Before we even scratch the surface of the craft, to discover that creative writing is much harder than we ever dreamed, well wishers bombard us with basic recommendations: Fiction dialogue is not like real-life speech; write in scenes; create vivid characters; add sentence variety, etc. Eventually, a sage will dish out the mother of all advice: “write what you know.” Just like that....more
Next time you are at a writer’s conference, convention, or gathering attended by industry professionals—such as agents, publishers or editors—ask them to rate the quality of submitted manuscripts in terms of fiction technique, grammar, and syntax. A few weeks ago we did just that. Some agents gnashed their teeth, others reached for the salts, and two fainted. Their verdict? Beeleaf it oar knot, out of one-hundred submitted manuscripts fifty are unreadable and forty-nine are trash; the remaining one—a glorious discovery once in a month of Sundays—can be read....more
Professionalism when discussing anything in the publishing industry is a tightrope we all have to walk. Gone are the days when a writer could just write the damn story and hide away from view. In today’s publishing industry, we are writers and we are business people ....more
Just a few days ago, I finished a manuscript. Wonderful stuff! On top of the world I shared a tot of Lagavulin with the man in the mirror and performed a half-assed jig (tripped twice). Then, I opened the terrace doors and yelled the good news to the alarm of passersby’s and wayward hobos.
But something nagged at the back of my head throughout the euphoria; something I couldn’t put my finger on. Then it hit me. I gathered a scrap of paper, pen and calculator, and settled down at my desk.
The manuscript is set in a psychiatric institution, a good old-fashioned mad house....more
I read a lot of blogs by agents, publishers and authors. Nearly every one at some point asks the question, “Why do you write?” It’s not the question that bothers me, it’s an awesome question. No, it’s the answer that many writers give that annoys the shit out of me. Makes me want to shake the silly bullshit out of people.
Renée and I used to wake up, at dissimilar times considering the 3859.22 miles separating our beds, and rush to our computers like eager little bunnies. We were enthusiastic about the ritual, ever hoping to find a breath of fresh voice in our in-boxes or a manuscript containing a whiff of pure ...more
We've all heard countless writers whine about being unable to find the time to write. It’s a daily complaint I see from at least one person (usually more) on Twitter, Facebook, and in critique groups. Perhaps it's one of your complaints. Work, family, and social obligations take up every waking hour. It’s impossible to do all of that and write. If only we could add an hour to our day, we’d write the shit out of that hour.
The reality is even if you were given that hour, you’d need another because you’d probably fill that hour up with something that is not writing. ...more
Those of us grappling with a second or third language know better than most the difficulty of figured speech, which can impart sentences or paragraphs a unique zest. Different languages use groups of unlikely words to convey precise and often colorful images. As a laborer of the word, I marvel at the way in which these groupings translate the same picture into most...more
We are a species of dreamers. I don’t know if other species dream, perhaps they do—Dill, my cat, jerks his paws and makes small noises at intervals and occasionally pees when napping—but I believe we are the only species capable of dreaming awake. In my opinion, daydreaming is the principal trait that singles out our species.
To daydream has a few synonyms; fantasize, invent, build castles in the air, let your imagination run riot, etc. These verbs and verbal phrases describe...more