Six impossible things

Posts Tagged basic writing

The Problem with Sequels

The problem with sequels is that the writing and publishing process gives readers too much time to think. Let me unpack that a little. It takes me one to two years to write a novel, and this is fairly typical of most of the professional writers I […]

Read more

Hack Writer’s Gambit

The other day, my walking buddy and I were discussing various bad-plotting mistakes made in various TV series, specifically the sort that used to be called “hack writer’s gambit.” I say “used to be called” because a quick series of googles found very little in the way […]

Read more

Mailbag #6

How did you know that you wanted to be a writer? I didn’t. I never, ever wanted to “be a writer.” I wanted to write. I wanted to tell stories. I wanted to get these blasted characters out of my head and nailed down on paper so […]

Read more

Hooking the Reader

I’ve talked before about the opening of a story and some of the things that can go wrong with the all-drama, all-action, all-the-time “hook.” But it occurs to me that I haven’t talked much about what a hook is, or how to do it right. Hence today’s post. […]

Read more

Telling details vs. clutter

Another one of the truisms about writing that you hear a lot is “the power of the telling detail.” And it’s quite true; a single specific detail at exactly the right time can do more to evoke a world or a mood than pages of description, even […]

Read more


One of the things that professors of literature have been doing ever since they were invented is trying to analyze literature of all kinds. And one of the chief ways of analyzing something is to break it down into small pieces, label them, and then look for […]

Read more

Narrative Summary

Narrative summary is possibly the most flexible of the various ways of presenting a story. Narrative summary doesn’t necessarily tie the author down to chronological order, the way dialog and dramatization do, nor does it require a focus on one particular aspect of the story, as description […]

Read more


scene: in a drama, a subdivision of an act or of a play not divided into acts….”scene” is also the name given to a “dramatic” method of narration that presents events at roughly the same pace as that at which they are supposed to be occurring, i.e., […]

Read more

Rules? What Rules?

Recently, a fan came up to me, enthusiastically waving Thirteenth Child. “This book blew me away!” he said. “It breaks all the rules! How did you do that?” Naturally, I looked him straight in the eye and said, “What rules?” What most would-be-writers mean when they’re talking about […]

Read more


One of the supposed truisms of writing is that a good plot must have conflict. And while this is, in fact, true, I’ve seen it misinterpreted so many times that I thought I’d talk about it a little. The problem always seems to come in the definition […]

Read more
Page 5 of 13« First...34567...10...Last »
Questions regarding foreign rights, film/tv subrights, and other business matters should be directed to Pat’s agent Ginger Clark, Curtis-Brown, Ltd., 10 Astor Place, 3rd Floor New York, NY 10003,