Tag Archives | Story Question

Revision for Pantsers

I recently finished a fairly major revision on my contracted novel that nearly killed me. How did it almost kill me? I wrote 32,000 words in 7 days in order to get it turned in on time. (I essentially rewrote the entire last act of the book from scratch.) Why did I throw out the last third of my book? Because it made it better. Here’s the thing about revision: I hate it. I am […]


The Big Idea: How to Find the Right Idea to Turn into a Book

Where do you get your ideas from? is a question writers commonly receive, and is probably one of the hardest ones to answer. Part of that is because the Idea Generation process is different from writer to writer, and part of it is because many of us simply don’t know. We might as well say we get our ideas from IDËA, the Scandinavian idea superstore. Makes as much sense as anything else we might say. However, […]


Asking the Right Questions

Critiquing, like editing, is somewhat of a subjective business. What floats your boat may sink someone else’s ship, so to speak, but the thing I’ve found in common in all great critique partners and editors is the ability to ask the right questions. The one thing you never want to do when critiquing or editing is to impose your vision on someone else’s work. You are not the writer; if you were, you would be reading […]


Walking the High Wire: The Art of Writing Tension

What is it that makes a “page-turner”? What indefinable, shivery quality does a book possess that makes you unable to put it down?  On a personal, subjective level, that “it” quality differs from reader to reader. But I would argue that on an objective, craft-oriented level, all page-turners have one quality in common: narrative tension. What is narrative tension? I personally define it as the unbearable need to know what happens next. Some of the best […]


The Art of Writing Copy

One of the hardest, yet most useful things I’ve learned in my publishing career is the art of writing copy—catalog copy, jacket copy, etc. Much like writing an essay, there is a formula and/or “trick” to it that, once discovered, becomes a lot easier to wrap your mind around. In junior high and high school, many teachers famously teach the “Five Paragraph Essay” formula. I personally never liked that formula much—I find it too restrictive—but […]