Six impossible things

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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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Plot is hard: Sorting

So back to plot, more directly. The next step, after assembling a huge pile of things that could happen, is arranging all the pieces into a coherent narrative. Note that I said “coherent,” not “complete.” There will undoubtedly still be gaps; the point is to get a […]

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Plot is Hard, Part 2

Once you have an idea of the kinds of plots you like, how much you need to know to get started (and how much you need to not-know in order to keep going), and the kinds of things that seem to trigger good ideas for you, you […]

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Patterns

As many readers of this blog know, I am a knitter, and have been for years. When I first learned to knit, I wanted strict directions for anything more complicated than a rib-stitched scarf: a pattern that calls for this yarn and that needle size. I focused […]

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Making stuff up: Putting it all Together

Looking at the story development process the way I have been in these last few posts makes it seem logical and straightforward, but that’s only because I was looking at one angle at a time. In actual fact, when one is making stuff up for a real […]

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Making it up in general

Writing fiction comes in two parts: making it up, and writing it down. For some writers – the seat-of-the-pants sort who just sit down and wing it – the two things happen simultaneously, or at least so close together that it is practically impossible for anything working […]

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What if…

One of the really common recommendations for generating plot ideas is “Ask yourself What if… about something.” It’s the foundation of Alternate History stories, from changes that everyone recognizes – What if the South had won the Civil War? What if Napoleon had won at Waterloo? What […]

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Following a trail instead of a hook

A lot of attention gets paid to “writing a killer hook” for one’s story, to the point where I’ve known people to spend more time writing their very first sentence than they spend working on the whole rest of their story. Not all at once, of course. […]

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Later developments

The ideas I was talking about in the last post are seldom ready-to-write when they arrive. Even the ones that look ready to go often turn out not to be when one gets right down to it. I’ve talked before about the pre-writing story development, so this […]

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Meeting the Muse

“Where do you get your ideas?” Every writer I know is sick of being asked this question. Many writers have developed snappy non-answers: from a post office box in Schenectady, from a secret subscription service, from an idea-fairy who leaves them on the desk whenever I leave […]

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