Six impossible things


Moving along…knock wood.

So Book 2 of Frontier Magic (Title To Come) seems to be getting some momentum up at last. Possibly because I finally have a bit of shape for this volume, which looks just a bit novel-like. Part of the difficulty, it seems in retrospect, has been that […]

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The Big Bad

One of the things you see a lot in fantasy stories is  a villain who is purely and simply evil and knows it. No rationalizations, no semi-plausible rationales, not even a rotten childhood to blame it on, just the Dark Lord Who Wants To Take Over The World Because He […]

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Check your assumptions…at the door.

Every so often, I have an encounter with readers (usually academics, but sometimes not) who are happy to tell me, in detail and at great length, all the reasons why I wrote something, or wrote it in this or that particular way. (Usually because they object to […]

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Better or not?

One of the plagues of beginning writers is the feeling that they are doing something “wrong.” Not wrong in the sense of technique – messing up viewpoint, for instance – but that they have made, are making, or will make, a wrong decision about “what happens next.” They are […]

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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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