Craft
Craft

Let’s Talk About AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the current hot button issue in the world of writing. Some people say it’s the greatest thing for writer productivity since the word processor. Others say it will destroy the entire field. As a writer, web designer, and someone who was coding before he hit puberty, I can assure you that it’s not the former and probably won’t do the latter. It’s not even actually artificial intelligence, which is something I am not going to get into in this article, as the semantics of what we call it is less important than what we use it...

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Analyzing Story Beats

Whether it’s on your own stories or someone else’s, learning how to analyze the beats of a story can be an important tool in a writer’s toolbox. First of all, what do I mean by story beats? Story beats are not the plot. In fact, you can map out the beats of a story without talking about the plot at all. Story beats are shifts in tone, in action, in emotion. They are the highs and lows and the movement between those points that make a story enjoyable or tragic or comedic or whatever it is determined to be by...

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From Idea to Book

(Originally appeared as “Taking a Book from Idea to Bestseller” on the WrittenWell front page) There are bits of advice scattered all over the internet on how to write a book, how to market it, how to outline, how to write a great ending. But seeing it as a linear process will help you to do everything in the right order without missing a step—and that is something I don’t see anywhere else.  What I can’t do in this article is explain how to do every step. That would take, well, an entire website. But seeing the steps will help...

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Editing your Own Work, Part 1 — The Little Stuff

When I say “little stuff,” I don’t mean it isn’t important. Just that it occupies a small space and requires small changes. I’ll talk about developmental editing and making big revisions in other articles. This one is for the little things that might knock a reader out of your story, things like typos, punctuation mistakes, repeated words, and other little gremlins that can pop up in a first draft. There is already an inherent bias from the public about self-published books. Your work needs to appear as professional as possible. That means it needs to be well edited and sharp,...

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Writing to Teach

My writing career started by teaching people how to play poker. I’ve talked about that in my article on establishing yourself as an expert, but I didn’t really cover HOW to write this type of nonfiction. The reason I was successful as a poker writer, according to my readers, was that I found ways to explain complicated subjects in simple ways. There were two reasons I was able to do this.  1. My competition weren’t good teachers Most poker theory experts are not great writers. They are very intelligent, but they don’t relate to people as well as they relate...

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Establishing Yourself As An Expert

For many genres of nonfiction, especially self-help or instructional books, readers want to hear from an expert. Are you an expert in your field? Would you like to be? Establishing yourself as an expert is easy in most areas of expertise.  The first question is, what qualifications are necessary in your field? When I was establishing myself as an expert in the poker world, all that I needed to do was provide good information, backed by solid math, present myself confidently as an expert, and be a winning player.  If your area of expertise is related to the law, medicine,...

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How to Know When Its Done

At some point, after all the writing and revising, your book will be done. Unfortunately, no one knows when that will be. Every author has to figure that out for themselves—and sometimes figure it out anew with each new book. It is more of an art than a science, but I will try to help you with what I know about when to pull the trigger and publish the thing. Most of us know what a first draft looks like. Some are sloppier than others, but most have flaws of some sort in the structure or the prose. Sections might...

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Some Random Writing Tips

Not everything deserves an entire article. Here are a few things I’ve learned from my time in the trade that have helped me. Develop Your Own “Manual of Style” — When writing, you are faced with a lot of choices. From the big choices of plot, setting, and voice, all the way down to whether to put a comma in or not. It can be daunting to face down these questions in every sentence you write. That’s why I made some choices early on to winnow down the list of questions I have to answer. For instance: Save Early, Save...

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Why Writing is Different

Good art—of any kind—contains three things at a high level: concept, composition and technique. Writing is unique in all the creative arts in that there is no physical element to the technique part of that equation. Sure, there’s typing—or handwriting if you’re one of those mad folk who write their first draft longhand—but it has nothing to do with the final representation of the work. Probably won’t even be in the same font it was written it in. Dance, painting, sculpture, music—all need good physical technique to complete the triumvirate required for good art. Being entirely cerebral has some weird...

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Worldbuilding: How Much is too Much?

There is no such thing as too much worldbuilding. The greater the depth of the author’s knowledge of the setting of their book, the better. There is no detail too small or universe too big to be fully fleshed out in the author’s mind—or more likely, in extensive notes, maps, timelines, character bios, Plottr portfolios, and whatever else the often chaotic mind of the author chooses to store this information in. Unless you put it all in the text of your book. Hemingway said, “The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above...

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