You’re Going to Get Hacked!

As a new writer, you may not be able to imagine why anyone would want to hack you. After all, you’re a small-fry, a one-person business. But as your fan base grows and you gain more notoriety, you will attract the attention of hackers. It’s in the news a lot lately. Just over the weekend,

Busting Your Editor’s Chops

Writers love to gossip about editors, agents, and publishers. Much of the time, that gossip is pretty harmless, but sometimes it can come back to bite you. I was reminded of this over the past week when I read a Facebook post by a young woman who had had a story rejected for an anthology.

Ten Reasons Why I’ll Quickly Reject Your Story

This past week I've been judging Writers of the Future. Most of the stories come to us electronically, so much of my day is spent opening files, taking a look at them, and then putting in a review--usually one that says “Rejected.” I hate that “Reject” button, and I may ask our programmers to give

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How to Write a Damned Good Scene, Part 1

Often while looking at the scenes a new writer creates, I take a look and think, Well, that’s pretty lame. So how do you avoid writing lame scenes? First, you need to brainstorm every scene. There are a few common questions that need to be answered in each one. Who is your viewpoint character? This

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Being Culturally Appropriate

Lately I’ve heard a lot of people grousing about cultural appropriation. That’s where an author writes a story set in a world that he or she isn’t a part of. For example, it happens when an author decides quite innocently, “I think I’ll write a story about a gay black Catholic who joins ISIL.” When

Finding Your Theme

In brainstorming a work, you will often find that you want your characters to behave in certain ways.  And as they grow and develop, you may even find that you need to justify why they do what they do.  If you get deep enough into their thought processes, you can almost imagine them arguing with

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One Impossibility

If you write a novel set in the real world—whether it is historical or modern—you don’t have to worry so much about “creating” a world as “researching” your setting.  But if you are writing science fiction or fantasy, you very often “create” a world from scratch.  There are a couple of approaches that you can

Dealing with Movie Producers

Many new writers imagine that they’ll never have to worry about having movie producers come knocking at the door, but that’s a big mistake. You see, by nature, movie producers are always looking for story material, and most of the time that material is created by other storytellers, either screenwriters or novelists, but sometimes short

The Perfect Story: Surprise

Lately I’ve been talking a bit about some of the attributes that one will find in a perfect story.  One of those has to be what I will call “surprise.”  Now, in particular I look for surprise as we reach the climax of a tale.  A good climax will almost always have some twist that