On Thursday September 18, members of Tooele Writers gathered
in the Tooele library to discuss critique groups. Laura Bastian, president of
the writer’s group, gave the presentation.
Information included a list of critique-group how-tos from
magicalworlds.net. The full list can be found online here, but
some of the ideas were to establish the type of writing the critique group
would accept, including the necessary formatting. Avoiding cliquishness, giving the types of
critiques you would like to receive and focusing on the story elements
(dialogue, plot holes, character development, etc.) are also important.
Some critique groups use a timer to keep discussions
manageable and fair.
One of the most important things to remember when joining a critique
group is to ask the group to answer questions about the things you’re looking
Laura also showed the group how to use some items of the
review section in Microsoft Word. Besides simple ‘track changes,’ authors can
merge the comments they get back from beta readers into one document and use
the ‘accept’ and ‘reject’ features to sift through the comments they want to
keep or delete.
On July 18, members of Tooele Writer’s Group gathered at the
pavilion next to the pool for a public meet-and-greet-the-author night. Several
authors brought books to sign.
While the public and authors came and went as they pleased, the
authors (and their books) that were present at 6:00 P.M. are listed below.
If you attended, please comment on this post. If you’re a
Tooele Writer’s Group author but not listed, please let us know what you’re
working on and/or what books you have published. If you’re not a writer, please let us know—what
did you like about what you saw? What other thoughts do you have you’d like to
share with us?
Scott Bryan, author of Night Children: Dark Birth and Night
Children: Dark Threats
Lucinda Whitney, author of contemporary LDS romance set in
Portugal, with works scheduled to come out next year
Holli Anderson, YA urban fantasy/paranormal fiction author
of Five Out of the Dark and Five Out of the Pit, published by Curiosity Quills
Konstanz Silverbow, author of Missing Royal and Only Half
Karen E. Hoover, author of The Sapphire Flute, The Armor of
Light, The Emerald Wolf, Two souls are Better than One, and Newtimber:
Celeste Hansen, author of historical romance, YA and
Frank Shafer, author of historical fiction
Gwen Bristol, fantasy, general fiction and creative nonfiction
Laura Bastian, author of Eye on Orion and Guardians of the
In the five years I've been involved in the writing community, I've seen so much talent in our little area. We've got a handful of authors who are published. Both traditionally, as well as independently. One thing that impresses me about authors, is how friendly they are, and how genuinely interested they are in seeing each other succeed.
Though I've been involved mostly in writing genre fiction in the Young Adult and Middle Grade fantasy categories, I know we have lots of people interested in Non Fiction, Poetry, Short stories, and many others.
We want to expand our group and welcome anyone with an interest in writing to check us out. We are a Chapter of the League of Utah Writers, and being a due paying member offers lots of benefits. However, we welcome anyone to our meetings. If you're interested in becoming a member of the League, check out this link. http://www.luwriters.org/
We typically meet the 3rd Thursday of each month at 6:30 to 8:00 at the Tooele City Library.
We have a mailing list for information about the chapter and events happening.
We have a Facebook page where we share writing tips and get help and feedback on a variety of topics.
In the comments you'll see information from a variety of authors connected to our group. Please feel free to contact me at AuthorLauraBastian@gmail.com if you have any questions or are interested in joining.
In June, Tooele
Writer’s Group had a pot-luck picnic dinner. The group was small, but the chatting was as fun as always!
Here's one of the
fun recipes from that night:
and Layered Dip—from Cindy Ferriera Whitney
The guacamole is
just mashed avocados with a pinch of salt and some lime juice.
For the layer dip,
it's a layer of fat free refried beans at the bottom, fat free sour cream,
guacamole, chopped tomatoes, chopped green bell peppers, sliced black olives,
chopped cilantro, and shredded cheese.
Who else from Tooele Writers wants to share recipes? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll put them up here.
This past Thursday, members of Tooele Writers met to share
and discuss what some learned from a recent LDS Storymaker’s conference.
Tiffany Shumway discussed how to outline novels using the
information she learned in a workshop based on ‘Save the Cat!’ by Blake Snyder.
