What’s In Your Writing Toolkit?


Most writers have established the basic tools that will be utilized moving forward in their process of writing. Of course, taking writing courses and participating in conferences and writing groups are essential and a given. But what about reading? If we are writers we should be reading, and not just books about writing but books written by our favorite authors, as well as discovering new ones.

summer reading

summer reading (Photo credit: ruminatrix)

Jody Hedlund has written a very nice article that points out what writers need in their toolkits.

Do You Have This Important Tool In Your Writer’s Toolkit?

By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund 

I’m currently between manuscripts. I finished editing a book in June, turned it in to my publisher, and now am busily researching my next book.

The research stage is always a bit of a break for me. I don’t have the daily pressure to write a certain number of words. And I don’t need the intense focus required during editing. Even though I try to accomplish several hours of research per day, my daily goals are less intense.

During the research lull between books, I usually attempt to make a dent in my to-be-read pile. While I’ve always considered reading one of life’s greatest pleasures, I’ve also come to realize that as a fiction writer, reading is a necessity in becoming a better writer.

The more a writer reads, the more familiar they become with story-telling. In fact, if you grew up like I did, with a book permanently attached to your hand, then writing fiction is probably somewhat intuitive. You already have a good foundation for what comprises a well-told story, even if you can’t quite put those techniques into fiction-writing lingo.

Even so, I recommend that all writers, no matter how much fiction they’ve read, STILL take the time to familiarize themselves with the craft of writing fiction. Even if we think we know how to write, we’ll only give ourselves even more of an advantage by familiarizing ourselves with story structure, plotting techniques, character building, etc. I find that I pick up new tips every time I read a fiction craft book. Read more here.


Writing The Horror Novel

I have always loved Stephen King. He is the best horror novelist I have ever read. I stumbled across and article with tips on writing the perfect horror novel in order to scare the pants off of your readers. Happy Writing!

The Werewolf of Fever Swamp (TV special)

The Werewolf of Fever Swamp (TV special) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Creating An Environment for a Horror Story
By Sarah Todd

The best horror writers give their readers a scare; perhaps make them shiver with fear or squirm at vivid descriptions of a terrifying scene or a frightening character. A good horror story will make its readers feel uncomfortable, afraid to turn the page to read what happens next. This article will discuss setting the scene that a good horror story will be happy to call home.

Ask someone to choose a setting for a horror story and the response will probably be: ”Use your imagination”. But that’s not strictly the right approach. It’s all very well to let your mind conjure up images of chainsaw-wielding zombies roaming the highway in search of fresh blood to appease the zombie king who lives on a haunted island in the middle of a lake… but how do you make the story believable? Your imagination may give you a great idea for a horror story, but that’s just the first step towards creating something to capture your readers’ attention.

A healthy dose of reality is what turns an idea and plotline into a horror story. The good horror writer will use plenty of reality to bring his story to life, creating a world that will – ultimately – terrify his readers. Inspiration is everywhere, and when creating the setting for your story you probably don’t have to look very far. The trick is to use your words to paint a typical scene – one with which most people are familiar – perhaps a place where they feel safe. Then add a couple of sentences to imply that perhaps all is not as it seems and there’s something not quite right with this picture. 

The paragraph below is from William Peter Blatty’s terrifying book The Exorcist. I’ve boldened the few words he’s used to add a chilling element to the basic description of an average house. Note how he’s used a couple of sentences to enhance the “normality” of the scene: read more here.

The Hook

Crooked hook

Image via Wikipedia

In February, I shared a post by K.M. Weiland in regards to story structure. She has recently posted part two. As always, Ms. Weiland provides writers with tips on hooking readers, as well as, examples of how other writers have achieved this goal. Drawing in readers at the beginning of your book is very important, but also very difficult. If hooking your reader is giving you a headache, feel free to visit her blog for help.

The Secrets of Story Structure, Pt. 2: The Hook

By K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

Readers are like fish. Smart fish. Fish who know authors are out to get them, reel them in, and capture them for the rest of their seagoing lives. But, like any self-respecting fish, readers aren’t caught easily. They aren’t about to surrender themselves to the lure of your story unless you’ve presented them with an irresistible hook.

Our discussion of story structure very naturally begins at the beginning—and the beginning of any good story is its hook. Unless you hook readers into your story from the very first chapter, they won’t swim in deep enough to experience the rest of your rousing adventure, no matter excellent it is.
What is a hook?
The hook comes in many forms, but stripped down to its lowest common denominator, the hook is nothing more or less than a question. If we can pique our readers’ curiosity, we’ve got ‘em. Simple as that. The beginning of every story should present character, setting, and conflict. But, in themselves, none of these represent a hook. We’ve created a hook only when we’ve convinced readers to ask the general question, “What’s going to happen?” because we’ve also convinced them to ask a more specific question, such as “What scary reptilian monster killed the worker?” (Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton) or “How does a city hunt?” (Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve).
Where does the hook belong?
Because your ability to convince the reader to keep reading is dependent on your hook, it must be present as early as possible in your first scene. In fact, if you can get it into your first line, so much the better. However, the hook must be organic. Teasing readers with a killer opening line (“Mimi was dying again”) only to reveal all is not as seems (turns out Mimi is an actress performing her 187th death scene) not only negates the power of your hook, it also betrays readers’ trust. And readers don’t like to be betrayed. Not one little bit. Read more here.

Blogfest Story Chain

The story chain is getting geared up! Follow along and read as the story unfolds. Check out all of the blogs that are participating in Deana Barnhart’ s “Gearin’ Up to Get An Agent Blog O Rama” The Neophyte Writer is wrapping up the story so stay tuned!

