The Secret to Overcoming Writer-Envy (via @ZenaShapter)

Zena Shapter writes about writer envy, and it’s a helpful read for anyone (like me) who has had any combination of the thoughts, ‘Oh man that writer is so much better at writing than I’/’If only I had the time/connections/personal hygiene standards that Amazing Writer X has…’ and so forth:

My hubbie is a successful business owner and entrepreneur (all thanks to his supportive wife of course!). So naturally when the opportunity came up, he wanted to go and see Mark Bouris talk about his success. When Hubbie came home, however, he wasn’t busting full of ideas as I expected him to be. He was mellow… almost content. And what he told me about Mark Bouris changed my life too (or at least the way I looked at success).
It’s funny really, because what Mark Bouris said I always knew deep down. I just hadn’t accepted it.

Yes, so that’s a tease, and you can find out what helped Zena mellow out about how great other writers were at the article here:

On Piracy, Patreon and Tip Jars (via @chuckwendig)

The inimitable Chuck Wendig shares his opinion on the topics of piracy, Patreon and direct donations to authors. An anonymous commenter sent him a list of reasons why s/he downloads digital books without paying for them, and Chuck responds to all the points. I won’t list all the reasons here (click through to Chuck’s blog to read them), but Chuck’s response to ‘just add a donation button’ is basically ‘Nope’, and he explains why:

If you want to help pay for this site, or put food in my kid’s mouth, or continue to support my flailing word-herdery in some fashion? You can. Right now.

You can buy my books.

Can’t really argue with that.

Read the whole article here:

Writer reveals details of subtle censorship (via: @lalarkinauthor, HT: @colvinius)

Very interesting development of what happened when Reader’s Digest used a Chinese company to print a volume that included L.A. Larkin’s thriller Thirst:

LOUISA LARKIN: This… yes. And they had been told by the Chinese printers that the presses had been stopped and that they wouldn’t continue to print the condensed version of Thirst until the words ‘Falun Gong’ had been removed, and reference to ‘torture’ – the word ‘torture’ – of a character, a practitioner of Falun Gong, was either deleted or changed to a satisfactory level.

Read the full transcript here (or listen to the interview) to find out how Louisa and her publisher handled this. I’d like to think that most authors (including myself) have her level of conviction, but the lure of getting into print can be pretty strong:

Analysing a Writer’s Process (via @balespen)

It’s always great to get a look into how other writers manage this bizarre creative dance/job.

Lucas Bale analyses his own writing processes from First Draft/Research through to Covers and Marketing:

As I’ve said, I plan pretty assiduously. I am currently working on the outline for the second book in the Beyond the Wall series. However, because the themes are central to the whole series, as well as individual books, and there is quite a bit of world-building going on, I find it easier to have a solid outline which I can depart from if I like or change when I want.

It’s a great read if, like me, you suck at organising your writing or hope to get some insight into another writer’s approach.

Check the whole article out here (including some great photos):


Writing From The Middle (via @jamesscottbell, HT: @thecreativepenn )

James Scott Bell talks about his new Nobel Peace prize winning strategy for writing a novel:

I’ve written maybe fifty novels (not all of them published!) and I’ve written them in all different ways. I’ve “pantsed’ my way to completed book (no outline or planning) and I’ve outlined others. I’ve done it in between, too. So I know full well the strengths and weaknesses of every approach.

I’ve also been amused by some of the vehement arguments by proponents of a particular method.

What is this mad strategy that will resolve all conflict between supporters of different writing methods (eg. pantsers and plotters)?

You actually start from the middle.


That’s what I said—the dead center of your novel. Because it is here, in what I call “the mirror moment,” that you discover, truly, what your novel is really all about.

As someone who constantly struggles with making nice narrative arcs, this kind of alternative look at a writing strategy always interests me, so read about it here:

On Killing (via @mykecole, HT: @saladinahmed)

Myke Cole writes a great and heartfelt article about combat and killing, and how most fantasy novels, though steeped in violence, don’t convey the experience and the consequences:

One doesn’t have to be a vet­eran brawler to write a great fight scene.

But I do feel like the end result of fighting, namely, killing, isn’t often treated in a way that res­onates with me. I can count on one hand the number of writers who get it right. Joe Aber­crombie springs to mind as one of them, a tiny band of authors, and I do not count myself among them, who evoke the con­se­quences of killing in a way that feels authentic.

[...T]here is one thing in par­tic­ular that I think fan­tasy writers miss, and I want to dial in on that here.

Killing is a chain.

