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                    W R I T I N G   W O R L D

A World of Writing Information - For Writers Around the World


Issue 13:15          13,253 subscribers            August 1, 2013
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THE EDITOR'S DESK: A Classical Education, At Last, by Moira Allen 
CLARIFICATION to the previous issue
CRAFTING FABULOUS FICTION: Character Tags and Tics, 
by Victoria Grossack 
FEATURE: Double Vision: The Secret to Forming a Successful 
Co-authorship, by Vickie Britton and Loretta Jackson 
FREE STUFF FOR WRITERS: Filling in the Blanks, by Aline Lechaye   
THE WRITE SITES -- Online Resources for Writers
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FROM THE EDITOR'S DESK: A Classical Education, At Last...

This weekend, my husband and I sniffled our way through the movie
"Les Miserables."  By this, I mean the musical version; I've
already seen the Fredric March/Charles Laughton version and the
Liam Neeson/Uma Thurman version, and managed to remain dry-eyed and
unmoved.  Certainly neither of those prompted me to take the
drastic step that I finally succumbed to yesterday: I plunked down
my $2.99 on Amazon and downloaded the entire, unabridged
translation to my Kindle.  

It was a struggle with my conscience -- a struggle to admit that,
at long last, I was tempted -- even though I have come to
understand that "Les Miserables" is not so much a book as a
multi-volume encyclopedia!  It was a struggle, because I've always
been prejudiced against this book.  I've harbored an antipathy
toward it since 6th grade, when my teacher, for reasons that elude
me to this day, decided to read it to us.  

To be honest, I don't remember much of the experience.  I do
remember that the volume she held was surely 1000 pages long (and
even then, it was probably the abridged version).  I remember
snippets of scenes from the galleys [ships, not printer's proofs],
and the incident of the kindly priest and the candlesticks.  My
recollection ends at Cosette and the stolen doll beneath the table.
Most likely (or mercifully) I came down with a bout of flu and
missed the rest, because when I first saw the movie, the whole bit
about the barricades came as a complete surprise.  

Now, I loved this teacher dearly and learned a great deal from her.
She was a dedicated lady who had the same class for both 5th and
6th grades, and she truly believed in making us LEARN.  But when
she opened that book and sat down to read, I believe she did her
classroom a grave disservice.  Thanks to that experience, I've
shunned Victor Hugo for 40 years.

Paging through the first chapter on my Kindle yesterday, I can
certainly see why.  What 11-year-old is going to be interested in a
listing of the charitable contributions of a 19th-century French
bishop?  (That's how the story begins, by the way.)  I don't recall
knowing anything of the French Revolution by that age, nor did I
know what a slave galley was or why French felons might be required
to row one.  These first pages present, with wry and subtle humor,
a commentary on French culture and politics and history that, to
put it mildly, would skim just a bit farther above a sixth-grader's
head than the space shuttle.  

But this kindly teacher was not alone.  A year or so back, while
working on my novel, I had occasion to look up Hamlet's soliloquy,
which I had been required to memorize somewhere around 10th grade
and done my best to forget thereafter.  I read it again, scanning
for a useful quote to put in the mouth of a character, and suddenly
realized: "Hey, I GET IT now!"  Hamlet is talking about life -- the
difficulties in life that one recognizes at age 50, but (hopefully)
has not even begun to experience as a preteen.  (Emboldened, I went
back to re-read Othello's soliloquy, which I'd also been required
to memorize, and found, amazingly, that it made sense as well.)

In 9th grade, a teacher who was the embodiment of the white-haired,
vague English professor set us to read a poem that I now realize
was "Sir Patrick Spens."  (See, I'd even blocked the name of that
one -- possibly because the far more interesting event of seeing
the teacher punched out by an intruding student distracted us...) 
What I recall chiefly here was the professor's annoyance with us
all for not catching the fact that the lines "the new mune late
yestreen, with the auld mune in her airms" was obviously a
reference to adultery!  Wow, how'd we ever miss that?  (Even
Wikipedia describes it as a weather prediction.)  And what
red-blooded American 9th-grader does NOT know that "cork-heel'd
shoon" refers to the footwear of 13th-century Scottish nobility?

