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Author: Dorothy A. Winsor

Books about Writing

Books about Writing

There are a ton of books about writing out there, and I own a whole lot of them. Some I read once, but some I wind up rereading, learning new things each time, probably because I’m ready to learn them. Here are some of the books I’ve found most helpful. Writing the Breakout Novel (and its accompanying workbook) The Fire in Fiction By Donald Maass Maass is a successful literary agent. In these two books, he draws on what he’s…

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Tricky grammar: dangling modifiers, lie/lay, I/me

Tricky grammar: dangling modifiers, lie/lay, I/me

In a previous part of my life, I was an English professor. In that role, I wound up repeatedly explaining bits of grammar that writers tripped over again and again. Three of these were the dangling modifier, the difference between “lie” and “lay,” and the use of “I” and “me” in compound constructions. I also spent time explaining what passive voice, but I’ve already talked about that in a previous post. Dangling modifier Here’s an example of a dangling modifier:…

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What Do YA Writers Owe Their Readers?

What Do YA Writers Owe Their Readers?

Occasionally, I hear someone suggest that a YA book should embody a good message for teens. That feels wrong to me, but it’s hard to articulate why. No Sending a Message! First, I don’t believe a good novel of any kind sets out to “send a message” in a bald way, and if a book does, it probably cripples the writing. I do believe that a story embodies the writer’s world view and that inevitably includes pretty much everything: politics,…

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Yikes! I don’t have enough words!

Yikes! I don’t have enough words!

Every writer is going to be different, but I tend to write first drafts that are very bare bones. I find a first draft painful to write so I try to get it down quickly, planning to revise. As a consequence, my first drafts are often short of the 60,000 words that are usually the minimum for a young adult novel. I know that some of that brevity is due to things I have to work in later. One is…

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The Best Advice I Ever Got

The Best Advice I Ever Got

Back when I was writing academic books and articles, I conducted a five-year ethnographic project at an engineering center. My area is professional communication, so I hung around the center watching engineers try to communicate in their natural habitat. It was a lot of fun, and eventually I wrote a book (Writing Power) based on the material I collected. Someone I knew edited a series for SUNY Press, and he invited me to submit it to them. He sent the…

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On Writing Groups

On Writing Groups

Over the years, I’ve been a member of a number of writing groups that provide me with understanding, support, and most important, feedback on my work. Feedback helps me notice places to improve my writing that I’m too close to see myself. If you’re looking for feedback, you could try a writers group. Ideally, the members would be writers who are at the same level or above you in skill. They’d be kind and aim to make one another better…

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On Writer Anxiety

On Writer Anxiety

Every writer I know experiences moments of anxiety about their writing. They’re sure it’s terrible. They’re horrified at the idea of anyone else seeing it. They know they’re a failure and no agent/publisher/reader will ever want to read this story. Sometimes people call this the Imposter Syndrome. We conclude we’re faking our roles as writers and someone is soon going to find out. If the anxiety becomes strong enough, it turns into writer’s block, and the person can’t write at…

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2018: A Heck of a Stressful Year

2018: A Heck of a Stressful Year

In my previous post, I talked about keeping a writing journal. I often record personal events there because they affect how much writing I’m able to do. Looking back, I don’t want to blame a month with no writing on writer’s block when I was on vacation. Or more realistically in 2018, experiencing some stressful event. This year, I drafted and did the first revision round on a 65K word novel, the third in a series that starts with The…

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