Quick-Tip Tuesday: Shaking Up Our Creative Routines

As those of you who follow me on Facebook [giving the hairy eyeball to those who don’t follow me on Facebook] might have noticed, I finished the first draft of my work-in-progress this past week. It’s the first book in a new project — a time-travel, epic fantasy series about which I’m incredibly excited. The series will be called The Islevale Cycle, and the book’s title (for now at least) is Time’s Children. It came in at 140,000 words or so — 570 pages.

I’ve written here about this book a couple of times this year. I have struggled with it for a while. I couldn’t outline it and so wrote it kind of on the fly. I wrote myself into a narrative dead end at one point, and had to put it away for literally three-quarters of a year before I figured out what I’d done to foul things […]

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David B. Coe: The Plotter Pantses

I’m a plotter, and I have been for most of my career. I don’t outline every detail of my books. Far from it. I tend to write loose outlines that touch on the significant plot points of my narratives but leave the details — dialog, specific action, descriptions, etc. — to the moment when I’m actually writing. In other words, I’m a hybrid, as so many of us are: I plot a bit, but I also allow much of my writing to happen organically.

I think that my penchant for doing at least some outlining is, at least in part, an outgrowth of the kind of books I’ve written through my career. I started with big epic fantasies — multi-book story arcs, lots of sub-plots, lots of point of view characters. If I hadn’t outlined, I would have gone crazy trying to keep track of it all. And then I […]

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The Plotter Goes Pantsing: The Relationship Between Process and Product

Thanks to Lyn Nichols for today’s title . . .

I hadn’t planned it this way, but this post serves as a nice follow-up to Chloe Neill’s excellent post yesterday.

I have recently started a new book, the second in my Weremyste Cycle, which will be published by Baen under my own name. And though I am now several chapters into the novel — close to 20,000 words — I have not yet completed an outline of the book.

All of you who have been reading my posts here at MW know that I am a dedicated planner, or at least have been in recent years. I have posted several times about the benefits of outlining a novel, of knowing where a story is going so that we can introduce themes, foreshadow plot points, plant the seeds of the twists and turns that will make our narratives capture the imaginations […]

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Multiple Projects, E-Readers, and Struggles: The Emphera of a Winter’s Day

I have a bunch of ideas for things to write about today, and not one of them is substantive enough to sustain an entire post. And so it’s time for me to do one of my miscellanea posts. A paragraph or two about several things. Feel free to comment or ask about any one of them.

Are you working on a book right now? People here in my little town ask me this all the time. They know that I write for a living. They know that I write full-time. But they don’t really understand what this means. My standard answer now is “Yes, I’m pretty much ALWAYS working on a book.” But even that isn’t accurate, because the truth is I’m always working on several books. For the past couple of months I’ve been writing the fourth Thieftaker book, Dead Man’s Reach. I hope to finish my first draft […]

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Then and Now — Writing Fast

Today’s Then and Now grows out of a question from last week, where someone wanted to know how I write quickly. My current writing strategy grows out of my old writing habits, so it’s perfect for a Then and Now.


When I started writing for professional publication, I worked a full-time job that required a minimum of 60 hours a week in an office and often expected 80 hours a week or more. I usually worked through weekends, at least all of one day and half of another, and I often left the office for a class or cultural event, only to return at 10:00 at night, for another few hours of fun. In some months, I *billed* up to 3000 hours of time (and that time didn’t include things like meal breaks, mandatory non-client activities, etc.) So, yeah, I had a lot of demands on my time.


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Holiday Post: My List of the Best Writing Tips

I have never done NaNoWriMo. I know that there is an ongoing debate about its efficacy for aspiring writers, but I haven’t felt that I could stake out a position one way or another.

Now, though, I am now in the midst of my own NaNo experiment. I started City of Shades (Thieftaker Chronicles, book III, by D.B. Jackson) later than I had intended, which means that I was behind almost from the start. So, I decided that I needed to crank out the pages in February. If I could write 45,000 words this month, I would be back on track. If I could get 50,000 words, I would be ahead of schedule heading into March, which would be good I’ll be taking a week off to travel with my family and celebrate my big milestone birthday. That’s right: I’m about to turn 21 . . .

Anyway, I […]

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Back to Basics, part VII: Anatomy of a Butt-Kicking

Today’s post, while continuing my “Back to Basics” series, takes a slightly different tack. I have a good friend to thank for this idea (Thanks, April). She asked me the other day how my current book was coming, and when I told her that the book was basically kicking my butt, she said something along the lines of “Oh, you should write about that. Lots of us would like to hear about what a professional does when a book is beating him up.” So, here you go.

I’ve written posts in the past about troubleshooting a manuscript, or dealing with problems as they come up. This post is sort of like those. Only more so.

There are so many ways for things to go wrong with a manuscript, so many reasons why a writer might find himself getting a figurative butt-kicking from his work-in-progress, that it’s really hard to pinpoint […]

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