Showing vs. Telling Part Two

Yesterday I talked about how to get just the right amount of “cowbell” in your story: no more than 10 or 20 percent should be exposition or “telling.” I also broke down three different types of writing: exposition, narrative summary, and scene. Now let’s look at some examples to see how writers, from novelists to […]

On Showing vs. Telling; or, More Cowbell!

I’m going to say a couple of blasphemous things here. First, “Don’t Fear the Reaper” could use more cowbell. And second, in writing it’s sometimes okay to tell rather than show. A friend posted this article by Chuck Palahniuk in our writing group a few weeks back, and somehow it got under my skin. In six seconds, you’ll […]

Endless Cups of Tea

Kameron Hurley has a great new post, “The Madhatter Teaparty: Rescuing Your Characters from Endless Cups of Tea,” about the problem of novels becoming too talky. Plot kicks my ass. It kicks my ass up one end of a story and down another, because honestly, all my characters want to do is snark at each other […]

Writing Fiction Ate My Nonfiction Brain

(So I only waited nine months to write my first post of the year — long story for another time.) I was writing an article for KCET.org recently when I realized that my brain doesn’t work quite the way it used to. This should have been a return to familiar ground, since the article was […]

Sleep On Your Manuscript

No, don’t tuck your laptop under your pillow. Or print out your novel and sprinkle the pages between the sheets. And certainly don’t sleep on a typewriter, like the young woman at right. (Ouch, my neck hurts just looking at that.) But if you’re a writer short on time for writing, and especially if you’re participating […]

One Writer’s Distractions

Today’s distraction chain: Sit down to make notes for next project Turn on Pandora to drown out distracting radio Pandora not working because of Flash issue Research Flash issue — my Chromebook not affected but need to turn off auto-play videos Go to Facebook to do that Notice a confederate flag profile pic liking one […]

Hacking the Pluperfect

I’ve noticed an increasing allergy to the pluperfect among some writers lately. One writing advice columnist even suggested doing away with the verb “had.” This is a serious condition, folks, and it can lead to some seriously confusing writing. We need to stomp it out before it’s too late. What’s the pluperfect, you ask? Good […]

Jailed for Fiction

    Update 9/3: And the other shoe has dropped. I should have known better than to trust a story based on reporting from local TV stations. Thanks, WBOC, “Delmarva’s Fake News Leader”! Turns out McLaw’s dismissal had little or nothing to do with his books, and more to do with a letter he wrote with […]

Skyrim and the Possibility of Peace in a Violent World

Warning: this post contains spoilers for both the game of Skyrim and my novelization of that game, The Song of Deirdre. Also, it’s probably a lot of abstract drivel. To avoid that, just go read the novel. It’s free, after all, and several people tell me it’s not drivel. One of the great things about Skyrim is the impressive number of ways you […]

A Little Break

I’m taking a short break from posting chapters in The Song of Deirdre as I wrestle over some condensing and cutting. Meanwhile, check out this hilarious video about women’s specific armor design. As Lydia tells Deirdre in Chapter 24, referring to Skyrim’s body-hugging women’s steel plate armor, “This is cunning metalwork, and very becoming, no […]

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