Today, I find that Sir Patrick Spens reads just fine, Shakespeare
is starting to seem like a possibility, Dickens can be positively
entertaining (if wordy), and the prospect of wading through 1472
pages of Les Miserables is not out of the question.  (My Kindle
adds a nice touch: It tells me that at my current rate of speed,
this should take me 17 hours, which actually doesn't sound so

But today, I am an adult -- an adult wondering WHY the education
system consistently seems to believe that "classic literature" is
meant for CHILDREN.  The authors of such literature certainly
didn't think so.  I doubt that Hugo had 10-year-olds in mind when
he wrote Les Miserables; in fact, he had governments in mind. 
(Even if you never read the book, his searing letter to an Italian
publisher about the universality of "misery" is well worth a look!)
Romeo and Juliet may have been teens in love, but that doesn't
mean Shakespeare was writing a Young Adult romance!  

I suppose that educators imagined that if they didn't catch kids
when they were a captive audience, those kids would never read the
classics at all -- but I fear that the effect upon many of us was
to ensure that we never dared read them again!  And this reaction
comes from a reader; you never saw me, at that age, without a book
in my hand or my bag or my pocket.  I shudder to think how such
teachings affected the kids who shunned books on principle and
considered the library about as inviting as the Bastille.  

Today, I know it's trendy for educators to declare that the
classics, or the works of "dead white males," are no longer
"relevant" to students.  But the sad truth is that they never WERE
relevant to children and young adults, because they were not
written for young people in the first place.  Dickens wrote his
novels not just to earn a living but to change the world.  Hugo
foresaw a 20th century in which war was a thing of history.  Such
tales have relevance only when the understanding of the reader is
capable of grasping the intentions of the writer.

If you've loved classic literature all your life, my hat is off to
you and I congratulate you.  But if you are one of those who
wondered "what on earth?!" when someone hit you with Patrick Spens,
take cheer.  You might just find that these classics are not only
readable, but meaningful and entertaining.  And as a writer, you
may find in them a source of inspiration that was hitherto closed
to you.  For the richer we are in literary resources, the richer
our books and our characters will be -- and the more we will enrich
our own readers.  There are reasons why "classics" survive for
centuries -- and if we can grasp those reasons, we stand a far
better chance of seeing our own works stand a similar test of time.

-- Moira Allen, Editor

This article may be reprinted provided the author's byline, bio and
copyright notice are retained.  (For an author bio and complete
details on reprint terms, please visit 

Link to this article here:


An alert reader responded to last issue's article by Audrey
Henderson, noting: "...she did make one serious mistake. She said,
'I also crop shots to create entirely new pictures to submit to
editors, which frees the original shot from any copyright
encumbrances.' This is incorrect. Once a publisher, or anyone, buys
the copyright to a photograph, that photograph cannot be used
without permission of the publisher. Cropping an image doesn't
negate a copyright. The image, in part or in whole, belongs to the
copyright owner."

This reader is absolutely correct; however, the primary problem was
that Henderson did not explain the process properly.  A single
photograph can be cropped in different ways, and each cropped image
can be sold as a separate and distinct image, independent of the
whole.  For example, suppose I take a photo of several flowers.  I
crop out an image of a rose and sell it to one publication, crop
out another picture of a violet and sell it to another, and crop
out a picture of a daffodil and sell it to a third.  No single
publisher has received or purchased the ENTIRE photo -- and so it's
perfectly OK to sell different images that are taken from that

However, if I had sold the ENTIRE photo (or more accurately, all
rights to that photo) to Publisher A, I cannot sell a cropped image
from that same photo to Publisher B.  Similarly, if I have sold the
cropped section of the rose to Publisher A, I can't sell the ENTIRE
photo that INCLUDES that rose image to Publisher B.  

Henderson's article implied that she might sell the entire photo to
one publisher and a portion of it to another, which isn't
acceptable if you are selling all rights.  But you can crop a
single photo to create one or more distinct, separate images and
sell those.  

However, as the letter-writer notes, "Personally, I would never
sell the copyright to any of my photographs. Photographers that I
know who have sold the copyright to a photograph calculate the
total amount of sales they expect to earn from that photograph and
charge that rate. Or they simply charge three times the normal rate
for a one time use. It should be stated that if a writer does sell
the copyright to part or all of a photograph, they need to keep
track of it to avoid any future legal issues by accidentally
reselling the photograph."

