Six impossible things

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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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Learning to see

One of the experiences that is common to most long-time readers is that of running across a book that they loved when they first read it (usually ten or more years previously), settling down for an enjoyable re-read, and realizing that the book is horrible. It’s not […]

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Three things

One of the persistent questions writers get is “Where do you find the time?” This ignores two basic things: first, nobody finds or saves time, really. We all have 24 hours a day, which arrives one nanosecond at a time at the same pace (though how we […]

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Killing off characters

Like most readers, I really hate it when my favorite character dies, whether it’s in mid-story or right at the end (though the longer the character has been around, the more I’m invested and the more I hate losing them). But there are some stories that I […]

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Knowing What You Want To Do

The other day, I got a note from a gentleman who disliked one of my stories. The characters shouldn’t have been like this, the plot shouldn’t have gone like that, the structure didn’t make sense, the climax was unsatisfying. I ought to have done X and Y […]

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Questions, questions

One of the ways writers make progress in their work is by answering questions: Who murdered the butler? Why did the rabbit stew explode? Where did George get those kneebles, and what is he planning to do with them? But in order to answer a question, one […]

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Refusing Problems

“You can’t solve a problem you’re not willing to have.” – Dave Evans A problem you’re not willing to have is one of those where you’re complaining about the wrong thing, usually something you can’t fix, and absolutely refusing to admit that the problem is really something […]

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Rules again

In the past two months, at least five different people have said something to me along the lines of “My teacher said/some professional writer said/my crit group says/I have observed [insert writing technique] is the rule for [insert writing problem or situation]. So is that a rule?” […]

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Primary characters

Primary characters are the big ones: the hero/protagonist, the villain/antagonist, the main viewpoint character. These are the characters the reader identifies as the ones the story is about. They’re the ones with the biggest stake in the outcome of the story, and usually they’re the ones who […]

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