Six impossible things

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Plot is Hard: Brainstorming

“The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas, and only keep the good ones.” – Linus Pauling Once you know how you work best and what you do and do not know about your story, you actually have to sit […]

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Plot is Hard, Part 2

Once you have an idea of the kinds of plots you like, how much you need to know to get started (and how much you need to not-know in order to keep going), and the kinds of things that seem to trigger good ideas for you, you […]

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Plot is Hard, part 1

Plot is hard. There is no getting away from that. No writer I know says plot is easy; even the ones who supposedly got it for free don’t say “plot is easy” – they say things like “Well, it’s not nearly as bad as doing characters.” Plot […]

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Patterns

As many readers of this blog know, I am a knitter, and have been for years. When I first learned to knit, I wanted strict directions for anything more complicated than a rib-stitched scarf: a pattern that calls for this yarn and that needle size. I focused […]

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Development in Revision

When most people think about revising a manuscript, they think about one of two things:  polishing up the style, grammar, syntax, and so on, or making fixes where something was unclear, unexplained, or just missing. Revising does all of that, of course, but in addition, there’s almost […]

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Developing an idea, before and during

“Developing an idea” is one of those writing phrases that doesn’t have a precise definition. Ideas change and expand and twist throughout the entire writing process. The ways a writer goes about encouraging or discouraging these developments differ, depending on where in the process they are. Pre-writing […]

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The Cool Stuff

The coolness factor is possibly the best and most useful reason for doing worldbuilding in advance that I know of. A few minutes spent deciding whether the heroine’s adventure will be mostly lost in a jungle, shipwrecked on an island, trapped in a weird hotel, or hiding […]

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Why start with a world?

One of the things that constantly surprises me is the number of people who put a tremendous amount of pre-writing work into inventing characters and developing plot, but who never stop to consider their setting or world, apart from “They start in a city, then they go […]

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Characters and story

People are not easy. You can’t put them in a box within a few days of meeting them and expect them to think and act certain ways for certain reasons. Even the ones you’ve known best and longest can suddenly do something unexpected and unpredictable. Characters are […]

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Do Characters Really Need to be Flawed?

I spent last weekend mainly at Minicon 52 in Minneapolis, and generally had a wonderful time. There were a few eye-rolling moments (they’re still arguing about that? Really?) and lots of science geeking about recent discoveries (seven Earth-sized exoplanets in the Goldilocks zone of the TRAPPIST-1 system…which […]

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