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Dogtown Weekly: Are Print Books Going Niche?

Welcome to the Weekly!

As I continue experimenting with Feedly this week, I found myself categorizing a ton of articles, so I'm going to test out another way categorization method. This is apart of an ongoing and wide-spanning effort of mine to increase productivity in my day and write more and better.

Yes, I am working on Manifestation Files. It's slow but steady progress.

By the way, I have a great announcement to make very soon, but I'm going to wait until the news break. I'll post on my blog when it's time.

Enjoy the articles, and don't forget to share them with other writers!


Is Conflict Really Necessary for Fiction?

With almost every story, there are a few basic elements. There must be a beginning, a middle, and a end. You must have a setting, and you must have at least one character. You must have a theme, you must have a point-of-view, and you must have conflict.

But what if you take one of those elements away?

Specifically, conflict. Is it possible to write a good story without conflict?

Some story experts say that even if the rest of the story is composed of half-baked elements, great conflict can redeem the story. However, defying one of the most fundamental requirements for fiction is quite the act of rebellion, so let's consider it.

Dogtown Weekly: Is NA Overflowing with Romance?

Welcome to the Weekly, guys!

Before we start with the usual weekly round-up, I'll just like to say that if you're using Google Reader, you should probably find another way to follow your feeds.

With this blog, you can either:

  1. Switch to another RSS reader. Right now, I'm using Feedly, and it's working out for me. I used it to gather the below links and share them through Buffer, a usual social scheduling tool.
  2. Subscribe via email! Hey, you might like it better. Also, as I already informed my email list, I'm improving the experience there.

Now, back to your scheduled round-up, right after the jump.

BONUS: Buried within the article links is a link to a free bestselling book! Consider it my bonus for you taking the time to read.

What Are Your Most Annoying Writing Tics?

Everyone who writes a lot develop some nasty habits that poison their work--or at least give them pimples. We fall back into them naturally because it's easier to just ignore them during the rough draft and exterminate them later.

On the other hand, We often forget to go back to reap them.

See that strike-outed transition? That's one of them.

One of my goals is to squash those writing tics.


An incomplete list of my "writing tics":

  1. Overusing some transitions: "On the other hand" is one of many of them, but the main culprits are "unfortunately" and "however". Don't believe me? Look back at the last five posts of my blog, and you'll find multiple instances of these little boogers. Unfortunately, the problem is how to moderate them without making my writing choppy.
  2. Overusing parenthesis: Again, look back at the last five posts.
  3. Overusing ellipses: This is the "tic" I have been most successful at reigning in, in the grand scheme of things. I notice that a year ago, I overused them in my fiction, and it gave the prose a dotted feel. I still use them a lot in my forum posts, but on my blog, I've been conserving them. It doesn't mean they're not a part of my style still, but it's something I've taken in account.

Those are just the tics I notice.

But they're easy to deal with.

There are two different ways to suppress those tics.

  1. Keep them in mind when writing. Don't get too hung up on them, but your subconscious can affect your writing.
  2. Edit them out after the draft. This is the easier route.

In the end, they're only harmful if you leave them in.

YOUR TURN: -point to title-. How do you deal with them? If you're not a writer, what are some examples of recurring elements that you've seen in a novel that were distracting?

PS: Today's post was short, but I'm planning something deeper next week.

Dogtown Weekly: 3/15/13

The Bookshelf Muse: Clarity In Writing & The Curse of Reader Assumption:
Jimmy Choos is not an Asian assassin! Yeezy taught me otherwise! /music reference

Readers never have the same kind of assumptions than the writer. No two humans have the same kind of assumptions. So clarity is important. So is a beta reader.

However, you should also avoid going too far into "viewers are morons" territory. In the book I'm currently reading, I stopped at one point because the author explained what a juvenile detention center" is. The explanation broke immersion because the context already made it clear what the detention center is. It was not even a full sentence, but put in the middle of a sentence.

At the same time, I thought back to the terms "small of the back" and "solar plexus", two terms that I've seen in multiple contexts and had to look up more than once. For reference, the small of the back is the lower back, and the solar plexus is where a lot of nerves meet on the upper stomach.

