Monday, December 29, 2014
Monday, December 22, 2014
Monday, December 15, 2014
Monday, December 8, 2014
Monday, December 1, 2014
[E]veryone knows that persuasive influences are better than any amount of moralizing. Neither Polly nor Will tried to do anything of the sort, and that was the charm of it. Nobody likes to be talked to, but nobody can resist the eloquence of unconscious preaching. With all his thoughtlessness, Tom was quick to see and feel these things, and was not spoilt enough yet to laugh at them. The sight of Will and Polly’s simple affection for one another reminded him of a neglected duty so pleasantly that he could not forget it. [Emphasis in original.]
Monday, November 24, 2014
Gentle doesn’t work for a critique group, either. At least not for one that wants to develop its members as writers. I attend the Highland Writers’ Group because I’m looking to improve my craft. If I just wanted to read my work or interact with other writers, I’d find a different forum.
That doesn’t mean we tear each other’s work apart. As my statement said, we do try to be nice. If we can’t give criticism constructively, we don’t give it at all. And we do ease people into the group. The feedback we give a new writer may be quite different from what we say to an established one. But if we can’t give constructive criticism, it isn’t a critique group.
I’m going to repeat a couple of points that I made in a March 4, 2013 post. Those of you who have heard this before will have to bear with me.
Experience has taught me two things about responding to writing critiques. First, if I want to improve my craft, I can't be sensitive. Second, if I want to improve my craft, I must be sensitive. The definition to avoid is "quick to take offense; touchy." The one to embrace is "responsive to external conditions or stimulation." (These two definitions of "sensitive" come from the fourth edition of The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.)
Monday, November 17, 2014
Monday, November 10, 2014
Monday, November 3, 2014
Monday, October 27, 2014
Drinking Starbucks’ Coffee
I drink a lot of coffee, although not usually from Starbucks. But my characters go there. That’s because it is a nationally-recognized name, and I like to use some recognizable brands to give my stories a sense of authenticity.
But I know writers who are scared of using brand names. They think it will violate copyright or trademark laws, or they don’t want to use the ® symbol because it can interrupt the flow of the story.
I don’t worry about any of that.
You can’t copyright names, so copyright law doesn’t apply. You can trademark names, and Starbucks is a registered trademark. However, trademarks have a specific, limited purpose, so the protection the owner gets is much narrower than with copyrights.
Trademarks protect against consumer confusion over the source of a product or service. Consumers use recognizable names and symbols to tell them that they are getting a certain quality or a product with particular characteristics. When you see the Nike swoosh on a pair of shoes, you expect them to last for a while. When a counterfeiter prints the swoosh on shoddy-quality shoes, people are mislead. That harms both the consumer (who is not getting what he or she expected) and Nike (who could lose sales to the counterfeiter and suffer harm to its reputation when the shoes fall apart).
Your characters can drink 7-Up without worrying about trademark infringement. No one is going to go out and buy counterfeit 7-Up based on your novel, nor will readers assume that the makers of 7-Up are connected with your book. You don’t have to call it lemon-lime soda.
A brand name can lose its trademark protection if consumers use it generically for any brand of the same type of product. After people started referring to all tissues as kleenex and to photocopies made on any brand photocopier as xeroxes, the owners of those trademarks spent a lot of money educating consumers on the proper use of the terms. That’s why brand owners would like you to use the ® symbol. But you aren’t required to. If you want to help trademark owners protect their property and you think “the real thing” will add authenticity, just capitalize Coke.
So let your characters drink Starbucks’ coffee if they want to. Or 7-Up. Or Coke. (There seems to be a lot of drinking in this post. Maybe I should send my characters to the bathroom more often.)
Monday, October 20, 2014
Monday, October 13, 2014
Monday, October 6, 2014
I recently attended a conference where one of the speakers repeatedly used the terms “freelance” and “work for hire” as if they meant the same thing. I kept my mouth shut then, but I stewed about it all the way home. So in order to make me feel better, I’m going to tell you the difference.
Monday, September 29, 2014
Monday, September 22, 2014
Monday, September 15, 2014