Archive for the ‘Writing Advice’ Category

My Top Writing Tips 2021

Photo by Anil Xavier on Unsplash

It’s almost winter, so here once again are my top 10 writing tips. Except different. Every year I post my latest distillation of best fiction strategies. Why do I change my mind from year to year? Because I’m still learning–often from great novels I read–or workshops. Life-long learning is one of the joys of the writing life. You can always tell a more compelling story!


Kay’s top ten, sure-fire, fiction writing tips:

1. Work harder on an original premise: The Napoleonic wars with air power from dragons; a murdered girl relates her story from heaven; forbidden love between a modern witch and a powerful vampire. Respect your ideas, but deepen them. Read More…

When you don’t feel like writing

Long ago I stopped asking myself on any given day if I felt like writing. Often the answer would be, “Actually, I don’t.” Another question I stopped asking was “Well, WHY don’t you feel like writing?” Not that there aren’t a bunch of pretty good reasons not to write your story, or not today, anyway.

  • discouragement about how the last story sold
  • resentment of the industry which is so vile and unfair plus random
  • a shrewd analysis of how your writing sucks
  • embarrassment over the total absence of anything professional to Twitter about
  • fury and sorrow that your agent does not answer your emails
  • you are on page 85 or page 200, two classic pages that are hard to write. OK, those are just the ones that are tough for me. Getting stuck at typical points in your manuscript is mysterious and irrational. But on those pages or nearby, I way too often get a bout of I don’t feel like writing today.

Read More…

Indie Book Promotion Workshop

Does promoting your book have to be a horrible exercise in self-shilling? No!

Join this zoom meeting with promotion guru Anthea Sharp and come away with real, actionable items that will help you reach the next level in your book-promotion quest.

Book Promotion for Indies. And tips for traditional routes, too!

Sunday, July 25, 10 to noon

Writing the book is the easy part…
At least that’s what they tell you, once your novel is finally out there in the world. Now, whether you’re publishing yourself or are with a publisher, it’s time to face the daunting task of getting the word out about your new book (a task increasingly left up to authors, even in the world of traditional publishing).

There’s a new world out there, and promoting your book should keep up with the times. In this workshop, we’ll cover the many different ways authors can find and connect with their readers, regardless of who holds the publishing reins. Read More…

The Speed of Story

Lately I’ve been giving zoom workshops on a few critical novel-writing subjects. Topics that I think are under-taught and under-optimized by writers. One of these topics is pacing. Here are some tips from my pacing workshop, Move Along, Folks.

Pacing is the speed at which you tell your story. How quickly you’re forwarding and deepening the plot. Is it too fast, appearing rushed? Too slow, losing the reader’s interest? Usually, the problem is the latter: set-up paragraphs at the start of scenes, aftermath sequences where we consider what just happened, scenes flailing at character development or background, too many words, saying things twice, plus repeating yourself. And then there are the really tough pacing issues.

Pacing can be hard to judge. It’s part of your style. It’s dictated to some extent by your material and the style of book you’re writing. None of this excuses us from working at pacing, though.

I tend to write longish and cut back in the rewrite. But also when planning and writing, I try to forestall slow pacing using a few diagnostic questions like these:

  • How proactive is my major character? Will she be able to power the story’s pacing with her action-orientation?

Read More…

To Be Brief

I’ve just finished the third draft of my work in progress–(which, since you ask, is a dystopian science fiction novel) and among my goals was homing in on wordiness.

In third drafts, I bear down on sentences and paragraphs. Not only to smooth them out, but with an eye to brevity. I eliminated 11 pages worth of sentences and paragraphs. Because writing better often means shorter. As in these examples:

Passive voice. I believe there are times when passive voice is excellent. Just not very often, since it is like sand in the gas tank. Don’t need it, and it does damage. TRY: A computer search for the word was (and were):

  • Each branch was talking. vs: 
Each branch spoke.
  • Entering the hall, she noted that he was not at his usual sentry duty.
vs: Entering the hall, she noted his absence from sentry duty.

Saying things twice. As in stringing together clauses that repeat the thought. “She was restless, couldn’t sit still or keep her mind on the lecture.” This is first draft stuff. Cut, cut, (I told myself.) Read More…