Thursday, July 14, 2011

Around the Word

Word nerds unite: The National Writers Union, which bills itself as "the only labor union that represents freelance writers," recently celebrated its 30th anniversary in Detroit. To mark the occasion, GalleyCat compiled a useful list (including contact information) of all the unions and guilds organizing the atomized workforce of writers. These organizations are designed to help writers around the country cope with shrinking pay scales, the health insurance crisis, and the crippling recession. Check out the list and let us know if there are any notable groups that have been left out.

A proper bibliographic burial: Every novelist hopes the book they  complete will find a comfortable resting place on bookstore shelves or But what, if anything, is to be done with the legions of unfinished literary works, which dwarf the number of published titles out there? Well thanks to Steve Wilson, a six-time failed novelist, there is now a suitable solution -- Wilson describes his site as "a place where your creative failures are welcome with open arms and a sprinkling if dignity." Each submitted novel gets its own digital grave site which includes a summary of the work, and excerpt, and a reason why the project was abandoned. Would you ever upload your work to such a site? 

Circling in on the creative uses of Google+: As a follow-up to our post on Google+ yesterday, author and professional puppeteer Mary Robinette Kowal shares some advice for how to build a writer's hangout on Google+. "The goal with these hangouts is to have a little bit of socializing to break up the process of creation," she says. An easy way to get started is putting up a post saying you are planning to have a writing date at [X] time and specify the parameters. For example, you might chat every 15 minutes on the hour and if new people want to join they have to wait until the next break. "The advantage of the time method is that anyone joining after the start can look at the clock and know whether they are coming in during writing time or social time."

Tuning up your prose: If you are prone to describe a perfectly constructed sentence as music to ones ears, the analogy might not be that far off. Speech professor Peter Jeff has a neat post on the Six Minutes blog about the many lessons that speechwriters can learn from songwriters, suggesting that a number of tried and true tricks composers use -- triad, refrain, cadence, harmony, rhythm, rhyme, echo, and sound effects -- can make a speaker's words sing, too. For example triad, which in music is defined as three notes that make a chord, can be thought of in speechwriting as "... a group of three words or three phrases used together to increase memorability and impact with a rhythmic 1-2-3 beat." Think common phrases like "hook, line, and sinker" and "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

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