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Find Your Crew Dawn_McClure
Calling all the introverts - genre by genre of course.
Beginner's Guide to Story ARC for Trilogies and Series with Beth Daniels Beth Daniels
Learn how to structure your story ARC throughout a series!
Mentoring and Coaching with Editorial Director and Author June Diehl pjune-yahoo.com
Don't struggle anymore! June can help!

Announcement Next CritMatch run delayed a week--BUG IN GENRE TILE DRAG-DROP

Hi all
So, the bug that makes it difficult to drag and drop the tiles is delaying the next run. Basically if you have not run into this yet, it forces you to drop your tile on top of another. We have so many choices (nearly 60 now) in genres that this is nearly impossible to do on a large monitor and positively hellish on a phone! So our devs are finding a solution, likely a different library for this, and will have a fix hopefully by next week.

Rather than ask you guys to wrestle with a frustrating drag and drop feature we are going to fix it.

I will alert you when this is ready for you to try. Until then, why not check out Dawn's new event Find your Crew She's got some interesting stuff going on there! It's free as well!
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Intros & Newbies Hello, again

Since I've been MIA for about 5 years, I thought I'd introduce myself, again.
I live in New Orleans, Louisiana and have been writing off & on for 13 years, never published. Have manuscripts in paranormal, historical, and contemporary romance. Currently working on a NA contemporary sports romance and never been more inspired. Glad to be writing again and to be back at Savvy.
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Crit Matches New list of genres for you to review and comment on

Hi all
The waiting is nearly over. We have the new CritMatch algorithm tested and ready to go. This new approach allows you to choose via a ranked choice of several different genres and writing levels. So you can choose a first, second, etc choice for a partner to match across writing level and genre.

For example, I can choose two levels: my first choice would be an experienced writer, but I will also take someone with some experience (Intermediate) if they match on genre. Likewise, I may have a first and second choice for genre: say I want to match for Cyberpunk but I will take general scifi if the writing level is a match as well. Hope this makes sense. LOL.

I did explain it as well in the updated FAQ.

I have also added a bunch of new genres since you can rank order your choices. So if you have a cozy mystery you might want to choose Cozy Mystery and your first choice and Mystery as your second. If you also have a Romantic Suspense, that may be your third choice and so on.

Now for the fun part. We can add a LOT of genres. We may want to add a grouping in the future but for now let's just add the ones that you want and we can take it from there!
Please add your comment to this google sheet. Let me know if I have missed any or if you think the order is incorrect. I have not reordered the list on the site and I want to make this as intuitive as possible. I very much appreciate all your input! You guys are the best!!!

We will FOR SURE run this next Monday. The app is as tested as I can make it now so we just need to get these sorted and give you a few days to opt back in and we will be ready to roll!

here is the link to the sheet:
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Announcement Big update for CritMatch! Now with CHOICES!!

Hi all
This morning you may have noticed that your CritMatch preferences panel looks different!
We have changed the match algorithm to support a first choice and a second choice match.
I am finishing up the last bit of testing, during which, I will disable your access to CritMatch (It may look a little weird so please bear with me) so I can test the emails.
I should have that finished up in a day or so and then we can run the match again next week!

We'll also update you when we get the new FAQ up so you can peruse your new choices.

Your homework:
Please review the list of genres and post here any you want added.
Thanks for being a beta test participant!
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All things writing Grief Writing

I don't remember which tortured soul said this, but someone told the world that artists create their best when they're in pain.​

This past week, I lost a dear pet water turtle who had been with me since she was a mere quarter-size hatchling in 1988. She went to college with me, stayed with me through a ridiculous marriage, moved across a country with me, and was that constant shelled companion through more than three decades of life.
There's a hole in my world now.
And I've been writing poetry like a FIEND since I discovered Tuesday morning that she'd passed during the night.
I'd rather not have this kind of motivation but I recognize what it is.
And I share this space with any other writers/poets who have experienced grief writing...:coffee:
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Crit Matches Proposed changes to the Critmatch alg

Hello all!
First off, thanks again for participating in the beta test, we really cannot make this tool useful without you and we hope that while the tool still has some issues, you are mostly finding this useful!

