David Farland’s Writing Tips—Three Mistakes in Tone

One of the most common problems I see with new writers is a “mistake in tone.” You know what I mean if you’ve ever played in a band. A new kid comes in, you’re trying to play a song, and he blats out a sour note on a trumpet. The same thing happens in writing. […]

David Farland Writing Tips: 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 much here. The word “style” when used in literary circles refers to all of the unconscious […]

David Farland’s Writing Tips: Epic Conflicts

Every story needs three basic elements: a character, in a setting, with a conflict. Most instructors will talk about a number of possibilities when choosing a conflict for a story: man versus nature, man versus self, man versus man, or man versus society. Years ago, a Hollywood script doctor named Michael Hague pointed out that […]

How Do You Know when a Story Is a Winner?

  Author Mike Resnick won more Hugo Awards for short stories than any other author.  So a couple of years ago, I asked him, “How do you know when you’re writing a story that it is going to be Hugo- or Nebula-award worthy?” His answer was so basic, it surprised me.  He said, “Usually, somewhere […]

David Farland’s Writing Tips: Do Overs  

Have you ever wished that you could have a “Do Over” in life? Maybe you missed out on a nice business opportunity, or you really wanted to make a great impression on a date and you just blew it. A lot of authors have expressed that desire.  A book launch can fail for dozens of […]

David Farland’s Writing Tips: How Portable Is Your Book?

Over 20 years ago, I was writing some little Star Wars adventures for Scholastic Books, and the president of the company became a fan of my work. She knew that I was the lead judge for a huge writing contest, so she asked if I would look at some of her inventory and see if […]

David Farland’s Writing Tips: Five Strategies for Getting Started

  Sometimes you’re not in the mood to write, but you know that you should. Maybe you’ve set a goal and hope to reach it, or you’re on a deadline. Here are a “Five Strategies for Getting Started” – that you can use now: 1) You don’t know what to write? Find a writing prompt, […]

David Farland’s Writing Tips: You Ain’t No Shakespeare

The other day, I was talking to some students about defining yourself as a writer, making those inside changes that allow you to move forward with developing writerly habits, and a student asked, “At your level, do you ever get imposter syndrome?” Now, you have to understand that I’ve been writing for over thirty years. […]

David Farland’s Writing Tips: Surprises and Revelations

Hollywood loves a “reveal.” That’s a moment where a bit of information that has been withheld from the audience is suddenly revealed onscreen. You’ve seen it a hundred times in the movies, often handled poorly. In the latest movie in the Pirates of the Caribbean series, the director opens with a tedious sword fight between […]

David Farland’s Writing Tips: Deadly Writing Sins

Anciently, monks tried to evaluate sins to determine which were the most deadly. Is it worse to compose rude Facebook posts or to funnel money to terrorist organizations?  Is it worse to eat carbs or throw hamsters into meat grinders? Obviously, we could create a hierarchy of sins a hundred pages long, and it wouldn’t […]