Six impossible things


The Fun Part

Writing isn’t any fun. At least, that is the impression I often get from listening to earnest young would-be and beginning writers discussing their work. There are all these decisions you have to make and things to pay attention to, from word choice to plot twists. It […]

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Where it happens

Setting is one of the things that seems to get short shrift in a lot of beginner stories/novels. Even writers who are devotees of the Tolkien School of Background and Appendices tend to focus on the history and politics part of worldbuilding, and occasionally on various aspects […]

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Different folks

One of the first challenges a new writer faces is that of showing characters who are different from the writer in a convincing and realistic manner. Everybody knows this if they think about writing at all; most beginner-advice books talk about it. And most make one of […]

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Walk first

A while back, I was talking with a would-be writer who started off with all sorts of sensible questions about writing characters and plotting and so on. Then I looked at some samples of her writing, and realized that the particular writer was trying to get ahead […]

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Saying no

These days, a career in writing has innumerable options. Even if you limit yourself to fiction, there’s screenwriting, playwriting, comics and graphic novels, short fiction, novels, and that’s all before you even get to the Internet and ebook side of things. And it’s not just a matter of deciding for yourself […]

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The Submission Outline or Synopsis

There are several reasons why, for the last two posts, I have been using terms like “planning” and “pre-writing” and “notes” more often than “outline.” The main one is that the outline that the writer sends to an editor as part of a proposal is a very […]

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Yet more plans…

OK, since there seems to be yet more interest in plot planning and prewriting and how to do it, you get still more posts on the subject. This one is on alternate ways of doing plot-related planning; next one will be on the kind of outline you […]

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If you do want to plan

So if you are going to do some pre-planning before you start writing your book, where do you begin and how do you do it? As usual, it depends on the writer and the story, but here are a few things to consider: First, why are you […]

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Advance planning

There are a lot of bits of advice floating around for would-be, wannabe, and newbie fiction writers who are having problems getting started. There are currently a plethora of how-to-write books advocating serious advance planning, ranging from detailed outlining systems, to starting with different sets of character […]

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Grammar, Syntax, and other Actual Rules

Spelling, grammar, punctuation, syntax. For a lot of would-be writers, they seem to be love ‘em or leave ‘em – which is to say, many of the folks I talk to have either an absolute slavish devotion to formal grammar, punctuation, or else a firm conviction that […]

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