Writing, General
Writing, General

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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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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Em Dashes, Semicolons, and Other Less Used Punctuation

Once you get past the basics, punctuation starts to get weird. That’s because a lot of the less used punctuation are more about personal preference than prescribed usage. Even the basics can be this way; commas can often be placed or removed without violating any grammar rules or affecting comprehension. But that doesn’t mean they’re not important. All punctuation helps give your writing rhythm, give it a voice unique to you. And the odd ones even more so, as they are distinctive yet often overlap in meaning so that the choice of which one to use is esthetic rather than...

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Genres for the Independent Author

Genres are a fascinating part of the writing profession. They mean nothing and everything; they are both limiting and freeing; they are arbiters and arbitrary in near equal measures. I began my career as a traditional author. As such, genres were the purview of publishers and booksellers. I wrote the book and then they told me what genre it was in. That didn’t mean I didn’t know what genre my books were in; it just meant I didn’t care if they decided it was something different. It was their job to sell those books, and if they thought it would...

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Signaling Your Genre from the Start

If you’re an independent author, you’ve probably done a lot of work on your title, blurb, and cover. Don’t screw it all up with the first line of your book. When a person picks up your book, or uses the look inside feature on Amazon or other sites, they’re going to read the first few lines of your book. It’s likely the final thing they’ll look at before buying your book. So, not only does it have to be a good intro into your book, it also has to not screw up the sale. But how do you do that?...

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Writing Action

I am going to get right to the point and tell you the secret of writing action scenes: It’s not about the action. Like everything else in writing, it’s about character. A lot of people think reading action scenes is boring. And done poorly, it is. It’s not a movie. We can’t add camera angles and sound effects and a chaotic score that all drive the excitement; we have only words. But with those words—and clever choices of what words they are—we can do something that movie action scenes have a much harder time doing. We can illustrate character. Who...

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