Six impossible things


Getting it in

There are three basic ways to get multiple plot points and payoffs into a story: you can do it on purpose in the first draft, you can do it by accident in the first draft, or you can do it in the rewrite. Putting in plot points […]

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Descriptive details

When I was in grade school, one of the first writing assignments we got was to write a paragraph describing something, usually a single object. As I progressed in school, the assignments increased in length and complexity, from a single object to a room, from a room […]

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Narrative drive and Harry Potter

  Narrative drive is the thing about a story that makes it a compulsive read. It what creates the just-one-more-page/scene/chapter syndrome, the I-stayed-up-til-three-a.m.-to-finish condition, the thing that makes certain series like eating potato chips. And it has absolutely nothing to do with action, and very little to […]

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Mostly About Time

Everybody gets 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. That’s 168 hours, total. Nobody gets any more; nobody gets any less. Yet somehow one of the first things that gets asked when I talk to a bunch of would-be writers is “How do you make time […]

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Making it up in the rewrite

Rewriting is inevitable. Most of us are well aware that our manuscripts are not perfect the first time around. Many of us depend on beta readers and critique groups and various other pre-submission review-and-refurbish processes to whip our rough drafts into shape. Those who for one reason […]

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Making it up in the middle

No writer I know can get through an entire novel without stopping at some point to make up more stuff, not even the most organized and linear of planners. The pantsers who make it up as they go along are a whole different kettle of fish, but […]

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Making stuff up: Putting it all Together

Looking at the story development process the way I have been in these last few posts makes it seem logical and straightforward, but that’s only because I was looking at one angle at a time. In actual fact, when one is making stuff up for a real […]

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Making Stuff Up: Setting to Plot or Characters

Starting with a setting, rather than with a plot or characters, is a lot more common than many non-writers think. This is because “setting” as used by writers encompasses a whole lot more than simply the physical environment. Yes, you will occasionally hear a writer say “I […]

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Making stuff up: Characters to plot

Every writer I know has a lot of trouble with some part of the making-up process. The most common difficulties seem to be with plot, or with characters…and quite often, the people who find making up characters “the easy part” have horrible difficulties with plot, and vice […]

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Making stuff up: plot to characters

The plot-centered story is popularly assumed to be the territory of the action-adventure story. This is because action-adventure pretty much requires a strong plot. But we’re talking about process here, and the way writers make stuff up, and that means that the kind of story is irrelevant. […]

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