Making Time to Write

Making Time to Write

I’ve been reading blogs by writers at various stages of the publication process. They’re anxious because 1) they’re looking for agents, 2) they have an agent but haven’t sold a book yet, 3) they’ve sold a book but the initial sales aren’t what they hoped, 4) their first book(s) sold well but now their agent or editor says they need a big book to keep their career going. And I’m asking myself where’s the happy stop on the writer train?

Four Doors into a Book

Four Doors into a Book

A while back, I read an article suggesting that readers come to a book through four doors: plot, character, setting, and language. Any door can be more or less open, and different readers will prefer different routes. A book that appeals to a lot of readers probably has several door opened more widely.

Recent reads–Adult fiction, Adult speculative fiction, YA speculative fiction

Recent reads–Adult fiction, Adult speculative fiction, YA speculative fiction

Recent reads November/December Adult fiction The Ghostwriter Alessandra Torre The central character in this book is a writer who’s been given three months to live and decides to hire a ghost writer to help her tell the story of some mysterious event over which she’s agonizing. She doesn’t want the book published until after she dies, so there’s nice word play on “ghost writer.” The characterization was strong. The central character is unlikeable but we come to understand her, and…

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The Problems of Writing Sequels

The Problems of Writing Sequels

I’m currently writing a sequel to The Wind Reader, the book coming out from Inspired Quill in September, so I’ve been thinking about sequels and wondering what makes a good one. Specifically, two questions arise, one having to do with the outer arc of plot and other with the inner arc of character development.

Plot vs. Chronology: What’s the Difference?

Plot vs. Chronology: What’s the Difference?

The calendar is ending! We are all doomed! My middle-grade fantasy, Finders Keepers, turns partly on the struggle to avert a disaster that will occur when the calendar changes to the year 4000. As the story approaches New Year’s Eve, 3999, a plague kills more and more people, earthquakes swallow buildings, and floods threaten to drown the city. All will be lost unless the book’s 12-year-old hero, Cade, is willing to risk his own well-being to save everyone else. I…

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The value of subtext and how to achieve it

The value of subtext and how to achieve it

Lately I’ve been musing on subtext, the things that aren’t explicitly in a text and yet are present by implication. Readers and movie goers like subtext because it allows them to speculate and thus involve themselves in the storytelling. They like it so much that Hollywood has a saying that if the scene is about what the scene is about, you’re in trouble.

Three ways experts differ from the rest of us

Three ways experts differ from the rest of us

How do people become experts in any field, including writing? I recently read Geoff Colvin’s Talent Is Overrated. Colvin is an editor for Fortune magazine, so his main interest is in improving corporate performance. However, he writes about the research on the differences between expert and novice performances in areas ranging from sports to music. My focus, of course, was writing and how I might become a better writer. I like his claim of talent being overrated. I’m not sure…

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What Creates a Powerful Character Voice?

What Creates a Powerful Character Voice?

Lately, I’ve been wrestling with the subtle, hard-to-pin-down subject of voice in fiction. I’m not talking about the writer’s voice, but about that of the point of view character. As a friend of mine once said, a good novel needs three things: interesting characters, something fascinating for them to do, and a strong voice. When I heard that, I knew it was right. But my first thought was, “If only doing that was as easy as it sounds!” My second…

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