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Posts Tagged ‘the art of writing’

  1. Cut cut trim trim shape shape DELETE

    September 10, 2012 by Kiersi


    Photo by powerplantop

    The last few days have been all about trimming the excess. Haven’t settled on whether to use a sculpting or a steak metaphor yet–I’ll keep you posted.

    For your (and my) editing pleasure, here’s an excellent article by Rayne Hall on removing “could” from your novel’s word diet to make your writing sharper and cleaner. And it’s not just “could” Hall takes to court, but also words like “feel” and “hear”–verbs that put unnecessary distance between the author and the character.

    A great piece of advice. Lately, I have been repeating this mantra:

    Keep it simple. Somewhere in the beginning of an author’s education, we mysteriously acquire the notion that more is better. That flowery descriptions are an essential to the writer’s armory. Maybe it’s a defense mechanism–putting lots of words down somehow makes up for those words not being as good as they could be.

    I’m guilty of overcomplicating my writing every day of the week, so I set a goal for myself on this revision: keep it simple. Trim fat between dialogue; let the conversation bounce from speaker to speaker naturally; shave down or cut descriptions completely; avoid tangents during important conversations; and, of course, make the prose pleasant but easy to read.

    Wordy is not the name of the game–but meaning is.

  2. How does it end?

    June 7, 2012 by Kiersi

    How does it end? Work on my WIP has emotionally stalled at 114,000 words.

    I just thought I had more time.

    I thought the wind up to the climax would take longer. Maybe not longer–in fact, it’s far beyond the acceptable length for a YA novel. (Though it is purposefully a stand-alone tale, and Harry Potter did it, so why not? Hmm.) I simply figured I’d have it all pounded out by now, by this point in the story. That I’d know how it all would end.

    Up until now I’ve worked off a general idea: There’s a big-time betrayal, an out-of-left-field twist at the end. Good guys confront bad guys in epic battle. Then comes a climactic confrontation, a showdown. The good guys win, but at a price.

    For a long time, I knew those bullet points. Later I filled in some spaces, like, “The Emperor is going to have this awesome prison where the cells are suspended by chains over a giant steam boiler.” Cool. Good image.

    But the mortar is missing. I have all these big awkward rocks with which to make a wall, and nothing to hold it together. The length issue–I can fix that with good editing, if it needs fixing. Without glue, though, the story won’t make it. It’ll be like a runner falling just before the finish line because he spent all his strength early.

    I just have to keep remembering: first draft. First draft. Even if the writing falls apart at the end, even if the story meanders another 25,000 words (please please please don’t go on that long, please) I can mop it up like a bad spill on my rewrite. I’m not afraid of a rewrite.

    What I’m afraid of is not getting it done. Ever. To just write and write until the story is gone, gone in the stratosphere, like an elevator to the moon.

  3. Interview with Kelly Hashway

    June 4, 2012 by Kiersi

    Young adult novelist Kelly Hashway (author of the upcoming Touch of Death, SpencerHill Press January 2013) let me interview her last week about a number of important, burning topics. Most importantly, we talked about why she is so awesome.

    Here is the interview, so you readers and writers out there can glean some of her wisdom, and turn it into prolificness! And, of course, get a sneak peek into the inner workings of a talented wordsmith. I didn’t edit a thing, just for you.

    Me: So, Kelly. You have a YA novel coming out with SpencerHill Press in January of next year, a sequel already slated to released six months later, and a triquel in the works (later she corrected me that, in fact, she had finished a first draft of the final book in the series and was just waiting to be contracted for it).

    Now I know that your first YA book, Touch of Death, is about necromancers. Why did you pick necromancers?

    Kelly: I came up with the idea when I was writing another novel that had to do with the thirteenth sign of the zodiac. He didn’t play a major part in the novel, but when I looked into his story I learned a lesser-known myth about him. It had to do with Medusa. His name is Ophiuchus (K note: I had to look up how to spell this), and he has the ability to bring the dead back to life. I thought that was pretty cool, but necromancer books have been done before—so I wanted to do something a little different. (more…)

  4. The Power of Arbitrary Deadlines

    May 30, 2012 by Kiersi

    An open book

    I'm getting back into making 3D art in Photoshop. Like I need more distractions right now.

    Arbitrary deadlines are, in all likelihood, the only way I ever get anything done.

    I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. If you’ve ever participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), you’re probably familiar with the power of an arbitrary deadline. There’s no monetary reward for finishing on time, but there is a subconscious reward: I did it! I got it done! And in only one month!

    I apply the same principle to my daily writing, my weekly writing, and occasionally, even to a particular novel as a whole. As an example, many of you know I’ve been working on a novel called The Aeronauts, a sort of Waterworld-meets-steampunk YA fantasy. Some time ago, I told myself I wouldn’t let it drag on for more than four months; once I reached that point, I could safely say I’d lost the thread of the novel and it was time to wrap it up.

