Six impossible things


Composing a query

For some reason, I feel like talking about query letters again, possibly because I’ve recently been the recipient of a couple of queries that can only be described as dreadful. I begin with a couple of definitions: A query letter is a one-page business letter that presents […]

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The Parent Problem

Young adult fiction almost always features a protagonist who is a teenager or young adult for most of the story or series. This means that one of the largest problems YA authors face is the “Parent Problem,” that is, the problem of how to get their protagonists […]

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The World in the Story

There are other kinds of worldbuilding besides the deep-background variety I was talking about last post, to wit, the immediate-background sort and the in-story sort. The immediate-background worldbuilding, like deep worldbuilding, is stuff that not everyone needs to do in advance. It’s very similar to the deep-worldbuilding […]

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Deep worldbuilding

A couple of weeks ago, I finally figured out one of the several reasons I’ve been having so much difficulty booting up The New Thing. It’s because for my last eight to ten books, I haven’t had to do any deep worldbuilding, because all of them came […]

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The perils of a better idea

“A writer should always reserve the right to have a better idea.” – Lois McMaster Bujold This is an excellent philosophy and makes a great one-line quote, but the other day I ran across a story that showed the perils of applying even such an excellent piece […]

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Keeping records

It’s tax season again, which means loads of published writers out there are cursing their lack of record-keeping and vowing to do better next year. Fortunately, early March is usually not so late in the year that the very idea of going back over all the business […]

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Epics, part 2

So the topic is epic fantasy and the way so many of them get bogged down in an endless proliferation of characters and branching subplots, as described  by Marie Brennan. Having spent last post talking about why authors fall into these traps, I’m going to talk more […]

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Epics, part 1

Yesterday, a friend of mine forwarded a link  to this post on the pitfalls of writing a long fantasy epic, defined as “four or more books that tell an ongoing story.” It’s a fabulous analysis, and the author, Marie Brennan, hits a bunch of really good points […]

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What you like

When all your friends are bookaholics, one of the things that inevitably happens is that they recommend books to you and to their other friends, frequently in glowing terms. Quite often, other members of your social group will read those books before you do, will also love […]

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Losing interest

Sooner or later, every writer hits a point where they lose interest in continuing to write a story that isn’t finished yet. This isn’t the same as getting stuck; when a writer is stuck, they want to continue and intend to continue, but can’t seem to do […]

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    Pat plans to attend Minicon 52, April 14 – 16, 2017, in Minneapolis, MN....