Writing a book – The 10.000 steps… more or less

Something to say Have something to say. Say it, and then think of a story. Not of a manifesto or a treatise. You see, you need a story. With manifestos and treatises you can illuminate the world about, say, injustice. But you can’t tell a story. You can’t move any reader. You can only bore them. So, make sure aunt Fanny gives Richard and Max a slice of pie each. Make sure Richard, unseen, punches his brother Max in the face, steals his slice of pie, and then eat it. You do that and you will not even need to…

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Sources of inspiration — to keep your ideas flowing

Let’s consider these points: 1) Picasso once said: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” 2) Jack London thought the same. He said: “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” 3) Most wannabes–it doesn’t matter if writers, sculptors, dancers and so on–speak a lot about what they’d love to do, but never even take the first step to turn their wish into something more tangible. Yet, from the above quotes it’s apparent that one of the most important differences between the layman and any professional creative is how differently they consider…

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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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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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Daily word quota revisited – be stubborn about your goals and flexible about your methods

Setting up a daily word quota you have to hit can be an effective way to beat procrastination and improve your productivity–of course, provided you’re not like Douglas Adams, who is often quoted saying, I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by. Famous quotes apart, some time ago I wrote about procrastination, and I must say I considered my daily word count the most important metric for productivity. However, lately I’ve been examining a bit more deeply my writing habits and I discovered that a fixed daily quota can be ultimately of detriment to…

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