You may have noticed it’s been pretty quiet over here on The Prolific Novelista. Or maybe you haven’t noticed, because that’s the thing about blogs: they work so long as you continue to update them. Readers will come when they can expect regular content, when they refresh the home page and find something new.
And I have not lived up to that expectation.
There’s a couple reasons for that, and even more reasons why it’s led me to decide to change my direction.
A few months ago, I started to struggle to come up with topics for both this blog and for Publishing Hub, where I post every other Wednesday. Every post I began writing for TPN felt tired and boring and totally uninspired. (more…)
Usually I spend this space discussing the nuts and bolts of writing. I like to talk about craft. I prefer, in fact, to discuss and share things I’ve learned as it relates to becoming a better writer. (The surest way to getting published and finding success is to, well, be a good writer.)
But today, I want to talk about what it means to be a professional, why you should consider yourself a professional, and why you should be annoyed when anyone tries to treat you like you’re not.
Writing is a professional job.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. Let me say that again: writing is a professional job. I do two kinds of professional writing: copywriting (for a variety of purposes, such as marketing initiatives, technical documentation, and website copy), and fiction writing. Both of those are professional-type jobs that require professionals to perform them correctly. (Many fiction writers start as amateurs, and that’s fine. But working with editors, delivering manuscripts on time, and listening to critique–that makes you a professional.) (more…)
Names are one of those things I don’t really notice unless they’re wrong. Great names (both for characters and for places) blend into the background, and help create an immersive world and reading experience; bad names stand out like an albino alligator.
When I think of great names, I think of Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone, which uses a Russian-based language system. The names stem from there: the main character is named Alina Starkov; the world is called Ravka. Not to mention fantasy classics like Lord of the Rings–when you read an elven name in that book, you know right away the character is an elf. I mean, Elrond? Legolas? Galadriel??
You can even tell a good sci-fi book by the quality of the names. I was so infuriated by the main character in Across the Universe being named Amy. I mean–dozens of years in the future, are we really going to be still naming our girls “Amy”? I doubt it. (more…)
One of the first things I did after getting home from my trip was to stop by YA author Kelly Hashway’s blog. (I haven’t visited a lot of my favorite blogs since I left, but I’m on the road to getting caught up! I promise!)
Kelly’s video teaser of Advantage: Heartbreak gave me an idea. I’ve been meaning to do a vlog (video blog) for some time, and I had a friend encouraging me to do it, but I just didn’t feel like I had the gumption or the material. So, I took a page from Kelly’s book and decided to include a snippet of my new project in the vlog, and I think it actually came out all right.
Now, for your viewing pleasure (or displeasure, it’s really up to you), I present:
I’m on the road again, taking my bi-annual writing retreat to my friend’s ranch in northern California. I’m finishing up a revision and working on a NEW VERY SEEKRIT PROJECT. It’s actually not that secret but everyone else keeps secrets, so I might as well, too.
The Ranch Life
An earwig lies belly-up on the gate latch to the pool, like an offering to the Ranch Gods.
We walk into the tall grass, bare calves brushing thistles, ticks leaping with outstretched arms onto my pants, onto the dog. He wants to stay ahead, keep an eye out for danger. (more…)
I love writing books
Where the imaginative ceiling is
I want to jump
arms in the air
make up the wildest things
and never once touch that ceiling.
I want to create worlds
where anything can happen;
any creature can exist;
any magic can be real;
A world where there are no limits.
I want to make my reader
In case you haven’t stopped by lately, there are dozens more Typewriter Stories up–including one of my favorites, The Search for the Sun. Writer and blogger Lauren Spieller actually liked her custom-made story so much, she framed it and took this photo for us!
When everything goes to hell in a handbasket in Star Wars: A New Hope
Most authors I know agree with one thing about writing a novel:
Middles are the worst.
It’s true. They are. Middles are like the sagging back of an old horse, the rope suspension bridge between Beginning and End that is slowly unraveling, and probably not safe for more than one person to cross at a time.
I totally get that. Somewhere after the inciting incident (about 10,000 words in) and before the build up to the climax (about 15,000 words from the end) you have to, you know–make stuff happen. Fill all that empty, soggy space between Point A and Point B. And it can be really hard to make that middle stuff not feel slow and muddy to the reader.
As I’m revising my middle-grade manuscript, Gryphon, I’ve discovered a few tricks for making middles not only not suck, but possibly become the best part of your novel.
1. Raise the stakes. This “tip” gets thrown around a lot, and for a long time I wasn’t really sure how one could implement such broad-sided advice. (more…)