• Novel Writing,  Writer's Block,  Writing Inspiration

    Turning a Scene into a Novel

    “Hey Lizard! So I have an idea for a story, but it’s only one scene. I have no idea where to go with it or how to flesh it out into a longer idea. Can you help please?” Frankenstein by Mary Shelley started out as one very spooky scene that Shelley first imagined on a surprisingly chilly summer’s evening to scare her literary friends. Though getting from just one cool scene to an entire book is not without its challenges. First: Save that cool scene in a folder and don’t touch it. Make a copy of it that you can work with. Even if you change it, it’s not gone.…

  • Writing Inspiration

    “How Do I Improve My Writing?”

    I’ve gotten so many questions that essentially come down to this: “how do I improve my writing?” Trust me, I’m asking this myself all the time. And from talking to authors I know, this is a question that never really goes away. It’s not a bad thing. Let it be this question that helps better your craft. So, what is better? I want to start this conversation by saying there is no objective “better” writing. There is “invisible prose,” or prose that while reading is so immersive that the text seems to fall away. Or there’s stories that successfully do just the opposite – stories that make you aware that…

  • Plot Holes,  Writing Inspiration

    Writing with Research

    So I love a well-researched story. If I’m well versed in the topic, I get excited because the author is clearly as big of a nerd as I am, and if I’m not, I’m learning something new. (This is not to say fiction is the best way to learn about a topic, because, as much as I love it, I acknowledge liberties have been taken and things have been embellished.) So, how do you write a well-researched story? Honestly, it’s a lot harder than it looks. The Research Rabbit Hole Research can be a great way to avoid your writing. If you’re like me at all, you could decide you’re…

  • Writing Inspiration

    Crafting Your Own Canon

    So last week, I wrote a post on what writers should be reading, which in short, says writers should be reading a little bit of everything. This week, I want to talk a bit about the Western canon, or the canon of English literature or whatever you want to call it. What is the canon? It’s the classics. It’s the “essential texts” that are noted for their influence and significance. They’re often the books studied in school. In recent years, it’s been pretty well noticed that the canonical authors are predominantly white men and there have been efforts to expand it to be more inclusive. I’m not going to tell…

  • Book Recommendations,  Writing Life

    What Writers Should Be Reading

    This is yet another super requested post and though I love to talk about the books I’ve read, I generally don’t tell anyone what they should or shouldn’t be reading. Mostly, that’s because reading taste is a personal preference. For instance, my fiancé won’t pick up anything that falls under fiction. He reads all the time – though it’s incredibly rare to see us ever reading the same book. With that said, writers should always strive to read beyond their comfort zone. Read experimental works. Read novels in verse. Read the books your grandmother can’t stop talking about. Or books about the history of a country you know nothing about.…

  • Plot

    On Finding Plots: “I’ve Got Characters, But No Plot”

    I’ve always gotten a lot of questions that look a little like this: “I love my characters, but I don’t have a plot or even a setting. What do I do?” It makes a plot sound like this strange elusive thing. I talked about plot in a post a few weeks ago so, I’m going to follow up on that. Let’s find some plots! The Lists of Plots So, this isn’t something I do regularly, but I’ve found that when you’re stuck, it can get you unstuck. Look at a list of plots and pick one. It’s that easy. A few lists I like in particular are the 29 Plot…

  • Writer's Block,  Writing Life

    Everyone’s a Critic

    Notes on Taking Criticism in Stride & Gleaning What’s Useful Lately, I’ve gotten a lot of questions and requests to talk about the rejection and criticism. As a writer, you’re bound to come up against it eventually. Whether you’re showing your stories to your next door neighbor or sending it off to the editor of your favorite magazine, you’re going to eventually come face to face with someone else’s thoughts about your work. That can be a frightening thing. Your writing might be personal or share some very intimate details about your life. It can be hard to hear that it’s is less than perfect. For that reason alone, I’ve…

  • Writing Life

    On Writing & Health Habits: Watch Your Form

    Health is one thing I don’t think I’ve ever really talked about. I mentioned it briefly in a recent post, but I think I only just scratched the surface. I’ve been writing this blog for what feels like now a very, very long time – has it been four years? Maybe. And I’ve also had carpal tunnel for about four years. Now, I know carpal tunnel isn’t such a big deal. For that reason alone, I don’t talk about it much. The reason I’m bringing it up now – I have carpal tunnel entirely because of some bad writing habits. So what did I do to give myself carpal tunnel?…

  • Plot

    Let’s Talk About Plot

    So this has been a highly requested post as of late, so I thought I’d spend a little extra time talking about plot. What is it? How does it work? What constitutes plot? I get these questions a lot and the more I think about it the more insanely philosophic the conversation starts to get, but I’m too pragmatic to get into that here. Let’s get to the root of it. A plot is a conflict. I think most of us already knew that, but sometimes a reminder can be helpful. Plots are problems. There aren’t a ton of incredibly happy stories –or at least they tend not to be…

  • Revision

    Writing is Rewriting: How Rewriting Can Better Your Craft

    Revision has got to be, at least for me, the most cringeworthy part of writing just about anything. I get to the end of a first draft and I look back over the great, wide mess of the thing I just wrote and I don’t want to do it. I think well, maybe the next new story will be better from the beginning, but that’s not logic. That’s not really how writing works.