Archive for the 'Humor' Category

The Secrets to Writing the Best Holiday Stories Ever

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.

Have spooky decorations and giant grab-bags of candy put you in the mood to write a Halloween story? Or perhaps you’re skipping ahead to Christmas and writing a tale about the beloved Christmas icon, Krampus? No matter what you’re celebrating, holiday stories are a treat for readers and writers alike. You may [...]

Why You Need To Write a Series

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.

What started as a tiny germ of a story has exploded in your brain like a Mentos in a bottle of Diet Coke. If you want your readers to get a taste of your frothy soda-splosion, you owe it to them to write an entire series. Here are a few tried-and-true methods [...]

It’s a funny world.

A lot of humorous novels build the comedy into the characters.  We watch two hapless lovers stumble toward each other in rom-coms or pull themselves out of increasingly bizarre situations in screwballs.  You can write this kind of humor with nothing more than insight into human nature and enough love for your characters to laugh at them.  But you need a different set of skills to create a book where the comedy is built into your fictional world, whether it’s the [...]

Dear Dwight: A Critique Letter

photo by Josh McGinn

When we realized we had a gaping hole in the WU calendar for today, we asked a comic friend to write something up for us.

“But I’m not a writer,” he said.
“You are,” we said.
“It won’t be right for your crowd,” he said.
“C’mon,” we said. “Our crowd has a sense of humor, too. And it’s Saturday.”

He agreed. Though he insisted he remain anonymous.

Enjoy!

Dear Dwight,

I recently finished the draft of your historical fiction manuscript and offer my [...]

If Buddha Wrote a Novel

By Jenny Downing on Flickr’s Creative Commons

Today’s guest is Renee Swindle, the author of newly released A Pinch Of Ooh La La and Shake Down The Stars (NAL/Penguin). Her first novel, Please Please Please, was an Essence Magazine bestseller. Renee has an MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University. An admitted tea snob, Renee lives in Oakland with three rescue dogs and three cats—“Yep, six animals and me,” says Renee.

Dish magazine says, “Swindle has a way of making [...]

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. [...]

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)

____________

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 [...]

Cooking a Book

Wikimedia Commons

There’s this guy. He’s an adrenaline junkie. The woman’s a massage therapist. They meet and… and… and… well of course they fall in love. That’s a given. But it won’t last (or will it?). And then there’s something about traveling from Montana to Maine and jumping out of a million airplanes. His name’s Elias… no J.P., and hers is Ellie. No. Allison. And of course they both have secrets—his involves feeling responsible for someone’s death, maybe an ex-lover. [...]

Nominal Doppelgängers

Photo credit: Torbus (Flickr CC)

Today’s guest is Elizabeth Silver, author of The Execution of Noa P. Singleton, an Amazon Best Book of the Year, Amazon Best Debut of the Month, a Kirkus Best Book of the Summer, Kansas City Star Best Book of the Year, Oprah “Ten Books to Pick up Now,” and selection for the Target Emerging Author Series.

Elizabeth’s writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Los Angeles Review, The Millions, and others. A graduate of the [...]

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, [...]