Thanks for setting us straight, Jeff!

-- Moira Allen, Editor


Over 400 editors contribute their unique news and views each year.
That's news and views to improve your chances to get published.
Monthly newsletter. Get an issue for FREE.  


On August 28, 9 pm Eastern Time, you can join VICTORIA GROSSACK in
a "Tour of the Levels of Structure in Fiction: from words and
phrases through scenes, chapters, series and more." The twitter
party is being hosted by yalitchat (young adult literary chat) and
can be followed by using #yalitchat. More information is available
at http://yalitchat.ning.com/


By Victoria Grossack 


How do you create characters that your audience can remember?  I
don't necessarily mean characters who will resonate for decades
with your readers -- a worthy but different goal -- but characters
distinct enough from other characters in your story so that your
readers won't mix them up in their minds.  How do you introduce a
character on page 7 in such a way that your readers remember who he
is when he reappears on page 107?  

This problem is not new; it has challenged storytellers for
millennia.  So over time, we storytellers have developed a variety
of techniques.  The first is the choice of a memorable name -- a
subject I will not cover in this column, but may address in another
(Writing-World.com already has a few articles devoted to the issue
in the fiction section - 
http://www.writing-world.com/fiction/index.shtml).  The second
method, around for at least three thousand years, has been the use
of TAGS -- specific phrases associated with a particular character
-- and TICS -- quirks associated with a particular character.  

In Homer's "The Iliad," these tags are called "epithets" (and yes,
epithets can be used to refer to phrases outside of Homer). Here
are some examples: ox-eyed Hera; fleet-footed Achilles; Nestor son
of Neleus.  The first shows a physical characteristic.  Ox-eyed
(sometimes translated cow-eyed) is a compliment, indicating that
the eyes of the goddess Hera are large and dark.  Achilles is
described as having a physical skill.  With respect to Nestor, we
learn the name of his father; your father and his family were
especially important in Ancient Greece.   

Homer's characters in "The Iliad" also have tics, which can be a
great source for creating tags.  Merriam-Webster's second
definition of the word "tic" is "a frequent usually unconscious
quirk of behavior or speech."  We'll expand this definition to
include other quirky or at least distinctive attributes associated
with a character, from possessions such as Hector's shiny helmet,
or else mannerisms, such as Diomedes' loud war-cries.  

Now, Homer's "The Iliad" is one of the oldest and most influential
stories to come down to us, but we should remember that the
epithets in the epic had a somewhat different function than tags
and tics do today.  "The Iliad" in its original form is poetry,
written in dactylic hexameter, and so the first necessity for the
construction of an epithet was to fit the cadence of the poem. 
Second, when it was created, "The Iliad" was generally recited and
not read, as both papyrus and literacy were rare.  Recitation
places a greater burden on the memories of both the storyteller and
the audience, and the epithets help both of them keep track.

Let's fast-forward several millennia, to another author whose
character tags and tics are still famous.  With Uriah Heep ("David
Copperfield"), Charles Dickens created a fabulous villain, who was
lanky, had clammy hands and spoke hypocritically at length on the
importance of being humble.  Charles Dickens' characters show a
great variety of tags and tics, from Mr. Micawber in "David
Copperfield" with his shiny bald head and his frequently repeated
hope that "something would turn up," to Fagin in "Oliver Twist."

We should recall that Dickens also had a very important reason for
developing such unique and memorable tags and tics.  His novels
were written and read serially.  "The Pickwick Papers," his
break-out success, appeared in 19 installments over a period of 20
months (due to the death of his sister-in-law, Dickens missed a
deadline).  This meant that readers might not meet a character
again for a month or even longer.    

Today, stories are experienced in many different ways.  Theater, TV
and film, and graphic novels supplement words with visual
information; I will not address them here.  Others depend only on
words, but those words can be delivered to your audience through
paper, electronically or even in an audio format.  The last two
formats require, as did the storytelling of the past, that your
characters be sufficiently memorable for your readers to be able to
keep them straight.

