Archive for the 'CRAFT' Category

Collaboration

Photo by lindseyy

In April of this year, I got a call from my agent that went something like this:

She:“I’ve been hearing from several editors that they’re looking for a book like X. They were wondering if I had anything to submit that would fit the bill. I don’t, but I do have an author who could write a book like that.”

Me:“You do?”

She:“Yeah. You. Can you get it done in twelve weeks?”

Which is about when a [...]

Take Five: The Caller by Juliet Marillier

U.S. cover for The Caller

Congratulations to WU contributor Juliet Marillier on the upcoming U.S. release (Sept. 9th) of her latest novel, The Caller! We’re happy she’s with us today to answer a few questions in a WU Take Five interview.

We’re also pleased to tell you that Juliet will be giving away a hard-back copy of The Caller to a randomly chosen commenter for this post, to be shipped later in September to anywhere in the world.

Without further ado, our [...]

Feel Good and Fail Big

Last time we talked about the writing process from a tyro’s point of view. Let’s continue with that train of thought, and see if we can continue to build a coherent (and at least cautiously optimistic) view of the writer’s life.

Writing has been described as a battlefield, and the metaphor may be apt, but this battlefield is fluid; you never know where you’re going to make your breakthroughs. In fact, given that creativity often involves taking yourself by surprise, you [...]

Your Repertory Company of Characters

three furies by mandy greer

Gore Vidal famously said that every writer has a repertory company of players. He thought Shakespeare had about fifty, Hemingway only one, and himself around ten.

I found this quote while pulling together material for Writing Romantic Fiction and it has been swirling around in my mind ever since. If all writers have a repertory company, then I must have one, too. On a flight one morning, I drank coffee and stared out the window at [...]

Reading Synesthesia

Last month I caught what can only be titled The Stomach Virus from the Damnable Pit of Hades. Yes, it earned the superfluous moniker. But don’t worry—this isn’t a post about my gastrointestinal woes. I’ll spare you those details. I mention it because it was the first time I’d ever experienced synesthesia of the body and more significantly, of books.

I’d read about this phenomenon in my Writer Unboxed sister Therese Walsh’s novel The Moon Sisters. So I felt I had [...]

Networking for Writers

Photo by Michael Heiss

Today, we’re thrilled to have Margaret Dilloway with us. She’s the author of the upcoming novel, SISTERS OF HEART AND SNOW, (Putnam, April 2015) about two estranged sisters who are inspired and brought together by reading the history of real-life 12th century samurai woman named Tomoe Gozen. She is also the author of the middle grade fantasy novel MOMOTARO (Disney-Hyperion, 2016), as well as THE CARE AND HANDLING OF ROSES WITH THORNS and HOW TO BE AN [...]

Flog a Pro: would you turn this bestselling author’s first page?

Trained by reading hundreds of submissions, editors and agents often make their read/not-read decision on the first page. In a customarily formatted book manuscript with chapters starting about 1/3 of the way down the page (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type), there are 16 or 17 lines on the first page.

The challenge: does this narrative compel you to turn the page?

Please judge by storytelling quality, not by genre—some reject an opening page immediately because of genre, but that’s not a good [...]

Bafflegab

Flickr Creative Commons: RA.AZ

This delightful word was originally coined in the fifties to describe deliberately confusing bureaucratic jargon.  Since then, science fiction writers have co-opted the term for the scientific background you feed your readers to explain the ways in which your world differs from reality.  It’s the bafflegab that persuades your readers to suspend disbelief.

It’s most often used in science fiction, of course, but other genres use bafflegab as well.  Fantasy novels require a magic that behaves according [...]

C-c-considering Cadence: Understanding One Quality of Voice

The Oxford Dictionary defines cadence as “a modulation or inflection of the voice, a rhythmical effect in written text, a fall in pitch of the voice at the end of a phrase or sentence” or simply as “rhythm”. For purposes of discussion today, I have a brief illustration of how it can affect reader experience.

Consider the following lines:

I do not like green eggs and ham,
I do not like them, Sam-I-Am.

A classic by Dr. Seuss, yes? But take a simple stanza like [...]

The Six Archetypes Every Novel Needs

Archetypes are time-tested character types from which hundreds of your favorite characters are drawn. Harry Potter. Ishmael. General Woundwort. All of these are based on classic archetypes that I’m too lazy to look up but I’m pretty sure have origins that date back thousands of years. Here are the six character archetypes you need to put in your novel to create your own classic characters.

The Hero

The person your reader will follow around for a few hundred pages. His sword: sharp. [...]

How to Listen to a Famous Author Talk About Writing

Over the past year I’ve spoken at a number of writer’s conferences, where I’ve met a great many fabulous, dedicated and talented writers and listened to a lot of keynote speeches by best selling novelists. And while just about all of them were incredibly entertaining, riotously funny, and full of I must remember that one, my writer friends will love it! anecdotes, ultimately they all made my heart sink.

Why? Because I believe that instead of being helpful, those hilarious, inspiring [...]

Better than They Know Themselves

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?”

~ Henry David Thoreau (Walden)

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Most readers and writers agree: the most memorable part of a story is usually not the plot, but the characters. It follows that as writers, we need to know our characters very well. And if we do our jobs, by the end of the book the reader will know our characters very well, too.

But something I haven’t [...]