Eco-writing: Entropology and the Disintegrating Framework of the Novel
As writers, how can we respond to the futility of a climate crisis that shows no signs of slowing down? Writing about nature is nothing new, but what happens when we start to write for and in conjunction with nature instead?
How to Make $50,000 a Year as a Novelist
I can hear you all falling about, reading that title. “$50,000 a year? You must be joking! Yet amazingly, I’ve just spent the last two months in the (virtual) company of several novelists who are doing just that. How they’ve done it is a revelation, and I think it’s a revelation every would-be author needs to have.
Sympathy for the Gatekeepers
Few aspiring authors have much affection for agents and publishers, who have rejected them countless times for seemingly no good cause. I can't say I'm much different, but I have recently developed a great sense of empathy for the gatekeepers of the industry.
Writing a Multivolume Story
Writing a novel is fraught with challenges. Writing a multivolume novel, such as a trilogy, compounds those challenges. While there are different approaches to tackle this problem, this post summarizes how my solution to the Griffin Hunter trilogy developed.
Why A Modern Fiction Writer Should Read Philosophical Dialogues
It's not likely that many of us spend much time reading Plato. But if you are serious about writing quality fiction, you should take the time to learn from great writers of philosophical dialogue. Here are three ways reading philosophical dialogue can improve your writing.
60 Second Philosophy
The market for self-published books is booming. Of the fifty top-selling Amazon eBooks as of February 22, 2022 at 9:00pm (and yes, the list is updated hourly,) 19 are self-published. Another 11 are published by Amazon in-house imprints Montlake, Lake Union, and Thomas & Mercer. Just 20 are from traditional publishers like Penguin or Harper Collins. KDPRocket reports that the best-selling of the indie books (The Rake, by L.J. Shen) has $418,471 in monthly ebook sales, and the last of the indie books (The Plains of Laramie by C.J. Petit) has $42,093 in monthly ebook sales. Each book is also available in softcover formats, as well, so the total is actually higher.
Plots from Image: Incognito Visitor
An image can evoke an array of responses based on the viewer's personal life experiences. While a snowy scene of wolves chasing a young buffalo may trigger discomfort for some, others may find striking beauty in the cycle of life. Writers, however, apply imagination to before and after events until a story results.
The Darkest Reflections
The best sort of hero/villain throw downs are those in which the villain, using his power, abilities, origin, personality, or some combination of the four, provides a direct contrast to the hero. He is the hero gone wrong, the hero who is sent off the deep end.
A Milestone year
2021 was quite a ride. In November, with the launch of Perilous Gambit, the Mike Stoneman Thriller series is officially a series. I know, you can be a series at three books, and four is a nice number, but getting to five (5) books makes it a legitimate series. Plus, there’s a story arc that threads through these five books and reaches a conclusion (or at least a milestone) with this story. There is a sense of completion.
Show-Don't Tell, Must We?
I had always thought writers were individualists, and I'm sure most of them still are. This makes it all the harder for me to understand how a doctrine that is deeply prohibitive in nature could have assumed the status of a religious doctrine in a relatively short time.
Writing Magic in Fantasy books
Fantasy worlds are defined by different races, history, conflicts and events, characters that move our stories forward, but also, magic. Magic is one of the things that separates your world from a regular medieval setting. It defines and shapes what you've created, and it also allows your characters, your mages, wizards, warriors, regular citizens, to interact with the surroundings in a unique and interesting way.
Backing Up Isn’t Sexy…But Neither Is Losing Your Work
I know the subject of backing up is terrible. It isn’t actually about making your writing better. It’s a technical voodoo most writers tend to ignore. Those who mention backing up find others saying something like, “I should do this more often. I haven’t backed up in a month.”
I was taught to back up when I started writing by an IT professional named Chrys Thorsen. How good is she? Chrys is a network administrator and network security expert for the White House in Washington D.C. I’m about to pass what she taught on to you. I’ll start with my own back up story.