One of the problmes that you have told us about is that you are not getting good matches. We believe that is because of the specificity of the genres but we all agree that we need to have partners in our specific genre and subgenres. Our current process of asking if you want to be matched outside of your genre is not specific enough and we are getting kids books authors matched with romance, definitely not great. So, we are considering a two-step match.

Match 1: Is the same as it is now. You will add your specific subgenre choices and if someone else with your specific choice enters the match pool you will be matched.

For everyone not matched in Match 1, the app will enter you into a Match 2 pool.

This pool will match along grouped categories such as All romance or Speculative Fiction (grouping SF/Fantasy), Mystery-Suspense, etc. We are working on the categories and category definitions now and will post those so you can comment and suggest changes.

The idea is to broaden the second match so even if you will not match with someone in your specific subgenre you will match with a closely related one. From our side, this is technically not a full rewrite of the algorithm, so is doable in a short period. I know there have been suggestions for a more significant change and while we are open to that, we want to make sure we exhaust the easy fixes first. :)

Let me know what you think of this.
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Discussion Make A Scene - Jordan Rosenfeld

Cristininha submitted a new Recommendation:

Make A Scene - Jordan Rosenfeld - Writing a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time

The definitive guide to writing scenes--now revised and expanded!

Scenes are the building blocks for any work of fiction--the DNA sequence that makes a novel un-put-downable and unforgettable. When writers are able to craft effective, engaging scenes, they can develop a complete, cohesive story--and a mesmerizing experience for readers.

Make a Scene Revised and Expanded Edition takes you step-by-step through the elements of strong scene construction and demonstrates how the essential...

Read more about this Recommendation...

Discussion Writing The Paranormal Novel - Steven Harper

Cristininha submitted a new Recommendation:

Writing The Paranormal Novel - Steven Harper - Techniques And Exercises For Weaving Supernatural Elements Into Your Story

Vampires, werewolves, and zombies, oh my!

Writing a paranormal novel takes more than casting an alluring vampire or arming your hero with a magic wand. It takes an original idea, believable characters, a compelling plot, and surprising twists, not to mention great writing.

This helpful guide gives you everything you need to successfully introduce supernatural elements into any story without shattering the believability of your fictional world or falling victim to common cliches.


Read more about this Recommendation...

Discussion Writing the Intimate Character - Jordan Rosenfeld

Cristininha submitted a new Recommendation:

Writing the Intimate Character - Jordan Rosenfeld - Create Unique, Compelling Characters Through Mastery of Point of View

Craft Vibrant Characters and an Intimate Reading Experience

The key to excellent fiction lies in its characters: the unforgettable protagonists, antagonists, and secondary characters who populate the world of your story. Understanding and effectively using point of view allows you to write a powerful narrative that draws readers in and engages them with characters in a meaningful way. Through a blend of practical instruction, useful examples, and helpful exercises, Writing the Intimate...

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  • Poll
Crit Matches Vote for / Suggest new genres/subgenres to add to the CritMatch options

Add your favorite genre/subgenre to CritMatch!

  • Kids Craft Books

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Adult Craft Books

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Erotica

    Votes: 3 23.1%
  • Western

    Votes: 1 7.7%
  • Men's Adventure

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Picture books

    Votes: 1 7.7%
  • Move to a genre/age choice approach

    Votes: 11 84.6%

Hi all
There has been lots of discussion on the site about our genre choices. We can add more but always want to be sure that we have enough interest to make it useful. I've added a few that were listed in various posts around the site. Please reply to this post with others and I will add them to the poll. I've set this up so you can vote on two. Every week or so, I will move these from here into the match options.

There has also been a suggestion that we modify the match so that you can choose a base genre and an age range. I'd be be interested to learn how many of you think that would be more useful than the subgenre/age combo that we currently have. That was proposed by @John Berkowitz on this thread. It's an interesting idea and I love those! Thanks, John!

Discussion Story Genius by Lisa Cron

I haven't read Story Genius by Lisa Cron book yet, but it's on my to-be-read list. I have several author friends that have gushed about it.