Nothing can make everyone happy.

The Character Therapist: A Therapist's Take on Silver Linings Playbook:
Yet again, Jeannie Campbell proves an interesting perspective to a work of fiction. The movie she writes about sounds interesting, and I might watch it in the future.

In summary, Silver Linings Playbook had both a realistic and a riveting take on mental disorders--except for one hitch.

YAtopia: What's okay for YA?:
By now, there's extremely little that you can't do in YA. By now, it's not about what subjects you can or can not do. Rather, it's how you approach them.

Now, it's interesting how the author and her editor and publisher decided to remove a f-bomb from the first page in order to avoid turning readers off, even if the rest of the novel is full of profanity. Sometimes, the commercial aspect of writing needs to be considered if you want to continue being a career novelist.

I really need to detail my opinion on the entire "commercial success vs. artistic integrity" debate in the future.


Roni Loren: The Faster I Write, the Better the Book?:
This seems like a paradox, but it does have some basis. Sean Platt has written about this before, saying that writing faster helps you find you true writing voice, but I think there's another reason.

Basically, when you keep up momentum instead of taking it slow, you spend less time fixating over every word. So when you spill everything out, if you plan everything correctly, the subconscious produces something more natural and less forced.

Writer Unboxed: Does Your Protagonist Have Amnesia?:
I thought this


Terribleminds: Writing Books and Fighting Cancer, By T.J. Brown:
Lastly, a touching story with its quirks. Just because you're on morphine for cancer treatment doesn't mean you can't write.

A Quick Note:

Spring Break for me starts today! I'll be using next week to do something...productive. Preferably fiction.

Have a nice weekend!

How Herding Characters Can Improve Your Cast

Written by Chihuahua Zero (@chihuahuazero)

Sometimes, when you can't keep track of all of your characters, herding them is the way to go.

Not literal herding, as in "cattle herding"! Figurative herding, of course!


Dogtown Weekly: 3/8/13

For now, I'm going to suspend personal updates and focus more on the weekly round-up. Notes will be at the end of this post.

Enjoy these links, and share this article with someone if you found it useful!

Disclosure: Before anyone can ask, yes, I removed a couple of links from the TV Tropes' Article Dumping thread from this lineup. I have done it before. Occasionally, I find that in retrospect, including a particular link wouldn't be useful.


Dogtown Weekly: 3/1/13

YAtopia: What is an "authentic" voice and how do you write it?:

Teenagers are different. There are definitely trends when it comes to "voice", but keep in mind that it's easily to fall into the stereotype of a teen's "authentic" voice.


Let's Get Digital: Amazon’s Recommendation Engine Trumps The Competition:

It's scary how effective Amazon is. It's the Google of online bookstores. I've read too many articles on how Barnes and Noble's site pales in comparison to Amazon. I can see why.

It's interesting seeing how Amazon advances as it further dominates the market. Hopefully, it won't become too drunk on power.

Mystery Writing is Murder: The Butler Did It?:

Have you ever wondered about "the butler did it" cliche? Here's a look into this cliche, which haven't really been played seriously.


The Other Side of the Story: Why Character Arcs (and Growth) Make Readers Care:

For me, I found most interesting about this article the comparison of Undercover and Miss Congeniality, two similar story, with only one being notable. It's a nice vehicle to convey how character depth means a lot.

YAtopia: Breaking the law, breaking the law!:

Yes, YAtopia gets a second mention today. That's the nature of blogs in the weekly round-ups, the fact that they have periods where articles from them pop up often before dropping out. It depends on my enthusiasm.

But this is the top article in this particular round-up just because of the sheer comedy contained with this. I read this aloud to a friend before school. She cracked up twice. It's the audacity of this cliche storm that might not work among 700+ pages, but entertains with this particular excerpt.

Consider the cliches bought up within this. Think about why they don't work (seriously) here, and why they other writers get away with them again and again.

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No personal updates this week. Let's say that I'm in between things, and I don't want to report on something that I end up abandoning the following week.