Archive for the ‘Writing Advice’ Category

Worldbuilding with Martha Wells

Guest posts for the Ways into Worldbuilding series will appear most Wednesdays through early November. Today I welcome one of my favorite authors to the site: Martha Wells.MarthaWells_byIgorKraguljacsmall

Martha Wells has written many fantasy novels, including the Books of the Raksura series (beginning with The Cloud Roads), the Ile-Rien series (including the nebula-nominated The Death of the Necromancer) as well as YA fantasies, short stories, media tie-ins, and nonfiction.

Aside from reader expectations, why do you build worlds? Is it more of an obligation than a pleasure? If the latter, what is enjoyable or rewarding about this aspect?

I enjoy it, and it’s one of my favorite parts of developing a story.  I like coming up with the details, and exploring how the world has affected my characters, and how it can determine the direction and feel of the story.  I find it rewarding to come up with something that feels true and consistent no matter how fantastic or far out it is. Read More…

Worldbuilding with L. E. Modesitt, Jr.

Guest posts for the Ways into Worldbuilding series will appear most Wednesdays through early November. We lead off with L. E. Modesitt, Jr. Lee-pic3B (1)

L. E. Modesitt, Jr. is the author of more than 70 science fiction and fantasy novels, a number of short stories and technical and economic articles. His novels have been translated into German, Polish, Dutch, Czech, Russian, Bulgarian, French, Spanish, Italian, Hebrew, and Swedish. He has been a U.S. Navy pilot; a market research analyst; a real estate agent; director of research for a political campaign; legislative assistant and staff director for U.S. Congressmen;  Director of Legislation and Congressional Relations for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; a consultant on environmental, regulatory, and communications issues.   Read More…

One Step at a Time

Today I hit a muddy patch in the novel. Not exactly a brick wall. Not really a bout of writer’s block, but a serious resistance to doing the work.

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I did feel like writing but I just couldn’t quite picture the next sequence. If I’m perfectly honest, I

didn’t really believe in the plot at that point. I had confidance in the overall plot, but this section was like looking across a chasm where the bridge was down.

Twenty minutes into staring at the screen and getting nowhere, I reluctantly concluded I had to do some deep, methodical plotting. I was going to have to think this section of the story through in excruciating detail. And I so did-not-want-to.

Mind games.

This reminds me how much of writing is a mind game. The game of talking yourself into things (like writing anyway) and out of things (like worrying that it’s not very good.) Read More…

Picky questions on the novel

For writers, what is the hardest part of a novel? Maybe it’s page 1 and page 400–and many big chunks in between. Some books go like that.

But today I’m more interested in what’s the most important part of a novel. Despite how crucial a good ending is, and how challenging the middle is, I think the beginning is the critical place. At least the beginning in terms of the musing you do before you write.

For me, first come the big-picture questions.

Big, sloppy questions.

1. What genre? Some of the aspiring writers I meet are surprisingly conflicted about what type of story to write. My only advice is to read in likely genres. Read a lot. Learn what stories you adore. You’ll be spending many years with them.

In my recent two books forthcoming from Saga, the answer to the genre question was Fantasy.

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2. What kind of fantasy? Paranormal espionage. So many kinds of fantasy. Just read the nominees for the World Fantasy Award, and you’ll see the amazing variety of the literature. Read More…

Generating Ideas

It’s a perverted fact of the universe that writers are sometimes stumped about what to write. Give them a snappy first line in a timed writing exercise, and they jump in, keyboard clicking furiously, and then wow you with what they read out loud.

But for an original story? Um. A novel for crying out loud? Um, indeed.

Not that I’m talking about myself, you understand. Of course not.

But we shall fret no more, because there are three–count ’em, three–chances to shake loose your story ideas in a small, brilliant conference this weekend. And  if there’s no way you can pack up and get to Wenatchee, I’ll close this post with an idea-generating strategy of my own. Read More…