Category: Writing Advice

  • Grammar – Haiku

    Good grammar’s nice but, What’s more important is the, Story you unfold.

  • About Time (and blogging)

    I have twenty-six days left in my sprint to reach a 500-day blogging streak, so I started to think about that, and came up with the idea of doing a post with a title that starts with each letter of the alphabet over the next twenty-six days. Some of those will be easy, like A, […]

  • Writing Science Fiction – Revisited

    There’s much more to sci-fi than science. On this day last year, I wrote a post about writing sci-fi. Rather than reposting it, I’m going to rewrite it. Science is important, but it’s not everything. Chances are, your characters don’t live and breathe science on a daily basis. Even the ones that do will still […]

  • Haiku – June 8

    Write just the first line, Then continue the process, To the bitter end.

  • What could there be to writing more than writing itself? Inspiratioin, perspiration, and beyond.

    The answer is that there’s plenty. Writing is like a puzzle. All the pieces are mixed up in the box, and a finished puzzle (published book) seems a thousand miles away. Actually writing, either by pen or by keyboard, will get you only about a quarter of the way assembled and ready to go. Another […]

  • Haiku – May 11

    An idea is born, If it doesn’t write itself, Put somewhere to keep.

  • Haiku – April 20

    A first draft might be, Great to begin with but all, Will need revising.

  • Writing Advice: consider point of view

    Who tells the story? Point of view (POV) is an important topic when you start to write a piece of fiction. In Lockdown, I tell Billy’s story in the first person. I’m curled up comfortably inside his head, feeling what he feels, hearing what he hears, and seeing what he sees. I can’t experience any […]

  • Writing Advice: Break up long sections of dialog, and an accidental story

    When I sent Wounded Bride to be edited, the book was full of long sections consisting of nothing but characters talking to each other. In that story, the detectives talk to suspects, and you’d expect there to be lots of dialog, but it should be broken up by actions, sentences about what your characters are […]

  • Writing Advice: no need to be tense about verbs!

    Stories are full of action, so verbs are important, but don’t let that worry you. When I start a story, I have a choice of writing in the past tense, or in the present tense. Both are great, but both have advantages and disadvantages. The choice shouldn’t bog you down. Pick one. You can change […]

  • A Word about Word Count in Fiction

    I seem to be obsessed with word count. I don’t mean that I worry about my stories having specific word counts, but I keep wondering how many words long a story is. “How many words?” is the first question I have when people talk about their writing. Many years ago, when I first started trying […]

  • What Does “the Indie way” Mean?

    When I first started blogging, I didn’t have a clear idea of what I was trying to accomplish. I mostly just wanted a website to share information about my self-published book(s). A blog was just something WordPress.com gave you automatically, whether you wanted one or not, and I hadn’t been planning on using it much. […]

  • Writing: endings and beginnings

    With the year 2020 about to become the year 2021, I’m starting to think about finishing up old projects and starting new ones. That goes for all kinds of projects, from cleaning the house to trying new foods, but since this website is mostly about writing, I’d like to talk about the beginning and the […]

  • The Writing Process: When you need an idea but

    When you need an idea, but there don’t seem to be any in your head. This happens to me fairly often. I wouldn’t say I get Writer’s Block, but sometimes I just don’t have any ideas for a blog post. This mostly happens with nonfiction topics. When this occurs, I often just start typing. For […]

  • A Letter to Letters

    Dear Letters, It’s writing Wednesday, and I used to write you on Wednesdays every week. I tried to be philosophical, funny, factual, or just plain foolish. Do you think I should bring you back as a regular feature? You know, maybe between writing advice posts? Oh, my phone’s ringing. “Hello, this is Hyacinth, who’s calling?” […]

  • Writing Advice: What to do when an Editor sends you your edited manuscript

    It’s time. You’ve sent your manuscript to an Editor, you’ve waited while they’ve been working, and now they’ve just sent you your manuscript. Like me, you’re probably kind of nervous about opening that document. Don’t be. (No, I don’t take this advice. I’m always going to be nervous, no matter how many times I do […]

  • NaNoWriMo in 17 days and following my own Writing Advice

    If you go to my Fiction page, you can read my NaNoWriMo 2020 novel in seventeen posts. They’re longreads, so you might want to save them or even print them out. Some days, I wrote only one chapter, but there were a few days when I wrote two, or even three chapters. I had originally […]

  • Writing Advice: dealing with too many ideas

    As a Writer, I often find myself in a situation many people might be surprised to hear me complain about: having too many ideas. How can a Writer have too many ideas? Okay, maybe not too many, but too many to write all at once. When I wrote Wounded Bride, I had to deal with […]

  • 5 Reasons to Start Writing Right Now

    1. Writing is a fun and safe activity during COVID-19. Even if your children don’t read yet, they can dictate a story and you can write it down for them. 2. If you have a story in mind but are afraid of it, don’t be. Put it to paper or screen. Make those memories now […]

  • Are there rules in Writing?