So, what tags and tics should you use?  The answer depends on the
story you are telling -- these are your artistic decisions -- but
you can develop them via physical features, possessions and

Physical features
Writers frequently start by considering height, weight, eye color,
race and color and length of hair.  These are certainly attributes
you need to know and to track, but it is more interesting and more
memorable to the reader to move beyond these aspects to others that
are more distinctive.  Nearly all of us have flaws; what is wrong
with the character's body?  Start at the crown of the head and move
down.  Do the ears stick out?  Is the nose especially large or red?
 Is the chin pointed, cleft, bearded or strewn with warts?  What
about birthmarks, tattoos and scars?

Keep working down the body. A person may have a long or a short
neck, one with a prominent Adam's apple, or one that is showing
signs of age.  Fingernails can be polished or chewed; a woman may
have varicose veins; a man may have a paunch or a six-pack: these
are all possibilities.

Note that physical features do not have to be visible but may be
part of the character's physique.  Uriah Heep's clammy hands and
Achilles' fleetness of foot are both things that they experience or
do with their bodies.  Blurry, more tics than tags.  In our Niobe
series we gave one of the heroes, Amphion, sensitive hearing --
which made sense because he was a musician -- while giving the
heroine, Niobe, an excellent sense of smell.

Tags can be based on your characters' possessions.  How do they
dress?  What do they have with them?  This has been used in
sculptures and paintings since ancient time: Athena can be
identified by her helmet, the head of Medusa and sometimes by her
owl.  Hercules, when not naked, wears a lion skin and carries a
club.  Harry Potter wears glasses.  These artifacts can be things
they like or they need, but they serve to help identify the

Mannerisms can the way people speak: accents, grammar, slowly,
quickly, with lots of ums, or stuttering, or raising one's voice at
the end of each sentence, making everything sound like a question
(even when it is not).  Mannerisms can involve how people move,
such as Uriah Heep's writhing.

Once you have a few tics, you can turn them into tags that can help
your readers identify characters quickly.  However, as you are
probably not writing in dactylic hexameter, you don't have to use
the same phrase over and over.  Furthermore, you should be aware of
pitfalls to sidestep  when creating tics and tags.  

The first has to do with stereotypes.  Many will be uneasy about
relying on what they feel are stereotypes, ranging from being
worried about being insensitive or politically incorrect to feeling
that using stereotypes is simply lazy writing.  There is something
to both of these objections.  In defense of stereotypes let me say
that they often exist for a reason; the society may have many
examples in real life.  Second, using aspects of stereotypes can
make it easier for your readers to remember your characters. 
Nevertheless, try not to overuse stereotypes.  Be careful, too,
against overcompensating for stereotypes by making your character
too much the opposite of the stereotype.

Some tags and tics may fall flat.  Again, referring to Charles
Dickens' "David Copperfield": when the orphaned David first
encounters his great-aunt, Betsy Trotwood, she has a serious and
inconvenient prejudice against donkeys.  Perhaps as I live in a
completely different environment, I do not understand how annoying
donkeys are.  Anyway, this particular tic does not work for me.  I
suspect that it did not work that well for Dickens, either, as he
reduced its frequency later.

Some characteristics can turn your characters into caricatures. 
You can prevent this by adding a little bit of depth, complexity or
even a bit of contradiction to a character.  

Ration your tics and tags.  Unless a character is playing a
significant role in your story, you may not want to give her too
many tics and tags.

Some can be repeated too often.  I enjoyed "The Belgariad" by David
& Leigh Eddings, an epic of five tomes and additional spinoffs. 
With so many words and characters, the use of tags was necessary,
but they called Silk/Kheldar "rat-faced" so frequently that I found
it irritating rather than enlightening.

The best tags and tics enhance your story.  Harry Potter's scar is
not just something that identifies him immediately to all who see
him, but something that plays a significant role in Rowling's
series.  Some tics are deliberately misleading. Uriah Heep's
constant cant about humbleness in "David Copperfield" turns out to
be a fraud; he resents the humble role he was forced to assume, and
is not only ambitious but feels superior to those who, according to
Victorian society, are supposed to be his betters.  Other tags can
be used to illuminate setting or personality or to bring the plot

A Real World Exercise
I've barely scratched the surface of possible tics and tags -- and
this is great, because that means there is still of universe of
possibilities for you to explore, to invent, to make your stories
and characters your own.  In order to expand your repertoire, the
next time you are compelled to wait in a place with a lot of other
people --  an airport, a train station, the emergency room, a bar
or grocery store or almost anywhere else -- deliberately study your
fellow human beings.  Notice their peculiarities, how they look,
how they dress, how they move, how they interact with people. 
Perhaps you will borrow a man's handlebar mustache, the way a woman
speaks to her poodle, the way a man cracks his knuckles, the way a
woman clears her throat, and insert them into your novel to make
your characters even more vibrant for your readers.


