Six impossible things

Posts Tagged intermediate writing

Recognizing “Good Writing”

A bit ago, I got asked to do my standard rant on this. I put it off ’til the book was done, but it’s done now. So here’s the short form: Read a story. Does it work? Yes? Then it’s good. The problem with the term “good […]

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Meeting the cast

How well does a writer need to know her characters? There seem to be two sets of conventional wisdom about this. One holds that writing characters is rather like method acting – the writer has to become the character, so as to know them from the inside. […]

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On critiquing

Before you start critiquing someone else’s work, you are best off asking a few questions. Not questions about the story – usually, one of the things the writer is looking for is a fresh eye, a virgin reader, someone who has no idea what the story is about […]

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The care and feeding of first readers

I promised a while back that I’d post on training first-readers (or beta readers, or critiquers, or whatever you personally call them). I already talked about the difficulty of finding good crit, so I’ll try not to repeat too much of that. Working with first-readers starts with […]

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Information and how to dump it

Infodumps – those long passages of narrative summary that provide a huge wodge of background or plot development or characterization – have an undeservedly bad reputation among would-be writers. The allergy to infodumps is a bit of stylistic advice which is largely peddled to beginning writers, but […]

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Thinking it through

I seem to have acquired a reputation as some sort of worldbuilding maven, probably based on the Fantasy Worldbuilding Questions I came up with as a personal crutch during my middle career. I don’t actually think the reputation is deserved – really, it should belong to someone […]

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Good critique is hard to find

Getting good comments on a work-in-process is hard. In part, this is because a) many writers think that only other writers can/will provide useful criticism, b) most people are not writers, and c) people may be very good writers and still be very bad at providing critique. […]

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Underneath it all

Theme is something I’ve been thinking about for years, because it’s one of those writing things that I can’t seem to ever quite grasp when it comes to my own writing process. Thanks to my excellent high school English teachers, I can pick out and analyze themes in […]

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Planning Longer Plots

There are three basic ways to handle plotting a story, whether it’s a short story, a stand-alone novel, or an epic twenty-volume series:  1) You can do it intuitively as you write, 2) You can plan it out in advance, or 3) You can write a bunch […]

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Onward and onward

I’ve been mulling over green_knight and accio_aqualung’s request for something on plotting multi-volume stories for a few days now. It’s not easy, because on this question, I’m working mainly from observation. The closest I’ve come to writing a multi-volume story myself are 1) the Lyra books, which […]

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