I wrote a full draft of my my most successful novel in three weeks. However, every novel is its own puzzle to solve, and it’s usually a mistake to hark back to the previous book (in this case, Memory Boy) when writing a new one. There are two very general approaches to writing a novel: […]Read article
Category: Fiction Writing Tips
A Question About Your Novel?
Why? For what reason are you writing it? The subject is no small matter. Freud maintained that we do things for one or more of five reasons: “honor, power, fame, riches, and the love of women.” (Let’s just say ‘love’.) None of these reasons are necessarily wrong-headed, but there are better ones. How about joy? […]Read article
Restarting Your Novel
Let’s say a good chunk of your novel is done. But then real life catches up with you. Family, work, health– any of the zillion reasons aligned against sustained, unbroken writing time. Or maybe you just need to set it aside. In the first draft you’ve’ve discovered some things that need more thought. Your plot […]Read article
When Is It Plagiarism?
Recently The New Yorker magazine ran an extended piece called “Unreliable Narrator” (February 11, 2019), in which it takes best-selling author Dan Mallory to task for (among other things) the close similarities of his new novel The Woman in the Window with Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train, not to say the film, Copy Cat, a thriller […]Read article
Too Much Plot? (Nerdy)
Question: when does too much plot overwhelm a good story? Answer: when a “twist” is needed for resolution. The plot twist is one of the many fiction techniques in your writer’ tool bag, but it’s one to be wary of. A twist can work splendidly. A twist fail spectacularly. A successful examples might be found […]Read article
“Don’t Make a Scene”
You’ve heard that line. Maybe it was a parent speaking to a child behaving badly. Maybe it was in a public place where a couple was working out a problem. One begs the other, “Please don’t make a scene!” Ah, but making a scene is exactly what we do in fiction writing. Scene-by-scene writing is […]Read article
The Deep Conspiracy Against Your Novel
It’s time to admit what you know in your bones: there’s a deep conspiracy against you finishing your novel. The conspiracy is all-encompassing. It’s like gravity, invisible but with the same confining effects. You can feel its weight, feel its drag, and it comes from all directions. A sick pet. A car that needs an […]Read article
Is There Anybody Out There?
Authors always wonder if we’re making connection. Here’s a sweet letter from a reader: “Hi! A couple months ago I came across your short fiction story “Dispersal” inside a collection of short fiction from the Midwest. I absolute loved the feelings i got from “Dispersal”. I had a question for you. I’m writing a paper […]Read article
Make Me Hungry: Writing Good Description
When it comes to writing description the first question is simple: Is there enough? Too much? The goal is have just enough crisp, clear description in order to set the scene in the reader’s head–so they can “see it.” Ah, but you’re not done. Yes we need to see, but we also need to hear, […]Read article
Edgar Allan Poe Was Not Crazy
If you don’t have time to read novels, why not short stories? The really good kind. Fiction, as Poe advised, “that can be read in one sitting.” That was his definition of the short story form. And it’s a still a good one. A great place to find good short stories in is the yearly […]Read article
Power Reading for Better Writing
“If you want to be a writer, you gotta be a reader,” someone (me) once said. But who has the time to do both? Here’s a solution that works for me. When I’m stuck on a novel–frozen up, blocked, or otherwise suffering a complete loss of confidence –I get my ass to a library. Preferably […]Read article
Right now is perhaps the worst time in my memory for publishing a novel. That is, for a mainstream print publisher to pay you and produce a print version of your novel. The “Big Six publishers” in New York City are offering fewer print titles and paying their best-selling authors more. This leaves crumbs for […]Read article