WRITER TO WRITER: 12 Possibly Relevant Tips at Year’s End

Do not take your moods too seriously (exclusions to this rule include clinical depression, bipolar disorder, and the like; if any of these apply, seek expert help and do not skip your meds!) because the dark hole you inhabit today may well presto-change-o to a snowy peak tomorrow, and either way, you still have to face the blank page and write the next paragraph/page/chapter/repeat. Do know what makes your skin crawl, your stomach turn to mush, and your brain freeze because chances are at least some of your characters share your fears and, writers, this is useful knowledge. Do know …

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Fiction, the Mind, and Ghosts

“So far we’ve looked at two places where you can put the character emotion you’ve stripped out of your dialogue mechanics–into the dialogue itself and into the language of your descriptions written from an intimate point of view. A third place is interior monologue. Movies and television may be influencing writers to write more visually, using immediate scenes with specific points of view to put their stories across. But fiction can always accomplish something that visual media will never be able to touch.” From Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King In other words: The fiction writer …

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Quote of the Day on Point of View

Today’s quote from Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass: “Point of view is more than just a set of eyes looking upon the world. Those eyes come with a mouth and a brain. Those must come into play, too, or your novel will have the chilliness of a movie camera. There may be times when objective point of view is useful, but by and large it is best to use the singular advantage that the novel has over other art forms: the ability to bring us deeply inside a character’s experience.”

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Dreaming Awake

“Creative writers make believe. They train themselves sharply to observe the world around them, to notice the unnoticed. They reach back into their past lives for rich characters, vivid settings, and meaningful events. But at some point, the search for raw material veers toward another source–it turns inward to what isn’t, wasn’t, and could never be, yet somehow seems right, real, and true.” From: THE CREATIVE PROCESS by Carol Burke and Molly Best Tinsley

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Advice on Writing a Bestseller–Beware Info-Dump

When I work with writers, often the hardest news I have to deliver about their manuscript is “Cut, cut, cut, cut the info-dump.” That’s the term some people in the biz use to describe the excessive use of backstory/exposition. You know it when you see it–paragraphs or pages of information delivered passively to the reader. Information served up on a paper plate. Information that dulls the reader out of the dynamic narrative now. When I say it’s difficult to tell writers they have to cut backstory that’s because they’ve usually spent hours, days, weeks getting those sections just right. They …

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CHARACTERS’ ADVOCATE

I came across this quote from actor Holly Hunter: “I always feel that I am the advocate for my character. More than anyone else on the set, including the director. I’m there to protect my character, in any way.” As writers, we might consider it our job to find an inner advocate for every character on our pages, even–especially–the least sympathetic. Remember the fiction writers’ “P” word: parity.

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Attachments,Yearning, and Chocolate Bunny

My five-year-old daughter took a camping trip with her dad this weekend. They returned home early–both with colds–in part because it never stopped raining. This morning, when we searched for Chocolate Bunny, Pearl’s most treasured stuffy was nowhere to be found. Pearl tearfully remembered that she and her five-year-old friend Hawk had taken Chocolate Bunny out to play just before departure from the campground. And, yes, she thought he might have been left behind. It was a heart-rending moment for all of us. Pearl began to weep, her grief deep and real. We went into action, calling a company in …

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NO SLUGS, NO SLACKERS…

Today’s quote comes from Thomas McCormack’s excellent book: THE FICTION EDITOR, THE NOVEL, AND THE NOVELIST. “Character is most keenly revealed when it’s confronted with crisis, hard choices, urgent decisions. Thus, insofar as he’s interested in revealing character, the author’s job is to construct setting and circuitry that will call for decisions, for actions.” When you sit down to write today, ask yourself what your characters want and how far they will go to get what they want? Ask what they do about getting what they want–and also what effect their actions have on others? Finally, ask if the reader …

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DREAMING CHARACTER–A FICTION EXERCISE

I’ve been cooped in at home all week with a sick child. Today, Pearl is on the mend and I had the chance to hop on my trail bike and take the dogs out for a ride. When I haven’t been on the trail for awhile, I’m always amazed how the New Mexico sky and landscape ground me, and how bike riding fires up my imagination. Along the way, I came up with a writing exercise. If you feel so inspired, try it and let me know what happens. 1) Invent a new character or choose one you’re already working with. Let …

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