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Category: My Thoughts

Let It Die ?>

Let It Die

Is it time let your novel die? That’s a question every writer faces at least once in his or her writing life. The decision to pull life support is difficult at best, debilitatingly impossible at worst. You’ve worked on this novel for, what, months? years? How many hours have you invested? Even a poorly-written novel takes a long time to write. Then there’s the emotional cost. Whether you love your characters or hate them, they’ve most likely become real to…

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A Few Words of My Own ?>

A Few Words of My Own

A couple years ago, on a blog far, far away, I invited readers to send me a word or phrase that I could use as the basis for a short story. Readers sent me words like “cheesecake” and “dragonfly” and “rick-rack.” I wrote a story for each. But there was this one reader who thought it would be funny to send me more than one word. Here was her list: pus-oozing scabs maggot-infested corpses lightning bugs Hello Kitty band-aids Silver…

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Your Novel Doesn’t Stink Enough ?>

Your Novel Doesn’t Stink Enough

Scent. The forgotten sense. Take a look at your work in progress. How often do you invite the reader’s nose into the story? My guess? Not as often as you should. Consider real life for a moment. (In case you’ve forgotten, this is the life where you have to do laundry and feed the dog and occasionally acknowledge the existence of your spouse and/or children.) Breathe in each the following. Be sure to pause long enough for the brain to…

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Time Travel & Teleportation Aren’t Just for Science Fiction ?>

Time Travel & Teleportation Aren’t Just for Science Fiction

The written word defies the laws of physics. Right now, as you read this, the author of these words could be parasailing in Grand Cayman, or tied to a chair in the belly of an abandoned oil tanker while being pistol-whipped by thugs (a case of mistaken identity, surely), or (gasp) even dead. Okay, that last one’s a bit morbid, but the only thing you can be relatively certain of is that on Sunday, when I wrote this, I was…

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On the Subject of Subjectivity ?>

On the Subject of Subjectivity

Deep breath… The Da Vinci Code is the best novel ever written. You know it’s based on a true story, right? The Left Behind books are more well-written than anything by Fitzgerald or Hemingway or any of those boring Russian authors. The Road. It changed the way I view dialogue said the man. And punctuation. His life was a series of fragmented sentences. And so was the book. The Road is not just Cormac’s tarmac. It is brilliance said the…

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10 Reasons Writing Fiction Is the Best. Thing. Ever. ?>

10 Reasons Writing Fiction Is the Best. Thing. Ever.

You can explain away talking to yourself as “trying out a conversation between characters in my novel.” Your much-used acronym for “work in progress” is alarmingly similar to the acronym for “rest in peace” and this adds an air of clever mystery to your role when casually mentioning it among non-writers. (Plus, you only have to change one letter to appropriately re-categorize any book that’s going nowhere.) You can overindulge in any of the three “C”s with impunity: Coffee, Chocolate,…

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A Little Editing ?>

A Little Editing

Remember that writing contest I had a few weeks ago? Well, as part of that fun, I asked if I could use some of your entries as editing examples right here in front of everybody. With Jana’s permission, I’m going to show you a couple of ways I might approach the editing of her creative entry. First, I’ll show you the original work. The fire cast mirthless shadows over the face of a stranger. He was encircled by four armed…

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