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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Wisdom from Ryan Brooks

I thought publishing a book would change my life. And it did, in some ways. It opened a few doors for me. But it’s as Ryan Brooks says: there is always only the work you have in front of you, today, in this moment. Or as Ryan puts it: And I say this next part […]

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