Victoria Grossack studied Creative Writing and English Literature
at Dartmouth College, and has published stories and articles in
publications such as Contingencies, Women's World and I Love Cats.
Victoria is co-author with Alice Underwood of the Tapestry of
Bronze series (Jocasta; Children of Tantalus; The Road to Thebes;
Arrow of Artemis), based on Greek myths and set in the late Bronze
Age. On her own she has written The Highbury Murders, in which she
did her best to channel the spirits and styles of Jane Austen and
Agatha Christie. Besides all this, Victoria is married with kids,
and (though American) spends much of her time in Europe. Her
hobbies include gardening, hiking, bird-watching and tutoring
mathematics. Visit her website at http://www.tapestryofbronze.com,
or contact her at tapestry (at) tapestryofbronze (dot) com.
Copyright 2013 Victoria Grossack. 

This article may not be reprinted or posted without the written
permission of the author.

Link to this article here:
Want to learn more about crafting fabulous fiction? Victoria now
offers one-on-one writing classes; find out more at

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author of the award-winning Forensic Science for Writers can help.
Take a look at Criminal Investigators, Villains, and Tricksters: A
Trip Through History. Available from Amazon and other bookstores.
For details, visit http://forensics4writers.com.

Amazon.com Losing Money
Amazon.com has reported a loss in the second quarter of 2013,
despite seeing an increase of 22% in revenue.  The loss is due to
increased expenditure in digital content rights and the costs of
order fulfilment.  For more on this story visit: 

Students Can Rent Textbooks from Google
Google has announced that it has signed deals with major textbook
publishers to enable it to allow students to rent textbooks through
the Google Play store.  Google has not yet announced any pricing
details, but says students should be able to save up to 80% of the
cost of purchasing the textbook. For more on this story visit:

Publishers Rushing Out Publication of Nominated Books
I always thought that the books that were on the Man Booker Long
List had to have been published; it seems I was wrong.  Several
publishers are now rushing to get books published after they have
appeared on the long list for the Man Booker Prize, a prize that is
worth £50,000. If a book makes it to the shortlist, the author
automatically receives £2,500.  For more on this story visit: 


FREELANCE WRITER. A complete manual on how to sell your articles
to magazines, newspapers, in-flights, websites. I've sold more
than 800 articles globally in six years using this innovative
system. Freelancing success all comes down to sales and marketing
because selling your stories is just as important as writing well.
My marketing system will help you sell more articles than you can
write! For more information please go to:


Writing Jobs and Opportunities
Chronos Books, from the John Hunt Publishing stable, is seeking
authors of historical non-fiction and historical biography. We are
looking for non-fiction authors who can cover real history for real
people -- who can bring to life historical people, places and
events in an imaginative, easy-to-digest and accessible way. 

We want writers of historical books, from ancient times to the
Second World War, that will add to our understanding of people and
events rather than being dry textbooks; history that passes on its
stories to new readers.

Sarah-Beth Watkins, Commissioning Editor, says "We are really
excited about this new imprint and are actively seeking authors to
work with us to produce great history books. At the moment, we are
looking for books on major historical eras and biographies of the
great and famous. 

"We are also looking for proposals for books that shed new
light on old information and authors who have found new sources,
using top notch research to explore historical people, places and
events. We will look at any ideas you send us and if we like what
read, we will ask you to send in a full proposal so our team can
assess your work for publication."

If you have a passion for history, can bring to life historical
figures or have an historical revelation to share with the world,
then we'd like to hear from you. 

At the moment, Chronos is taking submissions through its partner
imprint, O-books. Log on to http://www.o-books.com and submit your
initial idea through the Authors Inquiries section including 'For
Chronos Books' in the subject heading.

