Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

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 [...]

August Roundup: Hot Tweetables at #WU


For many of us, August brought vacation, homegrown vegetables, and plenty of words on the page. Just in case you missed the mergers, the continuing Amazon-Hachette debate, or some downright juicy craft links designed to jump start your writing, we bring you our top tweets of the month. Be sure to browse the #WU hashtags on Twitter for lots more. Enjoy the final days of summer!




"Blurb Does Deal With Ingram to Help Indie Authors Get Into Bookstores" via @DigiBookWorld: [...]


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 [...]

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 [...]

Newton’s Third Law of Writing

Flickr Creative Commons: Geoff Ackling

Newton’s Third Law of Writing


For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.


Take a look at this passage from a workshop submission.  It’s set in the depths of the depression.  Mary Ruth and her family have just moved into a poor neighborhood, and she’s out walking past a home where two vicious dogs are tied outside:


     Mary Ruth slowed when she noticed a third rope tied around an old, leaning tree on the [...]

Five Things Every Screenwriter Should Know About Writing A Novel

photo by Leo Reynolds

Today’s guest is author Abdi Nazemian. Abdi is the screenwriter of The Quiet, Celeste in the City, Beautiful Girl, and the short film Revolution, which he also directed.  He is an alumnus of the Sundance Writer’s Lab, a mentor at the Outfest Screenwriter’s Lab, and has taught screenwriting at UCLA Extension.  He lives in Los Angeles with his two children, and his dog Hedy Lamarr.

The Walk-In Closet is his first novel. It was chosen as the winner in the Gay [...]

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, [...]

The Labor of Launch

image by Ashley Webb

It’s not uncommon, especially among those of us who are both writers and moms, to compare books and babies. For a while there was even a blog called Book Pregnant. In my experience, having one go-around with each, books and babies are different in a whole lot of ways.

But as I prepare for the arrival of my second baby (likely later this month) and my second book (a decent interval afterward, thank goodness) I’m reminded of [...]

June Roundup: Hot Tweetables at #WU

June has been a lively month of competition and corporate showdowns in the industry–the Hachette-Amazon debate drew responses from many of the big dogs in the industry, including J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, James Patterson, and Stephen Colbert. The rift has brought an influx of Hachette book-buying at Wal-Mart and indie bookstores who happily harbored those boycotting Amazon  (even when we don’t really know what’s going on behind the scenes). At any rate, while speculation swirled through the industry like a [...]

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 [...]

A Matter of Time

Flickr Creative Commons: Terri Oda

Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end:  then stop.”

It was good advice when Lewis Carol gave it in Alice in Wonderland, and it still is. When your story follows a straight timeline, it’s a lot easier to show how one event flows into the next. This makes it simpler to show your characters’ growth and ramp your plot tension up toward your climax.  It’s the way things unfold in the [...]

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 [...]