True Stories ?>

True Stories

They tell you to tell the truth and this sounds reasonable but you’re not quite sure how to do it. They also tell you to do other things. Kill your adverbs. Kill your semi-colons. Kill your darlings. Kill your prologues. Oh, you say, those I can do. So you set the truth aside and head to the killing fields. You reach for your metaphoric fountain pen, dip it in metaphoric red ink, and prepare to earn another metaphoric belt in the…

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When to Ignore Your Editor ?>

When to Ignore Your Editor

I’m not a member of any elite editorial clubs. I don’t dine with editors who have touched the Manuscripts of the Gods. I don’t have an MFA or a PhD or a WtF in Writing/Editing/Pontificating. I don’t play tambourine in an all-editorial band and I haven’t been contacted by the The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times or NPR to do an interview on what it’s like to walk with literary giants or play the tambourine in an…

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Good Advice/Bad Advice ?>

Good Advice/Bad Advice

Most people will tell you there are two kinds of writing advice: Good Advice and Bad Advice. I’m here to tell you they’re the same thing. Allow me to explain. Let’s start with that ol’ “Kill Your Adverbs” chestnut. This is Good Advice. Adverbs, more often than not, are redundant. You don’t need to tell me the monkey screamed loudly. Screaming is, by its very nature, loud. Just let the monkey scream. We’ll cover our ears. Adverbs also tend to…

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Impractical Magic ?>

Impractical Magic

There is no magic formula, no conjuring spell. No eye of newt, and toe of frog. No wool of bat, and tongue of dog. Oh, you’ll find a few who would claim otherwise – people quick to sell you the secrets to a guaranteed bestseller. But they are charlatans. Or fools. There is no such thing as a magic formula for a guaranteed bestseller. You can’t reverse-engineer J. K. Rowling’s books, find out what makes them tick, then build a better…

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How Do You Know You’re Growing as a Writer? ?>

How Do You Know You’re Growing as a Writer?

I’m not sure how to open this post. I thought about playing the simile card and saying something about how becoming a better writer is a lot like becoming a better other thing – a better architect, a better juggler, a better OPI color namer, a better human. That would have been entirely true. And entirely boring. I also considered manufacturing a conversation between a beginning writer and a seasoned writer that could foreshadow the post’s inevitable wisdom. I probably…

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This Could Be a Problem ?>

This Could Be a Problem

I like languishing in obscurity. Languishing is my love language. This could be a problem. Well, not yet. But it will be if I reach any of my writing goals for the year, which include: a little book based on my #thewritinglife Twitter updates; the first novel in a YA series; a contemporary adult novel that’s been six years in the making; a few more blog posts; at least one provocative tweet. You can’t have a successful writing career unless…

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Welcome to the Club ?>

Welcome to the Club

Sometimes I watch the Twitter-stream and think the New Digital World is a beautiful place. A place of generosity. A place of kindness. In the Sometimes you can almost hear people listening, nodding, patiently waiting their turn to add to the chorus. In the Sometimes, the digital shell dissolves and we’re in a small room together, face to face. You mention a book. I say I know that book. You say isn’t it the best? I say it’s brilliant. I…

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