It’s every novelist’s greatest fear: pouring their blood, sweat, and tears into writing hundreds of pages only to realize that their story has no sense of urgency, no internal logic, and so is a page one rewrite.

The prevailing wisdom in the writing community is that there are just two ways around this problem: pantsing (winging it) and plotting (focusing on the external plot). Story coach Lisa Cron has spent her career discovering why these these methods don’t work and coming up with a powerful alternative, based on the science behind what our brains are wired to crave in every story we read (and it’s not what you think).

In Story Genius Cron takes you, step-by-step, through the creation of a novel from the first glimmer of an idea, to a complete multilayered blueprint—including fully realized scenes—that evolves into a first draft with the authority, richness, and command of a riveting sixth or seventh draft.

Discussion Writing the Breakout Novel

I loved Writing the Breakout Novel years ago when I first started writing.

Maybe you're a first-time novelist looking for practical guidance. Maybe you've already been published, but your latest effort is stuck in mid-list limbo. Whatever the case may be, author and literary agent Donald Maass can show you how to take your prose to the next level and write a breakout novel - one that rises out of obscurity and hits the best-seller lists.

Maass details the elements that all breakout novels share - regardless of genre - then shows you writing techniques that can make your own books stand out and succeed in a crowded marketplace.

You'll learn to:

• establish a powerful and sweeping sense of time and place
• weave subplots into the main action for a complex, engrossing story
• create larger-than-life characters that step right off the page
• explore universal themes that will interest a broad audience of readers
• sustain a high degree of narrative tension from start to finish
• develop an inspired premise that sets your novel apart from the competition

Then, using examples from the recent works of several best-selling authors - including novelist Anne Perry - Maass illustrates methods for upping the ante in every aspect of your novel writing. You'll capture the eye of an agent, generate publisher interest and lay the foundation for a promising career.

Discussion GMC by Deb Dixon

Learn to use these critical fiction-writing elements to give dimension to your characters and direction to your plot. Plan a road map to keep your story on track. Discover why your scenes aren't working and what to do about it.

"This book belongs on every fiction writer's bookshelf. Anyone who has ever had a story to tell and is dying to get it down on paper will find guidance and inspiration in GMC. The presentation is clear, immediate, and relevant to all writers--from novices to seasoned professionals. Experienced author Debra Dixon has done a magnificent job of demystifying the toughest aspect of fiction writing: that of a giving a story shape, form and urgency." -- Susan Wiggs, RITA® Award winning author of over 40

Discussion The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know

JasonWrench submitted a new Recommendation:

The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know - It's really helped me immensely both in thinking about plot and while editing.

The Story Grid is a tool developed by editor Shawn Coyne to analyze stories and provide helpful editorial comments. It's like a CT Scan that takes a photo of the global story and tells the editor or writer what is working, what is not, and what must be done to make what works better and fix what's not. The Story Grid breaks down the component parts of stories to identify the problems. And finding the problems in a story is almost as difficult as the writing of the...

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genre do I get crit in?

I see no mention of kid craft books! Am I all alone in the world? "The Crud Box...an Inventors Supply Kit" teaches kids how to dream up, design, and make their own toys. My kid had them when they were young. It is more of a DIY Book. I am not sure of the genre. Any help would be appreciated
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Lecture Lecture 6: Critting dialog

Keep'em talking

Dialogue is a crucial element of genre fiction. Literary fiction may have pages of narration with little or no dialogue, but genre fiction moves faster. Dialogue helps give the feeling that something is happening and pages are turning quickly.

One reason for that may be that a page of dialogue does read faster than a page of narration. There are simply fewer words. Another reason is that good dialogue will play like a movie in the reader's head. In our society, we are used to watching TV and movies with almost constant dialogue. We want to read books that give us a similar experience.

There's a great debate about whether today's readers have shorter attention spans or not. However you come out on this debate, most people agree that popular fiction should have dialogue on nearly every page.

Keep it moving
Whether it's a couple of Regency ladies sitting for tea, a contemporary family on a road trip or a romantic hero finding the nerve to tell his heroine how he feels-dialogue keeps the story moving forward.

