One of my New Year's’ Resolutions for 2016 is to review more books. I’m doing this because reviews are an excellent way to support other authors, and we authors could use all the help we can get. If I love a book, I want to tell people about it, and I want the author to … Continue reading The importance of book reviews
Writing characters with mental illnesses can be a challenge. Authors must do some amount of research to be sure they’re representing the experience in a compassionate, honest, and believable way. Here are five things to keep in mind when writing mental illness. 1. Avoid a magical recovery Books and movies about mental illness often end the same … Continue reading 4 pitfalls to avoid when writing about mental illness
Instead of dissecting the symbolism and thematic significance of a poem, this series is meant to be a practical discussion of what fiction writers can learn from poetry. Because a poem uses so few words, each word must be meaningful and carefully chosen to have the impact the poet desires. In The Love Song of … Continue reading Portraying character in fiction: Lessons from J. Alfred Prufrock
Creating effective character descriptions can be difficult. You can bore the reader with too much description, but if it’s used effectively, it can be a powerful tool. In this example, Jim Butcher uses character description to build tension, illuminate his characters, set a consistent tone for the novel, and tell us about the protagonist. This … Continue reading How do I write effective character descriptions? (part 1)
Warning: This isn't an in-depth, academic poetry analysis full of symbolism and themes. This is a more practical look at what E.E. Cummings' style can teach authors about writing. E.E. Cummings is well known for playing with words, putting them together in unconventional ways. He also used unusual grammar for a wonderful dramatic effect. These … Continue reading What fiction writers can learn from E.E. Cummings
The present tense is a controversial subject among writers. You’ll hear people who love it and people who vow never to read anything written with it. If you write present tense, however, you’re not keeping bad company. Haruki Murakami, John Updike, and Margaret Atwood have all written wonderfully in present tense. They’re not the only … Continue reading Should writers use the present tense?
I’ve often heard people who give writing advice say “don’t write a prologue.” If I were someone qualified to give writing advice, I’d say, “don’t write a bad prologue.” The prologue at the beginning of Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind is a beautiful and necessary part of the novel. If The Name of … Continue reading On beginnings: The prologue to The Name of the Wind
Stephen King has some wonderful first lines, that both hook the reader and skillfully capture the essence of the book. There's a lot to be learned from his technique. Here are four of my favorites. The Gunslinger The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed. This sentence sets up the story’s … Continue reading On Beginnings: Stephen King’s first lines