Tag Archive 'CRAFT'

Everything I Need to Know About Plot, I Learned From Buffy

photo by Jaina

A couple of weeks ago, a client told me one of his beta readers had said his book read like a comic book.  I asked why that was a bad thing.

Granted, you don’t want your characters to be shallow caricatures or your plot to be mechanical or contrived, which is what many people mean by “reads like a comic book.”  But all of this client’s characters were fully rounded and plausibly human.  Even the psychopath who hunted [...]

History and Magic

Lion statue, Tarquinia

Recently I attended the Historical Novelists Association annual conference, this year held in London. It was a great weekend with plenty of lively and informative sessions, though slightly more aimed at the aspiring writer than I’d expected. Highlights for me were a workshop on Battle Tactics and a panel entitled Confronting Historical Fact with the Unexplained: from myths & the occult to fairytales & the Gothic, chaired by Kate Forsyth.

Initially I felt a little out of place at [...]

Pin Connections and the Two Journeys

Flickr Creative Commons: Craig Sefton

I spend a lot of time in airports.  Wait around as much as I do and you begin to admire airport design.  Think the TWA Terminal at JFK, Terminal B at SJC, the International Terminal at SFO, the passenger arrival canopy at PDX, or the mountain range roof of DEN.

Gorgeous.  High.  Open.  Airy.  Look up and you’re already in flight.

Look a bit closer, though, and you may also feel afraid.  The structural components that support [...]

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 [...]

I’d Know That Voice Anywhere

photo by Mike Bailey-Gates

Please welcome Katrina Kittle to Writer Unboxed as a regular contributor. Katrina is the author of four novels for adults—Traveling Light, Two Truths and a Lie, The Kindness of Strangers, and The Blessings of the Animals— and one novel for tweens, Reasons to Be Happy. She has an MFA in Creative Writing and is an experienced teacher of creative writing as well as a manuscript consultant. You can learn more about Katrina in her bio box at the end of [...]

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 [...]

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. [...]

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 [...]

O, Brave New (Adult) World!

“Emergence” by Alice Popkorn (Flickr)

Today’s guest is Lorin Oberweger. Lorin has been an independent editor and story development coach for almost twenty years, and her company Free Expressions also offers some of the country’s most highly regarded writing workshops. Lorin and New York Times Bestselling Author Veronica Rossi—writing together as Noelle August—are launching their new adult trilogy this month, beginning with the novel Boomerang. Says Lorin, “Noelle August is an anagram for Veronica Rossi and Lorin Oberweger. Just kidding, it’s [...]

Infused

Flickr Creative Commons: Travis Nep Smith

Imagine you’re having a holiday dinner at home.  A tablecloth is spread.  Silverware is laid.  All is perfect until you knock over a glass of red wine.  What happens?  Quickly you spread open a white table napkin and drop it over the spill.  The puddle of wine seeps through.

The tablecloth is now, in a way, a memory.  The napkin is a map of the little lake of wine.  The wine is infused in both.  [...]

Catalyst and Catharsis

Flickr Creative Commons: Hammonton Photography

A few twists of a wrench and the training wheels were gone, two metal and rubber relics on the cellar floor.  I scooped them up to carry them to recycling, but my six-year-old son stopped me.  “I want to keep them, Dad,” he said, “because I want to remember.”

Outside I prepared to run alongside his bike, holding the back of the seat while he got the hang of balancing while in motion and putting his [...]

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 [...]