How to create awesome character names

I already wrote another post on character names. But I felt it wasn’t as complete as it could have been. So here is a sort of part two. Some authors don’t even start writing if they don’t know the name of their characters. Others write a full first draft or even more using working names. Then they finally come up with a name that is the natural result of their staying with the story for such a long time. The name reveals itself, we could say. Now, probably names aren’t among the most important aspects of a great novel–but many great…

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Is it true that first drafts are always bad? 5 tips to write better ones

You have heard it a million times at least. First drafts are always bad. First drafts suck. First drafts are shitty. Really, you can choose any disparaging adjective and rest assured someone already stated that first drafts are just that too. However, all this clamor doesn’t prove that first drafts must necessarily be always so bad. For example, it could simply be that a lot of people like to repeat a catchy phrase. That they love being involuntary vectors of a meme epidemic. It may also mean many people keep repeating and spreading such a meme because they find it…

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Improve your editing skills – 5 easy tips

There was a time I hated editing. There was a time I thought all the fun was in ferrying my ideas into reality, in writing them on paper for the first time around. I thought the thrill of discovery, and that strange feeling I experienced—of tapping into some mysterious sort of alternate reality—was all I cared about. But then, blunt and irreverent, time barged in as it always does. And much to my chagrin it showed me I was mistaken. In short, it happened the most obvious thing in the world. I began rereading some of the stories I had written.…

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How to write badly – when fiction turns into friction

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. You don’t need to be a true faithful to have heard this proverb. Of course, it’s a generalization, and like all generalizations it has its limits. But I think it’s particularly appropriate when applied to the world of creative writing, where ideas and good intentions seem to be everywhere, but then actual writing ferries into existence only a small sliver of them all. So, here is this list of one-liners about how to write badly. At the very least they’re all wrong, and in many cases they’re also incredibly counterproductive.

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Describing characters in fiction – literary techniques

In a previous post about memorable characters in fiction I wrote that writers must offer their readers many occasions to get to know the characters populating their stories. In fact, just as in real life the more we know about someone the more intense our feelings can grow for that person, the same happens in a novel. However, given that any work of literature, even the lengthiest one, is always an heavily edited and condensed version of reality, we must choose with care which scenes to include in our stories and which are instead better left out. For example, if…

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How to use adjectives in creative writing

In writing in general, but particularly in creative writing, no part of grammar can be overlooked. But it’s also true that no part of grammar should be worshipped either. Endless choices Fact is, how we write depends on the content of our story, on the style we choose to tell it, on what the aim of our telling is, and a million of other things. For example, in a novel, to describe the route someone must follow, we may resort to descriptions relating to the colors and the smells of the landscape. We may also describe the feelings of the…

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How to write descriptive passages – the iceberg metaphor

If not well organized, descriptive passages are often at risk of turning into info dumps, so killing the pace of your novel and putting your readers to sleep. To avoid such an unfortunate outcome and produce instead well organized descriptive passages, you need to know perfectly well what you’re describing. Both in narrative terms and in terms of factual knowledge. This is why you have to ask yourself many different questions about the story you want to write. Questions about your main characters as well as the secondary ones; questions about the setting; questions about the story arc, and so on.…

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Precise writing – how and when to use adverbs to write better

How the indiscriminate use of adverbs in creative writing can undermine precise writing, and how to avoid this. Precise writing is writing in which you as an author manage to put down on paper all your thoughts so that there’s (ideally) no discrepancy between what you want to write and what you actually write. Sure, seen from a distance, this transferring process might seem quite straightforward, but as any author knows only too well, precise writing isn’t always such a natural process. In fact, while it is relatively easy to write a page after the other just letting the words…

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How to find the best freelance book editor – a no no list

how to hire a book editor

Editing your novel, possibly resorting to a professional freelance book editor, is a step of paramount importance in the process leading up to the publishing of your book. In fact, even the most powerful scene falls flat on its face if it’s riddled with typos, grammar mistakes, and whatnot. The reason for this is simple. Any glitch in the flow of the words on the page is like a tear in the virtual reality the reader is experiencing. And too many tears of this kind make the fabric of virtual reality simply too flimsy to keep the readers inside it.…

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