The Science in Your Science Fiction: Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI), like time travel, is a perennial subject for writers of science fiction. And, like time travel, AI is subject to a number of misunderstandings which can make writing a story in that setting, on that subject, using it as a McGuffin, or as a character, problematic. With movies like Blade Runner 2049,… Read more »

To Outline or Not To Outline?

“No sane person would think of setting out to construct a skyscraper or even a one-family home with a detailed set of plans.” – Albert Zuckerman When Eero Saarinen built the Gateway Arch in Saint Louis, he built from the ground up. In other words, he calculated extensive mathematical equations so that the arch curved… Read more »

Building Rest and Retreats into Your Writing Routine

I’m a huge fan of writing retreats. I’ve attended the Highlights Foundation Unworkshop four times this year, and am headed back in November. I am a big believer in the magic of uninterrupted blocks of writing time, especially if you have a hectic day job. I recently went on a trip to Manchester, Vermont, where… Read more »

#5onFri: Pros and Cons of NaNoWriMo

It’s October once again, and a familiar question is floating around: Should I do NaNoWriMo? For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. In a nutshell, it is a writing challenge that takes place every November where the goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. That comes out to… Read more »

#5onFri: Five Sticky Grammar Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

If you’re a writer, chances are that you have at least some intuitive understanding of how English works, even if you don’t know what the difference is between the nominative and accusative cases or how to properly use the subjunctive tense. The good news is that the more obscure English rules don’t rear their ugly… Read more »

#5onFri: Five Tips for Processing a Negative Critique

The most hurtful critique I ever received came from a well-meaning uncle who, after reading my first published novel, spent an hour on the phone picking it apart. The first thing I did after hanging up was to yell a few choice words I can’t repeat here. Unfortunately, as soon as I finished yelling I… Read more »

Tips and Techniques for Training Your Writing Brain

Writing is fraught. You worry about your imagination. You worry about your writing ability. You descend into navel gazing. “Is my writing engaging enough? Are my ideas interesting enough to hold a reader’s interest? Does my idea have enough substance to be a poem, short story, novel?” It all starts to spin out of control…. Read more »

Three Major Roles of Minor Characters

Every character in a story is important, even minor ones. Actually, especially minor ones. When written well, they advance plot and/or develop a major character. If they’re not, well…we’ll get to that later. But first, I’d like to discuss three simple ways minor characters make a story. Pay close attention, and you might learn the… Read more »