In this system, books are organized into fifteen sections or ‘beats,’ as
The Opening Image—this is where the
tone and genre are set, and it’s the starting place for the protagonist.
Generally, this should be a normal setting to begin with.
Theme Stated—a question is asked
that has to be answered at the end. What is the question or dilemma in your
story? The theme supports the main character’s arc.
Set Up—This is where all the
pieces come into play, including a clear protagonist and antagonist and an idea
of what’s wrong that needs to be fixed.
Catalyst—the wake-up call, in
which something changes and moves the protagonist toward action.
The Debate—the protagonist experiences
some self-doubt and wonders which way to go.
Break into Two—The journey begins here. The old world is left
behind with a strong definite change.
Authors should go into this section boldly.
The B Story—This is where a
secondary story, often a romance, is introduced. New relationships are made
which can seem like the opposites of old relationships.
Fun and Games—not so much fun for
protagonists, but readers love the fun
and games section in which the conflict escalates and setbacks occur.
experiences a false victory or a false failure. The stakes have been raised,
and characters need to decide whether to fight or flee. A question to consider:
what happens to characters to make them think everything is awesome or awful?
Bad Guys Close In—The character is
in trouble in this section. The bad guys have regrouped, or the hero team is
falling apart, or both, and opposition increases.
All Is Lost—this is a one-page,
dramatic beat. The character is at an all time low, and something has to die
here. They experience a false defeat or false victory (opposite of what
happened in beat 9). What happens to make the characters think they cannot get
what they want after all?
Dark Night of the Soul—this section
is kind of the opposite of the Debate section listed earlier. The protagonist
has to do some soul-searching to find a solution and decides to either give up
or keep moving. Sometimes this section relies on wise words from another
Break Into Three—The character
gets moving again and makes a last ditch effort to get what he/she wants.
Finale—A transformation has
occurred. The character has a new attitude and some lessons learned, based on the
experiences in the book so far. Both the main story and the B story are wrapped
The Final Image—This is the
opposite of what happened in the opening image. Authors will show the end of the journey and
how the characters have changed in this section.
Also, authors should brainstorm a title, a tagline and a
pitch before they even begin to outline.
Next Cindy Whitney discussed her class from Lisa Mangum on
voice and said Mangum was very clear that voice and style are not the same
Voice is more about what you have to say than how you say
it, but it’s also a way to portray your personality as a writer. It has to do
with quality of writing and personal attitude. Mangum offered the acronym SING
to help understand how to create a clear and distinct writing voice.
S=be SELECTIVE. Carefully choose the words you use,
including varying the length of sentences. Also be selective about pacing,
settings, dialogue, action, narration and characters, etc.
I=be INTENSE. The
point here is to evoke strong emotions. Think about how you feel when you’re writing and try
to stay true to that, and the emotions will come out with clarity and strength in
N=be NOTORIOUS. Find out what your characters are known for
and how they want to be perceived. Also pick three adjectives to describe your
writing (for example, snarky, fun and flirty) and aim to make all your writing
like that. Laura Bastian pointed out that this could be a branding technique.
G=be GENUINE. Authors should be brave enough to say
something. When you have something to say and you find the right words and the
right stye your voice will ring true every time.
Finally, voice is a very personal thing.
Cindy also shared her notes on six mistakes authors make
from a class she took from Kathy Gordon, managing editor at Covenant
Communications. Here they are:
1.Too much irrelevant detail or backstory
2.Too many words—cut the story by 50%.
3.Too many adjectives or adverbs
4.Not enough strong verbs
5.Marshmallow dialogue—too soft and squishy
6.Get rid of outlandish names
Laura Bastian quickly covered her notes from the class she
took from Brandon Sanderson on developing characters. Here's a quick list of some of the things that were covered:
According to Sanderson, characters tell the story. Three
things help determine the way your character will move through the story: how
proactive they are, how competent they are, and how sympathetic they are. If
you change these things, you can change your character’s personality in a
Show protagonists suffering to help readers develop empathy
and stay in the story.
