Writing the Big Fat Book

I got this question from Jim: “So much advice to writers is about suspense, or scene goals, or characters overcoming conflict. One published author told me to take out every unnecessary word from a manuscript. “Then how do we explain Larry McMurtry and the Lonesome Dove, or Commanche Moon, where he constantly interrupts the story […]

Getting the Niggling Details Right

Ernest Hemingway sometimes compared writing to a boxing match, and in a certain sense he was right. Whenever you step into a boxing ring, there’s an excellent chance that you’re going to get punched. In the same way, whenever you write a story, there’s someone who figures you need a beating. It might be a […]

Writing for the Holidays – NaNoWriMo Daily Writing Tips

The midwinter is actually my favorite time of the year to write. There aren’t many conventions or writing workshops in January and February, since organizers know that their customers are busy with family affairs, so I like to focus on work. But there are some things that you should know as a writer. First, this […]

What Does Your Story Accomplish? – NaNoWriMo Daily Writing Tips

As a judge, I’ve just finished my second pass through the Writers of the Future contest stories for the first quarter, and several times I have been reminded of something: Your story needs to accomplish a lot. Let me explain.  Very often I get good stories that are told pretty well. With beginning authors, even […]

Writing Wretched Dialog – NaNoWriMo Daily Writing Tips

Recently I read a couple of stories where it felt as if the author was struggling to come up with bad dialog. So I thought I should give a few tips on how to do it properly. The easiest way to write wretched dialog is to use dialog for the wrong things. In other words, […]

Imagination – NaNoWriMo Daily Writing Tips

The first thing that I seek in a great story is originality. You may not realize it, but the most common problem with stories is that they’re tepid. The same ideas crop up over and over again. So I look for new and intriguing concepts, especially when I’m judging science fiction and fantasy. Very often […]

Fluttering – NaNoWriMo Daily Writing Tips

Have you ever watched a butterfly in flight and tried to figure out where it will go next? The butterfly will soar three feet in the air, veer left, drop, veer right. It will look as if it’s heading for a flower, then land on a rock. Of course, it is biologically programmed to do […]

Cross the Finish Line – NaNoWriMo Daily Writing Tips

You may not know it, but you’re a racehorse. If you look at writers from a publisher’s point of view, that’s exactly what you are. You’re someone who writes glorious novels, and if you want to make a name for yourself, you’ll do it frequently—once a year or more. If you want to have publishers […]

Switching Gears – NaNoWriMo Daily Writing Tips

Sometimes as writers, when we give writing advice, we often give advice by telling “How I write” instead of “How to write.” This idea came to me strongly after I spoke on a podcast with the good folks at Writing Excuses. At one point, Howard Tayler, a cartoonist who writes mainly for the online Schlock […]

Taking it Up a Notch – NaNoWriMo Daily Writing Tips

A writer once came to me saying that his critique group often tells him, “You’re almost there, but you need to take it up a notch.” In other words, you’re good but not great. The question that he would ask was, “Kick what up a notch?” Each of us is always struggling to reach new […]