Archive for the 'CRAFT' Category

KAPOW!  Cutting Scenes Like a Superhero

Incredible Bokeh by JD Hancock

There’s a scene in my novel-in-progress that I absolutely love. It has magic, romance, and the flavor of a fairy tale — everything I’ve tried to accomplish in this book. When I reread it, I don’t get that ‘Oh good God, who am I kidding” feeling that comes from most of my draft work.  I’ve lovingly polished this scene until every single word shines, and the beta readers I’ve shown it to agree — [...]

Story Mapmakers (No GPS Required)

My husband can testify I am a horrible road trip wing woman. Put a contemporary map in my hand, and I’ll turn it topsy-turvy before I can decipher anything of travel assistance. The road names, byways, mile markers, and intersections all blend into a flurry of ‘huh?’ God forbid he ask me where the nearest gas station or fast-food joint might be. My traditional response: “Get off the interstate and we’ll look around.” We had a tent revival halleluiah when [...]

Everything I Need to Know About Plot, I Learned From Buffy

photo by Jaina

A couple of weeks ago, a client told me one of his beta readers had said his book read like a comic book.  I asked why that was a bad thing.

Granted, you don’t want your characters to be shallow caricatures or your plot to be mechanical or contrived, which is what many people mean by “reads like a comic book.”  But all of this client’s characters were fully rounded and plausibly human.  Even the psychopath who hunted [...]

Deconstructing Micro-Tension

If you had to guess, what portion of the hundred-thousand-mile journey to basic fiction-writing competence would belong to the pursuit and mastery of micro-tension? Ten percent? Thirty? I personally don’t have a clue, yet I’ve been persuaded of its necessity since first being introduced to the concept by WU’s Donald Maass. Accordingly, I’ve done my best to read everything he’s had to say on the subject, several times. I’ve picked apart books that demonstrate micro-tension. (How about that Gillian Flynn’s [...]

Forget Heroes: Why Heroines Are Important

Photo by Tomás Peñalver

Today we’re thrilled to have Martha Conway with us. Her latest novel, THIEVING FOREST (Noontime Books), is the story of seventeen-year-old Susanna Quiner, who watches as a band of Potawatomi Indians kidnaps her four older sisters from their cabin. With both her parents dead from Swamp Fever and all the other settlers out in their fields, Susanna makes the rash decision to pursue them herself. What follows is a young woman’s quest to find her sisters, [...]

Between a Blog and a Hard News Cycle

How Do You Know If You Can Say No to NaNo?

The Internet has mutated reasonable people into wannabe writers…We are blind to the harsh truth-light-radiating facts such as ‘half of self-published authors earn less than $500’, facts written about in newspapers by professional writers.

That’s Tom Mitchell (@tommycm on Twitter) writing an essay at Medium, War on #amwriting. I must thank my colleague in London, Sheila Bounford, for reminding me of it. It could have been lost in the Bavarian Ether: [...]

Interview: Ellen Edwards, Executive Editor at Penguin Random House

I have been with Ellen Edwards at New American Library, a division of Penguin Random House, since I became a traditionally published author. In an age where writers often lament that they do not get edited, I can firmly say that not only do I get edited, but Ellen’s sharp eye, brilliance, and insights have greatly enhanced my work. She is a master at finding the diamond in the rough, and like any great coach, she encourages me to grow and learn [...]

Two Pages Tell a Story

By Hana Carpenter (Flickr CC)

Today’s guest is Yona Zeldis McDonough, the award-winning author of six novels, most recently You Were Meant for Me. She is also the author of twenty-three books for children and she’s the editor of two essay collections. Of today’s post, Yona says: “I have written six novels and I want to share some of what I have learned along the way.  Writing a novel is a like being a long distance runner—you have to have endurance. [...]

Gender Bias: Fact or Fiction?

By Flickr’s Michael Coghlan

Lest you think I’m a “man-hating feminist,” let me assure you I am not. In fact, I like to think that in my day-to-day life mine is a pretty equal world—all things considered. But when I hear things that make me think that women aren’t equal (for whatever reason), I pay attention. And we’ve all seen the tweets about gender inequality in the publishing industry: the rumors (and more) that men are more published than women; that more men’s books are [...]

Pre-Writing: Discovering Your Character’s Secrets

Alice Popkorn, Flickr Creative Commons

I know a lot of you out there are gearing up for NaNoWriMo, and while you’re not allowed to begin your story until November 1, you are allowed to do pre-writing on your project, and frankly, I think pre-writing is highly undervalued, so I thought I’d talk about it this month.

The reason I’m a big believer in pre-writing is because until I have a glimmer of understanding of my character’s emotional landscape and internal settings, [...]

A Reader’s Manifesto: 12 Hardwired Expectations Every Reader Has

Photo by Craig Sunter

As I gear up for the Writer Unboxed Un-Conference next month (woo hoo!), I thought it might be helpful to revisit some of the basic story tenets that I’ve been writing about here for the past two years (sheesh, time doesn’t fly, it vaporizes!) Often these tenets don’t come from the writing world, but rather, they’re set by what your reader’s brain expects. Writers sometimes balk at this – after all some of it flies in [...]

Take Charge of Your Author Business: 5 Aspects to Consider

photo by Éole Wind

We’re thrilled to have Joanna Penn back with us today. She’s an author, speaker, and entrepreneur, and was voted one of the Guardian UK Top 100 creative professionals 2013. Her latest book, Business for Authors: How to be an Author Entrepreneur, is out now in ebook, print and audio. Joanna’s website, The CreativePenn.com, is regularly voted one of the top sites for authors and self-publishers. Writing as J.F.Penn, Joanna is also a New York Times and USA Today bestselling [...]