Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | August 14, 2014

Top Picks Thursday, 08-14-2014

How can it be the middle of August already? Here in the U. S. Mid-Atlantic region we’ve had a much-appreciated, milder-than-usual summer, so we wouldn’t complain if it lasted a few extra months. We hope you’re enjoying your own summer relaxation and/or adventures as you check out this week’s collection of blog posts that caught our attention.

First, however, we have to express our sorrow at the deaths of two entertainment greats: Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall. Both were one-of-a-kind and will be sorely missed. RIP, Robin and Lauren.


Many of us have times when life events keep us from writing. Casey Herringshaw suggests reasons you should go to writers conferences even if you are not currently writing.

Ready to start writing? Emily Wenstrom lists 3 things you need to know before drafting a new story, and Joe Bunting presents a quote from Picasso that will make you want to start writing right now — but finish reading this post first!

To help you get started, Tracy Strauss offers suggestions how to harness creativity to empower your writing, and Jordan Dane lists 8 tips to keep your butt in the chair.

Having difficulty creating well-rounded characters? Jennifer Brinkmeyer presents 5 improv lessons for characterization. Matt Bird adds a tip to create a compelling character — the character must feel compelled to let people know about his or her unique perspective. K. M. Weiland discusses how to find your character’s breaking point, and C. S. Lakin stresses the importance of well-constructed secondary characters, the characters in novels who are allies and reflections of the protagonist.

Whether you’re a writer or just an average person typing an email, we’ve all had the experience of having typos which we don’t notice when we proofread. Nick Stockton explains why it’s so hard to catch your own typos. Recognizing that many unpublished writers cannot afford the services of a good editor, The Write Life Team offers 25 editing tips for tightening your copy, and Janine Savage clarifies the correct usage of the words good and well.

Are you a fast writer or a slow writer? If you fall into the latter group, Jami Gold offers some tips to help slow writers that she learned from Courtney Milan at the RWA14 writers conference. Janalyn Voight adds her suggestions on how to make time to write a novel.

For those writing genre fiction, C. S. Lakin discusses nailing your genre by studying successful authors. If your genre is mystery, Nancy J. Cohen details the elements of a mystery plot, and in the Huffington Post, Writer’s Relief presents ideas on writing memoir dialogue that speaks volumes.

James Chartrand discusses how fear of failure keeps writers from producing their best work.

Writers need to be readers too. K. M. Weiland lists the 10 commandments of reading like a writer.

Anne R. Allen relates that writers should ignore most of the advice from critique groups but can still benefit from the group, and she gives a comprehensive overview of what to ignore and what can prove helpful. Jami Gold introduces a helpful beta reader worksheet., while Harrison Demchick offers hope and suggestions for braving your second draft after writing a bad first draft.


Now that your novel is finished, PJ Parrish offers reasons writing back copy is important, tips for doing it well, and examples of both well-written and uninspired back copy.

A writing conference is a good place for writers to meet and pitch to agents, but how do conferences benefit agents? Karen Dionne asks some literary agents why agents take the time to attend writers conferences.

Here’s Joe Konrath’s wish list for Authors Guild and other legacy publishing pundits.

Tara Sparling presents her survey results on what makes people buy self-published books, while Rowena Wiseman offers authors 14 tips for using Wattpad to attract readers.

Jeremy Greenfield reports that Amazon launches same-day delivery in six major cities, challenging the convenience of shopping at bookstores.

On the social media front, Molly Greene lists 15 must-have website essentials, and Joe Bunting give his 5 elements of a “perfect” blog post.


Citing many famous writers’ assertions that all creative work builds on what has gone before, Maria Popova presents Drew Christie’s short animated video “Allergy to Originality.”

Check out Rab Florence’s tips for writing strong female characters.

Marian Allen advises writers to take joy in writing — good advice for any occupation!

That’s this week’s round-up. See you next week!


  1. Thanks for mentioning my suggestions on how to make time to write a novel. I’m honored to be included in your post. Just fyi, my last name is spelled Voigt, with no ‘h.’



  2. Thank you for mentioning my article about the correct usage of well and good. I enjoy your recommendations and appreciate that you’ve included me in your article. 🙂



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