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The Writer's Compass » About Writing

Writing Novel Serials

I just finished listening to 4 audiobooks by the same author. The author had written other books and over time 4 of her novels were about this character. I had listened to the second one a couple of times and liked the character, and thought I liked the author. I pulled together these 4 to listen to consecutively. I could barely get through them. There was so much repetition it made me nuts. I think she took huge sections and just copied them into the next book to explain stuff that happened in the first book. Eventually, I just started forwarding through those sections. I also couldn’t believe what a disappointment the character turned out to be. She became very illogical. She was a Superior Court judge, after years of being a … Read entire article »

Filed under: About Writing, Becoming A Writer, Featured

“Writers need to put skin in the game…”

…and money. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I’d already had a bad day when I read that comment initiating a LinkedIn post by a neophyte publisher. Not only did she make egregious errors in her post, but she insulted writers at our basic level. When she received a response commenting on her misuse of words, you could almost hear her giggle as she noted that she always gets those words mixed up. Never mind the misspellings and poor grammar she used. Yes, you will find misspellings and grammatical mistakes in my work, but I’m not putting myself out there as a publisher or offering to copyedit anyone. So I lambasted her–and later discovered that she’d removed the post. But let’s talk about skin in the game. What do publishers and agents think we do all … Read entire article »

Filed under: About Writing, Becoming A Writer, Featured, The Writer's Life

Put the Reader into the Character’s World

Writing Exercise By showing your readers what the world around your characters look like you accomplish at least two things: You help the reader feel they are part of that world, watching up close and personal. You show the reader who the character is by the details they notice and therefore what is important in that world to the character.   How do you know which details to show? In part the genre you are writing in will help you to decide which details to use. In a mystery you will show things that are clues or red herrings to lead away from the clues. In a horror story you might show gruesome details. In a romance, the details will tend to have a rosy glow or have a dichotomy. An example would be: Ida stood on the … Read entire article »

Filed under: About Writing, Becoming A Writer, Writing Exercises

Master’s Workshop: “5 Keys for Fixing Your Story”

September 27, 2014 WC2 Masters Workshops – 3 One-Day Masters Workshops with Art Holcomb, Ace Antonio Hall, or Nancy Ellen Dodd, Los Angeles Valley College, CA Nancy’s Workshop: “5 Keys for Fixing Your Story” Frustrated by your progress? Wondering if you’ll ever be able to figure out the problems so you can get your story published or produced? The goal of this class is to teach you 5 Keys that will help you figure out what you are trying to write about and how to write it in the best way you can. The 5 Keys covered are: Where are you in story development? Which voice should you use? How do you punch up the characters? How do you figure out where to begin the story? How do you incorporate details, background, and flashbacks? Author, teacher, and writer Nancy Ellen … Read entire article »

Filed under: About Writing

Insight into the Writer’s Workspace

If you would like insight into a writer’s working space and thinking, The Writing Nut does a weekly column on this topic. On July 9 she featured Nancy Ellen Dodd, with pics of the space.   … Read entire article »

Filed under: About Writing, Becoming A Writer, The Writer's Life

Conventions of the Screenplay

For those of you interested, tomorrow starts my 8-week online screenwriting class, “Conventions of the Screenplay,” through Screenwriters University. See the full description at: … Read entire article »

Filed under: About Writing, Uncategorized, Writer's Digest

Writing Dialogue

Good dialogue can be difficult to write. One of the exercises that I recommend is to go places where people are gathered and sit and make notes on what they say, how they say it, and what they leave unsaid. You’ll notice that by the tone or by what is left unsaid, you can tell what the dynamics are between two people. Body language helps get the message across. “Yeah, you’re so smart.” What did I mean by that? My tone and body language will tell you if that’s a compliment or an insult. Since the reader can’t see the speakers, you can add body movements that correspond to the dialogue to give more meaning. Also, the way the other person responds tells you how they took it, regardless of how the … Read entire article »

Filed under: About Writing, Becoming A Writer, Featured

Starting New Online Class

I am teaching a new Writer’s Digest 12-week session, “Creative Writing 101,” starting October 17, 2013. If interested, go to the following link for more information: … Read entire article »

