Hooks, Twists, and Big Ideas, Oh My

About three weeks ago I posted a piece here on MW titled “Where’s The Big Idea?” which talked about the power and effectiveness of putting your story’s ‘big idea’ at the beginning and then exploring the consequences of that idea, rather than building your story to conclude with the reveal of your ‘big idea.’ If you haven’t read it already, now would be a good time to pop into the old way-back machine and get caught up.

All caught up? Splendid.

If you delved into the comments section of that post, you’ll have noticed a few requests for further discussion about the difference between ‘big ideas,’ ‘twists,’ and ‘hooks’… so it shouldn’t be too terribly difficult for you to figure out where today’s post is going to go.

Hook: A ‘hook,’ in my mind, is best compared to the barb on an actual fishing hook. […]

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Where’s The Big Idea

I had a blast at IllogiCon last week, and am looking forward to MarsCon in Williamsburg VA this weekend. I didn’t’ have access to decent wifi at the last con, so ended up being a little slow to respond to those of you who posted here. Hopefully this weekend will go smoother in that arena.

Regarding the new IGMS anthology, I’m tickled to announce that we’ve been approached by someone who is interested in producing an audio book of the collection. I don’t want to jinx it by saying too much before it’s a done deal, but audio books always make me smile, so keep your fingers crossed.

I’m also (on a completely unrelated self-congratulatory note), pleased to say that when the Tangent Recommended Reading list came out recently, IGMS had 13 stories that were recognized/recommended. We published 27 stories in 2013, so having half of them […]

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Starting 2014 with a flurry of activity

Starting 2014 with a flurry of activity, I’ve got conventions on back to back weekends. This coming weekend I’ll be at IllogiCon, along with GOH’s Mary Robinette Kowal and Lawrence Schoen, plus other luminaries such as Misty Massey, James Maxey, Ada Brown, Gail Martin, Mark Van name, John Kessel, and Gray Rinehart. IllogiCon is Jan. 10 – 12, although I won’t be there on Sunday because of another commitment. It’s at the Embassy Suites Raleigh-Durham/Research Triangle, which is actually in Cary, NC (just a smidge south of Raleigh). (I did a brief interview with Misty Massey for Bull Spec as part of their “Coming to Town” series leading up to IllogiCon.)

The following weekend I’ll be at MarsCon, which is at the Fort Magruder Hotel and Conference Center in Williamsburg, VA (Jan. 17 – 19). I will be at the whole con, no conflicts. Guests at MarsCon include YA GOH […]

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Not Directly Anyway

So, I’m not going to talk about fiction writing. Not really. Not directly. First I want to talk about a business book, and a comedian. And Pablo Picasso.


…I’m reading his book by John Kay, mostly a business book, with a few other things thrown in (I must confess to not having finished it), called Obliquity: Why Our Goals Are Best Achieved Indirectly, and the author talks a lot about how the businesses that are the most profitable are the ones that aren’t focused first and foremost on profits. He talks some about Apple, and how when Apple forced Steve Jobs out of the company and brought in some other dude to be CEO, the other dude was all about maximizing shareholder value and blah blah blah and the stock tanked. But when they brought Jobs back in to run the company, Jobs was focused on making the best […]

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Writing Styles: Bashers vs. Swoopers

I’m happily plugging away at my YA fantasy novel, An Eye of Heartstone (the primary reason I took a break from MW) and was talking with a writer friend about my writing approach when she introduced a concept I’d not heard before: Bashers vs. Swoopers. The idea originates with one of my favorite writers, Kurt Vonnegut, but I’d somehow managed to go forty some-odd years without so much as hearing about Bashers or Swoopers once. Here’s a more complete quote from the author himself (I researched it and it’s in Ch. 35 of his book, Timequake):

“Tellers of stories with ink on paper have been either Swoopers or Bashers. Swoopers write a story quickly, higgledy-piggledy, crinkum-crankum, any which way. Then they go over it again painstakingly, fixing everything that is just plain awful or doesn’t work. Bashers go one sentence at a time, getting it exactly right before they go […]

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Auf Wiedersehen, Magical Words

With a name like Edmund Schubert, you might not have guessed it, but my family comes from Germany. No, really, it does. 😉 This heritage comes particularly in handy at a moment like this, because the German phrase “auf wiedersehen” very nicely captures what I want to express. Literally translated, “auf wiedersehen” means “until we see each other again.” And I say that because it’s time for me to step back from Magical Words for a while. Not a forever-sized goodbye, but a Catie Murphy-sized break (which is how I described it in an email to the MW team last week). So I’m stepping back from MW for an indeterminate time. A few months, a few years; I don’t know. I just know it’s what I need to do right now.

Being part of the team here at Magical Words has been a blessing in so many ways for the […]

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Short Fiction – The First 200 Words

I know that most of the time we talk about novel-related matters here on Magical Words, but today (and through the weekend) I want to spend some time talking about short stories. Specifically, I’d like to talk about your short stories…

The first 200 words of any short story are often all that get read when submitted to magazines, because you can tell a lot about the writing, the writer, and the story itself in that span. So what I’m offering today is to review the first 200 words of up to 20 short stories this weekend. Post it in the comments section below, and I’ll get to all them as quickly as I can.

So that we’re clear, I’m going to post my comments about your short story (and it has to be a short story, no novels opening (the correct way to open novels and short stories is […]

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