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: Self-Editing Redux

As I’ve mentioned here plenty of times in the past couple of months, I’m in the process of editing my first series, the LonTobyn Chronicle. The Author’s Edit of Children of Amarid, the first volume, has recently been released by Lore Seekers Press; I’ve just finished my revisions of book II, The Outlanders, which should be out in early October; and I’ve begun work on the third book, Eagle Sage. We’re hoping to release it in December.

When discussing self-editing with less experienced writers, I often start by saying that the secret is creating distance between the writing experience and the editing experience. Without that distance, the manuscript feels stale, and I’m unable to see the mistakes I might have missed while drafting the book. And, for me at least, the best way to facilitate that distancing is to put the manuscript away for a while.

Clearly, not everyone has […]

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Quick-Tip Tuesday: Learning From Inexperience

Not so long ago, I posted here about revising my early work. I’m preparing for the re-release of my first series, the LonTobyn Chronicle (more on that later) and so have been editing the books: cutting adverbs, strengthening my prose with more forceful verb constructions, and making the writing more concise and direct. You can find the post I wrote about this here. And you can also read Joshua Palmatier’s post from June 28, because he’s been doing much the same thing with his work.

I want to return to the process in this post, because I’m now almost finished editing The Outlanders, the second LonTobyn book. The Outlanders has long been among my favorites of all my books, not because I think it’s the best I’ve written, or even one of the top two or three. It’s not. Rather, I’ve always loved this book because it exceeded my expectations […]

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Quick-Tip Tuesday: On Writing Every Day

One hears conflicting advice these days on the question of whether aspiring writers should try to write every day. Some will say that it’s important to write, but it’s also important to take time away from the work when we need the rest, when we’re exhausted physically or emotionally, when all that other stuff that falls under the heading of “life” gets so overwhelming that we can’t write at all. That was, in essence, the point of Tamsin’s wonderful post a couple of weeks ago.

And Tamsin, who I adore, is absolutely right.

Mostly.

I am one of those obnoxious old fart writers (I have a birthday coming up very, very soon, and yes, I’m feeling a bit like an old fart) who shakes his cane at the young’uns and says in a voice much like that of Bart Simpson’s grandfather that writers ought to write each and every day. […]

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On Writing: Character Dynamics

We talk about character a lot here at Magical Words. And I mean A LOT. I’ve written about the ABCs of character, befriending characters, character development, creating minor characters, and character descriptions. Just a couple of weeks ago I wrote about characters we love and hate. That’s half a dozen character posts, and those are just from me.

There’s a reason for this, of course. Character, as any professional fiction writer will tell you, is the key to good storytelling. A story with poorly drawn characters is simply doomed to fail; a story with weak plotting or worldbuilding can often be rescued, at least partially, by stellar character work. Character development is an author’s bread and butter.

The problem with all of the stuff I’ve written about character is that it fails to take the next step, and that’s what I want to write about today. This may seem so […]

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