Writing is a lot like Thanksgiving: showing off, unity, over-indulging, and gratefulness are all important aspects in writing.Read More
When the big life answers don’t come in my time frame, I need to turn my attention to and be grateful for the beauty that fills my life in an everyday way—and find inspiration there. The same goes for our writing. While we trying to get the big stuff down—genre, characters, plot, narrative story arc , we need to focus, too, on the smallest supporting cast if you will—the objects and experiences that can either be overlooked OR unearthed, examined and celebrated.Read More
I was talking to a friend the other night, and somewhere in the conversation we started making guesses about where the rest of our crew was at that point in the night. I started to say, “I assume…” but then I stopped myself and had a second guess moment. “Assume? Presume? Which one is it?” Obviously since we live in the age of smartphones and instant Google, I looked it up. Believe it or not, there is a slight difference, and I’m sharing it with you today.Read More
Do you write from personal experience? Or you rather get lost in imaginary worlds and alternate realities, full of superheroes and alien creatures?
Our imaginations are endless and should be exploited creatively as much as possible. And yet, the number one writing advice says: ‘Write what you know’. Does this suggest that only war veterans can write about wars, or that Jules Verne really went around the world in 80 days?
Honestly, I used to hate this epic instruction. It somehow suggested that everything anyone writes is utterly personal and resembles the writer’s soul. Which simply isn’t true.Read More
Tabitha King is her husband’s Ideal Reader. In the past decades she has been the first person in Stephen King’s mind while he sat at his desk transforming his ideas into black on white stories.Read More
Since publishing his latest book, David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell has taken quite a few lashings from critics. One science writer in particular, Christopher Chabris—who incidentally helped defrock Jonah Lehrer—suggested Gladwell intentionally promotes bad science to manipulate people just so he can sell more books.
Another author, David Epstein, writer of The Sports Gene, argued that “the 10,000 hour rule” which Gladwell coined in his bestselling book may not be as true as everyone was led to believe. Sure, practice is important, he said, but all the practice in the world is useless without innate talent. Runners who start out slow (or writers who start out bad, for that matter) don’t become world class, no matter how many hours of practice they put in.Read More
Every writer cringes a little when reading terrible dialogue. I know I do. Don’t you just hate the stiff, awkward characters who speak formally no matter the situation? It’s awful. But what if we’re those writers? Here are three tips to avoid that.Read More
Last week, a colleague forwarded me a link to an online article relevant to research I’m doing for one of my novels. I read it with interest and a certain amount of indignation(the piece was about arsenic-based drugs fed to chickens raised for human consumption on large-scale industrial lots).
Then I read the comments, did 30 seconds of sleuthing, and my indignation turned to the author of the article.
The “author,” you see, was not the author at all. The person had simply copied the article from a journalist writing for another web site, changed a few words here and there, and then listed as “sources” various other articles, but not the original piece he plagiarized. Perhaps worse yet, the “news” his piece was announcing was two years old.
None of us would ever do something like this, of course. Ever. They’d have to put a loaded gun to our heads—and even then.
But doing the right thing when you write isn’t always so black and white, and it doesn’t always look you straight in the eye.Read More
Over the weekend, Joe sent me a link to a blog that talks about how students are apparently saying “all of the sudden” instead of “all of a sudden”. Is that a thing? It was actually the first time I’d heard of the words in idioms being switched around. In case there was any confusion, “all of the sudden” is incorrect, “all of a sudden” is correct, and whoever created the idiom made it a completely arbitrary decision.Read More
A couple of months ago I attended a reading and book signing with Terry McMillan, the best selling author of Waiting to Exhale. She discussed her upcoming book, Who Asked You?, which contains fifteen different points of view, including one of an eight-year-old boy. With that many POVs, there was no way ALL the characters could be autobiographical, so during the question and answer period I asked her—how did she get in the minds of characters so unlike herself?
Her answer can be boiled down to the following: you must (1) empathize, (2) listen to those around you, and (3) fill out a job application on behalf of your character.Read More