Six impossible things


Being edited

“So how can you stand being edited?” is a question that’s been coming up at conventions lately. The subtext usually assumes that all editors are a) idiots and/or b) out to ruin everyone’s brilliant manuscripts, and that they must therefore be fought off with every bit of […]

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Building in the time

“How do you write with a day job/kids/other responsibilities?” is a question that doesn’t have an easy, one-size-fits-all answer, because, like so many other aspects of the writing process, exactly what works depends on the particular writer. But there are a few principles that can be applied. […]

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Icebergs and soap bubbles

Worldbuilding is one of those basic skills that’s important for all writers, but vital for those of us who write in totally imaginary science fictional or fantasy worlds. There are two basic approaches, the soap bubble and the iceberg. For the iceberg worldbuilders, there’s a whole lot […]

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Spring Shadows, or How Should I Become A Writer, Ms. Pro?

Spring is always a busy time for YA authors and would-be authors. Teachers are trying to come up with ways of keeping middle-grade and younger students interested when the weather is turning nice, so they have students write to their favorite authors, and if they can swing […]

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What you do right

Years ago, I had a chance to talk to a bunch of high school English teachers about writing, and one of the first things they asked was what my high school teachers had done to inspire me to write. I had to honestly tell them “Nothing,” because […]

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Writing methods

One of the questions everybody seems to ask writers – right after “Where do you get your ideas?” – is “Do you have a time of day when you write?” I can’t figure out whether they want me to say “yes,” hoping that writing is the same […]

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A lot of my friends have trouble writing action scenes. Not on the sentence-by-sentence level – they know all the tricks and tips – but on a more general level. They know that their first-person viewpoint character is only going to have a close-up, confused picture of […]

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Changing infrastructure

Infrastructure is all that everyday stuff we take for granted, from roads and bridges to garbage collection and cell phones. It’s one of the things that allows societies to function smoothly, if they want to. It’s vitally important…and it’s also vastly boring. Consequently, writers tend not to […]

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Landscape vs. setting

Earlier this week, Minnesota Public Radio replayed  an interview with novelist Richard Ford, and some of his comments (around 23 minutes into the broadcast) got me thinking about landscape. First off, landscape isn’t the same as setting. They overlap, of course, but one can tell an urban […]

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So I’m back from five days at the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival in the United Arab Emirates and beginning to recover from the hideous jet lag and nearly 24 hours of travel (each way, counting layovers and plane delays) that it took to get there. Since I’m […]

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