Best of the Week: February 12, 2017 - Travis Senzaki

Best of the Week: February 12, 2017

feet at the top of a sledding hill

Favorite picture of the week: from the top of the sledding hill near home, just before a crash.

Every week, I read dozens of blog posts and share my favorite ones with my social media followers. But that’s one share, and the thought is gone. I’m going to make an effort to keep an index of the best of those articles here, with my thoughts because, well, it’s my blog.

Personal Update

First, a bit about the week in my writing life.

As I’ve discussed in previous posts, I am writing my first short story, following the blueprint method described in Lisa Cron’s Story Genius. I’ve finally finished the backstory scenes and started writing the scene cards and scenes for my opening and closing scenes.

Cron’s model is designed for a novel and I’m using it for a short story, so there won’t be a whole lot that comes between those scenes. I found another writer who has built a Scrivener template for the Story Genius model, too. More about that in the resources below.

Now, here are my favorite writing posts and other inspiration from this week, by topic.

Writing Advice

There’s No “One Way” to be a Writer – Cathy Yardley, Writer Unboxed

The Number One Subject to Study for Writing Success

This article reminds me of my Air Force days, training for my mission in Afghanistan. Our instructors constantly repeated: “This is a way, not the way.” Much of what they taught us was irrelevant (It turns out that I never needed that training in how to do a room-by-room sweep of a hostile compound, thank goodness). But that one statement stuck with me.

There is no single “right way.” Beware of writing advice that says otherwise. Be confident in yourself and what you have to do to tell your story. Even my “banish all passive voice” professors in history would allow us one, deliberate use per page. (The second use resulted in a 10% deduction from the overall grade.)

Novel Lessons from Screenplays – C. Steven Manley, Sterling & Stone

Five Plot Points to Help Finish the First Draft

Remember that there’s no one way to write a novel. But most readers also watch movies, so whether they know it or not, they are attuned to the movie plot cycles. Whether you write to this pattern or not, it’s a good thing to understand.

Take it One Step at a Time – Michael Hyatt

How to End Every Day Feeling Accomplished

OK, so this article is really focused on “day jobs.” But even though writing isn’t my day job, yet, I believe in treating it the same way, so I look for business practices I can apply.
When I’m looking at the blank page, it can seem like there is an infinite number of tasks remaining before the germ of an idea in my head becomes a book in your hands. No matter what I accomplish in a single day, the end goal still seems impossibly far away. Sound familiar?

One thing I did successfully with my non-fiction book was to break it into a ton of smaller, achievable tasks. Like “Complete the table of important terms in Apppendix F.” That, I can do in one day. Sometimes the task is, “write 500 words in the first scene of my story.” Also doable (Hey, I didn’t say “good words.”)
Michael’s advice takes this a step further with other ways you can give yourself a rush of accomplishment that will motivate you to get back to work the next day. Definitely worth a read.

PS, One of my favorite ways to keep myself on track is Habitica, a free online “RPG” where you gain experience and gold by accomplishing daily habits and long-term goals that you set for yourself. I like to use checklists on the bigger goals to give that sense of progress.

Writing Career Advice

Approach Fiction Writing Like You Would Any Other Career – Dean Wesley Smith

Logic: The Lost Art in Being a Fiction Writer

In my day job, I’m not happy staying put. I want to move up to more responsibility and more pay. For most anyone in a corporate job, this is obvious. We study and practice to get better, we seek mentors who have accomplished what we want to do, and we set our sights on getting better.

Dean Wesley Smith argues that we need to do the same in our fiction careers. I can’t argue with that.

Writing Resource

Story Genius Scrivener Template – Gwen Hernandez, Writer Unboxed

Using Scrivener with Story Genius

I was trying to put together my own template to use the Story Genius approach to building my story, but Gwen is much more of a Scrivener ninja than I am. Her template focuses on the story bit rather than the back story. Conveniently, I found this as I was right at the transition!

Other Awesome Things

This tweet by Neil Gaiman:

The Greatest Comeback Story of our Time

You have this aging champion, the greatest that ever was – and still the greatest. But he’s been around a long time. Everyone knows it’s only a matter of time before he starts to fail.

Then you start to see it. Put on point on the biggest stage, he’s slipping. And the doubts come in: Time has caught up to him. He’s cooked.

And then he proves you wrong. Put in a bigger hole than any champion has ever seen in history, impossibly, he claws back out.

The invincible hero somehow became the impossible comeback kid. Story transformed. Patriots win!

What Are Your Favorite Writing Advice Resources?

Let me know in the comments below!

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