Six impossible things


Characters…Can’t Live With ’em, Can’t Live Without ’em

The new book (Frontier Magic, Book 2, Title To Come) is progressing slowly. Partly because of the perversity of the characters. First, one of my important-but-offstage-for-a-while characters decided to be stingy about writing letters. With some reason, I admit, but if I can’t get him started corresponding […]

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But what does it look like? (A bit about description)

Description is one of those love-it-or-hate-it things. Some readers want more, more, more; they want to see every button and bead on the dress, every scratch on the woodwork. Other people roll their eyes and complain about slowing down the story when they run across long passages […]

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Home from the ALA

The day I spent at the American Library Association convention was long and intense, full of talking to exceedingly intelligent librarians. How I know they were exceedingly intelligent is this: I do not normally talk in my sleep, but the night after the convention, I woke myself […]

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The Naming of Names

One of the perennial questions I get from people, especially those who want to be writers, is “how do you come up with the names?”-meaning, usually, the “weird fantasy names” in settings that bear no resemblance to the “real world,” rather than the more ordinary names like […]

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A few words on pacing and structure

The “different panel” at 4th Street this year was on pacing and structure. I’ve been pondering it since then, and this is what I think (or part of it, anyway): Pacing is how fast it feels like things happen. Not how fast they actually do happen; what it feels like […]

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The trouble with trilogies

I have a confession to make:  I have never deliberately written a trilogy before in my life. Yes, I know, there are four Enchanted Forest books, and three Kate and Cecy books, and the Lyra series, and so on. But with all of those, I didn’t set […]

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Cinderella at the Rock Concert

Last weekend, at 4th Street Fantasycon, somebody asked me for a post that I did years back on Usenet, on the difference between the way short story writers and novelists might develop the same basic story idea. Here it is: Basically, short stories require a tight focus […]

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Life and some recommended reading

Spent a glorious weekend at Fourth Street Fantasycon, of which more anon, I hope. Now my car is busted AGAIN and I’m waiting for them to come and tow it to the garage to fix the ignition switch. And I think I should get my cat to the […]

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Stories are a way of life

When I was a kid, my father told us bedtime stories. The five of us would get together in our pajamas and sit around on the biggest bed in the house, and Dad would turn the lights down or off and start talking. Unlike many parents who do […]

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A Rant on Passive voice

I have just finished arguing with a would-be writer who a) is convinced that passive voice is evil and must be avoided at all times, and b) has, it turns out, no idea at all what passive voice actually is. I am therefore going to rant. Passive […]

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