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Apr 28 14

Practice Make Improvement

by Tom Klein

My writing is getting better. (I have proof and I’ll share that in my next post). I owe a great big thanks to the Saturday Writers. Saturday WritersOur group holds a monthly contest that allows young writers (in writer years if not calendar years) submit their short stories in a double blind contest and compete for publishing slots in our Cuivre River Anthology. The monthly contest not only offers the opportunity to join the ranks of published writer but it gives us the challenge of working the inspiration – writing – editing cycle on a monthly basis.

What little, and I do mean little, I know is that practice is the only way to improvement. And while the monthly contest does take time away from the next Great American Novel, the monthly practice offers the opportunity to write to be read and a deadline to force a timely end to the process.

The stories are short. They are limited to 2014 words this year. (Next year the stories will be longer, up to a whopping 2015 words but this year we keep them at 2014 or less.) We’re writing about emotions this year, last year was colors. This anchors us to a common idea but gives us latitude to be creative and entertaining. While writing is traditionally a solo activity, doing with a group of fellow writers let’s you reach out for help at any time. So while the bar is raised high to write a complete story in a month, my friends and fellow writers help build the scaffolding that allow me to reach great heights.

If you want to write, my suggestion is to do it. But don’t do it alone. Find a group, a writers group, a critic group, attended a workshop and enter a contest. With positive feedback you get encouragement, with negative feedback you get improvement.

Encouragement and improvement is all you need to be the next Shakespeare.

Mar 16 14

When the Shark bites

by Tom Klein

Corporate-MovieScreeningRedCarpetPremieresI love to write. There, I admit it. But I also love to watch baseball, do woodworking, drive with the top down (when I had a convertible). So why do I write?

I am lucky. In my day job, I’m a computer programmer and I enjoy writing programs. But I like writing fiction even better. How cool would it be to make a living writing fiction? Way cool!

As a programmer, we don’t start with the program and hope someone will like it, use it and pay for it. We interview the client, see what their needs are and plan to write a program to fulfill those needs.

I started writing by writing. I still do, but part of the time I now spend looking at who may buy my book. The magic goal is the agent to promote the book, eventually into a movie. (Hey, if you’re going to dream, dream big!)

So like building a bridge from both sides of the river, on one side I keep writing, refining my craft. From the other side I think about what the agent wants. And what they want is a query letter that gets them excited. For that, a friend in the Saturday Writers recommended Query Shark. I’m learning from other’s mistakes on how to write a great query letter and in doing so, I’m realizing how to describe my project and even improve my book.

Another avenue leading from the other side of the river is a book called Save the Cat. My favorite line in the book is from Sam Goldwyn, “Give me the same thing… only different!”

So what do I want to write. I want to write fiction. Fiction that I can sell. How do I do that? Write a story that excites the reader (movie viewer). Write a novel that fits into an exciting query letter, can be described by a two sentence tag line that stands out against all other movies in the Saturday listing. Write a novel with plot, subplot, love, triumph, failure and redemption. I’m not trying to plagiarized. I’m trying to follow the path of the successful people in my new chosen craft.

Robert Frost came upon two paths in that yellow woods. He followed the path less traveled. Me on the other hand, I want to follow that well trodden path that leads to book signings, movie premiers and the bank. Yes, don’t forget the bank.

Mar 9 14

Drinking the Virtual Coffee

by Tom Klein

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Since I joined the Saturday Writers, I’ve spent several Saturdays with a group of writers writing. Imagine that!

And do that writing at a coffee house.

It turns out, there is research that says too much noise is is bad and the same is true of to much silence. So the coffee house offers just the right mix of  background clutter to spur the mind into action.

But what do you do if you don’t have a coffee house nearby and the writing bug bites? You drink the virtual coffee.

Check out the Coffitivity website. Yes, there is an app for that. Or just browse the website and listen to the background noise of conversation and clinking coffee cups.

It sounds the same as being there.

Now if they could only find a way to let me smell the coffee too.