If we like what we hear, we will ask you to submit a proposal.
Proposals are sent through our electronic system and we would ask
you to include as much information as possible: word count, chapter
list, the first three chapters, marketing opportunities and your
book's unique selling points. We are looking for books of around
45,000 words plus.

Chronos Books is a part of John Hunt Publishing, which has over
1,000 authors from around the world who have published their books
with one of our imprints because we efficiently work with authors
to discover, publish, and successfully market your books.

JHP are more lean and quick with publishing turnaround times than
you will likely find anywhere else in the industry. We do this by
reducing the need for direct communications and maintaining
conversations through our in-house online publishing system
designed for authors.

While the way we operate may at first seem impersonal, it does end
up as a very personal business, with people worldwide committing to
the success of the books we publish.

Writing After Retirement: Tips by Successful Retired Writers
An anthology of unpublished 3,000-4,000 word chapters or two
chapters coming to that word count by successful retired writers
from the U.S. and Canada  (up to 3 co-authors) previously following
careers other than writing. Fiction, poetry, memoir, nonfiction,
journalism, and other writers welcome. Looking for topics as:
Business Aspects of Writing, Writing as a New Career, Networking,
Using Life Experience, Finding Your Niche, Privacy and Legal
Issues, Using Technology. With living longer, early retirement,
popularity of memoir writing, this is a how-to for baby boomers who
now have time to write. Compensation: one complimentary copy per
chapter, discount on additional copies.

Please e-mail two chapter topics each described in two sentences by
August 30, 2013 with brief pasted bio to smallwood@tm.net placing
RETIREMENT/Last Name on the subject line. If co-authored, pasted
bios for each.

For more information check out this post: 


A publishing revolution is sweeping the industry. We explain what
is happening and show you how to self-publish your own eBooks.


FEATURE:  Double Vision: The Secret to Forming a Successful 

By Vickie Britton and Loretta Jackson

As part of a co-authoring team, we are often asked, "Writing is
such a personal business.  How can you possibly work with someone

The two of us first decided to join forces to write a
mystery-romance entitled "Path of the Jaguar."  While on vacation
in the Yucatan, we both became interested in using this exotic
place as a setting.  Although we were accustomed to editing each
other's work, writing a book together was an entirely new concept. 
Working with a co-author, as we soon found out, is much different
than going it alone, and has both its challenges and its rewards. 

Whose Idea Was This, Anyway?
As we were soon to discover, one of the strongest advantages of
having a co-author is that you now have another person with whom to
brainstorm ideas.  We explored several different possibilities by
asking "what if?"  What if a woman was on her way to a new job on
an archaeological dig in the Yucatan?  What if the friend she was
travelling with mysteriously disappeared at the airport?  Having
someone to exchange ideas with virtually eliminates writer's block.
By building on each other's imagination, we soon came up with an
idea that intrigued both of us, one we felt we could successfully
develop into a story. Neither of us would have thought of this
particular idea alone, but by building upon each other's
suggestions, we agreed upon a beginning that we felt would work for
both of us. 

Plotting the Book 
An idea is a good starting place, but a successful novel is much
more than an interesting scenario. The hardest part of creating a
book is plotting.  Many authors are so eager to get to the actual
writing that they skip the necessary pre-work.  It pays to give the
structure serious thought before you begin, for the finished novel
will never be any stronger than its premise.
When writing with someone else, it is essential to have a workable
plot skeleton.  After returning from our vacation, we realized that
if we were serious about co-authoring a novel, we must start with a
tight plot outline.  Before writing the first page, we created a
rough chapter-by-chapter plan. 

Having a good plot outline is like having a road map on a
cross-country trip.  Sure, you can get there or at least somewhere
without it, but it makes the journey easier.  It does not need to
be lengthy or involved.  Before beginning, you decide on the length
of the book, how many chapters are needed, and how many pages will
be in each chapter.  You should have at least a paragraph for each
chapter that states which characters will appear, what events take
place, and how the action will propel the story forward.  It helps
to end each chapter with a question.  Where is Delores?  Who was
the mysterious stranger at the airport, and what did he have to do
with her disappearance?

We may not list or even know ahead of time every scene, and we may
even make drastic changes as to direction, but we do have a solid
sense of where the book is leading.  By preparing a rough outline,
you can make sure that each clue that is planted and every event
that is included contributes toward the ending effect.  Every scene
you write must be an integral part of an ultimate goal.  

