Outlining, a Fractal Approach

Outlining is fractal, like a rocky coastline. The jagged water’s edge looks similar—not identical, just very like—if seen from space, an airplane, a tower, a rooftop, or from a crouching position at the water’s edge. Story sections also look similar at different planning elevations.

Outlining Sections

Whether it’s the 7-volume arc, the single novel, the act, or the scene, it’s the same from varied perspectives. Great stories include the set-up, hard choices and sacrifices, learning and transforming, transfers of power, darkest moments, and great rewards.

Outlining Time Savers

Because sections are similar in structure, we can save  drafting time by carrying outlining templates. These might be graphic organizers we’ve developed ourselves, or various outline styles we’ve learned from experts, or a combination of the two.

Outlining Math

“1,500 to 3,000 words a week drafted to your outline, gives you 70,000 to 140,000 words a year.” – The Writer’s Boon Companion

I hope you’ll have another brilliant week in your writing career.

Cheers, Mel

Note: map detail from Allaigna’s Song: Overture, by JM Landels.  Get this marvellous fantasy read from Pulp Literature Press, here.

You can’t escape magic when it’s in your blood …

When Allaigna was seven she almost sang her baby brother to sleep — forever.  She may not be heir to her mother’s titles and secrets, but she has inherited her grandmother’s dangerous talent for singing music into magic.  As her education proceeds from nursery to weapons ground to the rank of royal page, it becomes increasingly hard to keep her heritage and abilities hidden.

The original map was created by world-builder Scott Fitzgerald Gray and illustrated by Mel Anastasiou.

If you enjoy Mel Anastasiou’s writing tips, you might try her pocket-sized writing guide The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Towards an Extraordinary Volume. Motivates, organizes, encourages, inspires.

From Pulp Literature Press

Designing a Great Life Plan

If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan.  And guess what they have planned for you?  Not much. –Jim Rohn

In every profession, success experts agree:  set your course.  If not, not only do we writers not get done what we dream of doing, but we end up engaging in a lot of peripheral activities we don’t enjoy.  That won’t get us far.

Daily Life Plan Design

That means writing out goals.  And authors do. But how many of us write our goals every day?  Long term and short term.  We’re all different, but one powerful daily practice is to

  1. Visualize the highest, grandest dream in a writing career for a moment.
  2. Identify with painstaking accuracy the very next 20-minute step in that direction.

It’s a shiny bit of knowledge to carry about, that one small but vital “next thing”.  And of course our “grandest dreams” are completely portable.

I hope you’ll have another brilliant week in your writing career.  Cheers, Mel.


If you enjoy Mel Anastasiou’s writing tips, you might try her pocket-sized writing guide The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Towards an Extraordinary Volume. Motivates, organizes, encourages, inspires.

From Pulp Literature Press

The Writer’s Boon Companion is a quiet, thoughtful chap.  Boon offers daily hints and exercises to support your narrative along its road to completion.  You’ll also find generous servings of motivation and philosophy to help you forge ahead over 30 days of drafting towards a completed novel or novella. This writer’s journal offers space for goals, reflection, outlines, and offers what no other writing guide can, the future visions of a steam-powered robot.”

And, coming soon, The Writer’s Friend and Confidante, paperback version. This new 30-day guide from Pulp Literature Press was inspired by the editors’ admiration for the strength, endurance, and talent of NANOWRIMO writers, as they rock Novembers from year to year.

 

In the Mood to Write, Simply Because I Have Coffee

Self-discipline rarely goes amiss, but what if a writer examines a great writing mood and figures out how to encourage it. This way we can plan not only a time for writing but a practical strategy for getting in the mood for writing as well.

Getting in the Mood

Everybody is different, of course. I’ve heard good writing moods encouraged by:

  1. Spending time alone in a cafe, a huge hot drink to hand, with instrumentals playing
  2. Drafting an individual project in good company, (with writing friends, my personal favourite, using Dale Adams Segal’s The Hour Stories)
  3. Leading into writing time by writing out a favourite poem or paragraph
  4. Going for a walk to the library, taking a single task and no more, and finishing the walk after that bit is written
  5. Phoning a writing friend to encourage and be encouraged, having set a date to do so
  6. Placing stickers on a calendar
  7. Setting a timer for 30 minutes, and pressing the start button at the moment we begin typing
  8. Chunking down the next step in a work-in-progress to its next step, so that it appears ridiculously easy and pleasant

Keeping Control of Days and Moods

Each of these spirit enhancers have in common the feeling that we are in complete control of our days and our moods. Not a bad way to live our writing lives.

