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Category: Writing

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 a young…

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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 issues…

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Books that influenced me as a writer

Books that influenced me as a writer

I was recently on a panel for which we were asked to talk about books that had influenced us as writers. It sounded like an easy topic, but the more I thought about it, the less clear my answer got. We’re influenced by our reading in both conscious and unconscious ways. In some sense every novel I ever read has influenced me. Reading is the way most of us learn the shape of story in our culture. However, I eventually…

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Revising on a sentence level

Revising on a sentence level

The first draft of a novel is intensely difficult to write. You’re creating characters, plot, setting, dialogue, details, theme, and a host of other things at once. It has to hang together, and for any of it to work, it all has to work on at least a basic level. In a way, the better the writer gets, the harder it is to do because a good writer is aware of flaws a novice writer might miss. That’s why I…

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Confessions of a Plotter

Confessions of a Plotter

One of the never-ending discussions about how to write is whether it’s better to be a plotter (who plans the plot ahead of time) or a “pantser,” one who writes by the seat of their pants. I have to admit it always sounds wild and creative to be a pantser, and I envy them their daring. But I am irrevocably a plotter, sometimes going as far as using index cards to lay out my story. I comfort myself by remembering I don’t…

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Opening Styles That May Turn Your Writing World Around

Opening Styles That May Turn Your Writing World Around

Today’s post on writing beginnings is from E. J. Runyon. E.J. is a novelist and short story writer, with two literary fiction novels, one novella, and a short story collection. In non-fiction, she has two writing guides: Tell Me (How to Write) a Story and Five Ways of Thinking to Turn Your Writing World Around. Another novel and writing guide are due out in 2020.She runs the writer’s website, Bridge to Story, and coaches writers, from around the globe, online. Spring sessions are still available. Contact her…

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Books about Writing

Books about Writing

There are a ton of books about writing out there, and I own a whole lot of them. Some I read once, but some I wind up rereading, learning new things each time, probably because I’m ready to learn them. Here are some of the books I’ve found most helpful. Writing the Breakout Novel (and its accompanying workbook)The Fire in Fiction By Donald Maass Maass is a successful literary agent. In these two books, he draws on what he’s learned selling…

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What Do YA Writers Owe Their Readers?

What Do YA Writers Owe Their Readers?

Occasionally, I hear someone suggest that a YA book should embody a good message for teens. That feels wrong to me, but it’s hard to articulate why. No Sending a Message! First, I don’t believe a good novel of any kind sets out to “send a message” in a bald way, and if a book does, it probably cripples the writing. I do believe that a story embodies the writer’s world view and that inevitably includes pretty much everything: politics,…

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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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