Showing posts with label fiction writing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fiction writing. Show all posts

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hermosa Beach. Pier Ave. Writers Group!

There's more to do on Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach than partying, tanning, and rollerblading! Now there's our newest writers group! This group is the same format as all the groups we've been successfully running since 2003. Better yet, it's in a parking-friendly part of Pier Ave, at Planet Earth Eco Cafe. The group starts at 7:30pm on Wednesday, May 11th and the cafe will be closed to the public during group (the cafe closes at 5pm daily, but go there and stop in before 5pm because they have yummy drinks and vegan and vegetarian food). Part writing workshop, part critique group, part creativity booster, our groups are more than just a group of writers gathering together to review each other's work. They are professionally led by a qualified moderator so you not only benefit from peer review of your work, but you also get critique on anything you bring in from our professional group leader.

We are delighted to announce that our Pier Avenue writers group will be run by Miranda Valentine:

Miranda Valentine is an East Coast native soaking up sunny Southern California, where she lives with her husband and two rescue dogs, Bailey & Lola. She holds a Master of Professional Writing degree from the University of Southern California, where she was fortunate to learn from some of the best writers in the business, including The New Yorker staff writer Dana Goodyear, The Atlantic Monthly editor and memoirist Sandra Tsing Loh, and best selling novelist Gina Nahai. While her first love is the short story, she adores her work as a contributing writer for Bunker Hill Magazine and, and as the editor of the popular lifestyle blog Everything Sounds Better in French. She is currently working on a memoir about love, loss, and what to do when your ex’s new wife appears naked on your computer screen. It’s tentatively titled “Reboot”. Just kidding...

Writers of all skills, levels, and genres are welcome in our groups. It works for everyone whether you write poetry, memoir, literary or genre fiction, essays, or screenplays and we hire moderators for their specific ability to provide cross-genre feedback, and for their overall supportive nature.

Los Angeles Writers Group, Hermosa Beach
Date: Starts Wednesday, May 11th and meets once a week for 8 Weeks
Time: 7:30pm - 10:00pm

Fill your notebook.(tm)

Email any questions you may have to

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Should you read in the genre you write?

Someone recently asked me why it's important to read in the genre they write, i.e., if you write science fiction, should you read science fiction, if you are a memoirist, should you read other memoirs?

In response, I asked him if he had a day job.
He did.
I asked him what he did.
He was an engineer.
I then asked, "If you'd never opened a physics book, how would that affect your job?"
He replied, "Well, I'd loose a great deal of feel for what it is I do and why things work."


Reading in your genre is not setting yourself up as a plagiarist. It is not distracting you from your writing. It is your homework, your business. If you are writing Fantasy fiction, you need to read as much Fantasy as possible. That is your job. You need to understand the conceits and structure of your genre. You need to know what's already out there. You need a background sense of what you should be aiming for in your finished product. You need to understand how to incorporate theme and foreshadowing into your prose. You need to understand how to organically set up a fantastical world. You can't work in a field you know nothing about. Well, perhaps you can, but you will likely be inefficient and ineffective.

I've heard people give writers advice to avoid reading about a subject they are writing, or in a genre they are writing because it will 'unduly influence their writing, and that they need to remain original.' I can't disagree more with this statement. This is like telling a painter never to look at other paintings. Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? Studying other painters is part of what makes someone a great painter.

It's okay to be influenced. All artists have influences who have inspired their work. This is not a bad thing. This is an imagination booster, not a route to being a copycat. This is true even for screenwriters.

Read in your genre.

Photo by Lienhard Schulz (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why Reading Books About Writing is Important

Reading books on the writing craft (and in your genre) is almost as important as writing. This is why has sponsored a free Book Club on specifically to read books about writing.

By way of evidence as to how beneficial this can be, here is a blog post by Author, Jody Hedlund: My Writing Success:The ONE Thing That Helped Me Most where she talks about how reading books on the writing craft helped her the most.

