The Highwayman’s Quarry – Thieves’ Cant

“Mill the gig with a betty, then we’ll strip the ken and backslang it out of here. I’ll lumber the swag at the stalling crib and we’ll be up in the stirrups.”* One of the fun parts of writing a story set in the underworld of 18th-century London is getting to use Thieves’ Cant, or […]

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 […]

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 […]

Only Six Days Left to Get Desert Trilogy for Under a Buck

Desert Trilogy goes live in just six days, and I’m hoping you’ll pre-order it before then. You’ll get it for just $0.99, and the book will get a bump in sales on the official on-sale date. Win-win! Here’s a little teaser to get you to plunk down your hard-earned buck. (More excerpts are available here.) The […]

New Story Excerpt and eBook News

About a year ago, I started talking about self-publishing a small collection of stories set in the desert. I had two stories finished, but that seemed like too few to justify a collection, and so I began working on a third. Then that third story began giving me trouble, because I couldn’t decide on its […]

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 […]

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