Writing and Drawing Snacks: Betsy James on Incarnation

At one point Betsy was trying, with difficulty, to understand a group of five characters. She couldn’t get the dynamics right, even after writing too much backstory and doing stuff like assigning each of them a symbol—circle, square, squiggle and so on.

She remembered (finally) what she tell students: “In imagination, incarnate as your characters. Be them in their bodies. It’s how we are in our bodies that makes us who we are.”

So, being in the body of each, pen in hand, she asked, “Okay—how would I draw a cat?”

It worked.

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Dawn Vogel on Writing in Shared Universes


Covers by Luke Spooner*

Today Dawn Vogel has agreed to talk to us today about writing in shared universes.

GC: Dawn please tell us about yourself. What do you write? What themes tend to appear in your work? Which writers have influenced you?

I’m a Midwest native who transplanted herself to the West Coast almost 10 years ago. Though I’ve been writing all my life, I started getting serious about it after my transplanting. I write speculative fiction, though I tend toward a lot of fantasy, steampunk, and alternate history. Most of what I write is short stories, but I have published one novella, and my first novel is due out in 2017.

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Writing Book Review: The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell

The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell © 2009

Writing books come in three flavors: technical manuals on craft, how-to books on publishing, and the writing life/creative life books. The authors of this last category focus either on how a particularly successful writer became that way or the transition from wannabe to professional writer. The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell falls into this last category. Bell uses the metaphor of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War to advise new writers on how to become professionals. Like Sun Tzu, Bell divides up the book into three sections: Reconnaissance, Tactics and Strategies. Each section is made up of a series of mini-essays (more than seventy total) identifying the skills and temperaments that are associated with a successful writing career.

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Writing Craft: Characterization Problems and Solutions

Here at Girl Cooties, we were discussing some of our favorite writing books and made a list for future posts. From that discussion we decided to identify writing problems and find solutions on our shelves.

Here is our first foray in an occasional series/tip sheet on Writing Craft – Problems and Solutions.


Our tip sheet below is based on and expanded from Beginnings, Middles and Ends by Nancy Kress © 1993 and Creating Short Fiction by Damon Knight © 1985

Problem: Boring, cardboard characters, stereotypes or characters readers don’t care about.

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