Tag Archives: Natasha Storfer

Final Twist Author Writers Panel – Delving into the World of Writing

Hosted by the:

Barbara Bush Library
Earl Elliot Room

6817 Cypress Dr.

Spring, TX  77379

Saturday, July 25, 2015
10:30am – 12:30pm

Join us Saturday morning for a glimpse into the world of writing from members of The Final Twist Writers, a Houston-based writers’ group dedicated to supporting our authors, providing mentors for aspiring writers, and promoting reading.
This is a wonderful opportunity for aspiring writers to gain knowledge from writers in different genres, writing with co-authors, information from self-published authors and to receive some writing tips. There will also be a drawing for a gift card to a local bookstore.

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My top 5 Writing Tools (by Natasha Storfer)

Avoid Vacuum-Writing. It Sucks. 

vac•u•um [vak-yoom, -yoo-uh m, -yuh m] Show IPA noun, plural vac•u•ums for 1, 2, 4–6, vac•u•a [vak-yoo-uh] Show IPA , for 1, 2, 4, 6; adj.; v. noun

  1. a space entirely devoid of matter.
  2. an enclosed space from which matter, especially air, has been partially removed so that the matter or gas remaining in the space exerts less pressure than the atmosphere ( opposed to plenum ).
  3. the state or degree of exhaustion in such an enclosed space.
  4. a space not filled or occupied; emptiness; void: The loss left a vacuum in his heart.
  5. a vacuum cleaner or sweeper.

(Reference http://www.dictionary.com)

Last time I wrote on the Final Twist Blog about how I avoided writing in a vacuum outside my office: plentiful proficient people – aka your writers group! But I don’t stop there. A writing space is ripe for filling with things, good or bad. Mine requires a daily cleanse to maintain mental health and focus, but I wouldn’t want it empty. Keeping the
area full of actively helpful sources prevents the distractions from finding space and taking root.
There are so many tools that can help an author get through issues, and I need mine close at hand. The top five I reach for aren’t pretty boxes with plot tricks or inspirational quotes. I go for the paper literary tools, virtual or otherwise.

  1. “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” Stephen King, On Writing. Your writing craft resource doesn’t have to be this particular book, but it’s well-quoted for a reason. The creator is prolific, talented, and famous. When someone like that shares his or her insight, it’s smart to listen. Scientists read Einstein. Authors read Einstein and King.
  2. “The human mind is not by nature scientific. Rational thinking is a learned skill. (The front page of your daily newspaper should be regarded as evidence of this…)”. Worlds of Wonder by David Gerrold is also a big hitter for me. It’s my genre book and more. The focus is on world creation, which is important no matter the fiction genre, but David Gerrold also delves into good writing and how to achieve it while staying motivated.
  3. It may be elementary, but my dictionary and thesaurus are both well-used and necessary tools. Not all are created equal, but I find www.dictionary.com works fine for me. The Webster’s dictionary makes appearances via www.merriam-webster.com, and both sites allow my monitor to fit on the same table, unlike the printed versions. Thesauruses are found at the same websites on different tabs. My writing “kinks” include over-using certain words, so the thesaurus is virtually propped open every editing session. A spectacular author recently clued me in to The Synonym Finder by J.I Rodale, and it’s at the top of my Christmas list in tandem with…
  4. The 2013 Writer’s Market. Knowing what publishers are looking for and the format they need it in is the same as understanding the application process for any other job. Your query letter/writing/application will be shuffled into oblivion the moment the hiring company realizes you didn’t read their directions or understand the market you are trying to work in. Arm yourself with the knowledge available.

    As a side note: visit your target publishers on-line to make sure they haven’t updated mid-year before sending your precious written baby for automatic rejection.

  5. The grammar book your publisher prefers. Even with standardization being the hot new thing, they aren’t all the same. If you don’t have a publisher, The Chicago Manual of Style is highly referenced.

As writers, our paths are well-traveled ones. Using the knowledge of those who walked ahead successfully, along with the tools of the trade creates an enjoyable journey!

What references and tools keep you writing?

Natasha Storfer is a graduate of Texas A&M’s College of Engineering. After years of working within the limitations imposed by the laws of science, she turned to fiction as an outlet for imagination and creativity. Her writing includes fantasy, sci-fi, cyber-punk, and mystery.

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It takes a village to raise a good author; The advantages of writing with others

I live in Texas, so when we do summer yard work it means high temperatures, mosquitoes, and all the luxury of 100% humidity. Yet, last time I was working in a yard, I realized I was having fun. Not because of the weather (it was over 105 degrees that day) nor the activity (dropping mulch is stinky on the best of days). It was the company during the time I was working. Working with others can give you a safe haven of those that understand.

As an author, I have the same experience with writing. Though writing trumps yard work any day of the week, it’s still work. I struggle with passive verbs, tenses, paragraph alignment, spelling mistakes and all the other pitfalls of writing. Like many other writers, I read my unedited works and cringe a little inside, then begin polishing and editing before polishing some more. And the nature of the human mind, while amazing, doesn’t help. An author ~knows~ how the story is supposed to read. She is the one who created it. So if there is a typo, our brains will probably fix itSelf-editing is the first wall to overcome. We can even use technology, such as automated reading software.

But in my experience, my deepest growth as a writer derives from my writers group. Not only can they tell me if I used the incorrect ‘there, their, or they’re’ (That’s what I paid Microsoft big bucks for, right?), but they can tell me if a character is acting out of his/her normal pattern/motivations, if readers become lost at a critical scene because of my phrasing, and if I said a paragraph ago that it’s sunset and all of a sudden my characters are eating breakfast.

A good group will be a balance. Do they challenge/push you to the edge of comfort without going too far? Do they recommend? Do they change your voice in their recommendations? The deadlines, editing sessions, and critiques I found within my group are precious to my path of growth. And anything that is growing is less likely to wither.

The story in our head makes us laugh, cry, cringe, and hope. We taste the poison; smell the perfume, hear the call for help. With limitless words on our pallet, the goal is to transfer those images and emotions to the minds of others. Just because the words make sense to us (remember, the pictures are already in our minds, how could the words be muddled or confusing…?) doesn’t mean they convey properly to others. That’s where the village comes in to make sure we don’t lose anything in the translation. Mine is an amazing group of talented writers. Everyone has a village. If you write, others will write something similar. It’s called genre. Find your genre and your village.

~Tasha

Natasha Storfer is a graduate of Texas A&M’s College of Engineering. After years of working within the limitations imposed by the laws of science, she turned to fiction as an outlet for imagination and creativity. Her writing includes fantasy, sci-fi, cyber-punk, and mystery.


1 Comment

October 18, 2012 · 7:59 PM