Posted by: Kerry Gans | May 31, 2012

Top Picks Thursday 05-31-2012

Don’t forget to check out our month-long Anniversary Giveaway! We have 7 great prizes to thank all of you for reading us this past year. The first prize will be drawn on Sunday and announced Monday!

And visit Author Culture – they’re celebrating 3 years and a bunch of talented authors are joining their site. Congratulations on 3 creative years!

Libraries should be gateways for everyone. Debra Behr writes as Dyslexic Librarian with Library Resources for the Learning Disabled.

What do you do with old family manuscripts? Cat Woods explains your options, from traditional publishing to self-publishing.

Ever hear of the passival tense? As Mike Vuolo explains, English speakers used to say “the house is building” instead of “the house is being built.”


To begin at the beginning, Dear Editor addresses the question of whether prologues are taboo. And if you don’t start with a prologue, Chuck Wendig lists 25 things you should know about your first chapter.

Brian McKenzie asks to please avoid having characters repeat each other. Repeat each other? Yeah, that. For pointers, Meredith Borders lists 10 authors who write great dialogue (with samples).

Dario Ciriello explains the relationship between plot and characters; Peggy Eddleman warns against unfulfilled plot promises; and Margo Berendsen lists 21 ways to make your plot more compelling.

When crafting that compelling plot, avoid these Top 5 Mistakes Writers Make at a Crime Scene, by private investigator Colleen Collins.

Kay Keppler lays out building book structure one scene at a time; Theresa Stevens explains that each scene must have a focus; and Janice Hardy adds that story revelations keep readers hooked.

All those things and many more, can be caught and fixed at the developmental editing stage of the writing process. Jody Hedlund explains why skimping on macroediting could cost you readers.

We all can learn something new. Ezekel Alan advises freshening up your writing to stand out in the crowded market; Gracie Lee Rose shares things she’s learned in switching genres; and Stina Lindenblatt tells us how to make the most of writer’s workshops.

Sometimes it seems like becoming and being a writer is a lifelong evolution. Colin Falconer lists 6 keys to becoming a great writer; Fiona Walker shares her top tips for writers; Tonya Kappes notes 5 things a writer should and shouldn’t do now; and Shannon at Duolit talks about the ever-present writer’s doubt: 3 symptoms, 4 treatments.

Meanwhile, Lori Handeland dispels 10 writing myths. Jane Lebak advises listening to your writing instincts. Jami Gold asks: Are you in this for the long haul? And Barry Crowther echoes Jami by reminding us that Time is the key to success.

Stephanie Sinkhorn warns against expecting thing that we are not owed, while Glen Robinson ruminates on how the student becomes the teacher in writing, and Chuck Wendig thinks it’s a great time to be a storyteller.

Creativity, and keeping that creativity going no matter what, is our stock in trade. Jeffrey Davis explains how to shape mind rooms to reframe the meaning of tasks and boost productivity. David Masters has a succinct 2-word solution for every blocked-up genius out there. And Mark McGuinness shares the key to creating remarkable things.

To help inspire our writing, Maria Popova introduces us to Zentangle: Pattern-Drawing as Meditation. Debbie Ridpath Ohi reminds us that word count challenges should inspire motivation instead of guilt, and invites you to join her writing challenge. And Ruth Harris knows that no writer can survive without being able to cope with all the obstacles we face, so she lists 6 no-fail strategies for achieving mental toughness.


Marie Lamba explains why we are in the Age of the Author with her post Why Writers Win III: Four things writers can do right now! Russell Blake examines the changes to the Amazon algorithms and what impact that will have on indie authors in particular. And Kathy Crowley outlines the future of online literary publications and the opportunities they hold for writers.

The tools of successful marketing are varied. Jane Friedman reminds authors—especially those who dislike marketing—that their marketing voice should be as distinct as their writing voice. Carrie Green explains how to make great author interviews happen, whether for your own blog or for your marketing effort. Megan Harris shares how her smartphone helps her freelance.

Looking for an agent? Jill Corcoran lists the best places to research agents. Once you’ve done that research, you need the dreaded query letter. QueryShark has an example of one query that went from mess to “yes”.

Social media is vital these days. Are you making the most of it? Becca J. Campbell talks about Pinterest for Writers, while Michael Hyatt list the Top 10 blog traffic killers. Speaking of blogs, Melinda VanLone asks: should you move from to And no matter what you do in the world of social media Jennifer K. Hale reminds us all to practice safe social media.


The Taleist presents a comic take on Editing vs. Proofreading.

Take a gander at these 24 Alice in Wonderland Vintage Magic Lantern Slides.

If you want to see some old writing, page through this late 13th c/c. 1300 manuscript–an early copy of Albertus Magnus’ treatise De mineralibus et lapidibus, imperfect.

Finally, as if you need one more thing to distract you on the internet, here’s a P.G. Wodehouse random quote generator for hours of fun.

That’s all for this last post in May! See you all in June, as our anniversary celebration continues!


  1. Thanks for this extensive list, and for listing Kay Keppler’s post on Building Scenes at my blog The Writer’s Fun Zone


    • You’re welcome! Kay made the whole structure muddle seem so clear, we were happy to include her post. We’ll be checking back to your blog in the future, for sure.


  2. Thanks for the link! Love your roundups. 🙂 I always come away with a huge collection of tabs to read!


    • You’re welcome! My biggest problem is that I know there are a ton I will want to refer back to later, and I haven’t figured out a way to sort and store all of them so I can easily find them again.


  3. Thanks for the shout. And what an amazing collection of links. Well done. This could take all day to get through!


    • You’re welcome! And thanks. Your tips for becoming a great writer were spot on. Keep the good advice coming!


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