At a conference some time ago I was on a panel with some fellow thriller writers. During the Q & A, we got this question from the floor: How can I learn to write a good action scene? I answered first. I told the questioner that it’s what happens inside the character that’s the key, […]
In writing, voice happens at three levels: the author, the narrator, and the characters each have their own voices. While many editors and readers openly state they are hooked and reeled into a story by a strong voice, many writers struggle to understand let alone implement voice. Despite voice often being regarded as elusive, and […]
When writing in speculative genres, it’s important to consider the cost of magic. Everything in life has a cost. It’s a law so universally understood that we feel it in our bones. Yet when we deal with fiction, some writers forget to consider the high price of magic. The renowned author Nancy Kress noted that […]
How should we critique someone’s writing? Frequently authors ask if I have a form that I use to help me critique a story. Given the large number of things that I look at in a story, any form that I might use would simply be too long to be workable. Yet it makes sense to […]
Character traits can be vital when it comes to writing a great story. As readers read, they are constantly making judgments, and one thing they are critical of is characters. Does he or she work as a protagonist? Is a love interest likable? Does the guide character guide well? In a story I was once reading, a protagonist […]
Many new writers struggle with characterization. If you’re trained in the literary mainstream, you’re taught that stories are about characters. In other words, the character is the “focus” of the story. That’s simply not true. Some stories do focus on characters, but many of the best tales don’t.
When you’re writing a long novel, sometimes as a writer you feel that you are getting stuck in a rut, that your prose has become repetitious, so it is important to find little ways to vary your work.
Many writers never have a problem with writer’s block, and so we sometimes say, “There’s no such thing.” But that’s not quite right. The truth is, there are various reasons why people feel “blocked,” which makes it hard sometimes to figure out why a writer is having problems.
Sometimes when describing a thing, it is almost easier to describe what it is not.
When describing anything—a setting, a character, or even a conflict—consider ways that you might bring that thing to life by describing both its past and its future.