Six impossible things

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Doing Dialog

One of the first tasks most writers face is improving their dialog. This seems to happen in stages. In my experience, beginners start by writing dialog the same way they write narrative, in long, formal, complex sentences without idioms or contractions. Characters frequently speak in paragraph-long speeches […]

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Keeping the Reader Reading

Ultimately, writing is all about keeping the reader reading. There’s all sorts of advice out there on how to do this, ranging from cheap tricks to dense psychological analysis. Ultimately, though, all of them are a means to an end, and the end boils down to this: […]

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What drives the story

“What drives your story, plot or characters?” There are a bunch of problems with this question. First off, what drives the story isn’t an either-or dichotomy; it’s a continuum that runs from the total-action-with-cardboard-characters tale at one end to the nothing-but-character-introspection story at the other end, with […]

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DIY Exercises

For a very long time, I thought (and I’ve said here) that I hated writing exercises and writing prompts. Then I started talking to people about writing, and some of them demanded that I give them exercises. After much thought, I came to the obvious conclusion that […]

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Speed Intervals

Last week, I ran across a writing-advice book that focused firmly on productivity, and promised to teach you how to write thousands of words per hour. The author’s method for achieving this miracle rested on two fundamental ideas. The first was taking the writing process apart so […]

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The Worst Possible Thing

“Ask yourself what the worst possible thing is that you can do to your characters” is an often-repeated piece of advice that is a lot less helpful than it looks. If you follow it literally, about 99% of the time the answer is going to be “torture […]

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Still having Internet problems

Sorry, folks, but I don’t think I can type a whole blog post on my cell phonr, and my home Internet connection is toast. It needs a new cable, possibly strung from several blocks away, so I am not sure they’ll be able to get it done […]

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What type of character?

Characters are the heart of a story; practically everyone says so. There are reams of writing advice covering how to come up with great characters, how to make them “round”, how to make them grow and change over the course of a book, and so on. Much […]

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Doing it

There is a thing my exercise coach occasionally says to me that is deeply annoying because it is so very, very true:  Knowing how to do exercises does not make you fit; you have to actually do the exercises. This turns out to be fundamentally true of […]

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Internet Issues

Sorry folks – I am having internet connection issues. I’ll get this week’s post up when I can.

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