New story system
We are in the process of replacing the story system, which is the living heart of CC, so it's a bit nerve wrecking. You might have seen a preview of this in the last hook weekend but now we are about to roll it out site-wide.
I need some brave volunteers to help me test this. Let me know in the comments if you want to help.
You Are Not Your Story
There are a lot of stories out there that never make it past the first draft. Not because they’re no good – but because the author is having an identity crisis. If you’re afraid of submitting for critique, this article will suggest one of the reasons why you might be having that hesitation, and encourage you to see the situation from a different viewpoint.
What are you afraid of?
This question came up in regards to writing during a recent chat between a handful of authors. The group was diverse, yet the discussion brought out a bevy of similarities. Some perceived themselves as frauds, fearing public exposure of their inability to write. Another worried making a mistake in their personal writing process—skipping a step in plotting for example—will lead to a complete failure. I considered these, but didn’t feel that pull in my gut. Then someone voiced my biggest fear.
Anyone who has finished a novel knows there’s a lot more to creative writing than snappy dialogue, evocative scenes, and rip-roaring action. Even if your characters could walk right off the pages into real life, your novel goes nowhere without a compelling story. I believe the number one job of any author is to tell a good story.
Copyright vs. Plagiarism
Plagiarism is thus both broader and narrower than Copyright infringement: (1) directly copying someone's work without attribution is a violation of their copyright and is plagiarism; (2) directly copying someone's work with attribution is still a violation of their copyright, but is not plagiarism; (3) copying someone's ideas without attribution is not a violation of their copyright, but is plagiarism.
Utilizing Personality Tests To Create Well-Rounded Characters
A well rounded, developed character feels real. They feel like someone you would meet at school, at work, or at the coffee shop. They could be your family member or part of your circle of friends. But how do you develop such a realistic character? How do you go beyond basic characteristics such as hair and eye color, job preference, and favorite color?
Heeding Advice on the Writing Process
If you're anything like me, you've wondered from time to time whether your particular writing process is effective. Perhaps you follow your intuition and do what feels right for you, but there’s a nagging voice in your head telling you that you could do better. There are seemingly endless articles and videos out there in which famous writers expound on their own tried-and-true writing processes. Is listening to their advice helpful or harmful to an amateur writer?
Writers Block Isn't Real
Remember in the Matrix where Neo goes to the Oracle and he meets the child with the spoon in the waiting room? The child says, "There is no spoon. …it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself," then precedes to bend the spoon at will with his mind. Well Neos of CC, there is no writer's block, there is only writer's avoidance.
Picture Books in Today's Market
Today's picture book market is very different from when I was a child. The book market is more selective. Agents and editors cloak their decisions in a pc culture. Very few publishers like in the past take direct submissions from new authors. So now you have written a children's book, but does it cut the mustard (meet current standards).
3 Things Not To Do To Your Heroes
When you write your story, you enter the mind of someone else—someone fictional, but I assure you, they feel more real than some of the people around you. Describing that person and putting their thoughts onto a page invites a reader to join you in this experience. That being said, if you want your reader to continue with your story and not chuck it across the room, there are a few ‘guidelines’ you are going to want to follow if your reader is supposed to root for your hero.
Dialogue Tags: Let's talk about talking
"Said is dead," proclaimed an infographic I just scrolled past on Pinterest. It boasted several replacements for the old standard of dialogue tags, including words like "interjected," "dictated," and "chortled."
Hmm, I pontificated. I think this is blog-worthy.
Your Novel and CC's Novel Feature
I particularly like CC’s Add Novel feature. I used the feature soon after joining CC, and as a newbie, I made plenty of mistakes. Some were humbling, and others cost me precious credits. This blog post describes what I learned, so others can avoid my mistakes. This post also gives tips that go beyond adding your novel and into tips for encouraging others to critique it.
