Happy New Writing Year!

We’re coming up on the end of another year, and we at Magical Words are so pleased that you’ve all stuck around so long. 2016 is going to be a great and energetic year around here. For one thing, we’re welcoming David B Coe and Faith Hunter back on a regular basis – yippee! As soon as the schedule is finalized, I’ll post it here.

When the year is getting ready to change, most of us start thinking about ways we can make changes that will benefit us. Exercising more often, decluttering the home, saving more money…. you know the drill. Personally I intend to finish projects that I’ve left simmering. And with that in mind, just a few minutes ago, I was meandering through Facebook when I saw a comment one writer had made to another, asking where he found places to submit his work. So I thought it […]

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Misty’s Shelf

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot…If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” – Steven King

We here at MW always say there’s no one way to write your novel. If sitting on the couch writing on a laptop works for you, then that’s how you should do it. Others of us work at a desktop, or in longhand on yellow pads. Some people write only in the morning before the rest of the family rises, and others write after dark. This guy writes the scenes that come to him, filling in the rest later, and that girl never deviates from the line her story follows, writing the end only when she actually reaches that chapter. And every way is right, as […]

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What Do You Want?

Okay, guys, I’m going to cheat a little today. But it’s all in the name of making you happy! I’ve been asked to appear at some upcoming cons (one of the really fun aspects of a writer’s life!) and of course, I have to help by making suggestions for panels. Normally I can come up with a half-dozen or so reasonably good ideas, but I suddenly found myself worrying that we’re repeating the same old panels over and over. I know we can always talk about “Strong Female Characters” or “How To Approach An Agent” and hopefully reach a few people who haven’t seen that panel a hundred times, but maybe there are other subjects we’ve neglected.

Normally the blog is about bringing information to you, the readers, but today I’m asking for your help. Are there any panel ideas you’ve always wished would turn up at a con? […]

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Moderating in Moderation

So you’ve sold your first book. You’ve arranged a signing or two at local bookstores. You’ve been asked to give podcast interviews and participate in blog tours. Today you checked your email and you see you’ve been invited to be a guest panelist at a con. How exciting! You’ll be sitting at the table with three or four other authors, possibly even some you’ve admired for years. You’ll be sharing your thoughts with the eager fans gathered to hear what you have to say. When the time draws near, you receive your panel schedule for the con and notice you’ve been assigned moderator status for The Future of Publication After The Coming Zombiepocalypse. Moderator? Wait a minute…a second ago you were just going to say brilliant things to adoring fans, and suddenly they want you to be a writer wrangler. What does it even mean to moderate?

I got home […]

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Genres Part Five – Crossovers

Once upon a time, the genre standards were very clearly defined. Mystery meant the discovery of a dead body and the subsequent investigation to find the killer. Romance was a beautiful young woman meeting a handsome man she at first hates, and only comes to love after 200-odd pages of tribulation. Westerns were cowboys on the lonesome prairie, with the obligatory gunfight. Horror terrified the reader and only in the last pages let the hero win. Thrillers were exciting tales of kidnappings, heists or political intrigue. Erotic fiction was….well, you get the idea.

Fantasy and science fiction had, and to an extent still have, their own conventions. But somewhere along the way, writers got bored with sticking to the rule books, and started playing with the standards, borrowing plot devices of other genres and weaving them into the mix to make their own work a little different. These used to […]

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Beginnings

I’m doing a webinar for Writers Digest Books on June 9th at 1 pm on Writing Science Fiction, Fantasy and Paranormal, so, as you can imagine, I’ve done a lot of thinking lately on the subject of writing and on genre in particular. One special challenge you often have with speculative fiction is that at the same time you have to introduce your readers to new characters and situations, you’ve also got to create an entire world in their mind’s eye. This can lead to a lot of info dump at the beginning of novels.

I find that one of the best ways to head this off is to be sure to begin in the right place. If you start the novel too long before the main story so that you can provide set-up and context, you may lose the reader through the lack of immediacy. If you start too […]

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You Have To Read This!

As briefly mentioned in the comments to David’s Labor Day post, I used to be shy. Extraordinarily so. I knew all the popular kids in high school, but I wasn’t invited to their parties and I didn’t get asked out much. During my junior year, I worked in the library during senior lunch, manning the pass desk. Students dropped off their passes to me, and I marked their entry and exit times. Pretty mindless work, so I used the time to read. I’d discovered Heinlein a couple of years before, and I was working my way through his books, as well as Asimov and Bradbury. Eventually, a senior boy I’d been admiring for months stopped and spoke to me about the book I was reading. (Don’t ask me which one it was. My attention was riveted on the boy.) He admitted he loved SF, and suggested I read Frank Herbert’s […]

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