It’s good, so read it all here:


Michelle Dean on YA: A Response (via @fozmeadows, HT: @nkjemisin)

Moral panic about our yoof reading the wrong stuff? Guaranteed eyeballs on the internet.

Fox Meadows delivers a lengthy smackdown of Michelle Dean’s piece:

I’m a bit late to the party on Michelle Dean’s Our Young-Adult Dystopia, which article appeared in the New York Times in mid-February; nonetheless,  I can’t quite see my way to letting it pass without comment. Unlike the vast majority of people who end up wringing their hands in mainstream publications about how YA Novels Will Doom Us All, Dean appears to actually have read the books she’s talking about, rather than merely criticising them from afar. This has not, however, stopped her from writing one of the most pompous and irritating opening paragraphs of our times.

In summary, Michelle Dean lamented the quality of reading today compared to ‘When I was Younger’ or the golden age of ‘Before I was born’. Humorously, I’m currently reading Orlando, in which a contemporary of Shakespeare complains about the terrible mess of pop art that is the Elizabethan Age, compared to the quality of literature produced by the Ancient World. So Virginia Woolf was making the same joke back in 1920 about ‘modern’ vs ‘good’ art. Nothing much changes when it comes to articles about ‘How Art is Destroying The Next Generation’, it seems.

Foz treats Michelle’s screed with the faux outrage it deserves:

How dare new authors be inspired to write successful books in popular genres! Never mind that, owing to the long lead times in publishing, Roth’s Divergent was picked up by Harper Collins in July 2010, a month before the final Hunger Games book, Mockingjay, was even on shelves – of course Roth is a latecomer! And how dare the third book of a successful trilogy be printed in huge numbers, apparently! Down with big print runs!

Read the lengthy smackdown here:

How not to develop characters (HT: @qldwriters)

Over at d.i.y. MFA, Becca Jordan lists a few examples of how not to write or describe your characters:

Here is an actual character description from my very first novel attempt that will never see the light of day:

“. . .She finally looked in the mirror to inspect her work.

She was a fairly thin, tall girl for her age. She looked down at her skirt that didn’t quite reach to the floor – she had outgrown that too a few years ago – all the way up to her thin face which was framed in the uncontrollable locks. Her green-gray eyes and straight pointed nose gave her the look of a hawk…Now Keilli ran a finger over the large white scar that ran from her forehead on the right all the way down to her jaw on the same side. Lord Trellan had told her that it had been on her face when he’d found her, though then it had been a new wound. It was the most prominent feature on her face, something she’d always disliked. But there was no time to linger on personal appearance now.”

Seriously. No more lingering. Please.

She goes through a bunch of examples of showing vs telling to help you get your head around what works and what doesn’t. The old mirror trick really is the oldest one in the book. You can Picasso it and try to subvert the trope, but best to just smash them all up.

I don’t want you to tell me that Ingrid’s quirky. I want to figure it out for myself. Any old fool can say that someone’s quirky. It’s harder to show that she’s quirky.

Read it here:

Adventures in Collaborative Writing (via @jodicleghorn)

Disclosure: Jodi is my publisher and a friend! Don’t let that poor judgment on her part affect your enjoyment of her excellent article, though.

How do you successfully establish and maintain a collaborative writing partnership? Here are seven tips I’ve gathered along the way (with a little help from my friends!).

She identifies the following points:

  1. Write with someone you trust.
  2. Write with someone with whom you share a great rapport.
  3. Write with someone whose work you know, admire and respect.
  4. Write with someone who will embolden you to write what you would never dare alone.
  5. Write in a format, genre and style you both feel comfortable with.
  6. Write with your ego at the door.
  7. Establish mutually agreed-upon parameters and stick to them when you write.

As usual I’ll let the article itself delve into the detailed discussion of those points. I’ve done some collaborative writing myself, and it can be a lot of fun.

Read all about Jodi’s experiences here:

Some Thoughts on Author Earnings (via @courtneymilan, HT: @tobiasbuckell)

Courtney Milan applies her mathematical eye to the earnings report website Hugh Howey released (link here):

Lots of people have written about this, and I will sum up what they say: The study has convinced almost everyone who already believed what Howey said in the report, and convinced almost nobody who did not already believe it.

This is an ambitious project that is likely taking a lot of work on the part of Howey and his mystery coder. They’ve aggregated a bunch of information that people have discussed only anecdotally up until now. That’s pretty cool. That being said, it’s pretty obvious to me that they desperately need someone with some kind of background in science and statistics and data collection, because right now they’re spending a ton of time sifting through data without any sense of how to properly quantify things.

It’s worth looking at, as a balancing act to the raw figures coming out of the report.

Original link here: