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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Quick-Tip Tuesday: Lessons From a Concert

A little over a week ago, I saw Edgar Meyer in concert. Edgar Meyer, for those of you who don’t know, plays double bass, the HUGE acoustic bass that you see in jazz bands and classical symphonies. And saying that Meyer “plays bass” is bit like saying that Willie Mays “played baseball.” Meyer is a virtuoso, the recipient of a MacArthur genius grant, and someone who has excelled in classical, folk, bluegrass, and jazz circles. You might know him from the Appalachian Waltz and Appalachian Journey recordings he did with Yo-Yo Ma and Mark O’Connor.

This was a solo concert. He opened with the Bach Suite for Solo Cello no. 1, which he adapted for double bass. Brilliant. Then he played a work in progress — a concerto he’s composing. He had the first and third movements just about complete, but he was still working on the middle of the […]

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Quick-Tip Tuesday: More Fixes For a Broken Manuscript

In my last Quick-Tip Tuesday post, I wrote about fixing a broken manuscript by setting it aside for a good long time — months — and then reading it through fresh, with an eye toward finding that place where it went off the rails. That was what I did with my work in progress, and it worked amazingly well.

Today I have a couple of additional suggestions for dealing with a broken or recalcitrant manuscript. These grew out of a conversation I had recently with a student I’m mentoring. She is struggling with her manuscript right now, and she’s at that point in the writing process — 60-70% done — that has always given me fits. Seriously, stalling at the 2/3 mark in a book is so much part of my routine that it became a joke of sorts in my household. It has plagued me since my first book […]

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Quick-Tip Tuesday: Fixing a Broken Manuscript

Confession time: There are times when I will find myself ignoring advice that I have given here on Magical Words, or in other teaching situations. For whatever reason — convenience, time, laziness, the sense, right or wrong, that I’ve “outgrown” some of the things I believe writers with less experience ought to do — I will cut a corner here or there. I’m not proud of this, but it’s true. For instance, despite what I’ve said here recently about self-editing being most effective when I separate myself from the writing experience in all ways, including reading from a paper copy of my manuscript, I don’t always do this. Paper and ink are expensive. Printing out a book-length manuscript is time consuming. Sometimes — most time, if I’m being honest — I will simply edit on the screen.

But this past week I took my own advice in a couple of […]

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Quick-Tip Tuesday: Challenge Revisited, and Setting Our Work Goals

Back in February, in a post called “A Challenge to All — Time to Take the Plunge,” I issued a challenge to readers of Magical Words. Take that novel that you’ve been working on, the one that you know is almost done, but feel needs one final tweak, and get it ready for submission to some publisher by October 1. Remember?

Well, we’re in the dog days of summer and fall begins in less than a month. So how’s it going?

Setting goals of any sort can be a tricky business. I had goals for this year, and while I’ve met many of them, I still have several more that I’ve yet to address and, frankly, I don’t know if I’ll complete all of them before year’s end. Sometimes life gets in the way, as it has this year for me. Issues come up that we can’t possibly anticipate, family […]

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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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Quick-Tip Tuesday: Finding A Writing Community

I’m finally home after ConCarolinas and the Roaring Writers Retreat, where I taught and led critique sessions for a fun, productive, wonderful week. (Thanks for inviting me, folks — it was fantastic!) My third night home — last night — I attended a meeting of the writer’s group of which I’m a part here in my town. And, of course, I’m posting this to MW, which has been the foundation of my writing family for eight and a half years.

So, I thought today I should post about community and its importance to writers of all levels.

Writing can be a lonely profession. We often work on our own, toiling alone for hours at a time, sending our work into what can feel like a marketplace vacuum, and waiting for feedback that can be hurtful, even brutal. It’s hard, and our solitude makes it harder. Yes, we have loved ones […]

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