Carol Berg: Blowing up the Dam


I would love to say my stories blossom fully formed, and the words always flow like water from a faucet, ready to fill the empty vessels of scenes and characters, ever easy to turn on and off. But, alas, not so. Sometimes, I just can’t get that word count to budge.

The world-at-large calls this condition Writers’ Block and expects that a writer who suffers this debilitating condition might be sitting around for an indeterminate time waiting for it to ease, like toughing out a bout of spring allergies. But a working writer can’t just say oops and blow off a day, a week or a month. Working writers have deadlines.

Does this occasional incapacity mean I’m a bad writer? No. My books are by no means perfect, but I am very happy with them.

Does it mean I have a bad process? No. My creative process works very [...]

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Delilah Dawson: Paying It Forward


There are many rewards to being a writer, although most of them aren’t the six figure deals and Tom Hiddleston movies we all dream about. I didn’t write my first book until I was 32, and one of the first things I did was hop on Twitter and start meeting other people treading the same path. I found agents, editors, bloggers, famous novelists, and other people following their literary aspirations, people just like me. Little did I know that I had stumbled into one of the most thoughtful, generous, supportive communities on the internet.

The best writers, to me, are not only amazing storytellers but also relatable and generous teachers. They understand that wherever you are, there’s someone else who wants to be there, and you’re uniquely qualified to help them get there. From big-name authors who blurb debuts (thanks, Nancy Holder and Cherie Priest!) or offer blog space to [...]

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Carol Berg: Making It Personal, Making It Real


Hi all!

Epic fantasies are big stories, not just in the number of books it takes to tell the whole thing, but in the complexity, scope, and scale of events. They are grand adventures that dabble about those fascinating borderlines between nature, magic, myth, and the divine. But if the adventure gets too grand, the events too large scale, the cast too large, readers can get left back on the ground and feel detached from the story. The reading experience can become more like reading mythology than reading a human story. As a reader I like to experience epic events through the very personal lens of vivid, compelling characters. It keeps me connected. It makes it feel real.

What do I mean by a personal lens? In all my stories I use an intimate point of view, that is, we experience the events of the story through one or more [...]

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Carol Berg: Explorations


Hi all and thanks to the Magical Words crew for having me in this month! It’s been a while since I debuted a new series – 2010, it would have been. Dust and Light, released just this week, opens my newest, the two-book Novels of Sanctuary. This is my fifth series, and no, it definitely doesn’t get any easier to send it out into the world. But I’m taking a deep breath and typing away.

The Sanctuary novels mark a couple of firsts for me. The first first? Each of my previous four series and my standalone, Song of the Beast, take place in a different world. The mountains and deserts of the Derzhi Empire for Transformation and the other books of the Rai-kirah. The dragon-ravaged kingdoms of the Seven Gods in Song of the Beast. The dual worlds of the mundane Four Realms and magical Avonar for the Bridge [...]

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Delilah S Dawson: How To Plot A Character-Driven Story, or Why Harry Potter Should Probably Be A Complete D-bag



No. You didn’t. Because even though Neville could’ve been the Chosen One, Voldemort decided it was Harry instead and set about killing off his parents and giving him a scar.

It all comes down to choices. Your choice, as the god and writer. And the choices your characters make.

First of all, let’s determine if your story is character-driven. Consider your main character. Does that story revolve around who they are, specifically, in such a way that it wouldn’t exist without them? Are their history, back story, and skills integral to every mile marker of the story? Could you replace them with another passerby and have the same end result? Could you have the same story if you made Neville the hero?

If you can’t replace your protagonist with a [...]

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Misty Massey: Diving Back In

Misty MasseyMisty Massey

Well, hey y’all! It’s been a while, and I’m tickled to be posting today.

There are a lot of things no one tells you when you finally sell a book. They don’t tell you how long it will take for checks to come in. It takes a long, long time – it’s usually one check on contract signing, one check on manuscript delivery and the last one on release. That wonderful dollar amount you saw on the initial offer looks a little depressing when it’s broken into chunks over the course of months. They don’t tell you that you might have to completely rewrite your book once the editor has gotten a nice, close look at it. It’s called an editorial letter, but it’s really a long, sad list of all the things you didn’t know the editor didn’t like. They don’t tell you that you’ll have to handle your [...]

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Laura Anne Gilman: Rising From The Ashes


One of the questions I get a lot – having been doing this full-time for a decade now – is “Don’t you ever get tired? Don’t you ever feel burnt out from the constant need to produce?”

What they’re really asking is, “is that going to happen to me?”

For the longest time – years – I never ran out of things to write. There was always an idea fermenting, waiting for its chance. There was always an idea (or two) in progress, fighting for time in the chair. I was writing three books a year, and while I was more than slightly exhausted all the time, the stories kept coming. Long form, short… And then they all stopped. Nothing. Nada. Dead air.

I’d broken myself, I thought. I’d used everything up. I had nothing more to say. Every story I started, stalled. Everything I’d been working on went stale. [...]

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