Monday, June 09, 2008

Flex Your Writing Muscles

Want to flex your writing muscles? Agent Rachelle Gardner has a contest at her web site that lets you do just that. Using the picture you see here as a starting point, she asks you to write a short story of no more than one hundred words. She’s awarding a prize to the winner. Hurry, though. The contest ends in a couple of days.

I encourage writers, especially those still growing in the craft, to do things like this from time to time. Here’s another exercise you can try with your crit group or just with a writing buddy. I believe it was Karen Ball who introduced me to this one. Write a few lines that center around a character that is either very good or very bad. Then another person has to take what you’ve written and add a few paragraphs that make the reader have a different view of the character—switch them from bad to good or good to bad. Once you get into the swing of it, it’s sort of fun.

And for those of you who don’t have a writing buddy, I’ll give you a starter. Try this:

“I don’t care if you are my sister, you’re a talentless hack,” Simon said.

Mary stepped to the balcony and looked at the dark, cold water below. “But I’ve staked everything on this. If I fail, I might as well jump into that river.”

Okay, that’s it. Take it from there and make Simon a good guy. (American Idol, take that!)

Here's another site you may want to check, especially if you consider your writing to be "chick lit." Literary agent Jessica Faust of Bookends LLC Agency has a post that confirms what we've been hearing for a while-- chick lit is indeed dead. But take heart. She points out that's just a label. Your writing may sell just fine if it's labeled appropriately. She gives some examples. In my opinion, this is where an agent can really help. They know the market (which seems to be changing more rapidly than gasoline prices) and can help you when doors seem to be slamming in your face.

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