Give the characters flaws…not just simple handicaps, but
Showing that other characters like a particular character
makes that character more likeable in the reader’s eyes.
Removing friends from the protagonist shows anguish.
When you’re writing villains, up their competency and down
At the end of the meeting, members discussed gesture crutches from a
class taught by Jordan McCollom. While gestures and body language are necessary
in writing, some things are overused. If you’re going to use a gesture, don’t
use the first thing that pops into your head. Be creative and come up with a
different gesture that can show the same emotion. Nods, head shakes, anything
with eyes and eyebrows are overused. Use something unexpected.
Also, don’t use gestures too much to replace taglines. Some
of this is okay. Just not all the time.
Tiffany Shumway has already posted links to several good 15-beat
pages on the Facebook group for Tooele Writers, and Cindy Whitney posted one as well.
Here they are:
Two software programs were discussed Wednesday evening as
members of Tooele Writers met to learn about novel writing software and how it
can ease the writing and publishing process.
Krista Wayment, who tried several novel writing programs
before she settled on YWriter5, presented her experiences during the first part
of the meeting.
“This was the one I liked the best,” she said.
During the last part
of the meeting Cindy Whitney showed attendees how to use Scrivener.
“Things are organized as if you had a paper binder,” she
While both novel-writing programs simplify the creation and
publishing process, they also have unique features that set them
apart—especially when compared to simple word-processing programs.
In both programs:
As writers begin a work in either
program, they can immediately organize their ideas into chapters and scenes (in
Scrivener, chapters are called folders and scenes are called text). This allows writers who plan to make detailed
outlines in advance, while discovery writers can simply write scenes or text
and organize them into chapters later.
The real writing is done in the
text (Scrivener) or scenes (YWriter5).
Both programs make it easy to
import and export the entire project—or just a part of it.
Authors can view one scene at a
time, one chapter at a time or the entire work at once. Word counts for the part of the project being
viewed are listed, as well.
Authors can view more than one
scene at a time.
Writing can be viewed full-screen,
and the backgrounds can be faded to eliminate distractions.
More on YWriter5:
In YWriter5, authors can add
descriptions as they add chapters to the project. Later on those descriptions
can be compiled in a report, creating a simple and immediate synopsis.
YWriter5 also allows authors to import
outlines they’ve already created for projects they hope to work on, and YWriter5
allows authors to track what stage portions of their manuscript are in and mark
them as outline, draft, done, etc.
Authors can rate four aspects of
their writing they want to track (such as tension) for each section and view
reports to help them identify whether those aspects are balanced through the
Characters, locations and items
can be highlighted and tracked in YWriter5, which means authors can see how
balanced these things are in the story, as well, or find them quickly if they
need to make changes.
There’s a read-aloud button for
authors who want to relax and let the computer read their story back to them
(or who use vocal readings during edits).
YWriter provides a story board
option for helping organize manuscripts.
If authors write something and
then decide not to use that particular piece, it can be toggled as unused
rather than deleted, and the authors can come back to it later.
YWriter5 is free.
More on Scrivener:
This program has a fun
color-coding system that helps authors keep track of things like point of view,
chapters, scenes, front and back matter, etc.
Document notes to the right of the
piece authors are working on allows them to immediately jot down new ideas or
even place pieces of writing they cut out of the text.
The cork board—where scenes,
chapters, etc. appear as if on index cards pinned to a cork board. Anything you
move on the corkboard is automatically moved in the binder as well.
Authors can attach images to their
index cards, too, and when the manuscript is compiled these will be compiled
With project targets, writers can
set goals for their total word count and word count per session.
When the project is completed and
all folders, texts, etc. are in order, a simple click on the ‘compile’ button
pulls it all together.
Scrivener manuscripts can be
exported as Mobi files or Epub files, which simplifies self-publishing.
Scrivener costs $40, but Tooele
Writers members can get it for 20% off until August 31, 2014. Contact
Cindy Whitney on the Tooele Writers Facebook page if you have any questions
Cindy provided three really great
links for ways to use Scrivener. And here they are!