Tag Archive 'advice for writers'

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 [...]

On Rejection and Renewal: A Note to Aspiring Novelists

Photo by Scott White

Our guest today is Warren Adler, best known for The War of the Roses, his masterpiece fictionalization of a macabre divorce turned into the Golden Globe and BAFTA nominated dark comedy hit starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, and Danny DeVito. Adler’s international hit stage adaptation of the novel will premiere on Broadway in 2015-2016 (to be produced by Jay and Cindy Gutterman). Adler has also optioned and sold film rights for a number of his works [...]

Gems Vs. Necklaces

Flickr Creative Commons: Claude & Penny Cruz

I love necklaces.  No, I’m not a hippie.  I’m not a cross-dresser.  (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)  I just love the many ways in which women make themselves beautiful.  A French twist, a bare shoulder, smoky eyes, a pretty necklace.

Diamond necklaces are stunning.  Not that I see them except in the window at Tiffany’s, mind you.  But to be gorgeous a necklace doesn’t need to be made of rare gems.  More [...]

Bafflegab

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 [...]

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 [...]

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. [...]

The Reader’s Emotional Journey

Flickr Creative Commons: Chiot’s Run

When I was little I hated tomatoes.  Not tomato sauce, mind you.  When my mother made spaghetti I’d eat three helpings.  After dinner I’d lie on the couch, clutch my belly and groan.  But actual tomatoes, sliced on a sandwich?  Bleech!  Go figure.  I was a kid.

This tomato aversion persisted into adulthood.  Then one day I was visiting a client and his wife at their home in the Catskill Mountains.  They’d bought garden tomatoes, still [...]

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 [...]

Writer, Interrupted

By Flickr’s See-ming Lee 李思明

Today’s guest is Maryann Reid, award-winning author and TV/radio social commentator. Maryann has been featured by countless media outlets including USA Today, Essence, Glamour, The CBS Early Show, and The Wendy Williams Experience. In addition, she is a popular guest lecturer at colleges—where she has taught writing and business skills to groups who want to lead their ideal life on their own terms. Maryann has been profiled in The New Yorker, Newsweek, Oprah.com, and NBC [...]

Marketing Tips for Agents and Authors

Flickr Creative Commons: Michael Summers

When I chatted with Teri a few months ago about this post, I wanted to tackle the question of money and advances and marketing dollars. I was feeling frustrated that certain publishers continued to make seven figure offers on debuts which no doubt continued to take the wind out of the sales of every other book placed in the same publishing season as said book.  Why put all your eggs in one basket? Clearly you [...]

Bringing a Strong Vision to Your Fiction

QQ Li (Flickr Creative Commons)

Please welcome Laura K. Cowan to Writer Unboxed. Laura writes imaginative stories that explore the connections between the spiritual and natural worlds. Laura’s debut novel The Little Seer was a Top 5 Kindle Bestseller for free titles in Christian Suspense and Occult/Supernatural, and it was hailed by reviewers and readers as “riveting” as well as “moving and lyrical.” Her second novel, a redemptive ghost story titled Music of Sacred Lakes, and her first short story [...]

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 [...]