Archive for the ‘Writing Advice’ Category

Why you Really need a writing conference

The weekend of May 16th I’m helping out with my favorite local writing conference. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you really should read the end of this blog where I tell you about Write on the River. But if not:

You still really need a writing conference.

I once asked an acquaintance why her husband, an avid and sporadically published author wasn’t attending our local conference. She said, in effect, “Oh, David doesn’t think writing can be taught.”

It was such an oddball, uninformed comment, I didn’t know what to say.

I’m not going to argue about talent being nature or nurture. If you have a leaden ear for language you will not go far in this business. But to say that therefore nothing can be taught is silly. Read More…

Character Through Line

Sam Gamgee

Sean Astin as Sam Gamgee.

Can you describe your character’s essence or their raison d’etre, in a short phrase? How about Sam Gamgee’s “Some things are worth fighting for.” Or Scarlett O’Hara’s “I’ll never be hungry again!”

Often we think of our characters as being so complex we need a whole novel to flesh them out. And we probably do. But what do they want above all else? Read More…

Kay’s Best SF/F/H Reads of 2014

Here’s my list. The SF/F/H books I enjoyed the most out of the–um, hundreds?–of books I read this year! Not all published in 2014.

completely fine

 

We Are All Completely Fine. Daryl Gregory. Delicious horror, carried off with such a deft touch, all you can say is, “Well, damn. I’m yours.” A completely spooky and believable  story,  both deeply human and gorgeously entertaining.. Gregory defies description. Just read it. Read More…

Twenty feet from being Stephen King

Today’s offering is a guest post from Louise Marley, an award-winning author of historical fiction as well as science fiction and fantasy. Her musings on the writing life and the reach for stardom are generous and profound. Enjoy!

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“There’s never a level playing field,” says Sting, in the brilliant documentary Twenty Feet from Stardom.  You can skip this little essay and go straight to your television to watch that film if you like. It speaks for itself.   As a metaphor for the show-biz aspects of writing, or indeed of any artistic endeavor, it has no equal.  And it comes accompanied by spectacular music. Read More…

What are you talking about?

Theme is a loaded word. In fiction, it aroused the suspicion that we’re preaching about something. Can’t we just give the story a compelling plot and great characters? Why should there be a theme?

gldn theme

The Golden Theme: How to Make Writing Appeal to the Highest Common Denominator

The answer, I’ve been learning, is that theme is to help clarify for the writer, why she or he is writing the book. And what the book will be about, boiled down to its essence.

I usually come into a novel’s theme after working on concept and characters for a couple weeks at the outset of my planning process, I develop/recognize the book’s theme about then, and it guides the major decisions of the plot and much of the execution.

In fact, theme has guided every book I’ve written since 2008. Because of Brian McDonald. Read More…