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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Tunnel Vision

A few years ago I took a photo of a Southern Red Trillium, a beautiful and somewhat unusual flower native to this part of Tennessee. The lighting and composition of the photo worked out perfectly — the light was bright enough to bring out the color, but not so direct as to be harsh. The background was free of distracting shapes or colors and blurred beautifully. I’ve sold framed copies of the photo, and I’ve had it published in local magazines.

The thing is, the photo was taken on my old camera. It looks fine in relatively small format, but if I were to enlarge the photo too much, the limitations of the equipment I used would become obvious. The photo would look grainy, pixilated. So in the last two years, since I bought my new camera, I’ve been trying to replicate the photo, so that I can print larger […]

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Writing Your Book, part IV: The Leading Edge of the Slog

It’s been a few weeks since my last post in the “Writing Your Book” series. When we left off, we had done the prep work, found our voice, and had finally gotten down to working on the opening lines and pages. At this point we’ve had some time to get to work on the meat of the project, to move beyond the opening chapter and really delve into the book. So, how’s it going?

Hmmmm. Not the enthusiastic “It’s going great!” response I was hoping for. I hear some enthusiasm, but I also hear some grumbling. So maybe this would be a good time to chat about writing the vast middle of a novel. We’ll define “the middle” as everything between the end of Chapter 1 and the beginning of the climactic chapter. I did say it was a “vast middle,” after all….

Defining the middle so broadly, it almost […]

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A Writer’s Troubleshooting Guide

What are the hardest parts of writing for you? I ‘m not talking about the business side here — finding an agent, getting published, making a living with the written word. All that is really hard. But I’m talking about the craft side of writing. What are the things that slow you down every day, that get in the way of completing your book or story? And how do you overcome them to get the work done anyway? As with so much else in writing, the answers will probably be different for each of us. But they might also be illustrative; sharing them might offer solutions for other writers. So with that in mind, here are my toughest obstacles and the ways I deal with them.

Problem 1: I always have trouble starting a book a story. I find that I work best on any project when I’ve built some […]

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