Six impossible things

Posts Tagged how-to

…And When It Isn’t

I spent last time talking about a manuscript full of stupid mistakes that didn’t work. This time, I’m going to talk about some where it does. Because in real life, people forget critical information, give in to impulses that turn out to be a Really Bad Idea, […]

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Blind spots

Every once in a while, I come across someone who has a blind spot for a particular major part of writing: description, emotions, action, internal monologue, or whatever. A lot of these folks think they can’t write because, without whatever it is they’re missing, their stuff doesn’t […]

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Body language

Body language is one of those things that has to some extent become a code. “He shrugged” “She sighed” “I smiled” and so on have become almost like punctuation – nearly meaningless things inserted into a paragraph or a line of dialog to let the reader know […]

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Useful and unuseful lists

The other day I was browsing writing web sites and came across one that made me blink. Every post for months had a title like “Seven Dialog Mistakes” “Five ways to a Great Scene” “Ten Resolutions for Career Writers” “Twelve Dynamite Endings.” OK, I get that a […]

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Old ways of looking at plot

Most experienced writers know in their bones that plot operates in far more directions and on far more levels than most modern how-to-write books acknowledge. It’s the folks who’re just getting started who get bogged down in strict adherence to the basic skeleton or act structure, or […]

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Lost Gold

One of the things I inherited from my mother was her collection of writing textbooks. Most of them date from the 1940s and 1950s; a few are as recent as the 1970s. It’s fascinating to look at them, especially in light of my own far more recent […]

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Keeping track

When a writer has a big, complicated novel with lots of subplots and plot arcs that need to weave around each other, there are two main things he/she needs to do: 1) keep track of all the things that are going on offstage and in different plot […]

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Making an impact

A novel is not a movie; writing a scene is not the same as filming one. It is amazingly easy to forget this, when we are constantly bombarded with visuals in our everyday lives, from movies and TV, to YouTube and those animated ads that are all […]

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Water, fertilizer, and other care

When would-be writers ask “where do you get your ideas?” they are often asking the wrong question. They’re struggling to get started on a story, but they’re not actually starting from scratch. They have an idea. It’s just not enough to go on with yet. So what these […]

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Hardy perennial

“Where do you get your ideas?” is probably the most-asked question writers get, and one of the reasons writers hate getting it is because it can actually be fairly hard to answer. Oh, not if the person asking the question is a semi-interested reader who’s more interested in making […]

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