Great dialogue must--
  • Be real
  • Portray emotion
  • Reveal conflict
  • Advance the plot

Reality check
One of the most frequently heard writing "rules" is that dialogue should sound real. This rule must not be taken literally. The sad fact is that most actual conversation becomes snooze-fests when reduced to words on a page. Think about the last conversation in which you took part.

Perhaps it was over breakfast as you synced the family calendar. You know what I mean.

"Do you have plans for after school?" Mother asked.
"Baseball practice, then library," Minerva replied.

"I'm meeting with Cassie to work on our science
project," Mary added.

"Okay, well. Be home or check-in by five thirty,"
Mother admonished.

"I hope that doesn't apply to me," Dad chimed in. "I
have to work late."

Click to expand...

Okay, that may not be exactly how it goes. In my family, it would be mom reminding everyone of where they were supposed to be and making arrangements for how to get them there. But this little bit of conversation makes my point. The day-to-day business of life does not make a very interesting read.

Think of a story as reality on steroids-more entertaining than eavesdropping yet the reader would be hard-pressed to identify the difference. Only we writers know the secret- dialogue captures genuine human emotions while leaving out all the boring bits that get actual humans through typical days.

Note-all you paranormal writers. When I say "human emotions" I'm not leaving you out. We all know that faeries, vamps, androids, aliens and other creatures of fiction must capture emotions humans can relate to. Think of the classic examples from Star Trek-Data and Spock. Non-humans who are supposed to lack human emotions. Their lack of emotion and logical way of viewing the world comes across in their speech. We relate to them in part because we feel empathy for them as outsiders trying to figure out the human world.

So, when we say dialogue should be realistic, what we really mean is it should focus human experience through a dramatic lens with wit and diction few mortals can muster on the fly.

The characters in books actually speak the great come-back lines that most of us think of hours after the conversation has ended. And instead of hating them for outshining us in every way, we love them and want to keep reading their stories because their words touch our hearts.

Speaking of Heart
Imagine you're sitting with your best friend who has just learned she is being transferred to an office thousands of mile away. Sure you will have e-mail and phone calls, but you are not going to be sitting down for coffee every Tuesday as you have been doing for the past twelve years.

There will no doubt be a lot of emotion in this conversation, but how much of it will come through words? I'm picturing two women, trying not to cry, forcing smiles
and trying to put the best spin on the situation.

"Yellowknife?" Alyssa swallowed. "Where is that

Val shrugged. "It's about five hundred miles north of
the freaking middle of nowhere. Just south of the North

"Well," Alyssa pretended to look out the window,
blinking back tears. "I've always wanted to try dog-

"Great. I'll expect a visit next February." Her
friend's lips curved in a brave attempt at a smile.
"Bring extra batteries and a flashlight-it will be

Click to expand...

That's off the top of my head. You can probably imagine other ways to convey the emotions in this conversation. Even in this little example, we see the words of the conversation don't convey the depth of emotion the women are feeling. The real heart of this scene is in the physical responses and body language.

Of course, the spoken words may convey emotions, but the author has many other tools for providing the depth of feeling from anger to joy to sadness. The author can use body language, word choice, setting, tone of voice-even the pacing of the scene to help the reader see and feel what the characters are feeling.

Telling the story
Besides making it real, the rule I hear most often is "avoid info dumps." Just remember, this does not mean you can't use dialogue to convey information. In fact, dialogue can be a
great way to reveal backstory. It's all in how the author does it.

How much information and when to reveal it is one of those judgment calls the author needs to make. As the critter, the question to ask is: does it feel as though the characters would actually discuss this subject, or does it seem like the purpose of the conversation is to pass along info to the reader?

A heartfelt moment where the heroine tells the hero about some traumatic event in her past does convey needed backstory. But it carries an emotional punch that may go beyond a flashback or internal monologue. Why? Because we get both the heroine's emotions and the hero's reaction.

As a critter you're looking for that emotional punch. A true info dump won't bring a lump to your throat or a silly grin to your lips.

What to look for
Start with the dialogue portion of the checklist.

