Infringement, Fair Use, and Derivative Works

As writers, we’re often inspired by work from artists who have come before us.  One question that often comes up is whether we can use some piece of another artist’s work in our own work.  The answer is: it’s complicated.  There are three things you have  to consider when using part of someone else’s work… Read more »

How to Find Your Unique Ideas

Here’s the ugly truth: No writer exists in a void. All writing is influenced by what has come before. There is no such thing as being utterly, completely unique because all writing exists within a context. In a world that’s always screaming for the Next New Thing, how do we writers reconcile that with the… Read more »

What is Copyright and What Does it Do?

There are four main areas in Intellectual Property (IP) law: patents, copyrights, tradmarks and trade secrets.  Each of these areas protects a different type of intellectual property. Patents: Protect an invention by preventing others from copying a specific mechanism or process. Copyrights: Protect artistic expression by preventing others from copying the substance of an artistic… Read more »

How to Make Sense of Critiques

Sooner or later, you’re going to get feedback on your work.  Whether it’s from an editor or agent, or from friends and family, or from trusted writer friends, you might as well get used to the idea. But what do you do when you get all that feedback?  My temptation is often to cut up… Read more »

How to Make the Most of Failure

These past few posts, we’ve been talking about making writing resolutions and putting them into action.  As we start the new year, I thought I’d add one last post on this topic, only this time with words of wisdom I’ve collected over the years from various creative people.  We can make big plans and dream… Read more »

Prompt: Make a Holiday Writing Wishlist

Every writer wants something.  Maybe it’s an extra hour in the day so you can be more productive.  Maybe it’s an extra-special fountain pen or notebook.  Maybe it’s having the cat stop chewing on the corners of your manuscript.  We don’t ask for much, but when it comes right down to it, the only thing… Read more »

The Role of Voice in Writing

  The trouble with voice is that it’s nearly impossible to find an adequate definition.  The best I can say about voice is that while I might not be able to define it, I definitely know it when I see it. Before putting together this post, I did a little research on voice by looking… Read more »

How to Make Sense of Verb Tense

Last week we talked about Point of View and one reader raised a fascinating point in the comments about the narrative distance between first and third person.  As I thought about this point, I realized that verb tense also affects the narrative distance, hence this post about verb tense and how that affects the viewpoint… Read more »

The Last Point of View Cheat Sheet You’ll Ever Need

When starting a new project, one of the big decisions you have to make is which point of view (POV) you’re going to use.  Go here to download a Point of View Cheat Sheet to help you choose the point of view that’s right for your story. Before I give you a rundown of the different types… Read more »