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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Three Tips to Avoid Passive Voice and Passive Writing

Three Tips to Avoid Passive Voice and Passive Writing

On one writers board I frequent, people repeatedly warn about using forms of the verb “to be” because that would be “passive voice” and that’s bad writing. Every time I read that, my blood pressure rises a little. Allow me to differentiate between passive voice, emphasis on action, and the delights of characters who shape situations rather than just respond to them. Passive voice Warning: Grammar ahead The terms “active voice” and “passive voice” apply only to transitive verbs, i.e….

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Book Contract with Inspired Quill

Book Contract with Inspired Quill

I’m happy to announce that I’ve signed a book contract with Inspired Quill to publish The Wind Reader in September, 2018. Inspired Quill Inspired Quill is a small, UK press that thinks of itself as a “social enterprise,” meaning it looks to give back to the community. I’m very excited to be working with them.

How Studying Engineers Surprisingly Matches Writing Fantasy

How Studying Engineers Surprisingly Matches Writing Fantasy

I’ve spent a huge portion of my adult life researching the writing of engineers. I won six national awards for that work, including one from IEEE. You’d think nothing could be farther from writing a middle-grade or YA fantasy. When I wrote my first novel, however, I realized I was still doing some of the same work. First, I was making the familiar strange and the strange familiar. And second, even more important, I was trying to understand the workings…

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