Tips for Editing Your Own Writing
There’s no substitute for a professional editor. But, at some point you will sit down to “edit” your own book. It may be your final read-through after your editor or beta reader has finished, or it may be that you have set the book aside for a few weeks (a good idea) and now you’re ready to put the finishing touches on it before uploading to Kindle Direct Publishing. No matter what the circumstances, you’re ready to edit. Here are a few tips to help you do it as well as possible.
A standard short story is a fictional work that is usually less than 7500 words. It includes one plot, one or two characters, a central theme and one setting. The best short stories present an unusual perspective and are rich in figurative language. A short story follows a narrative arc. The four parts of this are detailed.
The Tightrope of Authenticity
Writing a novel set against an actual historical backdrop might seem easy at first blush. I refer to the simple fact that, unlike the science fiction or fantasy genres (in which one is almost obliged to construct a Tolkienesque landscape with a myriad of cultures, languages, and species), history, by contrast, provides us with ready-built cultures, cartographies and casts of characters. Presto! Instant context. But historical fiction comes with its own conundrums and pitfalls for the unwary writer.
What's Really Holding Your Writing Back
The fear of failure for many writers is so strong, it can cause the very best of us to quit mid-draft, procrastinate writing for weeks, or make the act of writing a misery.
But, there are simple techniques that can trick the brain into making writing easier and help anyone conquer the fear of failure.
Making your novel appeal to children.
As you may know children around the age of 7-13 don't enjoy reading. Many people would say to them you just haven't found the right book yet. But what if the right book isn't there? Writing books for children can be difficult for the simple reason your not a child.But we can all try to look through the eyes of a child.
Introductions :-) and a ?
There is nothing more exciting for an author than to see their work in print.
Like many writers just starting out, my desire for that moment outweighed my plan to make a living wage as a writer - being published as the goal rather than being paid.
How many of us on Critique Circle see our writing as “job,” “hobby,” “art,” “meditation,” or….? And what do we want it to become?
Starting out self-publishing
The Kindle store offers more than seven million individual titles. About a third have not sold a single copy. That’s right, more than two million books remain unread. Why? I’d speculate that a significant proportion were published by authors who believed they’d done all the hard work. They thought they could sit back and watch their creation find a readership all by itself. Whether you’re traditionally or self-published writing ‘THE END’ on your manuscript is only the beginning.
The Stroke of Lightning
Love at first sight is one of the most ancient and familiar romance tropes. But contemporary genre romance has its own spin on the matter. There, the first impression is decidedly physical: once the main characters meet, they can hardly keep their hands off each other. It follows that there must be obstacles that prevent them from getting together at once, and it is through meeting them that they learn about each other. What does this tell us about whether love at first sight is real?
Autobiographical Novels And Their Cousins
It has become a truism that writing in first-person offers more intimacy than third-person. But any mention of intimacy in writing raises the question, How is it expressed and in what genres or types? Some candidates are straight autobiography, fictional autobiography — also known as autobiographical fiction — as well as memoir and biography. All can offer intimacy of different kinds and in varying degrees.
This list can be broadened to include autobiographical novels, a.k.a. autobiographical fiction. All can offer intimacy to varying degrees. There is only space to touch on a few of these here.
Ragnar's advice on power escalation
When it comes to power escalation, there are many advices; many formulas. There are often guidelines one should follow so as to avoid a cheap and uncaptivating power escalation. The formula that is perhaps most used and known, is the guideline where the power escalation corresponds to the character's growth.
Romance and the Big Lie
In many stories, a romance is founded on a Big Lie. Resolving that discontinuity—bringing the relationship safely onto a firmer footing—tends to become the main issue of the storyline. And because at least some of the characters are mistaken about what’s going on, incongruities abound, and the natural home of such stories is romantic comedy.
Myths within myths
It’s no secret that many of the stories we read as kids are just retellings of ancient myths. But as writers we can do better. By having a deep knowledge of ancient mythology we can connect our stories to myths within myths, weaving in different cultures and histories in a tapestry of ideas that were connected this whole time, but were unacknowledged.
