Is Fantasy Literature Relevant?

One of the greatest challenges in the field of creativity is that art, by definition, is subjective. If you train to become a plumber, or a carpenter, or an engineer, you don’t have to wonder about your market. But what if you create something that nobody needs in a utilitarian sense? History books are useful. Children’s books are useful. But …

In Defense of the Web Serial

What do The Pickwick Papers, The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo, and Uncle Tom’s Cabin all have in common? No, they weren’t all written by Alexandre Dumas. They were all published as serials. __________ Dictionary.com defines a serial as “ anything published, broadcast, etc., in short installments at regular intervals, as a novel appearing in successive issues of a …

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The Limit of Words

Sometimes I tell myself that buried inside me are all the right things to say and the right choices to make. Sometimes I think the wisdom is already planted deep in my mind, and if only I could peel back the layers I could become the wisest person in the world. I spent the first twenty or so years of my …

Into the Dark

Today I begin the fourth draft of my book.  It’s also the final draft, because I am making a commitment as I write these words that I will not rewrite the story again, that I will not allow myself to be sloppy and plan to patch the holes later, that I will not commit to a process that may never …

Another Milestone

The third draft is finished. I sometimes wish there were a checklist for successful writing: Write four drafts, and then you will have the perfect book. Unfortunately that’s not true.  Some people write far more drafts of the same book before they finish.  Others write all those drafts and finish books that never sell.  It’s another reminder that you probably …

Creating Great Character Sketches

I started this post a few weeks ago and abandoned it. I wanted to take a technical approach: a list of character qualities to consider, how I use Scrivener to facilitate the process, what people look for in story characters. Throw all of that away.  Let’s get to the heart of the matter. When we open a book, what are …

The First Milestone

If you have been following along with my story-building posts, you may recall that I talked about splitting my novel into three parts. Well, part one is finished. Magic.  Presto. For any writers out there, that may sound like a suspicious statement.  After all, Hemingway himself said, “The only kind of writing is rewriting.”  So in that sense, maybe the …

Story-Building (Part 2)

This is the second post in an ongoing series about my experiences with story-building, specifically using Scrivener.  If you haven’t yet read the first post, you might wish to start here.   Let’s start with Pandora.  Some writers insist that they can only write in a quiet room.  Others talk about having ambience sounds, such as one might hear in …

Story-Building (Part 1)

A novel is a serious undertaking. It promises to carry your reader from the beginning of the story all the way through to the end.  But if there is a flaw in the structure, your reader may find himself or herself forever lost in the middle, unable to complete the journey. After completing two (almost) full drafts of a story I …

A Note on Reading

The words are not always waiting there. Some mornings my mind feels like an empty white room, the kind they sometimes use in movies to interrogate suspects.  There is no furniture, there are no patterns to break the monotony.  Everything is blank, silent, sleeping. Sometimes I need another person’s words to wake my own.  Good readers make good thinkers.  Good literature …