Today on Twitter, a question came up about outlining: “What’s your favorite and most effective way to outline your work before you start writing?“
Good question. As an author, I don’t typically outline, but my current work in progress (“WIP”) is so closely tied to my first novel that I have to. As an editor, however, sometimes I think an author would have benefited from having developed an outline. But is outlining really that important, and if so, what is the best way to do it? Continue reading
All narrative fiction requires some amount of wold building, even if the world you’re building is a real-life setting; however, if you write speculative fiction, particularly science fiction or fantasy, world building is absolutely critical. Here are some general tips for creating an enthralling and believable world. Continue reading
Creating realistic, sympathetic characters is tough. It’s easy to create one- or two-dimensional caricatures and stereotypes, or go overboard and end up writing some Frankenstein’s monster of a character that has very little internal cohesion.
Your skills in observation and research will be crucial. You need a strong grasp of the complexity of human nature so that you can recognize and interpret behaviour in light of external circumstances (e.g., a person’s general social status, the relationship/power dynamics between two or more people, the social situations in which certain interactions take place) and internal traits (e.g., individual temperament, personal desires, and intentions — conscious or otherwise).
Point of view (POV) is one of the most basic underlying features of story construction, as it determines what you can show the reader and how the content will be framed. While you may be able to change POV characters at different places in the story, you can’t just make random POV shifts merely because they’re convenient for you. And while there is nothing wrong with reconsidering the viewpoint partway through the writing process, changing the POV at a later stage can involve intense rewriting and may require you to add or delete significant amounts of content.
You’ll find plenty of opinions about what makes good writing, but there are as many opinions as there are readers, and they range from technical critiques to personal raves, with many being a mix of the two. You probably won’t find a consensus on the issue.
But what makes a good writer? Continue reading
If there are people making money from your writing, then you should be one of those people. It’s simple, right? Continue reading
I’m an editor. I get a manuscript, dissertation, or textbook and I dig into the words to root out fluff and transplant content from areas where its meaning is obscured in shadow to places where the light hits it more directly. I do a little pruning, a little grooming, and then I hand my trowel back to the person who planted the garden. Now I’m watching other people dig through my plot and it is a weird feeling, my friends. Continue reading
Doubt feels awful, even when it’s just a minor, nagging little thought in the back of your mind. After all, what if you really did leave the stove on and burn down the house while you were at work? Even small doubts can have dire consequences if they are justified. The problem is, many of them aren’t justified, but it’s not always easy to know when you should invite doubt in for tea and when to shut the door on it. However, if you’re going to be a writer, you need to make friends with your doubt. Continue reading
Realism is critical for good fiction writing, but speculative fiction demands some nonrealism, too. How do you find the right balance of realistic and nonrealistic features, and how do you make them work together harmoniously? Continue reading
There’s a lot of publishing advice that can help aspiring authors decide whether or not to self-publish or how to find the right agent or publisher, which is great news for aspiring authors. However, sorting through all that information can be overwhelming and new writers who are not already familiar with the industry may have trouble weeding out biased or unsound advice. Here are a few links that can help you round out your knowledge of the publishing world and make the right decisions for your writing career so you don’t lose your head. Continue reading