When working with someone else, it is important to have exactly the
same visual image of each person who appears in the story.  It is
essential to do a short biographical sketch that includes not only
a physical description, but also personality and character traits. 
You don't want people who morph like chameleons at each shift of
author, changing hair color and eye color on every other chapter. 
Even more important, they must maintain their unique viewpoints and
act accordingly.  For consistency's sake, we write biographies and
made detailed descriptions so characters won't mysteriously change
appearance and personality.  

Before we began writing "Path of the Jaguar," we made a five-page
outline and a one-page biographical sketch of the six main
characters and the role each would play in the novel.

Dividing the Labor
Through trial and error, every writing team eventually finds the
most effective way to go about the business of writing.  Loretta
and I divided our rough drafting into assigned chapters.  What one
wrote, the other polished and looked over for errors and for
clarity.  Having your partner serve as editor eliminates the
necessity of extensive rewriting.  We are careful to check each
bridge or transition between chapters to give the manuscript a
sense of continuity, as if it were written by one person rather
than two. 

In the course of writing the book, it is important to discuss any
serious changes in the plot outline the moment they arise, for one
small change can have a domino effect on following chapters.

Troubleshooting Your Partnership
Writing together requires the art of compromise.  When working
alone, all the decisions are yours to make.  When you have a
co-author, you now have someone else who is involved in every
decision.  This can cause power plays and struggles of will that
have nothing at all to do with writing, and can turn your sister
act or husband-wife team into miserable a tug of war. 

To successfully write together, partners must share a basic idea of
what they consider good writing.  A compatible writing partner will
not continually run a pen through your best passages, or start
turning the mystery you've agreed upon into a science fiction

A good partner will build upon what you have written and actually
improve it, and stay within the confines of the planned outline. 
For this to happen, it is essential to have a common goal in mind
and work toward that goal.  Because we are sisters, the two of us
naturally share many of the same interests, experiences, and
memories, which has been a strong advantage.  

Most breakups of partnerships are caused by petty differences that
could be resolved.  If a problem surfaces -- such as you are
putting more time into the project than your partner, or your
co-author is making changes you don't approve of -- you need to
talk it over or resentment will build.  Glitches, even minor ones,
must be worked out for a partnership to survive, and that means the
line of communication remains open at all times.  By writing
together we have learned the importance of putting aside small
differences for the sake of the finished product.  In
collaboration, there is no room for jealousy or competition.  You
have to maintain a very professional relationship and be open to
both criticism and compromise.  It must be an equal partnership. 
The most important thing is being able to compromise for the
greater good of the project. 

Sometimes life interferes.  Your partnership may be jeopardized for
reasons beyond your control, such as a move, one partner taking a
demanding job that cuts into writing time, the birth of a child, or
an illness that interrupts productivity.  It is advisable to have a
mutually agreeable contract to cover the rights to any jointly
written works and the royalties involved in case one partner should
die or decide to discontinue the partnership.

Writing with someone else can be an enriching and rewarding
experience.  One of the greatest advantages in writing as a team is
that we are able to work a lot faster together than we could alone.

Writing can be a lonely business.  Another unexpected joy of being
part of a co authorship is having someone else who cares equally
about the success of the finished manuscript, who shares with you
every step of the way the disappointment of rejection slips and the
pleasure of success.

We are often asked, "Do you have to sacrifice creativity to write
with another person?"  The answer is a definite no.  Working
together increases the flow of ideas.  The merging of our
individual creativity produces a novel neither one of us would have
created alone, yet one that is uniquely our own.  


