After not using a Power Point or any type of formal presentation for the first set of tour stops with Becca and Moira, I finally decided to create one before I met BF in Toronto at the end of October. I found that it helped me stay on target while talking to school groups. In addition to the requisite "childhood embarrassing photo" and info about FURY, I included five writing tips at the end. My little gimmick (you gotta have one...)? All of them contain the word "out." Here's what I mean:
1) Spill it OUT.
Staring at a blank page (slash screen) is the absolute worst. Get something on there, even if it's crap (and some of it won't be). As some of you know, I know an editor who calls this "word-vomming." Whatever you want to call it, don't fall prey to the belief/personal expectation that your first attempt is going to be great, or even that good. Words beget more words, beget more (and better) ideas. Skip around, if that'll help - if you love writing dialogue, get some of that down and then come back to the exposition. If setting the scene is your thing, do that before you start hammering out plot details.
2) Get OUT.
By which I mean, get OUT of the house, OUT of your head, OUT of your rut - whether it be your writing routine, genre devotion, or whatever. Absorb the sounds and conversations in coffee shops and parks, listen to the world around you, read something totally different, try bringing your laptop to that chair in the living room that you never sit in.
3) Read it OUT (loud).
Whether I'm writing journalism or fiction, I find that printing out my work, taking it to a quiet place, and reading it aloud is incredibly helpful. It helps me identify phrases or words I'm overusing, establish a cadence or rhythm, hear whether dialogue sounds realistic or stilted.
4) Throw (some of) it OUT.
This refers to the editing process. Never get so wedded to something that you can't stand to part with it for the sake of the story.
5) Send it OUT.
I don't just mean to editors and agents. I mean to friends, trusted readers, etc. People who will give you the constructive criticism you need and (should) want. Speaking of which, I recently performed an informal partial critique, and it made me think deeply about the "craft" of writing. More on that soon.
Becca also pointed out that I, being an adherent to OUTlines, should add that to the list. She's right.
Can you think of any more OUT tips or tricks?