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” 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 take to this.

What’s a “Working Outline”?

When you send a novel proposal to a publisher or a movie proposal to a studio, you’ll often be asked to send an “outline” with your package. The word outline is used rather casually, and it often can be misleading. Many publishers and producers really want a “synopsis,” a brief description of what happens in […]

Becoming a Writing Junkie

Writing is fun, so fun, that some people think that it’s addictive. Like exercise or alcohol, you can come to crave it. Years ago, a writer named Charlie Brown wrote dozens of novels. One day he realized that he wasn’t making a lot of money at it, and yet he loved writing, so he started […]

Never Underestimate the Power of Santa

As the Christmas Season approaches, I’m reminded of how many times new writers underestimate the power of Santa. I first noticed it in 1987. I was working as an editor at Brigham Young University, helping professors get published. One woman came to me with a book about her dog, a poodle that had recently died […]

Channeling Your Inner Muse

Saturday night I dreamt that I was taking a literature class, and an elderly professor was telling me about a promising new novel that was about to come out. She instructed the class, “I’d like you all to take a look at this novel: read through the dialog, both the outer dialog and inner dialog, […]

You and Your Silly Art

This past week, Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese both agreed that Marvel movies are dumb. Scorsese said, “That’s not cinema,” while Coppola agreed and went further and called them “despicable.” Thus we find ourselves asking the age-old question, “What is art?” Both directors ought to know better than to get into such a pointless […]

How to Write Your First Five Pages

How to Write Your First Five Pages:
1. From the very first sentence, I want to see that you’re not just a competent writer, but a skillful one.

I want to see that you have a way with words, so that I feel as if I’m in the hands of a professional storyteller. That means that I won’t feel confused, and I won’t get tripped up by typos or beginner’s mistakes. Indeed, I want to see that you’re talented right from the first sentence. Half of the editors and agents say that they look for a great voice right out the gate, whether it be the voice of the narrating character or of the author.

Learning to Write

Once in a great while, I run across a writer who thinks that they know it all. They’re professionals, maybe bestsellers. They might have a Ph.D. in Creative Writing even. They can almost convince you that they really do know it all—until they say something stupid. The truth is that the writing field is huge. […]

How to Use Emotions to Create Stronger Descriptions and Setting

Today we’re doing things a little bit differently. Twice a week, I like to send out writing tips that will help you improve your writing, but I’m not the only one with knowledge to share. Jenn Gott is an indie author and a writer with Reedsy (a publishing company that connects new authors with the […]

Facing Burnout

Many authors don’t believe that there is such a thing as “Writer’s Block.” They will gleefully point out that plumbers don’t have plumber’s block, and doctors don’t have doctor’s block. But the truth is that they do have it, but simply call it by other names. They might call it a “midlife crisis,” “stress,” or […]