Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What's Your Problem?

At our October writer's meeting, we were plotting. Fill in the blanks as to what we were plotting, if you weren't there. Were we plotting how to toilet paper the members homes who didn't come? Hmmm. Time will tell!

Actually, we had a most amazing turnout last week! The room was packed! And no, we weren't plotting mischievous schemes. We were talking about plot creation, and brainstorming ideas on how to overcome obstacles when writing.

We all know there is a difference between a real plot and a series of events happening to your character, but it can often be difficult during the writing process to put everything together the right way.

Perhaps you start out with a great beginning, but struggle with the middle and the ending. Or things just don't feel like they mesh together well. How do the little details fit into the story? Sometimes our characters almost conflict with our desired plot. Or the dreaded, gulp, don't say it.....writer's block.

So what do you do? BRAINSTORM! And lots of it.

It's been said that the power of the brainstorm is underrated. I agree. Racking your brain can have all sorts of fantastic results, once you get through the hard work. As a writing group, we had our own version of a group brainstorm, on how to hone in on the plot development process. Each member of the group shared their techniques that help them the most.

Welcome to the blitzkrieg portion of this post! Read on to see what we came up with!

*Make comments in your manuscript as you go, and return for edits later. Don't stop writing when you've got a good flow.
*Interview your characters! Make it in depth, and you'll be surprised at what you discover.
*If you use plot outlines, make sure they are flexible.
*Remember what the problem is in your story. Ask why, what if questions.
*Talk it over with someone. Or for some, talking out loud to themselves works. Our fellow writers are great tools for having useful discussions about our work. (Please note, there was no comma or period after "writers are great tools, so they'll be no jokes about that.) ;)
*Debate it with someone. You don't need someone to always just tell you it's great. A devil's advocate is often the most helpful.
*Flip a coin when making a choice between two routes. If you are secretly hoping it lands on tails, then you get heads and feel bummed, then now you know to go with the tails option.
*Read something, or watch a movie that evokes the same type of emotion you are hoping to create in your writing.
*Get a change of scenery, take a walk, or trip.
*Listen to music! Choose music that inspires you, and has the same mood as the scenes you wish to write.
*Let it simmer. Or for some of us, let it"ferment."
*Talk to yourself in the mirror, or talk to the computer.
*Don't push it, take your time.
*Do some writing exercises. Pay attention to your dreams.

Jennie Bennett also shared a few websites for plot help. Thank you Jennie!

Main Character Survey
Ten Scene Plotting Tool
The Eight Sequence Plotting Tool

If you have other ideas that get you out of your writing jams, leave a comment, we'd love to hear it!

Next Month: November 17th is our Chapter Party!!! Hope to see you all there! Details to be coming soon!


Sunday, October 16, 2011

About RSS Feeds

What is an RSS Feed?

An RSS feed is basically something that you can subscribe to and get updates from. Here is how it works. A person is surfing the web and finds a website or a blog that they really enjoy and want to keep up with. Instead of having to remember to go back to the website regularly to check for updates the person can subscribe to the RSS feed (assuming the site or blog has one). The person then sees instant updates from the site or blog in their favorite RSS feed reader (i.e. Google Reader). Giving your readers the option of subscribing to an RSS will help them stay more active in following your site or blog.

Also, providing an RSS feed broadens your audience of followers. Not everyone has the appropriate account to use the various following methods. And some do not like receiving updates through email.

How do I set up an RSS feed?

If you have a blog – chances are it is already an RSS feed. And there is probably a widget for adding a button to your blog. Here are instructions if you use blogger (new interface):
  1. Open your blog and select ‘Layout’

  2. Click one of the ‘Add Gadget’ links in the area you want the widget to appear.

  3. Choose ‘Basics’ and scroll down the ‘Subscription Links’

  4. Click the plus button, give it a title, and click ‘Save.’

I am sure that there are similar ways to add it to other blog platforms.

Adding an RSS feed to your website is a little more involved. First do a search for an ‘rss feed generator’ and pick one out you like. Once you have set up a feed for your site – you will need to have a link to that feed that allows the user to subscribe to it. I have never done this - but I am sure a google search would produce some excellent resources.

Other uses of RSS feeds

Another way to use RSS feeds on your blog or website is to embed a related RSS feed. My blog, for example is about writing. I could find another site that talks about writing – say for instance one that talks about what is going on in publishing. If I embed that RSS feed into my blog – then users could see the updates from those feeds when they visit my site. The benefit of using a feed is that it makes you site appear to be updated more often.

This is also simple for most blogging platforms. Just add a widget (the ‘Feed’ widget on Blogger) to your blog or site that pulls from the RSS feed. Again, I have never added an RSS feed to a website.

Other Tools

You can also use third party tools to find out how many people subscribe to your rss feed – such as”>Feedburner. This can help you see how many people you are reaching with your feed.

Posted by Krista Wayment Thank you Krista!!