blogging. Try something you've never tried. If you "screw up," you'll learn something. Others can learn from your experiment. You never know when you might hit on something that captures the imagination of others.” From Scott Hepburn

“ 1. Write first thing in the morning before you think about anything else.
2. Only share early drafts with people that you know support you and will say positive things, like your mom.
3. Share later drafts with people who will tell you the truth.
4. Write and re-write, a lot.
5. When you've written a book, ask everyone you know if they know an agent. If you find people who know agents, you're halfway through the door."
From Andrea Askowitz

“Notebooks and Pens Everywhere. Have multiple spiral-bound notebooks. Stick pens inside the spirals. Place these notebooks with pens attached anywhere you might be “stuck” for awhile and definitely in your briefcase, purses, or pockets. Always keep a notebook and pen in the bathroom for shower, bathtub, and toilet “light bulb moments.” In other words, you are a writer; never be caught without your notebook.” From Allen and Linda Anderson, Check out their 101 good quick writing tips!

“Have a platform – do talks about your subject prior to submitting your book proposal. That way you have audiences who will be interested in purchasing your books, and you’ll have publishers interested in you (assuming you’re not self-publishing) since you have an audience to purchase your books! We (my co-author and I) did talks at the local level – Rotary, United Way, for the school systems, local university, library, etc. We did these for free at first, and had regular speaking engagements when we submitted our book proposal.” From Jan Cullinane, co-author, The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Rodale, 2007)

“So often people come to the task of writing with their energy on 'empty.' That just doesn't work. It often doesn't take much to refuel--a walk in nature, a few deep breaths.” From Lisa Tener,,

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

More Writing Tips

Today's crop of tips is a mixture for all kinds of writers. The last one below has some great ideas for making your blog visible. Enjoy! Laura

“… my tip for writing fiction is to get dressed in character to get inspired. When writing my book I would get dressed up, put on jewelry to actually make me feel like I was going to a party so I could write about them.” From Beth Dunn

“Stay positive, and maintain your sense of humor. As in any highly competitive field, even the most able-bodied workers are subject to the vagaries of the marketplace.” From Scott Steinberg,

“…in every scene, the characters need to want something from each other--a loan, the clue to a mystery, a kind word, the keys to the car--something that motivates the characters and creates tension in the scene.” From Kristin Mellon, Sylvan Learning, agency website:

Good tip for bloggers: “Build an inventory of posts and images. I'm not the best at this, but having a few posts "in the can" means that when things get hectic in the "real world" I still have fresh, well-written content to post. (See tip #1). Also, get to know the timed publication option on your blog software - this allows you to write and format a post but not publish it until a later date (you choose the date and time that it will go live). This is great if you're traveling, or, as I said, if "life" gets in the way! The same goes for images. If photography is an important component of your blog (which it is for many), then it's also a great idea to build your own library of "stock" images. If I'm shooting a particular recipe or food item for, for instance, I will always get additional angles and shots that I can use as 'generic' images for future posts.” From Emma Williams

“Remember that writing is a business and that paying money for courses, training and activities is an investment, not a cost. Zena Polin

“… under the "viral marketing" aspect: Blog authors need to understand the basics of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and organic search. There are a number of free tools that can help you quickly craft the best version of a post title - based on how people actually search. For example, you can do a quick check in to see what version of a phrase is more commonly used to search. A really simple version of this can be seen here: Pick your categories or tags with just as much care as the articles you write. Since each of these becomes a page on your blog - they also can become major destinations for those searching for the topics you cover on your site. Another must read is Google's free Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide available here: Jeanne Kramer-Smyth

Monday, May 4, 2009

More Writing Tips: now on Blog Writing!

Here is some great advice for writers considering creating a blog. Cheers, Laura

Re Blog writing: “Quality over quantity. It's better to post one great quality post per week than three so so posts per week. Don't pressure yourself to meet X posts per week or else it can set you up for getting stuck.” From Meryl K. Evans
“Please don't apologize for not writing often enough or responding to comments in the body of your blog article.” From Shirley VanScoyk
“I always listen for mention of a news item that would relate to the focus of my blog. For example, when the Attorney General spoke out concerning the reticence of others in regard to race issues, I quickly added something to my blog. My blog focuses on a man who visited the U.S. in 1912. He spoke at the 4th annual meeting of the NAACP.” From Sue Chehrenegar
Several pieces of advice:
“Writing anything can seem like a big task before you start it. Why not create a blog and then write about parts of it every day / other day / whatever. If you do this long enough, then eventually you'll have completed the whole task.
Writing incrementally in a blog also exposes your writing to others and allows them to provide feedback during the process. This can be very valuable.
Just because you publish something in a blog doesn't mean that you can't go back and make changes to it - you own the blog, you can edit / revise old postings as many times as you want.
Depending on what your final goal is, a blog that has developed a following means that you have a ready made audience waiting to purchase your final product...!”
From Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting
“Write about something for which you have passion. I once obtained a great URL on the topic of human resources for businesses. It got immediate traffic based on the URL alone. The problem was that writing about this subject bored me and I ultimately sold the blog.” From Bob Bentz
“ You should check out” From Erin Lariviere,
“The most valuable advice I have is to keep it short and link, link, link. The linking provides context and breaks up a screen of text. Keeping it short also makes it less daunting for the reader. The reader should always be at top of mind for a blog post.” From Sean Wood