Quality or Speed?

There is an old saying among people who produce goods: consumers want things done cheap, done now, and done well—but as a creator, you can normally only supply two out of the three. When you try to put out high-quality goods quickly at a low price, you almost always fail. As writers, we don’t get […]

Going Pro

Many authors enter the field rather slowly, much as if they were going swimming in a lake. They like to stick a toe into the water, test it out, and see how it feels. They don’t go screaming into the lake, leaping in like maniacs, committing themselves wholly. I don’t blame those who are cautious. […]

Boosting Your Prose – Part 1: Setting

I am currently in Denver but thought I would share some of the checklists I use to make sure my stories are “up to snuff.” I think that setting is a great place to begin being it is integral for your stories. Can you imagine Lord of the Rings without The Shire or Mordor? Or […]

Tips for How to Write a Good Fight Scene

In many novels you will have a fight scene—everything from a verbal scuffle as two people break up to a major battle, and because this is often the climax to your story, you might want to approach the scene cautiously.

Describe Your Book

There’s great value in taking a dispassionate look at your recent draft of a novel and assigning a description. When I was younger, I used a very simple tier system for books. I would classify them as 1) A mess 2) Publishable 3) Possible award-winner Obviously, no one wants to write a mess. Yet very […]

How Long Will Your Book Be?

Right now I’m editing a novel that is about 200,000 words long but her agent wants the book to be closer to 100,000 words, so that it will be more acceptable to major Young Adult publishers. So, the question becomes, what do you cut? Well, I’m ¾ of the way through and have managed to […]

The Problem with “They”

In my Writing Enchanting Prose workshops I teach my students to open a story in such a way that it doesn’t leave ambiguity about who the viewpoint character is, where he or she is, or what they are doing. In other words, if Jeff Gormsky is chasing a carjacker down a back alley in Chicago, […]

Audience Analysis Part 5

Tuesday I explained a little bit about how the term “resonance” is used in literature. In music we use it to describe how one melody draws power from what came before, and in literature we do the same. Thus, when you read a book that affects you powerfully–whether it be Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, […]

Analyze Your Audience Part 4

For the past few days I’ve been talking about how you can try to maximize the size of your audience for a novel. Today I’m going to give you what is probably the most important lesson that I can give to a new writer. So let’s start talking first about the buying habits of book […]

Analyze Your Audience Part 3

I mentioned in yesterday’s post three elements common to all of the bestselling movies and books of all time–the fact that ALL of them are set in another time and place, nearly all of them are aimed at a broad audience (the only exception in film being The Godfather, which was aimed at a primarily […]