Six impossible things

Posts Tagged misconceptions

Writing myths

There seem to be two basic myths about How Writers Work. The first is the painfully slow, unbelievably picky Brooding Poetic Genius typified by the Oscar Wilde remark about having a good day writing because he’d spent the morning removing a comma and the afternoon putting it […]

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Lightning and the Lightning Bug

A bit over a hundred years ago, Mark Twain made the famous remark that “The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between the lightning and the lightning bug.”  At around the same time, Gustave Flaubert came up with his le seule […]

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Heinlein’s Rules for Writing (Mostly)

Back in 1947, in an essay titled “On the Writing of Speculative Fiction” (since reprinted several times), Robert Heinlein wrote five rules for people who want to become professional writers. They’ve been republished many times, and for the most part, they’re still good (I’ll get to that […]

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Being Cinderella is a lot of work

These days, when people talk about a “Cinderella Story,” they mostly mean the rags-to-riches part. Whether it’s a Cinderella sports team that’s just won the championship (and never mind all the sweat and practice and planning that went into it), or J. K. Rowling’s welfare-mom-to-gazillion-copy-bestseller story, what […]

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Cliches and some things to do with them

Sooner or later, most writers go through a period of worrying that their work is full of clichés. Some folks take this to ridiculous extremes; one person I ran into was worried about their heroine’s hair color, because it just seemed clichéd to have her be blonde, […]

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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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So the next thing that happens is…

As I said in our last exciting episode, there are two kinds of novel outlines writers do:  the sort meant to sell a manuscript to a publisher, and the sort meant to help the writer write the book. This post is about the second kind. The first […]

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But It Really Happened That Way!

Real-life incidents aren’t all that useful in fiction, in my experience, because real life just sort of happens.  Basing a piece of fiction too closely on real-life events and experiences all too often results in stories that don’t work, and which the author justifies by saying “But […]

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Making soup

It’s been a little over a year since my mother died, and one of the things I inherited from her was her collection of cookbooks. It’s quite a collection, too. When Mom ran out of space on the kitchen cookbook shelf, she just started putting them elsewhere. I’ve taken three […]

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In Praise of Editors

Over the years, I have worked with a lot of editors myself, and watched a lot of my friends work with others. Some have been better than others; some have just been a better fit than others. But they all do pretty much the same thankless, undervalued, […]

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