Vickie Britton and Loretta Jackson have co-authored over forty
mystery and suspense titles that include Path of the Jaguar, Arctic
Legacy, The Vanished Lady and Nightmare in Morocco.  They are also
authors of the ebook Fiction: From Writing to Publication.  Please
visit their blog at http://vbritton.blogspot.com/.  
Copyright Vickie Britton and Loretta Jackson 2013

Link to this article here: 
See our full range of articles on writing fiction here:  


STUMPED BY YOUR PLOT?  Bored by your characters?  Wondering how to
craft a scene that sings?  "Fiction: From Writing to Publication"
offers a step-by-step guide to help you through all the perils and
pitfalls of writing a novel, drawn from the experience of the co-
authors of more than 40 published books. "The answer to a beginning
novelist's prayer, and a good refresher for others." Available on
Kindle (http://tinyurl.com/arfffct) and Smashwords

FREE STUFF FOR WRITERS: Filling in the Blanks

By Aline Lechaye  

Every writer has their own way of writing. Some like to write at a
certain time every day, some prefer to write only when inspiration
strikes. Some like to type it all onto the computer, while some may
prefer to use pen and paper (or crayons or felt-tip pens). And then
there's the big debate -- outline or no outline? Do you plan the
smallest detail of your novel down to the ground, or do you just
hold on and take whatever plot point that pops up?

Some writers like to have checklists and character profile sheets
in a big folder that they carry everywhere so they can refer to the
contents whenever and wherever they're writing. One of my friends
is a "folder writer," and she's constantly asking her fellow writer
friends to keep an eye out for writer-related checklists and
downloadable templates, or character and plot related quizzes. Here
are a few I've found for her: 

The Writer's Craft has a writer worksheet page on their website
that contains worksheets for characters, story settings, and story
scenes. The worksheet for characters is particularly detailed,
which is great for writers who focus a lot on the people who
populate their stories. All worksheets can be downloaded in pdf
format on this page: 

The Fantasy Novelist's Exam (http://www.rinkworks.com/fnovel/) is a
75-question, tongue-in-cheek quiz created by RinkWorks. Take the
exam to see whether your fantasy novel is thinking out of the box
or if you need to make some changes. (After you've taken the quiz,
you might want to look around the rest of the RinkWorks site for
some humorous articles such as "How To Be Romantic" 

It's the character we all hate (or should that be, the character we
all love to hate?): the Mary Sue. How do you know if you've got a
Mary Sue on your hands? Take The Universal Mary Sue Litmus Test
(http://www.springhole.net/writing/marysue.htm) to find out just
how clichéd your character is. There are tons of Mary Sue quizzes
out there, but this one is the most comprehensive I've ever seen,
plus I like that it calculates your score automatically for you at
the end of the test, so you don't have to read through it with a
pen and paper next to you. Be warned that The Universal Mary Sue
Litmus Test is pretty long, so it might take you a while to work
through it. 

Author Annie Neugebauer has several worksheets on her site in her
"The Organized Writer" section, which includes character
worksheets, plot worksheets, and scene worksheets, as well as other
useful things such as query/submission tracking charts and writer's
bio templates. I particularly like the plotting worksheet (she has
two of them on her site; I'd recommend downloading the plotting
worksheet with prompts to start with, and then moving on to the
regular plotting worksheet once you've gotten familiar with the
layout). You can find Annie Neugebauer's site here: 
http://annieneugebauer.com/. (Once there, mouse over the menu part
of the site where it says "The Organized Writer" to find links for
the worksheets).


Copyright Aline Lechaye 2013

Aline Lechaye is a translator, writer, and writing tutor who
resides in Asia. She can be reached at alinelechaye at gmail.com

This article may not be reprinted without the written permission 
of the author. 

SERIOUS ABOUT WRITING? Join the National Association of Independent
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I have just found this unique grammar site and it is amazing!  It
has exercises and videos to help you to improve your grammar as
well as handouts you can print off and use when you are writing. 

Complete Planet
If you are researching for an article or for your fiction, then
this site is a must.  It enables you to find over 70,000 searchable
databases that you might not discover on the main search engines. 

Novel Doctor
This is an amusing, gentle and also thought-provoking blog by
Stephen Parolini, an editor with over 20 years' experience. He has
posts on all aspects of the writing life including writing
dialogue, editing, self-editing, marketing and being a writer in


To Win" features over 1600 contest listings for writers worldwide. 
The current edition has more than 450 NEW listings.  You won't find
a more comprehensive guide to writing contests anywhere.  Available 
in print and Kindle editions.
Print: https://www.createspace.com/3778183
Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B007C98OUA/peregrine


AUTHOR'S BOOKSHELF: Books by Our Readers

I Have to Get It Off My Chest - I Have to Tell My Truth, 
by Inguna Brazil 

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