Writing

Red editing pen

The Editorial Letter

We’ve discussed editing before, and it can be confusing that the word “edit” can mean so many different things. In publishing, there are three basic types of edit that a book might go through (although the lines can be blurry): The copyedit: Detailed editing including the nitty gritty of grammar, punctuation, typos, word choice, even fact-checking.…
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Teen girl reading

On Darkness in YA Literature

By now most of you have read the Wall Street Journal article that appeared on June 4th called “Darkness Too Visible” by Meghan Cox Gurdon, which decried the dark themes in today’s YA literature. After it came out, the Internet erupted with responses, including over 15,000 tweets and many blogs posts and articles from YA authors and others in the writing/publishing community. (Nathan Bransford gave some good links.) All of this happened when I was on vacation and blissfully unaware, but now I’ve read the article, dozens of the tweets and a handful of the posts and I do have something to say.

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What’s the Story on Backstory?

I’m taking a blogging break this week. Hope you enjoy this post from my archives. One of the biggest challenges for novelists—new and seasoned alike—is avoiding too much backstory in the opening of the book. A lot of people ask me questions about backstory, and often argue with me about it. So I wanted to…
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Story vs. Craft

I’m taking a blogging break this week. Hope you enjoy this post from my archives. As I go through queries and partials, I’m often thinking about the two elements of a good novel: craft and story. Craft refers to all the mechanics of fiction: plot, characterization, dialogue, pacing, flow, scene-crafting, dramatic structure, point-of-view, etc. Story…
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Write Your Truth

I’m taking a blogging break this week. Hope you enjoy this post from my archives. “Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to…
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A Few Good Quotes for Writers

“When I used to teach creative writing, I would tell the students to make their characters want something right away even if it’s only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to time.”~Kurt Vonnegut “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor. Perfectionism will…
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Vlogging, Anyone?

Guest Blogger: Jennifer Wilkov Society loves moving pictures. Movies and television have been around for a long time, but then along came the Internet—and YouTube is right up there with Google and Facebook as the most visited websites in the world. Vlogging, or video blogging, is a great way for you as an author to…
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What the Fiction Editor Looks For – Part 2

Yesterday we focused on the characters in your novel. Here are a few more things editors look for when reading your novel, this time, about the story itself. The premise needs to be strong enough (as well as interesting enough) to support the entire book. Every book needs suspense…the page-turning factor…a burning story question that the…
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What the Fiction Editor Looks For

Part 1 For the next couple of days I’m going to point out some of the things an editor looks for when reading a manuscript. When you get a content edit (or “developmental edit”) on your novel, you may find these kinds of things pointed out for improvement. Today I’m going to focus on your novel’s characters.…
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Why Can’t I Find Your Email Addy?

I do not understand why so many writers have websites and/or blogs, but do not have their email address or a “contact me” link easily visible. It’s a frequent source of frustration for me. Why would you even bother putting yourself out there without giving people a way to contact you? There are two circumstances in…
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Action is Character

Advice from Hollywood, part 3 In real life, it’s not what a person says that shows us who they are. It’s what they do. The content of a person’s character is revealed in action and behavior. Who a person says they are, or thinks they are, doesn’t necessarily reflect their true character. In screenwriting, the…
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A Must-Read for Writers

(See below for how to win a copy.) A decade ago, I read Betsy Lerner’s book The Forest for the Trees and it quickly rose to the top of my “best books ever” list. I read it a few times over the years, then lent it out so many times I lost track of my…
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What is Writer’s Voice?

(Re-post) Several people have asked me about “voice” lately. I’ll barely be able to scratch the surface because it’s a big topic, but let’s get started. What do we mean when we say we’re looking for “new voices”? What do editors mean when they say it’s the writer’s voice that captures them—or doesn’t? Let’s start…
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Ode to the Book Cover

Last week I had a little epiphany that made me just the teensiest bit less enthusiastic about e-books as the primary delivery method for books in the future. I’d been reading The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow by Joyce Magnin on my Kindle. Then Joyce did a guest post for me and in the course of…
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