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Posts from the ‘WRITING: CRAFT’ Category

Learning How to Fall is Easy

Dad fell out of an apple tree one time when I was a teenager. After Mom finished scolding him for having climbed up there in the first place, I have a vivid recollection of him grinning and telling us ‘falling is easy. Learning how to land well, that’s hard.’ I was driving my daughters to work today, and reassuring one of them that her new role at work will get easier. “I stutter through talking to customers,” she told us, “I’m probably making them wait too long to hear all the options.” Practice, I told her. And then I watched the two of them walk together through the fog into their store to work, and contemplated their dedication to the one job people ridicule most. The store got a two-pack, and the girls are doing good work. The worrier in particular is always there, shift in and shift out, takes extra hours beyond what she should, and comes in whenever they call her. Her managers know who I am, and rave about them to me when I come in. She’s doing good. She has the potential already to move into leadership – both of them do. Read more

What’s the Point?

I think we’re back into routine. And I’ve got my head wrapped around it. Which is nice. Feels good. Of course, Mrs. Dave heads off again in a couple weeks, and then there’s LibertyCon, and the littles will be out of school for the summer. Which means and entirely *new* routine to which I’ll get to adjust. Joy. Seriously, I think I’m going to lose my preferred hermitliness method of existence through sheer chaos of life. Which is a little strange, as that’s how I’m going to finish all those books I’m not currently writing.
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If only… (On Alternate History)

While Dave is moving, here’s another great piece of advice from July 2015!

Maybe Alternate History’s appeal comes down to the fact that every human, ever, says ‘If only I had…’ That, perhaps and the fact that most of us (we’re all victors of a sort, in the battle if not the war, because we’re still alive) are constantly indulging in the victor’s privilege of re-writing our own history. In truth, history is never really pretty. On the individual level, on the state level, on the world level, there’s always something we’d like to have another go at – even the bits we didn’t actually do too badly, and would probably make a horse’s butt next time. Read more

Do Your Homework

I’ll admit right off the bat, this post was inspired by the title of a post over on The Passive Voice. But it veers off the path immediately from the Publishers Weekly article that was the basis for the PV post. If I try to write about “cultural appropriation” this morning, the post would wind up being nothing but a string of curses. Not because I believe we should never write anything we don’t know or aren’t a member or part of but because of all the wonderful book that will never be written because authors are afraid of writing a book with characters that don’t look like them, don’t believe like they do, etc. Okay, stopping there before the cursing begins.

Instead, I want to focus on how you have to do your research if you are writing about people, places or things you aren’t very familiar with. For example, some years ago, I was in Philadelphia for a business conference and contacted family friends in New Jersey. We arranged to meet at their home on Sunday. Since I hadn’t been there since I was a child, Ruth gave me directions and told me to look for the simple cottage with hollies out front. Simple enough, right? I mean we all know what a cottage is and what hollies look like. Read more

Sequins: more and badder villains

While Dave is moving, here’s another piece of his really good advice from the archives, this one from September 2016:

A friend put up a meme about the inherent logical conflict any really good book causes: you don’t want it to end – but you want to keep reading to the end.

His comment was ‘make sure there are lots of sequels.’

Ah. Eyes that see what they want to see. I read that as ‘make sure there are lots of SEQUINS’: an excellent maxim, which promptly sent my male heterosexual mind back a back a good many years to a fine sequence of sequins. Read more

The End… Or is it?

This isn’t, necessarily, about series. Although it could certainly apply to them. No, it’s something I’ve realized about myself after more than a dozen novels and novellas, and I figure I’m not the only one with the dread writer’s ailment of can’t write an ending to save my life. Read more

Good Critic, Bad Critic

Last time I talked about dealing with the destructive inner critic, so I thought that today it might be worth mentioning that it’s not really a good idea to silence or ignore all the criticisms that float through your head. Some of them come from the useful critic, the one you definitely want to listen to. It’s not hard to distinguish them. The Bad Critic makes statements that are usually personal attacks, and are always designed to silence you. The Good Critic asks questions that spark ideas and help you improve the story.

There are lots of checklists of questions to ask yourself, but I don’t find these terribly useful. I prefer to take a step back from the story and see what floats into my head when I try to read it as a stranger might; when I sense a weakness in what I’ve written or recognize an old stumbling-block. A lot of them are things you might expect to hear from beta readers, but I don’t believe in counting on beta readers to fix problems I can catch for myself. Here, then, are some things I might hear from the Good Critic during the journey from initial idea to finished draft. Read more