    If you’ve never shared your writing with others before, especially those whom you don’t know, you may be wondering if there are rules about how to write. The short answer is: no. Millions of Readers haven’t sat together and agreed on exactly what makes writing good. No two people in the world are the same, […]

  • Writing

    “Writing” is the writing prompt today. I normally talk about writing fiction, but nonfiction must also be written word by word, thought by thought, letter by letter. Both must then be revised. Nonfiction especially requires profesisonal editing. A typo in a story is annoying to both Writer and Reader, but not the end of the […]

  • The Writing Process: the imrortance of getting into your characters’ heads

    In March, I wrote a post called Write about what you know. Last week, I was thinking about Writers, and how they must transcend what they don’t know from experience in order to tell a tale. Oscar Wilde came to mind. He was a Writer who didn’t worry about what he knew or didn’t, but […]

  • Reawakening: the hardest part of writing

    In October 2019, I wrote The Hardest Part of Writing. There will be two more posts about writing this week. Tomorrow, is Writing Wednesday, and on Thursday, the writing prompt will be writing itself.

  • The Writing Process: after you press the Approve button

    “There’s nothing I can say, a total eclipse of the heart.” Bonnie Tyler, Total Eclipse of the Heart Being a published Author was like that for me. I didn’t really know what to say. Go me? I rock? Those were all things I could have said, but I didn’t have any words, and didn’t know […]

  • The Writing Process: Revising or Falling Apart

    “Every now and then I fall apart.” Bonnie Tyler, Total Eclipse of the Heart Plotholes are as thick on the ground as leaves in the fall. Characters say and do things they wouldn’t. The whole thing’s FALLING APART! No, it’s behaving exactly like a first draft in the cold light of morning. Never fear. The […]

  • The Writing Process: Building a Relationship with Your Story

    “Your love is like a shadow on me all of the time.” – Bonnie Tyler, Total Eclipse of the Heart The first part of writing a novel (or short story) is like falling in love. There’s passion. There’s fun. There’s discovery. No, you don’t have to be writing romance, but of course, that works, too! […]

  • The Writing Process: The Beginning of Forever

    “Forever’s gonna start tonight.” – Bonnie Tyler, Total Eclipse of the Heart Great, now I have that song in my head instead of the words I need for this post. But now that I’m thinking about it, that song could be about the writing process. It really can be quite a roller-coaster. Forever can start […]

  • Writing Wednesday – time got away from me

    I meant to have a post about the writing process for you today, but time escaped me, and I didn’t get it written. With this kind of essay-style post, I need to start it before the day I publish it, so that I can leave it for at least a day before I revise it. […]

  • The Writing Process – Overview and Ideas

    Writing is a complex process. Many people start writing stories in school. Some keep on writing stories, even after the assignment has been handed in and graded. Some people write until the day they die. I don’t know what makes some of us write all our lives and others only when they must, but the […]

  • Genres: Tips for Writing Fantasy

    Fantasy is one of the most fun genres, because it’s not constrained by reality. Anything goes. Really. The imagination’s the limit. I’ve got two tips about writing fantasy. Be consistent and don’t be “explainy.” First things first. Consistency. Is magic allowed in your world? If it is, you have to define it. Who can perform […]

  • Writing Wednesday: How to Show Your Readers a Story

    “Show, don’t tell,” is frequent writing advice. Even though we say “tell me a story,” showing a story is what many writers aim for, and in this post, I’ll show you some examples of how to make your writing less “telly.” Remove adverbs from dialog attributions. “I’m so excited to see you!” she said excitedly. […]

  • Genres: Tips for Writing Horror

    I think that horror is one of the most flexible genres. You can do anything you want, and often, little or no research is required. I do have a tip for you, though. It’s easy for a horror story to sound like a catalog of events. Each one is scary, but if you pile terrible […]

