Posts Tagged ‘novels’

Ups and downs

It was an up and down week.

It’s not the week I would normally talk about. But these are the scenes from the cutting room floor, the little realities of the writing life:

The ups

  • Hitting my stride on WIP, reasonable page count this week. Not great, but given what else is going on around here, quite respectable.
  • Advance Reader Copies of A Thousand Perfect Things will have full color wrap around cover, I learned this week.
  • Received a lovely advance blurb from a well-known writer for Perfect Things.
  • Wrote a tough scene for the WIP. Wondered if I could pull it off, but love it. Read More…

The Mush Factor

I’m tilting at windmills here. I’m against chapters. I know you love ’em. Thus the tilting. Eventually we’ve got to make up tidy little chapters. But I’m against forming them too soon.

For me, the experience of writing a novel is a close-up encounter with packets of drama: scenes. Those of you who’ve been following this blog have heard me preach about writing in scenes. (Actions taking place in a specific time and place.) It helps you sustain narrative drive and reader interest.

So why are you writing in chapters?

It’s true that we end up writing in scenes anyway; everything happens in a specific time and place after all. You’re probably just chaining them together as you go: Chapter 6, with its three quick scenes. Then Chapter 7 with two . . .

Now here I am telling you to number each scene at the top of the page and do a hard return at the end of the scene. What difference does it make?

The mushy scene

Mush creeps in so easily. The protagonist sipping tea, walking up to the old house, all those finger-warm ups that are so useful when we sit down to write at 8 a.m., but which need to be cut later. Read More…

What You Need to Succeed


Thank you for your attention. I’ll stand by for questions.


This past weekend Terry Brooks told a rapt crowd of 150 people at Write on the River that the #1 thing you need to succeed as a novelist is luck. He told a marvelous story of how luck factored into the sale of his iconic book, Sword of Shannara. And he had the humility to admit that for all the appeal of his stories, he still believes that luck is #1.

It’s not all you need, he said. You also need perseverance, determination, courage, a bit of talent and all the rest. But isn’t it interesting that coincidence, chaos, timing–however you define luck–plays so large a role?

The other point he made regarding luck is that you have to put yourself in a position to be lucky. That means you have to write and put your stuff in the mail (having practiced and worked at your story, etc.) So it doesn’t really mean that its all fated to happen or not, and we can coast. Read More…

Can Writing Be Taught?

Along with 90 other people, I sat in on a marvelous writing workshop this weekend. Even after 10 published novels, I was able glean a few key things that caused me to re-align the last quarter of my current novel in progress. Did the workshop leader teach me how to write better?

I don’t think so. Writing can’t be taught. That’s my position this afternoon, and I’m sticking to it for at least a couple days. Read More…