Behold! National Novel Writing Month is almost upon us. As you get ready to write or revise your magnum opus, your friends at Caffeinated Press—presently embroiled in final line editing, so it’s top of mind—offer a few construction suggestions for you
A little bit of learning about Markdown or Multimarkdown and version-control systems will help you become a more efficient author — perhaps you’ll find the technical setup worth it in the long run.
Although you simply cannot distill creative writing into a proscriptive algorithm — people start in different places, and they learn in different ways — a review of the literature suggests that there’s perhaps too little scaffolding offered to new writers.
Too many authors, especially those early in their writing career, tend to use sarcasm as the default inner voice of a character.
Whether the disagreement is sourced in a contractual dispute, or concerns about edits, or in the misinterpretation of a social-media post, authors will inevitably have to engage in some classic dispute-resolution activities.
Writing the Great American Novel isn’t much different from studying a martial art or learning to scuba dive or qualifying for the Boston Marathon: You need a wee bit o’ talent, of course, but success follows from mastery, which follows from putting in the time to advance from novice to expert.
While it may be true that certain writing rules apply broadly, or even universally, the application of those rules can vary widely as a function of genre and story length.
One of the worst things an author can do is shop queries on the open market for material that hasn’t been substantially revised in light of feedback from competent beta readers.
I don’t think there’s a “One Weird Trick” approach to building a writer’s toolkit that will work for everyone. The ways I’ve written in the past don’t work for me today, and today’s method may not work for me a year from now. What’s important is that your infrastructure blend into the background; you should use it, without being aware that it’s there. And when it doesn’t work, change it up.
Like it or not, although writing as an activity is inherently solitary, writing for publication is an astonishingly social cultural phenomenon that requires much networking and relationship building.
Even though it might be embarrassing, an occasional trip down memory lane is useful. And it’s worth remembering, too, that your first or second novel will almost surely end up in the back of your file cabinet. That’s OK. It’s healthy. Your goal shouldn’t be to write and then to publish, but rather to write until you’re ready to publish.
Writers’ conferences open several valuable opportunities to authors — the chance to learn from peers, to buy books, to network with other writers, to stumble upon new potential markets, etc. But before you sign up for every conference in a 150-mile radius, consider your goals and the conference’s agenda. Even a free conference might not be worth what you paid to attend it.
A self-directed writer’s retreat, even if lasts just one marathon day, can help you get your bearings for the year to come and to re-acquaint you with your portfolio.
Join us for our NaNo Prep ’15 event on Saturday, Oct. 31; doors open at 1p and don’t close until 2a on Nov. 1.
What happens if the horror writer takes their usual writing time to write a humorous anecdote instead? What if the humor writer turns to poetry? The poet to an essay? A technical, non-fiction writer to horror? It may not result in a best seller, but what does it mean?
With a slush pile that, all told, now approaches a half-million words, we’ve had the opportunity to evaluate submissions from more than 80 different authors, in genres ranging from single short poems to overly long novels
No two writers have the same technique. Nor should they. What works for Author Bob isn’t going to necessarily work for Author Jane, because we’re all wired differently ‘twixt the earholes.
The single biggest challenge with contemporary fiction, assuming the prose is otherwise clean, is verbosity — using “plenty of words” when a few choice alternatives would suffice, or relying on strings of prepositional phrases or subordinate clauses in lieu of a single rarer word or a shorter phrase.
Scene-setting isn’t easy. There’s no magical paint-by-numbers approach for getting it right. When done well, a perfectly described scene can make a story; when done poorly, the story collapses.
The world benefits when authors tell their stories. But the stories that move us the most are informed by a deep understanding of the trends and ideas that undergird them. This understanding comes from reading or otherwise experiencing each individual plank on the scaffold of our story.