  • Genres: Tips for Writing Science Fiction

    Sci-fi can be a difficult genre to write in, so here are a few tips. Know your science. I once wrote a sci-fi story in which there was a temperature of minus a thousand degrees. Such a temperature does not exist. Yes, you’re allowed to change things, but it’s better to know how the real […]

  • How to Pick Genres to Write in

    There is a huge variety of genres from which to choose before you sit down to write some fiction. Here’s how to pick them. You will probably hear the suggestion to write in a genre you read a lot. I don’t have a problem with this, but why limit yourself? If you have an idea […]

  • Two Previous Writing Advice Posts

    Due to illness (not COVID-19), much of what I post this week will be previous content. I had a lot of fun with How to Overcome the Fear of Plotholes in Your Fiction, and A Couple of Great Reasons to Write Fiction. I hope to be back next week with new stuff.

  • What Writing Is (and is not)

    Writing is not an arcane activity. You don’t need to be an expert in anything to be able to write. Having good grammar, spelling, and punctuation helps, but as long as you have a story to tell, you can write fiction. You don’t need to take a writing course or follow certain rules. You can […]

  • A Couple of Great Reasons to Write Fiction

    Lots of us love to read fiction, but have you considered writing some? Here are two great reasons why you should. The news is often frightening, confusing, and bad. Some people post on blogs or social media, some write physical letters or e-mails, and some, like me, turn their fear and uncertainty into fiction. Here […]

  • How to Overcome the Fear of Plotholes in Your Fiction

    Are you afraid of the following: You’ve spent a lot of time crafting a wonderful story, but when you read it over, you find something that doesn’t agree with something else — a plothole. I’m pretty sure it happens to every writer at some point. It’s certainly happened to me. The question isn’t weather writers […]

  • When and How to Self-Edit Your Fiction

    Should you self-edit your fiction? If so, when and how? Yes, every writer should self-edit. To do otherwise is to be untrue to your stories. No, that last statement wasn’t meant as some kind of high-horsed snobbery. Self-edit and revise are synonyms, but self-edit has a further connotation of “doing it all yourself.” Some writers […]

  • 3 Tips for Fiction Writers Struggling with Setting

    Setting is crucial to creating something your Readers will love, and if you struggle with it, then you’re like me. Getting setting right might be easier if stories took place entirely in one location, but they seldom do, so writers have hard work ahead. We have to constantly change the scenery, move in and out […]

  • Writing Advice – The Long and the Short

    Writing Advice – The Long and the Short

    Featured image: tranquil lake reflecting house and forest — Photo by Tatiana Syrikova on Pexels.com There’s nothing like sitting down with a thick book or tucking into one on your tablet. But at other times, you probably want something lighter. There’s no reason you can’t have both. Does the idea of writing a novel fill […]

  • Writing Advice – Point of View

    Pistol: Why, then the world’s mine oyster. Which I with sword will open. William Shakespeare — The Merry Wives of Windsor, act 2, scene 2 There are no rules about POV. That’s right, there really aren’t any. In this post about Starting NaNoWriMo, I said that I was struggling with third person narration in a […]

  • Writing Advice – Subject and Object Pronouns

    Pronouns can be a problem, and if your book contains many instances of incorrect ones, reading it can feel as frustrating as reading a book full of typos. Here are some sample sentences. Mom bought some oranges for Lisa and I. Mom and me bought some oranges for Lisa. Lisa and I bought some oranges […]

  • Writing Advice – Characters

    Without characters, stories would tell very little. Would you want to pick up a book and find that the whole thing was nothing but a description of a setting, a world, or several planets? Whether you write sci-fi, fantasy, or romance, your story needs a set of characters. Don’t let the magic, technology, or amazing […]

  • Writing Advice – Tell a Story

    There’s a lot of writing advice out there. Following some guidelines, such as the ones in my post about dialog attribution might make your writing more pleasant to read, but don’t let writing advice bog you down. Things can be fixed later. There’s no need to wait until your idea is perfect, or until you’ve […]

  • Two Weeks

    I’ve posted something each day for the last fourteen days. I find myself wanting to harmonize the spelling of “week” and “streak,” so instead of calling it a “too weak streak,” I’ll go with a “strong two-week streek.” Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Indie April Why I Write What I’ve Learned The Choice […]

  • Writing Advice – Dialog Attribution

    You’ve probably heard the phrase “show, don’t tell.” I’d like to show you why I think this is good writing advice when you’re writing dialog. Here are a few sample sentences written solely for this post. “Not again,” she sighed. “My best friend forever doesn’t want to talk to me anymore, and I’m completely and […]