Six impossible things

Archive for the Writing Category

Pavement conditions (More Driving Metaphors)

A while back, I had a discussion with a fellow professional writer whose stated goal was rapid production. Since he was the sort of writer who writes in huge bursts, focusing on speed above all else had been working well for him. My objection was that he […]

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Choreographing scenes

Scene choreography or planning is a thing that some writers do up front, some do as a routine part of their process, and some hardly ever bother with even though they’re not pantsers, strictly speaking. What I’m talking about here is a whole class of preparation variously […]

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Looking for Perfection

A long time back, I heard a story about a man who wanted a famous artist to draw him a picture of a cat. “Come back in a year,” the artist told him. A year later, the man returned, eagerly anticipating the masterpiece that had taken the […]

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Outlines and Revising Them

There are two sorts of outlines that writers do: submission outlines and planning outlines. A submission outline is my term for the one you send to the agent or publisher in hopes of selling the book. A planning outline, on the other hand, is a writing tool. […]

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Nuts and Bolts: How I Fix Things

One of the reasons I spent the last two posts on the process part of revision is that I believe that understanding your process saves enormous amounts of time in the long run. Specifically, having some idea how your first-draft process works and what exactly you’re trying […]

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Fixing What’s Broke, Part 2

Writers go about doing revisions in different ways, depending on the what and why of the revisions and on the writer’s personal best process for them. As always, there is no One True Way; if what you are currently doing isn’t working, try something else. The only […]

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Fixing what’s broke

Fixing a broken manuscript comes under the general heading of “revisions,” and since I haven’t talked about revising for a while, and since I’m in the middle of doing some in the current WIP, this seems like a good time to go over them. There are three […]

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Process, Progress, and Works-In

The other day, one of my dear friends and I had one of those long, rambling, writerly conversations about our current works-in-progress, our process, and the horrors of the literary life. At this particular moment in time, we are at opposite points on the first two, which […]

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Doing Dialog

One of the first tasks most writers face is improving their dialog. This seems to happen in stages. In my experience, beginners start by writing dialog the same way they write narrative, in long, formal, complex sentences without idioms or contractions. Characters frequently speak in paragraph-long speeches […]

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Keeping the Reader Reading

Ultimately, writing is all about keeping the reader reading. There’s all sorts of advice out there on how to do this, ranging from cheap tricks to dense psychological analysis. Ultimately, though, all of them are a means to an end, and the end boils down to this: […]

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