Six impossible things

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Getting stuck, part II

I probably should have posted this first, if I was going to blog about getting stuck. Because one of the more important things a writer needs to do when they’re stuck, before trying to apply any of the techniques I was talking about, is to figure out […]

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On writing exercises

Back when I was in 7th grade, I took a summer sewing class. On the first day, they showed everybody how to work the sewing machine and then gave us pieces of paper to “sew” with a dull needle and no thread, so we could learn how to […]

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Getting Stuck

I’ve been getting quite a few questions in the mailbag recently about writer’s block, and invariably they end with the anguished plea, “How do you know what happens next?” Which is a lot of the problem right there, in my opinion. Because “What happens next?” and “What […]

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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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