Death by Participial Phrases
Hoping for the best, Jeremy cinched the rope around his waist. Spreading the bedsheet behind, he was suddenly doubtful this crazy plan would work. A thousand-foot drop awaited, taunting him. The river glistened, calling him. Stepping to the edge, he tightened his boot laces. He summoned his courage, leaping. Cold wind roared in his ears, freezing his cheeks. The makeshift parachute fluttered, collapsing. Cartwheeling down, splintering tree limbs, and slamming rocks, it was death by participial phrases.
Action and Passion
Our story approaches its climax: Our Hero prepares for the cataclysmic action on which all depends. She tenses her muscles, tightens her fists, screws up her face into a tense grimace. Or does she? There are actually two ways to imagine how one achieves some brilliant feat. We have conflicting ideas about how we can make action most effective.
Prophecy and the Plan
The ancient prophecy is a staple of fantasy. The source of the information is often vague, but once we've heard the prophecy, we know it's going to come true - somehow. There's also a comparable science fiction trope: the long-term Plan. But the Plan functions rather differently. Here we take a look at the two together.
Published . . . Really?
This gives you and idea of where we are going, if you want to go with me. If you want to know what She Writes Press is about, check out this Ted Talk from Brooke Warner, who began She Writes Press. I think you will find it fascinating: Green-Light Revolution: Your Creative Life on Your Terms
The Art of Critiquing
When the instructor entered and we each got up at the front of the room and talked about what we were trying to achieve in our paintings. The instructor would ask for comments from the other students. Their comments were remarkably revealing and insightful. Everyone was treated with the same respect and courtesy regardless of the quality of the work. Comments made to those students who were struggling were made with compassion and understanding. Sometimes they were offered suggestions on where and how to get more help so that they too could raise their skill level.
The Fourth Wall
I’ve always enjoyed storytelling hiccups that involve the “fourth wall” – you know, that imaginary barrier between fictional characters and the audience. The name, fourth wall, comes from theater where performances have three physical walls, to the left, right and behind the stage. Characters in a stage play aren’t supposed to know that somewhere off in that fourth direction, there are people watching them. Once in a while, those characters figure it out, and that’s when the comedic fun begins.
Maureen's Three Level Method
Revising a novel is like eating a whale, both massive and overwhelming. We struggle with where to begin, what to focus on and how to manage the process. If you’re like me and have trouble identifying what the steps of revision are, let alone figuring out what order to do them in, then I think this blog will really help you. I’ve been wishing for a system like this for a long time and feel like I’ve found my unicorn.
How to Learn to Write Multiple Characters
The writer Francine Prose wrote a wonderful instruction manual, Reading Like a Writer. In it she describes how to do a 'close read' on a work of fiction, thereby learning how to do scenes that may have been previously difficult or impossible to do. Prose suggests doing this with James Joyce's short story, 'The Dead,' to learn how to write group scenes with a large number of characters.
To Hire Or Not To Hire
At some point, most writers who have finished writing a novel and who do not have an agent will think of hiring an editor. Depending on how well they write, what they have to offer, their financial situation, and the qualifications of the editor they choose, hiring could be a wise move or a foolish one. It’s a tough decision, unless money is not an issue.
Feasting on Crumbs at the Table
I have been on this earth long enough to accept rejection, both social and professional, with humor and good karma. But it has never occurred to me to rebrand rejection as acceptance. I struggled to grasp the writer’s reality, that a sheaf of rejection letters validates you as a writer. One of my advisors contemptuously sniffed, “Well you don’t want to be a hobbyist do you?”
How much is too much
One surefire way to bog down your text is to include too many descriptions of your characters' physical movements. Too many new writers feel compelled to describe every movement a character makes, no matter how small or irrelevant. Instead of painting a picture, an abundance of these moribund details clutters your story and bores your reader.
It has become very important to shoehorn one’s creative words into a particular genre so that the book can be shelved with other books of its kind in brick and mortar bookstores or promoted with other books of its kind online. This is a marketing problem and a marketing solution.