Can You Tell the Difference?

A Pen In Each HandBy Beaver & Baker

Check out your own book collection, or visit an independent bookstore, and see if you can spot any books published by small publishers or self-published books. Find a POD book if you can (textbooks are a good bet; try a university or college bookstore). How do they measure up to commercially published books? Familiarize yourself with the quality and decide for yourself whether it would be something you would be happy with.

Pace Yourself

A Pen In Each Hand

By Boots

In her article on timing, Boots showed you a couple examples of how writing can be slowed down or sped up to get the pacing just right. Here are the “before” paragraphs again. As an exercise, try rewriting each of them yourself. Or, find a scene of your own where the timing feels off and rewrite it using Boots’s advice.

Too Fast: Latrina felt like she belonged in the tribe as she had helped them set up for the talent show and it had been a long time since she felt that. Even after she had been cured from madness, it seemed very right to be part of the talent show.

Too Slow: The horses, along with the rest of the livestock being taken on the voyage, were lowered into the hold. A net of strong rope was brought under their bellies while another rope ran around their chest and another around their rump under their tails, to keep them from sliding either forward or backward. Two thick ropes attached the net to a pulley. The horses were lowered in one by one, Halken first, then Ponzol, followed by Nexus and then Zara. They went calmly, their legs hanging limply till their hooves touched the floor, then they neighed for their mistresses. They were the last of the animals to be lowered into the hold, for all the others had been taken down before the group had even arrived.

Give It Away

A Pen In Each Hand

By Beaver

Copyright can be both comforting and frustrating. As a writer, it’s good to know your work is protected from exploitation. At the same time, asking for permission to use others’ work is a hassle many would prefer to avoid. When you were in school, did your teachers always seem to focus on long-dead writers? Maybe it’s because their work was in the public domain. Shakespeare’s not charging anyone royalties these days.

Do your bit for the commons. Choose something you’ve written, perhaps something you’ve already published and don’t intend to re-sell, put a Creative Commons license on it, and put it online. A CC license allows others to use your work (make copies of it, distribute it, etc.) without having to ask you for permission to do so. Think about how cool it would be if a teacher looking for some fresh material found your story and decided to use it in her class.

Portfolio Template + Writer Biography

A Pen In Each HandBy Baker

Quick Portfolio Template

Name (pen name if applicable)
e-mail address 1
e-mail address 2
URL of portfolio or index page
(There’s no need to publish personal info like your address or phone number so be safe and leave it off. If an agent or employer needs to contact you, they can e-mail you)

If you have a writing, English or communications degree:
(degree), (area), (university), (year)

Published Creative Writing
“Story/poem” — Publication — Date
Organize by genre, then date for a neat appearance.
Use the titles as hyperlinks to the stories.

— if you write genre fiction like erotica, fanfic, sf/f or slash, create a separate portfolio/statement for them —

Published Articles
“Title” — Topic, if unclear from title — Publication — Date

“Story/Poem” — Contest — Publication — Date

Work-related writing (articles, proposals, newsletters, etc.)
Give a general description of the type of writing and the subject matter.
A thesis should be given specific reference, like so:
“Title” — Publication — Date

Unpublished writing
Use the titles as hyperlinks to the stories.

Organizations, writer’s groups, etc. to which you belong.

If you have editing or contest-judging experience, mention that like so:
Position — Publication — Dates
(this isn’t a resume so you don’t need to list your duties)

Other creative projects, like photography, music or mixed media may be mentioned as well, if they apply to your writing.

Writer biography a.k.a. “artist statement.”
For a rough draft, complete these thoughts:

  • I began writing because… (remember: “artist statement,” not “quiz.” Be more specific than “to express myself” or “to tell stories” or “because I must.”)
  • I write about… (themes, characters, etc., in a broad sense)
  • My artistic goal is to… (we’re talking about what you want for your readers, not yourself)
  • My writing process is… (where you write, what tools you use — from pen to coffee, etc.)
  • Feel free to add a brief personal statement like “I live in rural north Florida with my girlfriend Jessamine and our two dogs Mia and Vincent” toward the end. Check out writer bios in published anthologies to see some examples.
  • From here, go on to tweak your artist statement so it reads more like a story and less like a form. Artist statements are popular on the web. Visit your webpages of your favorite writers and artists to get some ideas for your statement.