Join our Writing Craft Book Club! Our first meeting is Saturday, April 2nd at 11:00am at the 18th Street Coffee House in Santa Monica, CA. Our monthly meetings will alternate between West LA and the Los Angeles South Bay.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Why join a writer's group or a writing workshop?

Nicole forwarded me this email from workshop moderator Kat Smith, and it felt relevant to post a piece of her message for our blog readers. If you're still on the fence about joining or participating in a writing workshop of any kind, perhaps her words will sway you:
Young musicians practice daily. A singer doesn't begin with an aria. She starts by warming up her vocal cords. A pianist practices his scales every day from a young age. An athlete doesn't begin with a triathlon. He spends hours lifting weights, stretching, building the muscle mass and flexibility that will support the feats he intends to achieve.

Writing is no different. We become writers with daily practice. Getting in touch with our unique voices. Writing fast, writing free. Progress may be so incremental as to be unnoticeable, just as a pianist doesn't go from chopsticks to Chopin. Some days you'll hate what you write. But one day, something astonishing will come pouring out of you and you'll wonder where the hell it came from.

It came from the 1,183 writing exercises that preceded it. Exercises where you trained your mind to focus, where you learned to trust your voice, to step out of your way, to let it flow. Practice writing like practicing scales, may not seem very glamorous. Bring your passion to it anyway. That's the work of an artist.
Kat also included the following video in her message. It features Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Boys, giving his take on consistent writing:

It seems as though a constant flow of writing is the best way to find your best work. Even small exercises on a consistent basis can help keep you in good practice. I myself participate in's writer's groups, and I completely agree with what Kat and Ray have said. Writer's groups and writing workshops provide their members the opportunity to practice their skill in an open forum with other writers just as dedicated to their craft. So I ask you this: do you practice your writing on a consistent basis? Do you think that this "fine tuning" and practicing approach can be effective?

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Your Hyphenate Brain – How Fiction Writers Can Play the Hollywood Game to Their Advantage

Today we're happy and excited to feature Zoë Green, a guest writer for!

Zoë Green has recently been hired to write projects for Rob Reiner and George Clooney and is currently writing a superhero(ine) movie for Stan Lee. To learn about writing for film/TV visit her site


Picture the scene. A young woman emerges from film school, secures a literary agent and writes her first screenplay with the idea that she will sell it to Hollywood. It hits all the right notes – it’s a big budget sci-fi / fantasy extravaganza, and is hailed by all studio readers as a unique blend of character and ‘world building’. Compliments fly. High powered meetings ensue. But alas, no studio can actually buy it. The reason? The work is original and not based on an existing underlying intellectual property.

A number of years have passed. I (the young woman in question) have been lucky enough to build a screenwriting career from this original screenplay. It did the work of a good spec – it got me many meetings which led to much free ‘take’ work which led (eventually and often in anti linear fashion) to a number of TV and movie sales. But the cold hard truth remains that in today’s sputtering spec market an original screenplay will rarely sell unless it happens to be a commercial enough twist on a public domain concept to pique the interest of a studio. All those of you who want to see your own stories up there on screen may as well hang up your hats. But wait! There’s another way. Call it the double-edged sword. The buyers want original content to turn into movies. They are gasping for it – to the extent that producers rabidly comb short story websites, galley manuscripts, random tiny comic book imprints and blogs to find something, anything, with an existing built in audience, however tiny. So if you’re an aspiring screenwriter with a fictional bent, consider yourself as the progenitor of a multi-faceted creature ‘the idea’ and make sure that it exists in the right format for them to find. Come up with a high concept idea and get it published. Almost anywhere. And then make damn sure you have the screenwriting skills to insist that you get first pass at the script when they come clamoring to option it. It will serve you to have the screenplay version already written. They may well buy it from you and you could suddenly find yourself a card-carrying member of the WGA. You may even then be asked to write the tie-in movie novel in an interesting reversal of media. Result!

Remember this --- producers and studios have an endless devouring need for new material. So understand that a person who can strategically write both fiction and film may well be the only kind of person who can retain any kind of control over original ideas in this very precarious, ever shifting game.