Time to Get Serious

Time to Get Serious

A lot of people “play” at writing. We tend to think of it as a hobby or a pastime. But I sometimes wonder how much great art is really created by those who don’t take their work seriously. I wonder how serious Mozart really was about his music, or how dedicated Rembrandt was to his […]

Is My Novel Too Long?

Is my novel too long?

I got this question once about writing large novels. We may all ask a variation of it, is my novel too long? How precise can I be? Is this much detail too boring? “So much advice to writers is about suspense, or scene goals, or characters overcoming conflict. One published author told me to take […]

Persistence Is Key


There is a myth among the general public that the greatest writers are born with uncanny innate talents that average folks dare not aspire to. Yet there is only a sliver of truth to that argument. Talent is helpful, especially for new authors who are just trying to break in, but you can’t make a […]

Turning Points

How to come up with a plot twist

Whenever you have a story that seems too predictable, look for ways to add turning points.  If a character is trying to figure out how to get from point A to point B, figure out how to force him to go to point C first.  If he thinks that he understands someone else’s motivations or goals—say those of a lover or killer—surprise the reader with a twist that casts the story in a new light.

Writing Hyper Realism

Writing Hyper Realism

So how do you write a “hyper-real” scene?

There are several keys.

Select unconventional images to propel the scene forward.
Appeal to powerful emotions such as love, fear, anger, guilt, and so on.
Be careful to apply your poetic sensibilities to every line.
Make sure that you appeal to all of the senses.

Writing A Series

Writing A Series

Every week or two, someone asks me whether their first novel should be a standalone or if they should begin a series. The answer to this question can be rather complex. So I’d like to write a few articles that deal with the hows and whys of writing a series. First, if you’re writing to […]

Writing with Authority

writing with authority

In judging some stories for a contest recently, I had to ask myself some tough questions. I found one story where I loved the concept but the author was obviously new and was not writing with authority. He had minor typos, improper verbs, and so on. The question was, “Do I send this story on […]

How Much Money Do You Need?

How Much Money Do You Need?

It takes money to make money. Often, new writers will ask, “How much money do you need in order to start a writing career?” The answers can vary dramatically, so here are some things to think about. When I was a young writer, I lived in a small house with my wife and one or […]

Ground Your Reader

Grounding the Reader

Today I’m going to discuss a bit about what I call “grounding” the reader. Quite simply, grounding is the fine art of letting the reader know what is going on. In order to ground your reader, you need to focus on some basics: Who is in a scene? Where does it take place? What is the major conflict?

Choosing A Writing Style and Tone

How to write style and tone

Unfortunately, there is so much covered under the umbrella of style and tone that it would take a good long book to deal with it. In fact, I’ve read several good books on the topic, and I can’t cover it all here. Choosing a writing style and tone is not a one time decision.