Quick-Tip Tuesday: Joshua Palmatier on “The Mighty Red Pen”

For today’s Quick-Tip Tuesday post, I welcome Joshua Palmatier, writer and editor par excellence, and a frequent contributor to Magical Words.


We’re coming up on the release of my second “Ley” novel, THREADING THE NEEDLE, and David B. Coe asked me to stop by and give you all a Quick Tip for Quick Tip Tuesday. So my quick tip for this Tuesday is: How to Cut a Significant Number of Words from Your Manuscript that You Thought Was Done.

Here’s the situation: THREADING THE NEEDLE had already undergone three revisions—my own personal revision, a revision prompted by my agent, and a revision prompted by my editor. That’s generally the last revision before the book hits copy edits and page proofs, where nothing really significant is changing (for the most part), just typos, smoothing out sentences, continuity error corrections, etc. So imagine my surprise when I get an email from […]

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On Writing: Creative Intersections — Point of View and Dialog

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about point of view and the ways in which it could help us address nearly all the narrative problems we face when writing. In comments to the post, Donald “SagaBlessed” Kirby, mentioned that making our dialog feel natural can sometimes be difficult, which is absolutely true.

More to the point, of all the writing problems that point of view can help us address, perhaps none is better suited to a POV solution than that of contrived dialog. Frankly, I can’t believe I left it out of my previous post.

Here at MW, we’ve discussed dialog quite a bit over the years, and I’m going to do my best not to cover the same ground in this post. This is not a post about how to write dialog, or how to make the spoken words themselves sound natural. (Carrie did this very well […]

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Sacrificing Reality for Readability

There’s a probably-apocryphal story about the movie MARATHON MAN (wherein, Dustin Hoffman is tortured by having his teeth drilled, without anesthesia). Supposedly, Hoffman (a method actor) went to his dentist and submitted to similar dentistry, so that he could know what his character experienced. When he recounted that story on the movie’s set, Laurence Olivier said, “My dear boy, don’t you understand? We call it acting for a reason!”

I think of that story often, when I’m writing. The goal of my storytelling — whether I’m working in the secondary world of the Darkbeast novels or the contemporary world (with witches!) of the Jane Madison books or any other fictional setting — is to make my created world seem real to my readers. (Duh!) Sometimes, in order to make something ring true, to make it seem real, I have to tweak my depiction of reality, actually making my text *less* […]

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More Writing Exercises!

As I mentioned in last week’s post, I’m teaching a short writing course at my daughters’ school. We had our second session this past Friday night, and, once again, I had my “students” do a couple of writing exercises in class. As I did last week, I did the exercises myself, right along with them, and found to my surprise that I loved the passages I wrote.

There was nothing terribly creative about the exercises I had the class do. Last week we worked on character development; this week we discussed point of view and voice. For the first exercise, I had the class write a scene in which the character they created during last week’s class meets the student him or herself (so when I wrote mine, I had the character I worked on the week before encounter me at a bus stop). I told them to write the […]

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In my first series, the LonTobyn Chronicle, the creation myth of the world held that originally the two lands of LonTobyn had been one large land mass. Arick, the first god, gave the land to his two sons, Lon and Tobyn, as a gift. He wanted them to shape the land, to make of it whatever they wanted it to be. But Lon and Tobyn were young and they fought constantly. Arick grew weary of their bickering until at last, in a moment of rage, he smote the land with his mighty fist, sundering it in two. Forever after, one land was Lon-Ser (Land of Lon) and the other was Tobyn-Ser (Land of Tobyn). And also forever after, when people in LonTobyn (including my characters) cursed in anger or frustration, they said, “Fist of the God!”

For my second series, Winds of the Forelands, the people of the Forelands believed […]

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Dialog Revisited

I have a few things on my blogging agenda this week. First off (as you might guess from the graphic) I have another release this week, and I want to publicize it. The Sorcerers’ Plague, book I of Blood of the Southlands (the prequel to The Horsemen’s Gambit, which came out a couple of weeks ago) is being released in paperback on Tuesday. So if you’ve been interested in the Southlands series, but have been waiting for the first book to be released in paperback, your time has come! And if you’d like to read a few chapters of the book first, please feel free to visit my website: www.DavidBCoe.com.

Second, I’d like to commend Faith and the MagicalWords readers who contributed to her wonderful online character workshop last week. It was enormously interesting and great fun for those of us who were “watching” from the sidelines. Thanks to all […]

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A Post About Anachronism

I wanted to post this earlier, but I had some trouble logging in today. Problem seems to be fixied now, so here’s today’s post. Better late than never, right?

I’m currently reading Ysabel, by Guy Gavriel Kay. Kay is one of my favorite authors, and Ysabel may be his finest work yet. One aspect of the story that makes it so effective is the constant tension between ancient and modern, past and present. The story itself is an anachronism in its modern setting. This is a difficult thing to do, and, of course, Kay does it brilliantly.

Reading the book got me thinking about how we as fantasy authors blend setting and character and plot: a delicate balance that is so elemental in our genre. Specifically, it […]

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