Archive for the 'Humor' Category

How Being a Presumptuous Asshat Can Help Your Writing

© 2014 Boston Public Library, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

A few weeks ago, I was in a pre-boarding airport line in Atlanta, to take a plane bound for Key West. Ahead of me in line was a group of people: two thirtyish men and a fiftyish couple. From their appearances, and the way they were all bantering in close quarters, I guessed that the men were the sons of the couple. The bantering was very loud, sauced with [...]

The Aspiring Writer’s Dictionary

The complexities of the publishing industry can confuse new and aspiring writers. Inspired by Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary, I present this handy lexicon to
show you all the terms you need to know as you start your literary career.

#amwriting (slang): Twitter hashtag that signals the arrival of a context-free non-sequitur. Designed to make the activity of sitting in front of a computer sound interesting.

Advance (n.): a sum of money offered to a writer prior to publication; invariably smaller than the advance given [...]

Drawing from Real Life in Fiction

Unlike many people I know, I’ve never wanted to write the story of my life. And I’ve come to belatedly believe that this lack of autobiographic desire on my part has affected my fiction writing, and not necessarily for the best.

I say “belatedly” because I’ve been writing fiction for close to 15 years, but only a few years ago did I start to readjust what I now see as a rather closed and negative mindset I’d been maintaining.

In the past, [...]

Bewilderness and Other New Words

For the several years that I’ve been writing this column, I’ve tried to keep my whimsy in check and stay focused on the goal of helping you advance your craft and live your writer’s life. But every now and then, as you know, my whimsy bursts through like a hernia in the body of my work and all sorts of nonsense spews forth. This would be one of those times, for I’ve just been sorting through a trove of more [...]

Most of the Stuff You Need to Know to Edit Your Manuscript

Look, I don’t want to imply there’s anything wrong with your book. I’m just saying that if your first draft was a masterpiece, your second draft will be like Wuthering Heights and The Brothers Karamazov glued together. Here’s how you can turn your hunk of clay of a first draft into the Mona Lisa.

Buy a blue pencil. You’ll need it to write down the snacks you’ll wanna buy for your next editing session.
Print two hard copies of the manuscript. The [...]

It’s a Secret! (Or Maybe Not?)

Wikimedia Commons

When I first started writing fiction, I’d freely share the specifics of whatever story I was writing.

But then…after I’d tell someone about my latest greatest idea, it would jinx me. No, I don’t mean it literally, but inevitably if I told someone what I was writing, I’d stop. Either the person would say something that deterred me—like she or he had just read a book exactly like the one I was writing—or when I said the idea out loud [...]

Burying the Hachette

DISCLAIMER: The views presented in today’s post do not necessarily reflect those of Writer Unboxed or its other contributors. They are solely the opinions of the author of this post, and should not be read while drinking, operating heavy machinery, or reading the works of Clive Cussler (although it might be fun to try doing all those things at the same time).

I’m going to risk pissing some people off today, but I’ve been watching the ongoing Amazon/Hachette drama recently, and I [...]

Will Write For Chocolate: Old School Writing

I know some of you write by hand on a regular basis, but I’ve gotten very used to my keyboard. Just recently, however, I’ve started purposely writing in an old-fashioned paper notebook from time to time. I find that there’s something liberating about being able to brainstorm new story ideas on paper, plus it gives me freedom to scribble and doodle along the way. What about the rest of you? Do you do most of your writing on the computer? [...]

So You’re Going to a Writers Conference

Hacks for Hacks tips may have harmful side effects on your writing career, and should not be used by minors, adults, writers, poets, scribes, scriveners, journalists, or anybody.

A writers conference is a chance to connect with your fellow writers while honing your craft in an atmosphere–naw, I’m kidding. It’s mostly about getting hammered with your favorite author and landing a six-figure deal. Here’s how to get the most from your conference experience.

First, it’s important to set expectations. What does success [...]

Concocting Fiction from Fact: Using Research to Tell Better Stories

We’ve all heard the “write what you know” mantra. To be honest, that has never resonated with me. I prefer to write what I want to know about.

This leaves things wide open in terms of storytelling, but it also creates an additional responsibility for the writer, because it requires us to do the R word.

No, not riverdancing. I’m talking about research.

Some writers I know absolutely dread the idea of research. Perhaps for them the word conjures up images of cobweb-draped [...]

Apply Now for the Bill Ferris Hyundai Accent Residency

Warning: Hacks for Hacks tips may have harmful side effects on your writing career, and should not be used by minors, adults, writers, poets, scribes, scriveners, journalists, or anybody.

So I hear you didn’t get your Amtrak Residency. You may think the next logical step is to stuff your laptop into a bindle and hop aboard a freight train under cover of darkness, but that’s a terrible idea. There’s nowhere to charge your phone on those things. If your best work requires [...]

The Thrill of the Write

Photo by Flickr’s Storm Crypt

Recently I read on Kirkus about novelists “who do really funky research.” Like Jodi Picoult who spent time in a prison. Susan Minot traveled to Uganda to get to know girls kidnapped by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Peter Rock explored an underground shelter used by former members of a New Age religion. Ann Tyler has written: “I write because I want more than one life.”

It made me wonder. What would I do? How far would I [...]