“Don’t wait for inspiration. It comes while one is working.” – Henri Matisse

I hope you’ll have another great week in your writing career.  Cheers, Mel.


If you enjoy Mel Anastasiou’s writing tips, you might try her pocket-sized writing guide The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Towards an Extraordinary Volume. Motivates, organizes, encourages, inspires.

From Pulp Literature Press

Mel Anastasiou writes The Fairmount Manor Mysteries series, starring Mrs Stella Ryman, The Hertfordshire Pub Mysteries series, starring Spencer Stevens.

Nicholas Christian, ‘A Wassail in Ink’

We are delighted to publish Nicholas Christian’s poem ‘A Wassail in Ink’ in Issue 15 of Pulp Literature.  We are even more delighted that he has provided another version of the poem, which he has agreed to publish here on the website.

A Wassail in Ink

by Nicholas Christian

Here is one beginning: an Ocean of Vietnam;
bottom rim stiff with starch grinding like rough glass
against an old belt buckle, eyes sweeping and moving
in rhythm through the dark of a stone spiral street.

And there the cavalier waited, iron-red mouth brushing
your waist and Avery Colt laughed into beer with October
promises before the night church of Kansas knew even spoiled honey
is sweet in black heels high under sconces of electric tallow.

Our canoe was carved for sinking, certain your wet shoes remember
how to walk into the dusk of an old stranger’s bread, and gun-fire
has come to mean tasting the vanilla whorl of water lilies.

And some braveries are the old tears stranded and hungry
given to island sand, words taken by the wind returned possessions
with the rain, grown thick and resonant as stretching pelicans—
we’ve landed on Bluebeard’s birch table, sure in opening one more door

the joys of hearing Rumi ask what have I ever lost by dying?
What choice but to sentence shining with fat our piles of bones

to the burning wood; now there is space for the tapestry of your back
to fit into my hand—this learning language through the body
sits so close to the future there is only the dance of it.

Which is all to say: these places are maps black from all this spilled ink
collecting in my cup full of little crows I’ve brought to your lips,
meaning nothing more than we are seven words written when not looking.

We think the poem is superb in both its forms.  What do you think?  You can find Issue 15 here if you don’t already have it.  We’d love to hear from you.

Nicholas Christian’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in TAB, The Lindenwood Review, Cobalt Review, Rat’s Ass Review, Off the Coast, Poetry Quarterly, Poetry City, USA, and elsewhere. His work explores the significance of world mythology and initiatory rites, and further what it means to live in a modern place and age where they are sorely needed while frequently absent.  He will be travelling to Goa, India in February 2018 to take part in a panel on South American mythology for Roots, a celebration of Portuguese language and literature.

 

 

The Next Step in a Writing Project

For those of us attempting to fit our full-time writing careers into our full-time lives, one great two-step strategy may help.

  1. Ask What one important step comes next?
  2. Chunk this next segment of work down, to the smallest possible size.

Of course, we keep the big picture—the whole book, series, career— in mind.  But when there are only 10 minutes to spare in a working day, it’s worth asking “What’s the one thing that comes next?” If the answer is “Chapter Three”, we’re not about to write Chapter Three in ten minutes on a Thursday afternoon.

Chunking Down the Next Step

What really comes next may not be Chapter Three itself, but a design:

  • on outline of the general action
  • an arc for the POV character
  • a design for an exchange of power through dialogue or action
  • a sketch of the central image,

Any one of these small steps may be taken towards Chapter Three in 10 minutes.  Whether we think it through, draw a snowflake, or write a quick outline, we’ve gone a long way towards writing that chapter.  It’s a mighty satisfying way to finish busy Thursdays, too.  Or crazy Mondays.  Or fly-by Wednesdays…

I hope you’ll have another great week in your writing career.  Cheers, Mel


If you enjoy Mel Anastasiou’s writing tips, you might try her pocket-sized writing guide The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Towards an Extraordinary Volume. Motivates, organizes, encourages, inspires.

From Pulp Literature Press

“The Writer’s Boon Companion is a quiet, thoughtful chap.  Boon offers daily hints and exercises to support your narrative along its road to completion.  You’ll also find generous servings of motivation and philosophy to help you forge ahead over 30 days of drafting towards a completed novel or novella.

