The Publishing Process, The Writer's Life, Top Posts

Go Away Publishing Industry. I’m Writing.

It’s entirely possible that what you know about the publishing industry is killing your chances of being published. I’m not referring to perky and/or snarky agents* who tease you forward with a one-in-a-thousand opportunity they call “querying,” or clueless editors* who wouldn’t know brilliant literature if it bit them in the Franzen. I’m not talking about the endless hoops writers have to jump through whether chasing the graying hope of traditional publishing success or the shiny silver promise of self-published glory. I’m not talking about the dearth of bookstores or the preponderance of ebooks or the utter unpredictability of bestsellers.…

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Meaningless Drivel, The Writer's Life, Top Posts

Vivisection

If you watch a writer in a coffee shop, you won’t be particularly impressed by her work. You might not even notice that she’s working. The external act of writing is a mundane thing. It is quiet, often deathly so. ten fingers tapping long sighs and silent swearing insomnia cure You have to slice a writer in half to reveal the invisible truth. Writing is sudden bursts of brilliance racing ahead with yellow-jersey speed while you labor to catch up with tricycle typing fingers. It’s a magnificent ache and pointless pursuit sandwich smothered in what-the-hell-was-I-thinking sauce. It’s creation and destruction.…

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Meaningless Drivel, The Writer's Life, Top Posts

DON’T PANIC

Writing fiction can make you crazy. Here’s how. Step One – Over the course of your next three lifetimes, visit a few thousand publishing-related blogs and read every nugget of writerly wisdom you can find. Pay particular attention to literary agents’ blogs. They’re jam-packed with practical tips, such as: “If your novel includes a prologue, you’re obviously a demon from the pit of hell. I don’t represent demons. At this time.” “Don’t even think of misspelling the word query. Seriously, stop thinking about it. Have you stopped thinking about it? I didn’t think so. Please go away.” “Backstory in a…

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Self-editing Tips, Top Posts, Writing tips

How to Write Good Dialogue

Well-written dialogue doesn’t draw attention to itself. Instead, it quietly goes about its business, revealing truth and ferrying the plot toward its conclusion. Bad dialogue, on the other hand, stands out like a man wearing a clown costume to a funeral. (Unless it’s a clown funeral. Then it’s like a man not wearing a clown costume to a funeral.) But for all its invisibility, good dialogue does a lot of heavy lifting. Besides giving voice to your characters, dialogue frequently puts legs on that “show, don’t tell” axiom. For a rare few writers, writing dialogue is as natural as breathing. It’s…

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The Writer's Life, Top Posts

A Compelling Reason

Why do you write? Wait, don’t answer that. Not yet. Let me play psychic. (Don’t try this at home. At least not with the aid of an Ouija board. You might get sucked into the underworld – and I don’t mean the good one where Kate Beckinsale wears leather. Or you could become possessed by demons. Or – yikes – you might be inspired to make a low-budget paranormal horror film that will turn you into a millionaire!) First, I will place a few of your worst possible answers on the table so I can sweep them into the trash…

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The Writer's Life, Top Posts

Spin

There is a chair. It sits on a line that runs north and south. It spins, but does not roll. Turn and face east. You’ll see that you’re in a room. It isn’t a particularly well-lit room, despite the efforts you’ve made to keep it from looking like a dungeon. Let’s call it your office. In front of you is a desk. No, make it a table you found at a garage sale. It’s okay that it doesn’t match the rest of the furniture in your office. It’s yours and that’s what matters. Besides, it’s not really an “office” office.…

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