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How to strengthen your book’s point of view

How to strengthen your book’s point of view

I recently stopped reading a novel because, among other things, the point of view was weakly written. For me, the handling of point of view is crucial. It’s what makes me feel I’m encountering a vital character. The good news is that writing it well is teachable. Here are some examples of what I’m talking about. Examples of weak point of view Let’s start with a weak example. The room fell silent. Ann twisted her hands together. Mother and daughter…

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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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The Lost Wax Process

The Lost Wax Process

Today’s post is by a guest, John Manchester, author of the mystery thriller Never Speak. He writes about how composing music and writing fiction both seem to him to share a kind of creativity he compares to the lost wax process. The post first appeared on John’s blog in May. If you click on over there, you’ll find other interesting posts. Take it away, John! __________________________________ If you’re born a lemon-head, make lemonade. I. Growing up my parents often smiled,…

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Problematic Plot Elements

Problematic Plot Elements

Judging by drafts I’ve critiqued lately, two commonly used plot elements automatically come with problems because they tend to be low tension. These are meetings and travel. Meetings It can be tempting to deliver exposition by staging a meeting between characters. The meeting can be formally held around a table or casually placed at a campsite. It mostly doesn’t matter. A meeting is a meeting. How riveting do you find meetings in everyday life? Not very? Then why write them…

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Yikes! I don’t have enough words!

Yikes! I don’t have enough words!

Every writer is going to be different, but I tend to write first drafts that are very bare bones. I find a first draft painful to write so I try to get it down quickly, planning to revise. As a consequence, my first drafts are often short of the 60,000 words that are usually the minimum for a young adult novel. I know that some of that brevity is due to things I have to work in later. One is…

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The Best Advice I Ever Got

The Best Advice I Ever Got

Back when I was writing academic books and articles, I conducted a five-year ethnographic project at an engineering center. My area is professional communication, so I hung around the center watching engineers try to communicate in their natural habitat. It was a lot of fun, and eventually I wrote a book (Writing Power) based on the material I collected. Someone I knew edited a series for SUNY Press, and he invited me to submit it to them. He sent the…

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On Writing Groups

On Writing Groups

Over the years, I’ve been a member of a number of writing groups that provide me with understanding, support, and most important, feedback on my work. Feedback helps me notice places to improve my writing that I’m too close to see myself. If you’re looking for feedback, you could try a writers group. Ideally, the members would be writers who are at the same level or above you in skill. They’d be kind and aim to make one another better…

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On Writer Anxiety

On Writer Anxiety

Every writer I know experiences moments of anxiety about their writing. They’re sure it’s terrible. They’re horrified at the idea of anyone else seeing it. They know they’re a failure and no agent/publisher/reader will ever want to read this story. Sometimes people call this the Imposter Syndrome. We conclude we’re faking our roles as writers and someone is soon going to find out. If the anxiety becomes strong enough, it turns into writer’s block, and the person can’t write at…

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