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Tag Archives: writing advice
How do you learn to write? You learn by observing and doing, by reading good fiction and making attempts at your own. The truth is that writing is primarily self-taught, that the axiom that you must write a million words is on the mark, and that the first truth is this: To learn to write, you must be writing.
With my students who are writing and thinking about writing, I would have to actively give them bad advice like Play videogames rather than write. Don’t read anything. Only write when you’re in the mood. for them not to get better.
From the Surrey International Writers Conference, Sunday, October 23, 2016 keynote:
I would ask if you’re having a good time but I know that you are, I’ve been so impressed by the enthusiasm, the professionalism, and the talent here, and amazed at how well the presenters are taken care of by the conference. Thank you for the chance to be here.
I figure you are all already stuffed full of writing advice, so I wanted to give you some things for after the conference. First off, go home and sleep. Decompress. You’ve been working hard all weekend and you deserve it.
On Writing by Stephen King is divided into two parts. The first is an autobiographical look at his writing over the years. It is unflinching and honest and well worth the read. The second is stuff about writing. It is also unflinching and honest and well worth the read.
I can’t think of a better book to begin with than a writing book I go back to over and over again, both for teaching and to apply to my own writing. Be aware that many of these essays are also contained in The Jewel-Hinged Jaw.
The following comes from an email exchange between myself and John Barnes, whose story I critiqued and who has given permission to reprint the exchange 🙂 I know that this question often comes up for newer writers. They see writers who write long, elaborate sentences and wonder why they then get criticized for overly long and complicated sentences.
Writers should pay attention to our own process. Sometimes we’re reluctant to do so. We worry that like the centipede in the story who stops being able to walk after thinking about exactly how she does it, looking at our own process will damage or kill it. A Schrödinger’s cat: we know we’re doing something, but if we look to prove that, it’ll vanish.
This is not actually true. Looking will, most probably, not kill it. If you are the rare exception that cannot look at their process without damaging it, a brief examination will let you know this without damaging anything too much. Maybe. There are no guarantees in writing advice.
But if you are part of the vast majority that WILL learn from it, what will you gain?
Last week in the Writing F&SF Stories class, we talked about dialogue. This is a basic tool for a writer, one whose importance cannot be ignored.
Several people have been asking if I’d offer an online workshop and I’ve been thinking about how best to do that. So here goes. Please spread the word of this however you can. If I don’t get at least 3 students for a workshop, I’ll cancel it. Continue reading
We’re coming up on the end of the Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction class I teach at Bellevue College. Tonight’s the next to last session. In earlier sessions we’ve talked about the writing process, story parts and mechanics, delivering information, characters, description, and worldbuilding. A number of past blog posts have come out of those classes: 5 Things to Do in Your First 3 Paragraphs, Active Verbs, Foreshadowing and Establishing Conflict, Plotting and Re-plotting Stories, Three Strategies for Snaring the Senses, Three Things that End a Story Well, Using Random Tools Like Stumbleupon For Rewriting, and Why Titles Matter. Continue reading