This writer’s journal offers space for goals, reflection, outlines, and offers what no other writing guide can, the future visions of a steam-powered robot.

Monsters in the Classroom with Adam Golub

Congratulations to Adam Golub on the release of Monsters in the Classroom: Essays on Teaching What Scares Us (McFarland 2017). Adam, with Heather Richardson Hayton, is  co-editor. “The contributors discuss the implications of inviting fearsome creatures into the classroom, showing how they work to create compelling narratives and provide students a framework for analyzing history, culture, and everyday life.” More here.

Adam’s short story ‘The Pool Guy’ was  Brenda Carre’s choice as first runner up in Pulp Literature’s  2016 Raven Short Story Contest. Here’s a taste …

The Pool Guy
by Adam Golub

Ty took a break from sexting Maddie to ask the pool guy about the leaf blower guy.

“I heard someone attacked him with a golf club,” said Ty.

“That’s right,” said the pool guy.  “Someone just walked up and cracked him, Goodfellas style.  Jesús tried to fight back with the leaf blower, and supposedly there was a duel for a few seconds, all King Arthur and shit, but police say this maniac was on a mission, he was hulking, all Rage-Virused out.  Jesús never stood a chance.  He’s got a skull fracture, man.  Lacerations on his arms.  Teeth are all busted up.”

“That’s terrible,” Ty said as his phone chimed.

And then I climb on top of you like a jockey on his favourite horse.  

Maddie was a simile sexter.

…  Read the rest in Pulp Literature Issue 15

Adam Golub with Zombies, in the News

Monsters in the Classroom: Teaching Can Be a Scream, CSUF News Service, August 1, 2017.

“Got a monstrous concept to teach next semester?

There’s a zombie for that.

Inviting creatures into the classroom helps students analyze history, culture and everyday life…” more here

Zombies and the Professor Who Teaches Them, Yes Weekly, June 27, 2017.

At Guilford College, the walking dead have been feasting on students who don’t cooperate to defend themselves. This is not a game or a Halloween zombie walk, the blood-splattered mayhem is a serious academic exercise requiring problem-solving, critical thinking and trust. More here…

About Adam Golub

Adam Golub is an American Studies professor who teaches courses on literature, childhood, popular culture, and monsters at California State University, Fullerton. His stories have appeared in The Bookends Review, 101 Fiction, The Sirens Call, and Winamop.

 

The Practicalities of Thinking Big

Thinking Big: Career Scope

A friend of mine, a wise and lovely woman, filled to the gills with integrity, and inspiring to all, says this about thinking big:  Say you’re making a huge income through your writing every year, what would you do?

Thinking Big: Questions

  • Three thousand words a week to a cogent outline = one long or two shorter novels a year.  Would that be enough for a busy, successful career?
  • What if one wrote double that, would it be too much to deal with, for revising, editing, proofing, promoting?
  • In an ideal career, how much of the day should go to writing?
  • How much of the week?  Seven days writing sounds like a recipe for burnout to me.
  • There will be lots of proofs to look at, and signings.  How many signings a month would be reasonable?  How many readings or workshops?

Thinking Big:  An Ideal Day

Here’s another big scope question for a writer:  What does the ideal day, week, year in an ideal writing career look like?

Imagine that ideal day in a satisfying and successful writing career.  I’ll bet it’s not as frenetic as all those questions in the previous section make it sound.  Still, those big ideas are fun to think about.  And it’s nice to know that already we do, now and then, have that perfect day in our ongoing writing careers as well.

Great dreams combine with concrete goals to fuel our writing energy.

I hope you’ll have another great week in your writing career.  Cheers, Mel

“Learn how to be happy with what you have while you pursue all that you want.”  -Jim Rohn


If you enjoy Mel Anastasiou’s writing tips, you might try her pocket-sized writing guide The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Towards an Extraordinary Volume. Motivates, organizes, encourages, inspires.

From Pulp Literature Press

Writers Take a Stab at the How-to’s

I’m always amazed when websites for writers offer How do I get started? as a first question for beginning writers and novelists.  I’m not even sure whether I believe in ‘beginning writers’.  We’re emerging writers, certainly, but many of us began when we were about eight.  If we want to write a novel, we’ve probably been thinking about it for quite some time, and have made at the very least a stab or two at it.

Writers Getting Organized

Perhaps a better question might be, How do I get organized to write a novel? But that’s as individual as our kitchen and garage organizations. There’s no one right way. I remember reading that Danielle Steele’s writing room was walled with bulletin boards. Apparently she would write several books at once (which sounds daunting, except that she also had nine kids, which puts the whole thing into perspective) and had index cards pinned up everywhere with details from each of her heroine’s arcs.

Writers, Motivation and Blank Pages

Or it might be, How do I embolden and motivate myself to get words down on a blank page?  By which we mean, is it going to be good enough?  To answer that worry, let me say that I listened to best-selling author Bernard Cornwell talk about starting out writing his historical novels, inspired by the classic Hornblower stories, starring his own Captain Sharpe.  Cornwell thought his own work was terrible, so he copied out Hornblower, replacing Hornblower’s name with Sharpe’s, and said it still looked terrible. Yet, Cornwell’s work is superb.  So there you go.  And since we’re here with Cornwell, pen in hand, in a blog beginning with How do I get started? it may be worth mentioning that copying out well-loved and admired stories or poems, as he did, is a great how-to for warming up with the major players.

I hope you’ll have another great week in your writing career. Cheers Mel


If you’re a fan of Mel Anastasiou’s writing tips, you might try her pocket-sized writing guide The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Towards an Extraordinary Volume. Motivates, organizes, encourages, inspires.

From Pulp Literature Press

 

Submissions are Open for Pride Week

It’s Pride Week in Vancouver!  To celebrate, we are specifically requesting submissions from the LGBTQIA+ community during the first week of our August submissions period.  If you would like to self-identify in the submissions form please do; but also don’t feel you have to.  If your story is accepted you’ll have the choice whether to self-identify or not.  We certainly won’t out you without permission.

Submission Guidelines

Please read our submission guidelines carefully.  Due to the high volume of submissions we receive, we can’t reply personally to every author.

We request that each writer submit only one story during this week. However, you are also welcome to submit a second story during the remaining three weeks of the month.

Everyone else, don’t worry — we are open for the entire month of August.  We look forward to receiving your fabulous fiction after August 7th!

Happy writing, and happy Pride week!

Guidelines and submission form here

FJ Bergmann, Winner of the Gold Line Press Chapbook Contest

Congratulations to poet and short fiction author FJ Bergmann, winner of the 2017 Gold Line Press chapbook contest for her collection A Catalog of the Further Suns.

Judge Sarah Vap had the following to say about the winning manuscript:  “As I moved through A Catalog of the Further Suns I found myself, as a member of the human species, alien-ized. I found myself alien-ating. I found myself in a labyrinth of mirrors that reflected back and forth among the histories of colonization and mass extinction, and the futures of colonization and mass extinction. While reading these poems I slipped, for fractions of fractions of moments, just the tiniest distance outside of my human brain… Read more here .

FJ Bergmann is the author of  the intriguing short stories ‘Opening Doors’, Issue 6, ‘How to Lose a Week’, Issue 13, and ‘For your Convenience,’ upcoming in Issue 16.

How to Lose a Week

From Issue 13, a taste of FJ Bergmann’s storytelling flair:

After accidentally pouring reconstituted orange juice instead of milk into the remaining half-cup of coffee, you make a snap decision that it’s okay to go to the art museum instead of work, since you are late to work anyway. When your car won’t start because someone who shall not be named left the interior light on, you decide to hitchhike downtown. The eighteen-wheeler that picks you up is going to Florida; you decide that’s even more okay. You spend the rest of the day travelling south and taking notes for future use in a roman-à-clef while the trucker tells you his very interesting life story. He talks a lot faster than you are used to.

Tuesday
In the wee hours, somewhere near Atlanta, Georgia, the trucker, who has become progressively more wild-eyed and chatty and for some reason hasn’t needed to stop for anything but gas, informs you that an alien spaceship is landing on the road ahead 

Find the rest of Issue 13 here.

More about FJ Bergmann

FJ is a member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets who also writes speculative fiction and is a web designer and artist.  She maintains madpoetry.org, a local poetry website, as well as the WFoP site, bookthatpoet.com, and others.  Her personal site is fibitz.com. She also offers a poetry submission service, PoemFactotum.com. She has had poems in the Beloit Poetry Journal, North American Review, Rosebud, Southern Poetry Review, Tattoo Highway, and Weird Tales… Read more here  

We look forward to reading A Catalog of Further Suns when it comes off the press.