Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

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 [...]

When Your Book is Not Your Book

image by David Lasky

Even before my first book came out, people were already asking about my second book, and the questions haven’t stopped. Which is pretty great — far better for people to be interested than not! But I haven’t been able to give a good answer.

I’m working on it.

The research is taking a while…

I’ll be sure to let you know.

But there were delays and setbacks, and an extended pause for baby-having, and then when the book was ready to [...]

Editorial Matchmaking

Flickr Creative Commons: Laura Appleyard

You’ve taken your novel as far as you can.  You’ve reworked it until you can’t really see it anymore, but still feel there’s something wrong somewhere.  Or maybe your family and friends have raved about it, but have lots of questions about your plot and characters.  Or your critique group agrees on the problems, but isn’t giving you any hints as to how to fix them.  Maybe you just want to make sure the book [...]

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 [...]

The Root of “Prolific”

photo by Flickr’s Hartwig HKD

People ask me about my prolific nature and I have different answers. I’ve said that each novel teaches me how to write it. The term prolific novelist dredges up the notion of a formulaic writer; my prolific nature, however, comes from the opposite impulse. I get tired of myself. I get tired of Baggott being Baggott – which is my last name and increasingly how my own growing kids refer to me. I’ll do anything [...]