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Nata – Tuesday Evening
Introduce us to the main character and pick whether you would like the story in 1st person or third.
Your words are: pickle, savage, red

Fiction and Film – 5AM
Please tell us what the MC’s goal in life at this point of the story is.
Your words are: subconscious, ache, terrified

Andrea Mack – 6:30 AM
Let us know what the MC’s flaw is (the thing he/she tries to work through throughout the story).

Your words are: justify, bookcase, nostril

Jen Daiker – 7:30 AM (Twitter acct)
Introduce us to another character (antagonist, best friend, your choice)

Your 1 word is: lake

Meghan Kirkland – 7:45 AM
Fill us in on some back story if you could, but try to weave it in instead of just telling us.

Your words are: scrumptious, bed, grass

Shelly Brown – 8AM
Introduce us to a love interest.

Your words are: erratic, boggle, zombie

Catherine Johnson – 8:30 AM
Write what you want, but show us, don’t tell us about it.

Your words are: big toe, Cadillac, baby.

Marcie Bridges – 8:45 AM
Begin a scene that will change the direction of the story.  Surprise us:)

Your words are: funny, Europe, fuzz ball

Deana Barnhart – 9:00 AM
Create something that will change the MC’s life.

Your words are: cough, butterscotch, drown

Juliana Brandt – 9:30 AM
Expand on the thing that will change the MC’s life (from the poster above).
Your words are: booger, shampoo, weasel

Frost Lord – 9:45 AM
Give us some conflicting emotions the MC is dealing with.

You words are: planet, guitar, flower

Callie Kingston – 10AMIs MC’s goal different from before? (2nd poster talked about this)  If so, tell us what it is now, if the same, give us more info about it.
Your words are: buck, ironing board, sleep

Angelina C Hansen – 10:30AM
Create a subplot (anything will do)
Your words are: suffocate, sell, shut up

J. Ro – 11AM
Write what you like, but don’t use any adverbs (ly words) when you do.
Your words are: Science fiction, cramps, snag

Nicole Zoltack – 11:30AM
Give us a scene with dialog.
Your words are: butt cheek, towel, mustard

Loralie Hall – 12PM
Give us a scene with action

Your words are: awesome, dress, flake

It Had to Happen – 12:30PM
Put the MC in a situation where he/she has to make a tough decision

Your words are: local, rockin, hand nail

Been there, done that – 1PM
Make the reader sad

Your words are: pixie, spike, larva

Amy Kennedy – 1:30PM
Weave some back story in (the 5th poster did this also if you want to look at it).

Your words are: kiss, delve, bruise
Weaving a Tale or Two – 2PM
This is the middle of the middle of the story.  Help the MC gain all the knowledge she needs to take her through the rest of the story.
Your words are: get, safe, muddle

Lindy – 2:45PM
With the knowledge MC has gained (see post above) help him/her make a plan to get what he/she wants
Your words are: bank, t-shirt, salt

A.E. Martin – 3PM
Try to make the reader feel happy

Your words are: ride, suggest, spray

Christina’s Writing Buzz – 3:15PM
Have the MC interact with someone or something.

Your words are:tv, chest, brace
Suspending Disbelief – 3:30PM
Have the MC understand something they didn’t before.

Your words are: Texas, flip flop, argue

Jamie Ayres – 4PM
Expand on the post before yours, but add dialogue

Your words are: hissy fit, drawer, ghost

Vicky Bruere – 4:30PM
We are getting close to the crisis point, let’s see some tension in this scene

Your words are: triumph, grope, sweet

Rachel Dillon – 5PM
Take the previous post and continue building tension toward the crisis.

Your words are: type, blood, jacked up

Lora Rivera – 6PM
This is the crisis point.  Give it to us!

Your words are: cliff, shout, tooth pick

An Alleged Author – 6:30PM
Take the last post and continue witht he crisis

Your words are: chalice, cage, papers

KP Simmon’s Musings – 7PM
Take the last two posts dealing with crisis and bring the crisis to an end

Your words are: strapped, knee, kill

Kathy Stemke – 7:30
Take the last three posts on crisis and have the MC regroup after crisis

Your words are: wet, suicide, fly

Word by Word – 8PM
Have the MC make a plan as we gear up to the climax

Your words are: retreat, shell, diaper

Margaret Fieland – 9PM
Give us some subplot closure (the 13th poster started a subplot).

Your words are: jail, concubine, heave

Taylor Roseberry – 9:30PM
Show us a serious moment

Your words are: moon, plant, fight

Novel Thinking – 10PM
Show is chaos breaking loose

Your words are: victim, applause, tear

Robin Weeks – 10:30PM
Start the climax of the story

Your words are: song, prejudice, string

Angie Cothran – 11:30PM
Continue the climax from the above post

Your words are: Velcro, pastel, jumble

Melodie Wright – 12AM
Begin wrapping up the story after the climax (from above to posts)

Your words are: blue, seldom, carriage

The Neophyte Writer – Thursday 8AM
End the story
Your words are: shackle, base, tender

Getting it right from the start – novel beginnings (via Out of the Woods)

There will always be authors who wonder about back story and prologues. Check out this site for some great writing information.

We all know that the most important part of writing a novel is to engage the reader because at the end of the day if they are the slightest bit bored they are either not going to buy the book in the first place or put it down part way through. I am about 6,500 words into my new YA novel with a goal to complete it by the end of the summer. I have blogged about my prewriting activities and now it is time to take a look at the novel's start. Advice … Read More

via Out of the Woods