Why I’m a pantser who’s turning into a bit of a plotter

I’ve always said I’m a pantser, and that I believe writing under pressure is a great way to beat self-doubt. And I still am, and I still do, mostly. But what happened a couple of weeks ago spurred me to reconsider my position about the best way to write a novel. Quite simply, I started, willingly enough, one of the most ordinary tasks a writer has to carry out. Namely I went through the first draft of a novel I had finished some weeks before. To put it mildly, it was a hell of a mess. In that first draft…

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Believe it or not, the Oxford comma is your friend

As we have already seen in Comma Usage in Creative Writing, commas are especially useful because if used wisely they can greatly improve the clarity of what we write. However, sometimes such rules are applied inconsistently, are badly understood, or are even dropped completely. A typical example comes from lists.  This seems a pretty straightforward situation. One which should pose no problems at ll. In fact, we should put in a comma to differentiate each element of the list. And we should do this also with the last item. Unfortunately, some writers don’t use this last comma, which is called…

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Comma usage in creative writing

Commas are like petals. If you arrange them consistently you can come up with a lovely flower When I went to elementary school, and dinosaurs still roamed the world, my Neanderthalian teacher told me that commas had to be used to signal pauses. This suggestion was short and simple, but it presented a notable drawback: it worked only in some situations. In many others, all those commas I sometimes sprinkled my texts with looked like dead soldiers after a particularly bloody battle. In reality, I would soon discover, and certainly not thanks to that teacher, commas can signal pauses, but…

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Even if it’s better than creative accountancy, creative writing still needs rules | Creative Writing 101

Creative accounting can be defined as a process whereby accountants use their knowledge of accounting rules to manipulate the figures reported in the accounts of a businessSubtle but important differences With an extreme simplification, creative writing can be considered any writing in which authors make things up. It’s sort of like creative accountancy, but with three important differences. Firstly, your chances of becoming rich with creative writing are slim at best. Secondly, also your chances of ending up in a jail if you pursue a career in creative writing are pretty slim. Lastly, creative writing is aimed at a public…

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Effective to do list planning, to really boost productivity

Having a list of goals can be a great way to make us as productive as possible. But like everything else in life, if we overdo it, we run the risk of ending up with nothing to show for our shiny list of goals. In fact, a list of goals should be as laser-focused as short. For example, if we want to increase our writing output, it’s doubtful at best the usefulness of adding to our list something like running 40 miles a week. Sure, running is a great way to keep in shape and in good health, and a…

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Book covers – a picture is worth one thousand words… or not?

I’ve already written a post about book covers. In it I offer a detailed overview of the features effective book covers should possess. Instead, in this post, more than on the how you can come up with a great cover, I try to put the importance of a cover into a larger perspective. To point out why it is a good idea. But one that should not keep you up at night.. They say a picture is worth one thousand words. I get it. Of course I get it. But, there’s always a but. In fact, if a picture were…

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The ideal reader – Myth or practical, sound advice?

You should write with an ideal reader in your mind. That seems a reasonable suggestion. But then, if you think about it, you realize that what seems reasonable is instead total bullshit. After all, you reason, if you’re writing a book in your preferred genre you’d be better off writing a book that you yourself would love to read. Certainly, you don’t need to go and find some ideal reader out there. After all you should know yourself pretty well, shouldn’t you? In any case, a lot better than anyone else. That’s an understandable reaction. But things aren’t so straightforward.…

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The Happiness Machine – a free short story

I wrote this short story last week. It isn’t a horror story. It’s just a story. About the choices we make. And how luck and faith and blindness and so many other things, all prevent us from seeing what we are really choosing. The Happiness Machine 1 Just like everybody else, Jeremy and Roger had heard about the Happiness Machine for the first time when they were niners. It was a machine able to make sure you would never experience sadness or any other such uninspiring feelings. You just had to tell the man who operated it what you wanted.…

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The craft of writing – my top picks

I’m on vacation in Spain. Near Cartagena, to be precise. The weather is fine, and the sea pleasantly refreshing. A couple of hours ago I finished lunch. I had gazpacho, fried cheese, bread, salad, and lomo. I concluded my meal with a couple of ripe and tasty plums. And washed everything with genereous amounts of sangria. Then I wrote a short story. It is more or less 900 words long. And I think I’m going to post it sometime during the next week. You know, I need to let it rest a bit, to clean it adequately. Instead, today I’m…

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