Six impossible things

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Booting up the Characters

There are a couple of truisms in fiction, and one of them is “stories are about people.” I’d say “Most stories…” but unless you’re really setting out to write something like Islandia or Utopia or Voyage to Arcturus, you can pretty much go with the truism. This […]

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Getting ready to get ready

When I was in college, I had a friend who wanted to be a fantasy writer. He had his career all planned out, and the first thing on his list was to acquire the skills and information he needed to write good fantasy. He had chosen his major and […]

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Get it Out

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”  – Groucho Marx Every so often, someone comes up to me at a social event and after talking for a while, they come out with “I have a […]

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Every story needs to open with a hook, or so says conventional writing wisdom. Conventional writing wisdom, unfortunately, seldom goes on to address the obvious question: Just what is a hook, anyway? And how do you write one? There are three things everybody seems to agree upon […]

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The World in the Story

There are other kinds of worldbuilding besides the deep-background variety I was talking about last post, to wit, the immediate-background sort and the in-story sort. The immediate-background worldbuilding, like deep worldbuilding, is stuff that not everyone needs to do in advance. It’s very similar to the deep-worldbuilding […]

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Deep worldbuilding

A couple of weeks ago, I finally figured out one of the several reasons I’ve been having so much difficulty booting up The New Thing. It’s because for my last eight to ten books, I haven’t had to do any deep worldbuilding, because all of them came […]

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The First Veil

It’s pretty easy for most writers to get about four chapters into something based on an interesting idea/situation/character/plotpoint and a bunch of mysterious happenings. But somewhere around Chapter 4, one hits what has been variously termed “the wall,” “the first veil,” or “the first event horizon.” Sometimes […]

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Getting from the Beginning to the Middle

For a certain kind of writer, the opening of a story is easy and fun – you get to allude to mysterious events and drop ominous clues. And then comes the middle, where all the stuff you’ve been alluding to has to start showing up and actually […]

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More on Prologues

The whole point of a good prologue is to do something that the writer cannot do in the main part of the story without violating some important aspect of storytelling, like chronology or viewpoint or continuity. For instance, if the main story is told entirely from the […]

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The Problem with Prologues

Prologues are out of favor these days, one of the “forbidden” (by whom?) writing techniques, yet people keep asking about them because they know intuitively that the technique has enormous possibilities. Quite a few folks go ahead and use them anyway. Sometimes this works brilliantly; other times, […]

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