Archive for the 'REAL WORLD' Category

The Trap of Your Comfort Zone

I have been thinking a lot about how our comfort zone — that place that FEELS right — is actually a really dangerous place to dwell if you have a vision to create a meaningful body of work. The ideas I have been exploring with writers and creative professionals is whether you need to place […]

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 […]

False Summits–and How to Get to the Top Anyway

Today’s guest is Harry Bingham, the (British) author of the Fiona Griffiths crime series, which has been critically acclaimed on both sides of the Atlantic. He also runs a couple of outfits, The Writers’ Workshop & Agent Hunter, that offer a variety of help and advice to new writers. Harry lives in Oxfordshire, England. He’s […]

Bombing Through It

Back in the nineties, before social networking or even blogs had been invented, I belonged to a chat list for published writers.  You carried on a slow conversation with like-minded people by sending e-mails to a central server, which then sent them out to all members of the list.  Tom Clancy, another list member, used […]

Lean Writer, Fat Word Count? Engineering Your Environment for Default Success

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a writer in possession of a good premise must be in want of a functioning brain with which to execute it. Said brain is best nourished by blood pumped by a healthy heart contained within a healthy body, yes? Unfortunately, we Westerners live in an environment which discourages […]

It’s Important to Give Back: Q&A with Brenda Novak

Today we are excited to have a Q&A with New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Brenda Novak, author of more than fifty books, including This Heart of Mine. A four-time Rita nominee, she has won many awards, including the National Reader’s Choice, the Bookseller’s Best, the Book Buyer’s Best, the Daphne, and the Holt Medallion. Brenda also runs various fundraisers […]

The Dreaded Training Debate: What If It Can’t Be Taught?

No, this is not about talent vs. skill. Let’s just set that aside for today, shall we? There’s no need to engage the ineffable this time. “Like toadstools,” one seasoned observer called it in a note to me recently — this sudden proliferation of “author services,” especially the ones there to teach you, instruct you, […]

Flipping Perspectives: Turning Troubles into Blessings

Do you ever get the post-project blues? I’m only now starting to see the pattern. It begins with the euphoric rush of typing the words “The End.” I float for several days, elated by a sort of nostalgia born of what felt so right about the finished project. The high often opens the idea spigot, […]

That Is the Question

When my son was small and not overly-verbal, he went through a phase where he’d point at something (or at nothing) and ask one of journalism’s Five W’s (plus one H). Just the one, single word. “Which?” he’d say, jabbing a stubby finger at the sky. Or he’d point in the direction of a worm wriggling blindly on the […]

Agonizing Over Antagonists

Like most writers, I keep a backlog of story ideas that I revisit from time to time, trying to decide what to write next. To help me with my choices, I analyze each idea, testing whether it has what I consider the essential components of a compelling book-length idea: a clear protagonist, strong primary conflict, […]