    Well, we’re coming to the end of May and, of course, the end of my first arbitrary deadline. It came so fast and so suddenly (what with traveling all spring-long) that I was completely unprepared for it. (more…)

  5. The First Draft: A Writer’s Best Friend

    May 9, 2012 by Kiersi

    The First Draft: Boy, do I hate peas

    Okay, so you’ve decided to write that novel. It doesn’t really matter if it’s your first novel or your thirtieth, but you have a premise, possibly some plot points and a climax planned out, and you’ve made the decision to just sit the hell down and write it. Good for you. Actually, awesome for you. Just remember one thing:

    The goal is to write. Not to write perfectly, or to write brilliantly, or to write the next Harry Potter; just to write. Just to get that novel down on paper, if only to feel victory coursing through your veins, to let yourself know, “I can do it!” (more…)

  6. Podcast: “Don’t Touch That Adverb”

    May 4, 2012 by Kiersi

    Podcast: Don't Touch That Adverb

    In today’s podcast the exceptional Jon Yang and I discuss:

    -How carelessness with adverbs can take the punch out of good writing

    Some tried-and-true methods of improving descriptions with pacing and vocabulary

    -Why “style” has to be earned

    Learn how to avoid some common pitfalls, add realism to your writing, and of course, have a good laugh at my expense!

    Prolific Novelista - Don't Touch That Adverb

  7. Tips for Writing the Perfect Hook

    April 30, 2012 by Kiersi

    Tips for Hooking an Agent or PublisherWilliam Nolan, author of the award-winning dystopian novel Logan’s Run, described the process of editing for Gamma magazine as far back as the 1960s at the Write to Publish 2012 convention this weekend:

    Every Thursday I went into the office to go through the slush pile of manuscript submissions for the magazine. I reached the point where I’d open each box or envelope, slide out the first page, and just read the first couple of paragraphs. That was all the time an author got to impress me and convince me to keep reading.

    With the advent of email submissions, agents and publishers increasingly find their inboxes swamped by unsolicited manuscripts–leaving them even less time to wade through backstories and prologues to get to the action, the theme, the meat. This is true even for query letters. I’ll leave that topic for another day.

    Here are some suggestions I picked up at the Write to Publish conference to help you clean up your manuscript for submission. (more…)

  8. Writing in Negative Space

    February 28, 2012 by Kiersi

    Writing in Negative Space

    How many times have you told someone something they didn’t really need to be told? “You look like shit today,” for example, when your friend is obviously under the weather. Or worse, “When are you due?” Only to find out she’s not expecting anything.

    Learning how to omit the obvious, or even the not-so-obvious, is a hard task for those of us tasked with creating a reader’s world. I’ve briefly covered the topic of killing your darlings before; I illustrated cutting text to imply meaning, where the reader’s imagination does the work. The results can sometimes be more thrilling or terrifying than laying out the action on a moment-by-moment basis.

    Today I want to cover how, instead of cutting out information, you can use negative space to eliminate the bore factor and make your story more exciting. (more…)

  9. Don’t Jinx It

    February 3, 2012 by Kiersi


    After my post yesterday detailing just a handful of the many plot lines floating around in this silly little writer’s brain of mine, I couldn’t stop thinking about them. All those great stories that have been forsaken in lieu of querying agents, editing and re-writing a book that really needs a professional’s eye more than mine–well, it sunk in.

    Between noon and 8pm today (Argentinian time), I hammered out the first 6,500 words of The Aeronauts. Because I’m totally wiped and exhausted, this post is going to feature a snippet (first draft, obviously) of this crazy nonsense that spilled out of my fingers. (more…)

  10. Speech Indicators: Forget About ’em!

    January 27, 2012 by Kiersi

    Yelling Girls

    Things have been rocky lately with development on my YA series, The Devil’s Throne, causing these sporadic updates.  Titles are being thrown around for the first book–my boyfriend insists on Girl Burning. My mother is still adamant that Fire and Brimstone is the most memorable, but to me it seems to give away too much. I’ve been working with the title Burn, because it’s simple and powerful, but that could also make it less visible.

    At least something good has come out of it. I’ve changed the title of the second book, Demonology, to something a little more elegant: Creatures, because the story revolves less around the girl, and more around the monsters. (Shoot, maybe Monsters should be the title?)

    On to the point of this post: Today I want to tackle the curse of the speech indicators–mainly because I used to be a hardened criminal when it came to littering good work with silly verbs like remarked and muttered and beseeched. (Today I even found grunted, growled, and snarled, all in one paragraph. Blech!) (more…)