Conversations: Karen Brooks

I hope you’re as excited as I am about this new series for the column. Karen Brooks is a columnist, book reviewer, blogger, former academic, and—most importantly for us—a successful author in the historical fiction genre. I discovered her work in The Locksmith’s Daughter, published in the US and the UK by HarperCollins and in… Read more »

#5onFri: Five Tips for Writing Fearlessly

Fearless writing is impactful. It forces the audience to encounter characters, situations, or outcomes that they may not be entirely comfortable with—and that’s a wonderful thing. It sounds easy enough to write fearlessly, and indeed it is—right up until someone starts reading your work. I never considered what my grandmother might think about my gruesome… Read more »

Ask The Editor: Character Description

Dear Editor, I’m writing a novel in the first-person perspective, and one of my critique partners just pointed out that they don’t know what my character looks like. Is character description important? If so, how do I describe a character from their own perspective without having them look in a mirror? Sincerely, Wondering Dear Wondering,… Read more »

Deep Dive into Short Forms: Flash Nonfiction

It’s fitting, as a poet, that my first published foray into fiction, Let It Go, was a piece of flash fiction. The story clocked in at a brief 286 words. Brevity is the bedrock of writing flash. I consider flash writing forms as cousins to poetry. Grant Faulkner, the editor of the literary magazine 100… Read more »

Pet the Dog: Signpost Scene #8

Much like the second signpost scene (The Care Package) in James Scott Bell’s SuperStructure, the Pet the Dog scene gives the reader a chance to catch his/her breath while reinforcing care and concern for the story’s Lead (protagonist). Think about it, if the Lead thinks “only of himself,” readers “get a negative impression.” If we… Read more »

How to Build an Alien: Extremophiles

A few columns ago, I took you on a tour of the solar system in search of world building ideas. I hope you’ve had a chance to explore some of these ideas to create new worlds of your own, because this time on Speculations, we’re going to look at populating those imagined worlds. Just like… Read more »

Four Ways to Protect Your Creative Brain

Last year, after reading Cal Newport’s Deep Work, I decided to start tracking my time. Specifically, I wanted to start tracking how many hours a day I was spending in what Newport calls a state of “Deep Work,” focused on one important, rather than urgent, task. However, I soon decided to take it a step… Read more »

#5onFri: Five Vehicles for Showing Emotion

With so many books on the market (upwards of a million published each year), maintaining loyal readers continues to be a priority for authors. We not only need to get them reading our books, we’ve got to keep them reading—to the last page and onto whatever else we’ve written. Discussions abound on exactly what magical… Read more »

Creating Authentic Details: Keeping Secrets

This is the first of a set of articles I plan to do from time to time on ways to provide details that immerse the reader ever deeper into your story in a way that is fully authentic for the time period. I chose this one first because it’s near and dear to my heart,… Read more »

#5onFri: Five Steps to Creating Characters of Color

Creating characters of color, especially when you yourself are not of that ethnic group, is an issue most writers will grapple with at some point in their careers. While we could debate the issues of cultural appropriation that occur when white authors produce diverse characters—or how those efforts impact writers of color attempting to share… Read more »