MISS DEMEANORS

Writers Workshops

In my last post, I talked about my favorite writing manuals and we received great recommendations in the comments. Today I’m talking about my favorite writing workshops. I’ve been to a few. And these are the my favorites: Book Passages Mystery Writers Conference If you write mysteries and want to learn how to write better mysteries, this workshop is tailored for you. Book Passage | Book Passage The faculty that had been planned for 2020 included Cara Black, Rhys Bowen, Tony Broadbent, Kimberly Cameron, Karen Catalona, Joe Clifford, George Fong (retired FBI agent), Julie Grames, Dr. Terri L. Haddix, Rachel Howzel Hall, Laurie R. King, James L’Etoile, Tim Maleeny, Catriona McPherson, Vilaska Nguyen (criminal defense attorney), Otto Penzler, Bill Petrocelli, Zoe Quinton, Susan C. Shea, Kelli Stanley, Robin C. Stuart, and Jacqueline Winspear. If you go, don’t miss out on the one-on-one consultations.  They’re worth every penny. Litreactor My online favorite for two reasons: the subjects offered and the workshop structure. Each week of the course, every student uploads a few pages that are critiqued by fellow students and the teacher. Online writing classes and writers’ workshops | LitReactor I got the most out of The Big Idea class with […]

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You writing about me?

If you write something and publish it, someone is going to have a nagging suspicion you wrote about them.

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Pen names. To have or have not.

Did you ever consider using a pseudonym for your writing? Why or why not. And if you have a second writing life we don’t know about confess now! although you don’t have to give away your secret life just hint broadly.

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The More Things Change

New job, new state, new time zone. So, I turned to something old, The Yellow Room by Gaston Laroux. A mystery originally published in 1907, it counterbalances the newness. Does reading help you deal with change? What do you reach for? Share on the blog, Facebook, or Twitter.

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PAPYROPHILIA: Crazy about Notebooks

The rush from a new notebook. Do you relate to that phrase? If so, you may be a papyrophiliac. That is, someone who has an obsessive love of paper. I think the term can be extended to those of us who are wild about office or school supplies. Notebooks, pens, pencils, eraser, index cards, and stickies (my affectionate term for post-its). Don’t start me on stickies. Tiny, medium, long and narrow, wide and square. Lined, unlined. Pastel or fluorescent. My daughter attempted to make me promise never to buy another pad of them for as long as I live because my supply will surely outlast me. I resisted the pledge, knowing I would never fulfill it. But there is nothing like a new notebook. First, the search. The notebook need not be expensive; it only needs to feel right to the writer. I am partial to spiral notebooks because they open fully when I write in them, but now there are notebooks with new flexible spines that do the same. A whole new world has opened. I do not exaggerate. The cover may vary. I can be spellbound by a plain Moleskine or captivated by a floral design. I always […]

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The Plot

Here is the plot for the novel, The Plot. A down-on-his-luck writing teacher feels like his life has passed him by. Then, a brash student comes to him and tells him  he has an idea for a novel that is SO GOOD, it cannot fail. Whoever writes this novel will have a guaranteed best-seller. The writing teacher is dubious. Naturally. But then the student tells him his idea and, lo and behold, it is actually a fabulous idea. Years pass. The writing teacher continues on his downward trajectory. One day he’s thinking about his student and wonders why he hasn’t seen mention of his book. He does some research and discovers the student is dead. So. He thinks about it a bit, and then he steals the plot. Writes the book, and has fantastic success. He’s on Oprah. He’s wealthy. Life is good, and then he gets an e mail. I know what you’ve done. It’s a very entertaining book, and if you’re a writing teacher, as I am, there is boundless material to chew over, but I found myself wondering–Do you think that’s true? Are there some plots that are so idiot-proof that if you just write them down […]

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Have You Read All the Books Yet?

Who was the last person to have read every book in existence? Believe it or not, this is a hotly debated question in certain academic circles. Several names are commonly proposed. ARISTOTLE (384 – 322 BC) The Greek philosopher and scientist is said to have known everything there was to be known in his time. Tutor to the youthful Alexander the Great, Aristotle’s own writings cover a virtual encyclopedia of Greek knowledge. LEONARDO DA VINCI (1452 – 1519) Da Vinci is perhaps history’s most recognizable polymath (Latin for “having learned much”). Painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer, Da Vinci’s genius epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal. DESIDERIUS ERASMUS (1466 – 1536) One of the last scholars prior to the impact of the printing press, Erasmus mastered all the European and Scandinavian languages of his day plus Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. Erasmus is reputed to have said, “When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.” JOHN MILTON (1608 – 1674) The English poet is said to have read virtually every book ever written and knew enough about most things to discuss them with authority. […]

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How to Learn Mystery Writing

How do you learn to write mysteries? Stuck up in Alaska with no local Sisters in Crime, I have had to figure out the craft of writing mysteries by myself. Accordingly, I have purchased just about every writing manual on the market. I asked my sister Miss D’s what their favorite manuals are. Here are mine: Keenan Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel by Hallie Ephron. This is the bible. Hallie gives you clear explanations of each concept from the premise to preparing the final manuscript. You will learn about structure, character, voice, dialogue, red herrings, plot twists, and so much more. The Art of Character by David Corbett. David is the author of a number of mystery/suspense novels and teaches widely. In this book, you will go beyond the statistical data that would appear on your character’s drivers license and delve into desire, secrets, struggles, and again, so much more. My favorite part of this book is the exercises. If you take the time to develop your characters through working through the suggested questions, your story will practically write itself. The Compass of Character by David Corbett spins off The Art of Character and goes into greater depth discussing […]

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Music & Creativity

Music and other artists’ creativity is infectious. How consuming art can improve everything, from a sad day to a plot hole.

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Location location location

We read and write to visit places in our mind. I’ve been inspired to visit cities because of books I’ve read, and I’ve been inspired to write about places I’ve lived.

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