Archives for writing craft

8 Tips for Polishing Your Fiction

I always enjoy working on draft 2. Sure, draft 1 can be full of surprises, discovery and moments of brilliance (or least if feels like brilliance at the time) but it can also be quite a taxing task. Draft 2 is more like the second time you make a new recipe: you’ve worked out what works and what doesn’t and can’t wait to try it again, this time with fewer mistakes. That’s not to say that drafts 3 to 3,000 won’t have their moments of difficulty, but they exist to continuously refine what drafts 1 and 2 have established. Now,
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Time for a Selfie! (A newbie’s guide to the Self-Edit)

I often use the analogy of movies when talking about writing novels because they do have a number of things in common. This is yet another, although here there is a marked difference. This is yet another one, although here there is a marked difference. Without a doubt this is possibly the most soul-destroying event any new writer will experience. When making a movie, the Director will film many takes that will not end up in the final version of the film. These could be because the actors made a mistake, burst out laughing in the middle of filming, or
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I think I should warn you about something…

In my last article about Show and Tell (here), I briefly mentioned Foreshadowing. I have been inundated by five emails demanding I explain a little more about this useful writing tool. So here goes… Many eons ago, shortly after the dinosaurs died out, I decided to become a writer. Little did I know what the future held in store for me… That’s foreshadowing for you. What have I just done? I have created tension, expectancy in my readers – yes, I’ve manipulated their emotional response again and pressed the ‘Reader Engagement’ button. Now that’s just one way you can use
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Alien Methodology

A few days ago, I began working on a story idea of the alien invasion variety, because the premise made me laugh and I thought it would be fun. Besides, I have wanted to do a series of short stories to test the market and see what people were responding to these days. Well, the alien invasion story became more like an alien visitation. And then, I found that while it was entertaining in premise, there was no real conflict going on, and none of the characters had much to gain or lose. That’s the death knell for plotting. So
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Thoughts from a Literary Contrarian

I enjoy the commonality and compatibility in my current relationship. (Wait. Current relationship makes it sound temporary. It’s not. Let me give that another go: I enjoy the commonality and compatibility with my love, my life, my soon to be wife. (Better). Anyway, we have this ritual of reading every night before sleep, if not also in blocks of time during the day. As authors, that ritual would be expected, but I’ve never been with another author before, so I’m going to notice these things. I like it. A lot. Digression Alert: I remember one night, I’m lying in bed
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Organic Doesn’t Mean Clueless

This will illustrate, I hope, the power of dialogue. Even with no story, you can glean all the information you need from what two people are saying to each other. I used to go sit in public places like restaurants and coffee shops and just dictate what I was hearing into my iPhone or laptop. This is a real conversation I had on the phone with a friend… “I really wanted this to be organic this time. I didn’t want to force it. But I can’t figure out where her head is, I just know that I don’t like how
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I Heard You the First Time

…Repetition as enemy to style and cadence. Even great writers make mistakes. I can usually tell when it’s an editing oversight, or the fault of the author. An editor’s oversight seems a simultaneous contradiction, in that it can mean “overlook”, but also “seeing-over,” as in monitoring–same word, two opposite meanings. Accordingly, when I use the word “mistake” in this context, it doesn’t necessarily imply the condition of being WRONG. I use the word, “mistake” loosely. What I’m really talking about are stylistic errors. But telling someone how to have a writing style, is like telling someone how to have clothing
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Purple Prose & Metaphoric Misdemeanors

  * as usual, these are my opinions, based on my own experience of writing and editing for the last 25 or so years. Not all writers, editors and readers will agree, and that’s fine. I offer it as valuable information I learned which made me a better writer, in hopes it will help another writer reach that goal. Writers, beware: You must NOT fall in love with your words. You must fall in love with your craft. That’s the thesis for this entire post, but read on, if you want details. I am forever mortified by the details that
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Mapping Your Settings

I have always been a stickler about authentic detail in my writing. This trait has forced me to find innovative ways to make that happen. Google Maps is one of those tools I use. Novelists have to deal with many details while composing their books. One of the most challenging, if you are concerned about verisimilitude–an air of authenticity–is setting. Many times I have set my story in a place I’ve never been. Then, as the story evolves, I find that the logistics of moving characters around becomes problematic, because I’m not sure where one location is, in relation to
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Writing Words of Wisdom

I was recently asked (again) for words of wisdom regarding being a writer and seeking publication. So I thought I would just blog it. I have some strong opinions about writing and publishing, springing from my own experience over 20-25 years of pursuing it, and numerous blogs, articles, essays, and having written and rewritten 13 books; added to this is also webmastering, book cover design, typography, editing, and publishing. I wanted to learn all the aspects of completing a book. My most commonly offered caveat is this: don’t fall in love with your words; fall in love with your craft.
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