Filed under: About Writing, Writer's Digest

You Might Be a Writer if…

You might want to be a writer if… Your dinner conversation is about your latest plot. Your characters are your best friends. You pitch to three agents who all want the completed manuscript–that you haven’t written yet. You insist all your family and friends read this draft, even though they’ve already read the last three drafts–so they can compare and tell you how much better it is. You have a quote for every occasion from the brilliant dialogue of your characters. You have a million story ideas until you sit down to write. You are working on your 27th draft and still don’t know how to fill in the middle You have 38 rejections and counting. The only people who understand you are others who want to be writers. One criticism wipes out a dozen praises. You measure time by the … Read entire article »

Filed under: About Writing, Becoming A Writer, Critiques and Feedback, The Writer's Life

Available Classes

For those of you asking where they can take a class from me, here are a few of the classes and workshops I have scheduled. Writer’s Digest University Online – “Creative Writing 101” August 22 thru November 14. This is a 12-week course. Screenwriter’s University (part of Writer’s Digest) – “Conventions of the Screenplay: Formatting, Dialogue, Imagery and Genre” August 29 – September 19. This is an 8-week course. Writer’s Digest West 2013 Conference – “The Writer’s Compass: Using Story Maps to Build Better Fiction” September 29, 9:00-9:50 am. Conejo Valley Writer’s Group – October 12. GLAWS Digital Author and Self-Publishing Conference – October 12-13. Conejo Adult School – 2 classes over 2 Saturdays, October 19 & 26, “The Writer’s Compass” 9:30 am to 12:30 pm,  and “Seven Stages of Revision” 1:00 – 4:00 pm. Writers of Kern, Bakersfield – Workshop … Read entire article »

Filed under: About Writing, Becoming A Writer, Writer's Digest

Can You Really Become a Writer?

Read my blog posted on the Writer’s Digest website and find how you can go from a wannabe to a writer. … Read entire article »

Filed under: About Writing, Becoming A Writer, Writer's Digest

Be the Antagonist – Creative Writing Exercise

View yourself as the antagonist to the hero in your story.   •What do you think your hero wants?   •Why do you want to stop the hero from succeeding?   •What are three things you will do to stop the hero from getting what he or she wants?   •What do you, the antagonist, want?   •How far will you go to stop the hero and get what you want?   Write three paragraphs describing: 1. Who you are? 2. What the story is about? 3. Why you have to win? 4. Whether you succeed.   If you would like to share, please post in the comment section below and email me at nancy *at* nancyellendodd *dot* com so I make sure that your comment does NOT go into the spam trap. … Read entire article »

Filed under: About Writing, FREEBIES & PURCHASE, Writing Exercises

Author Services, Middle-men, and Scammers

The publishing world had been turned upside down. As a writer you have many options for finding and getting your words in front of an audience. BUT it’s not that simple. The biggest problem for authors is that more than ever they have become the buyer of author services, the middlemen, and scammers. What traditional publishers were expected to do, writers are now doing for themselves. This means that instead of the services traditional publishers were expected (or thought to provide), would-be authors now have to find and pay for. The biggest problem is that traditional publishers were interested in making money off the authors by selling their books. The author services/middleman/scammers have little to nothing invested and therefore little to no interest in whether your book sells. These service providers make … Read entire article »

Filed under: About Writing, Becoming A Writer

When to Ask for Feedback

For some people, never is a good time to ask for feedback. Some writers don’t feel the need for input from others or at the most only one or two selected and trusted writers. Some writers feel that by sharing their work with others prematurely, they dispel the energy of writing. Other writers are anxious to get feedback, sharing their stories with critique groups, family, friends, anybody they can get to listen. The best time to ask for feedback is when you understand what you need to know to improve your work. Let’s face it, we all want to hear how someone loved our story. We want an adoring group listening as we read the lines we’ve sweated over. I used to drive my younger daughters crazy reading drafts of stories to them. … Read entire article »

Filed under: About Writing, Critiques and Feedback, The 7 Stage Process

To Self-Publish or Not

Self-publising is a big topic of conversation among writers (would-be authors and authors), agents, and traditional publishers these days. Is self-publishing vanity publishing? Is there a stigma attached? Will I ruin my chances with a traditional publisher if I self-publish? What are my chances of gaining high sales with my ebook? If I can create a book by myself, why should I hire anyone to help me? If I use the right algorithms for my ebook, can I make a fortune? Is it better to self-publish ebooks, POD (print-on-demand), or do a print run?   The answer to all of these questions is yes, no, and maybe. I know, that’s trite, but these are complicated questions with not-so-easy answers. Although I am traditionally published and have an agent, I’ve been studying self-publishng for two years. I’ve done a few … Read entire article »

Filed under: About Writing