Character-Driven versus Plot-Driven Stories

Character-Driven versus Plot-Driven Stories

You sometimes hear people talk about character-driven versus plot-driven stories. Generally, plot is more important in genre fiction, though I would say that character is important in every story. I like plot. I miss it in a novel that seems to drift along. But it’s character that makes me love a book, remember it, reread it. That being said, the difficulty of creating a good plot is underestimated. Part of the difficulty is just coming up with something unexpected and…

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A Visit to the Sixth Grade

A Visit to the Sixth Grade

I recently visited the sixth grade at a school in Cedar Falls, Iowa to talk about being a writer. Ninety eleven- and twelve-year-olds sat on the floor in the central area of an open space classroom while I gave a talk I ambitiously called “From Idea to Book.” Ninety Sixth Graders? Help! I won’t lie. Ahead of time, I found the event a little scary. In all my years teaching, I never taught anyone under 18. Even among readers of…

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Ghost Cakes: A Short Story

Ghost Cakes: A Short Story

The blog will be on hiatus until January because between now and then, I’m traveling with only sporadic internet access. As a going away present, I leave you with a Halloween/Day of the Dead short story about Cade, the central character in Finders Keepers. Ghost Cakes By Dorothy A. Winsor What form does courage take? What is the shape of love?–Myst, the shapeshifter god The carved horse teetered on its three legs and clattered over onto the table. I prodded…

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Can I use that word?

Can I use that word?

Traditional fantasy sometimes runs up against the question of what words it can or can’t use to fit into the story world. In my experience, critique groups most commonly question the use of slang. They almost never mention words derived from names, but I wind up questioning myself about those. Slang Here’s my theory about slang. Whatever language the characters are speaking, it isn’t English. What we’re reading is a translation of their language. Like any language, theirs will have…

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Don’t Quit Your Day Job

Don’t Quit Your Day Job

Recently, someone tweeted a question for published writers, asking how many books they published before they quit their day job and wrote full time. I didn’t read the answers. Mine would have been don’t do that. Every published writer I know has either a day job or a partner who helps support them. Obviously, there are exceptions. J. K. Rowling doesn’t need a day job. But for every Rowling, there are thousands of working writers who don’t make enough to…

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Birth of a novel – how I wrote Blue Tide Rising

Birth of a novel – how I wrote Blue Tide Rising

Today’s post is from Inspired Quill pub-mate, Clare Stevens, who tells us how and why she wrote Blue Tide Rising. Take it away, Clare! Early in 2010, I sat in a pub in Derbyshire with my friend Jane and told her I had an idea for a novel. She asked what it was about. I told her the basic premise which – although I hadn’t at that stage perfected my one-line-pitch – would have gone something like this: It’s about…

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Being Influenced by Other Novels

Being Influenced by Other Novels

I recently blogged about books that have influenced me as a writer. One question that comes up is the difference between being influenced by other novels in your genre and copying them. In some ways, if you’re writing in the same genre, you’re bound to use some of the same elements. Readers choose those genre books partly because they like those elements. But readers also like to be surprised, so a writer can’t just reproduce what’s already been done. Instead,…

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Should I Review This Book?

Should I Review This Book?

In February, I went to a Chicagoland SFF conference called Capricon. Among the engaging panels I attended was one called “Book Reviews vs. Literary Criticism: But is it good?” Panelists included a publicist, a couple of writers, and a book reviewer for a newspaper. The topic they started with was the difference between a fully-fledged piece of literary criticism and the kind of short, off-the-cuff reviews you usually see on Amazon or Goodreads. But they touched on a number of…

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