Given that National Novel Writing Month is looming up I figured it was worth re-posting this from my archives – how to plot a story. Cue the evil laughter… How to get a credible story plot and avoid the dumb ones One of the challenges of NaNoWriMo – or, indeed, of writing any novel – … More Novel plotting 101 – how to get it right
It’s National Novel Writing Month in November – a US contest, but it draw authors from all around the world. Which means a lot of writers are going to be sitting down right now, all around the world, and figuring out what to do. I’ve been supporting the event with advice and tips for years … More Getting started for National Novel Writing Month 2017
It seems to me that mythology and fairy stories go together pretty much hand in hand. One of the twentieth century masters of the art of writing them was J R R Tolkien, whose Middle Earth imaginarium spanned the whole lot. The Silmarillion, the foundation of his mythos, was deliberate mythology. He drew inspiration from … More What is a myth – and what is a fairy story?
Something struck me the other day about the nature of academic ethics in New Zealand and some of the people who flourish by exploiting the conceits of that subculture. Check out these two stories – both are true. 1. A few months ago a gang member arrived in a Blenheim KFC where he saw a … More How academics get away with bullying
It always intrigues me that ‘writing’, to most people, appears to be ‘writing fiction’. Time and again I’ll see stuff on social media pivoting on that idea – ‘writers – what’s your character arc?’, or ‘what’s your latest plot twist’ or whatever. Whereas non-fiction writing is always seen as a secondary product of expertise in … More Why even non-fiction has to tell a story
One of the hardest things about writing is selling it to readers – especially today, where the old gatekeepers have gone and the web is full of writing that, once upon a time, would have been relegated to a publisher’s slush pile. The challenge for readers is finding the good stuff. And that’s where a … More Getting the right promotion for your story
November is just about over, and all things being equal, NaNoWriMo participants should end up with something like a ‘bad first draft’ at the end of that writing month. Which is very cool, because a bad first draft is better than no first draft. That sounds like an old aphorism, but it’s absolutely true, because … More Ten steps in book writing after the first draft’s done
One of the best writing exercises I know is to emulate a specific author – ‘writing in the style of…’ – because it forces the writer to analyse exactly how the writing they’re emulating was put together. That’s how you learn things. But let’s take that further. The idea of writers figuring out another’s writing … More How to juxtapose writing style across content…and laugh…
I reviewed a book the other month for one of New Zealand’s magazines, whose author had no idea about how to control his tenses. It was a history book, but he relentlessly muddled up past and future tenses – the rogue word was ‘would’ and ‘would be’. This is death to historical writing for a … More How to avoid mixing up tenses in your writing
What music do you listen to when writing? Can you listen to music at all? It’s one of the most powerful tools writers can have at their disposal – especially for unsticking the muse. Put another way, you’re pretty much guaranteed to write something different while jouncing along to Katy Perry than if you hurled … More Using music to defeat writers’ block
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