Grist For the Mill: Emotion and Creativity

As you read this, I am driving home from New York City having just dropped off my daughter at NYU. She’s a freshman this year, so all of this is pretty new to me. The last-minute shopping, the packing, the move-in day and orientation and getting settled. The bills — oh my GOD the bills. And underlying all of it, the emotions that come with seeing my eldest child go off to college: excitement on her behalf, sadness at the thought of her leaving home, happiness at the thought of her leaving home (yeah, some of these are pretty mixed), trepidation at all that she has to face in the coming years — we’ve been taking care of her for so long, and while she is bright and mature and confident, is she ready? I am more aware than I have ever been of my age, of the swiftness with […]

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On Writing and Creativity: Worldbuilding Revisited, part III — Writing Worldbuilding Into Our Books

Three weeks ago, when I began this series of posts on Worldbuilding (first installment here, second installment here) one of our regular readers — Razziecat — offered (as usual) a terrific comment (thanks, Razz!). In it, she quoted the wonderful Lois McMaster Bujold, who once said, “The world comes into being as the story passes through it.” This is one of those things I wish I had said first, because it is so simply and elegantly stated, and because it is so very true. And so in today’s continuation of the Worldbuilding series, I am going to focus on the ways in which I incorporate my worldbuilding into the actual writing of my books and stories.

Bujold’s statement about worldbuilding actually works on several levels. It is true (at least for me) that for all the work I do ahead of time developing maps, writing up histories, creating religions and […]

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On Writing and Creativity: Worldbuilding Revisited, part II — How Much is Enough?

Today, I continue the series of posts on worldbuilding that I began last week. First, though, I am very pleased to announce that Tor and I have agreed to terms on a contract for two more Thieftaker books. Thieves’ Quarry, the second book in the Thieftaker sequence, will be coming out next July. And now I can say with confidence that it will be followed by City of Shades in 2014 and Dead Man’s Reach in 2015. So, yay!

Okay, so back to worldbuilding. And let me begin where I left off last week, with what may well be the most important point I made about the process I go through to create the settings for my fantasies. None of the discreet tasks I mentioned last week (map making, creating relationships, coming up with myths and religions, and building magic systems) is actually discreet; rather, it all happens together, in […]

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On Creativity and Writing: Making the Most of Ideas, part V — The Quest

It’s been a few weeks now since the last installment in my series of posts on ideas. And there’s a reason for that. I left off after my post on Blindsides, Gaps, and Spinoffs, a post in which I promised that the next time I wrote about ideas, I would tackle “The Quest,” the process of forcing new ideas when you have none for your next project.

So here I am, faced with writing that promised post. And the truth is, I have no earthly idea of where my ideas come from, much less how to force new ideas to enter my brain. As I said in the first post of this series, “Ideas are funny things. They come from everywhere. They come unbidden, and will absolutely refuse to come if I TRY to force them.” Given that I wrote that in part I, I really have some nerve promising […]

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On Creativity and Writing: Making the Most of Ideas, part IV — Blindsides, Gaps, and Spinoffs

For the past several weeks, I have been writing about ideas — what we do with them, the fears they can elicit, ways in which they remain original even when they are similar to the ideas of other writers.

Today, I would like to talk about the timing of ideas, and how I go about making the most of them no matter when they crop up.

1. The Blindside: We’ve all had this one, right? Sometimes while working on one project we are blindsided by another idea for a completely separate project. We don’t particularly welcome the idea at that point; in fact the ideas that come to us under these circumstances can be a total pain in the butt. A case in point: Early in 1999 I was writing the third and final book of my first series, the LonTobyn Chronicle. I was, at that point, somewhat sick of […]

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On Writing: Transitions and Chapter Breaks

I have been wanting to post about transitions for ages now, and I haven’t been sure how to approach the subject. Faith has posted about them before — a pair of posts that you can read here and here — and she did a masterful job of talking about using prose to smooth us through those moments mid-chapter when we need to relocate a character or show the passage of time in a way that does not upset the flow of narrative and that does not rely on clunky crutches. What I want to talk about is a little different: Today we’re going to focus on chapter breaks and how to make the most of them.

Let me start with a definition: A transition in a book or story is pretty much any passage or device that bridges moments of discontinuity in our writing. Changes in time, changes in setting, […]

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Shameless Self-Promotion and the Wonderful World of Branding

As promised (or would that be “threatened”?) I’m doing another promotional post today, to mark tomorrow’s release of the third and final book in my Blood of the Southlands trilogy. The book is called The Dark-Eyes’ War, and it is, at least for now, the final installment in the long-running epic fantasy story arc that began with my Winds of the Forelands series. I hope that you’ll all enjoy the book. For those interested in trying to win a free signed copy, there is a contest up at my website (the contest ends today, by the way). There are also sample chapters posted on the site, in case you want to check out the opening passages before you buy the book.

In the context of the release, I’d like to write a bit about branding, which is a word you hear a lot of these days in publishing circles. Branding […]

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