1. Dialogue
• Does each character have a unique voice consistent with his or her character?
• Is there sufficient action and setting description to avoid talking head syndrome?
• Does the dialogue seem natural? (Appropriate to the time and place, no info dump, normal use of contractions, conversational word choices, minimal naming of other characters).
• Is any dialect easy to understand?
• Are there sufficient dialogue tags to let us know who is speaking without becoming intrusive? Is there a mix of dialogue tags and action.

To this we can add the things we look for in every scene-conflict, characterization, setting, pacing, voice, readability. All of the balls the author must keep in the air to make the scene work.
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Lecture Lecture 5: Openings! They call it a HOOK for a reason

Let's think about what makes a great opening and how we, as critters can make our partner's opening strong. Since we are not actually critiquing anything, pick up the book that you are reading right now and pretend you are critting this author.

Start by putting on your reader hat. How does the opening grab you? Can you relate to the protagonist? Do you want to root for him or her? Are you ready to keep turning pages?

Now, take a step back and use your writer knowledge to provide some more specific feedback. Take a look at the opening sentence. Does that sentence have the zing to hook the reader?

Does the story start in an exciting place? Is something happening that puts the protagonist in some sort of conflict, internal or external? Do you have a sense that something major is at stake? (Keep in mind that conflict may evolve with the story. We don't need to know everything about the external and internal conflict on page one, but we do need to feel enough conflict to make us want to root for the character).

We care about the story because we care about the person.

The opening must give us a sense that the protagonist (or POV character) is in conflict. It may be physical danger. It could be a dangerous attraction. It could be a bill that must be paid and no money to pay it. There are as many potential conflicts as there are stories to tell. The important thing is that page one must give the reader some reason to care what happens next.

The other thing you're looking for in the opening is language. We have Snoopy's classic:

It was a dark and stormy night.

This sentence might set up a sense of gloom, mystery or even danger because the words dark, stormy and night all have that sense. The problem with this sentence is the verb—was—BORING. And the subject—it--WHO CARES?

Compare to:

The crack of thunder drove a chill down Clarice's spine.


The storm ripped through the black night.

With these openings, we're not just talking about the weather in a passive way. The sentences are active and give us a sense that something is happening.

Here's an example of one of my favorite openings.

Christmas card. Sympathy card.
Sympathy card. Christmas card.
Sympathy card.

This is the opening paragraph from, “Joy to the World,” a novella by Kate Freiman in the anthology STAR OF WONDER.

What do you feel when you read this paragraph? What do you picture?

This is an amazing opening because it has no description, no character is named and no action is described. In fact, it is a series of nouns.

Yet, when I first read this, I pictured a person going through a pile of mail and probably crying. As the scene unfolds we learn that the heroine’s brother has just died in a tragic plane crash. He is her only family and they were very close as they lived together and ran the family business together. But we don’t need all those details up front—that series of nouns has already captured our empathy.

When I was writing my first novel, I knew that my western historical was the tried and true "save the ranch" story. The unique feature of Loving Mercy was the fact that Mercy is a very tough, young woman who is running the ranch in a day when few women were boss. I wanted to capture the sense of role reversal from the opening line.

I finally settled on one word. “Ya!”

Now that word couldn’t stand alone, so here is the first paragraph:

"Ya!” Mercy Clarke's yell carried over the rumble of hooves pounding earth. She snapped her whip at a dawdling steer. The creature bolted into the herd.
I believe that short paragraph creates a mood for the entire novel to follow.

Openings must be clear and smooth. If you stumble when reading the opening paragraph, let the author know. Often simpler, more straightforward language is also stronger. Beautiful prose can work too, but it is much harder to pull off.

When reviewing the opening look for:

  • Something happening.
  • Conflict that gives us a rooting interest in the protagonist.
  • Unnecessary backstory that bogs the story down.
  • A gut reaction that makes you want to turn the page to find out what happens next.

When suggesting improvements consider starting in a new place. For example, you may notice that the real action starts on page 3 and feel the opening would be stronger if it starts there.

Also, consider whether the language lacks punch. Sometimes simply breaking the opening sentence into two or three shorter sentences will give the opening more impact. Other times providing more active verbs will make the opening more powerful.
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