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David Farland's Writing Tips

Finding Your Talent

Every writer has his or her own talents and strengths. Don’t give up on your writing. Very often as a writer, I will find myself reading a tale by another author and saying, “My, I wish that I had her talent.” I’m sure that most of you feel the same at times. I know that I’d be a much better

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Writing Great Action Scenes

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, and you can make that

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3 Tips that Strengthen Middles

While writing the middle of a story usually isn’t as tricky as the beginning, for many authors, the middle can start to sag if they aren’t careful. Previously we went over three problems that come up with middles. Today we are back to add three tips to keep your middle interesting. 1. Vary Your Story Sometimes a novel feels dull

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Dos and Don’ts for Writing Viewpoint Voice

Many readers and editors state that a strong voice immediately draws them into a story, and one of the most important voices will come from your viewpoint character. But even when you’ve developed their personality and voice, it can still be tricky to actually get them on the page. Here are nine dos and don’ts to help out. Hi all,

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3 Problems that Come Up with Middles

For many people, the middle of the novel is the biggest challenge. Writers usually know when they’ve got a good start, and they have months to think about how to create a great climax. But what do you do with all of that stuff in between? Thankfully, by the time you’re into the middle, you’ve gotten some character development down,

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Want Strong Dialogue? Don’t Forget the Subtext

Realistic, evocative dialogue is an important part of any successful story. We need our characters’ interactions to be authentic, consistent, and engaging to draw readers into what’s happening. So when we’re learning to write, we spend a lot of time on mechanics—learning all the grammar and punctuation rules. But proper form is just the first step. When writing strong dialogue, we

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Understand and Implement Voice

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 even magical, voice can be

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Fantasy and Our Modern World

Fantasy and Our Modern World: A Few Observations The first truly modern fantasy work was The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien. That’s not a statement that very many critical theorists can dispute. But what is fantasy, and how did Tolkien make it “modern” and what does it mean for us today? Fantasy is a form of fiction in

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Do What You Love

When you choose to do what you love, you have the greatest job in the world. If you love writing, it’s worth doing. Years ago, I had a reporter call and ask, “If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?” The only answer I had was, “I’d just keep on being a writer.” Since it was

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The Price of Magic

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 a defining moment in her

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A Guide to Critiquing a Story

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 try to codify the critiquing

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When Considering Character Traits . . .

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 was filled with hubris beginning

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Less is More

At times you will want your prose to be as sparse as possible. For example, when you’re writing a fight scene, it’s no time to slow down your pacing with long descriptions, or to ramble on about the vicissitudes of life. Can you imagine how that might read? “Trayvor’s sword flicked forward with a burst, like the tongue of an

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3 Cliches Found in Story Openings

Story openings can be some of the most difficult passages to write. You must introduce a potential conflict, an immersive world, and interesting characters, but you’ll likely want to avoid some of the cliches that can lead to rejections and lost readers–at least when they aren’t handled exceptionally well. Here are three of the cliches I see most. Cliche #1:

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How to Get Published 

Are you looking to publish a book? Let me tell you how to get it done.  Today, there are two paths to publishing: traditional publishing and self- (or independent) publishing.   Traditional publishing generally refers to an established publishing house, employing requisition editors, editors, copyeditors, a design team, marketers/promotion specialists and sales teams. The publishing house may be small, releasing eBooks

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