What is suspense? Suspense is dramatic tension, the anticipation of things to come and questions to be answered. If you do it well, your reader will eagerly stay up well past his bedtime to read one more chapter. If you lose it, the reader will close the book and may never come back. You don’t […]
Ever since I’ve gotten back from Odyssey, I’ve been struggling with how to integrate their teaching with my own system of fiction. Since the system I wrote under originally sold two books for me, I wanted to hold onto it. But the central principles of Odyssey kept echoing in my brain, so that when I […]
Well, I’ve been back from Odyssey a few days now and am finally getting my energy back. It was a crazy ride, and a long one, and it seemed fitting to take a few minutes to toast the experience. Six weeks of in-depth writing craft. Three hours of lecture per day plus occasional afternoon sessions. […]
This week, I follow up to last week’s advice to new writers. Whether you’ve been writing two decades or two seconds, it’s critical to keep working to get better. Here’s a few pointers I’ve learned along the way. Length. A story should be as long as it needs to be to tell the whole story – […]
Lately I’ve been talking a lot to new writers. People who are ready to follow their dreams, to really sit down and do the work, but aren’t quite sure how to get there. The good news and the bad news is, all it takes is desire, persistence, and willingness to learn. Continuously. Writing is a […]
This week has had a lot of waiting. Waiting for the agent to get back to me to confirm receipt of my manuscript. Waiting for the Finalists call on Monday, on the off-chance I get it. And all the tension, the suspense, the wondering – all this waiting has got me thinking about how to […]
The difference between a good story and a great one, the difference between a book you work through slowly and one you can’t put down, is largely the stakes. What do I mean by stakes? What your character or characters have on the line. Rather than a routine case, give your detective one that is […]
The best gift I’ve ever been given in my life cost five dollars. Yes, you read that right. I was fifteen, and trying out my brand-new culinary skills in my mother’s kitchen. Making large messes. Burning things. And learning what made up delicious food, and how to prepare it. I’d stir batters with my mother’s […]
What do accountants, psychologists, and hairdressers have in common? They all have to invest in continuing education – they all keep learning their whole careers. Writers are no different. Whether you’re brand new to the field or have been writing your whole life, there’s always something new to learn.
This post talks about ways to keep learning, from writing books, classes and conferences, to writer’s groups, guided practice, and intentional reading.
Last week I wrote a post on voice and “tics,” the unconscious lazy word habits we all get into as writers. This week I found a lovely article by science fiction writer C.J. Cherryth on Writerisms that goes into more detail on what to avoid. I have an issue with a few of the rules […]