Quick-Tip Tuesday: Taking Stock and Soldiering On

It’s been a hard fall, at the end of a tough year. At times like these, when we mourn lost friends, or deal with fears and unexpected disappointments of any sort, it seems that even sitting down to write a page or two is more than we can manage.

On occasion, we here at MW urge you to take a day or two away from writing to enjoy life, to immerse yourself in the pleasures of family and friends, of beloved hobbies, of the simple joys of taking a walk, or reading a book. But at other times, writing can actually be our escape. The world isn’t always a friendly place; real life just sucks now and then. So write. Dive into your worlds, your characters, your storylines. Draw upon the emotions evoked by the real world, but live in those places you’ve created. It helps. Or rather, it helps […]

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Grist For the Mill: Emotion and Creativity

As you read this, I am driving home from New York City having just dropped off my daughter at NYU. She’s a freshman this year, so all of this is pretty new to me. The last-minute shopping, the packing, the move-in day and orientation and getting settled. The bills — oh my GOD the bills. And underlying all of it, the emotions that come with seeing my eldest child go off to college: excitement on her behalf, sadness at the thought of her leaving home, happiness at the thought of her leaving home (yeah, some of these are pretty mixed), trepidation at all that she has to face in the coming years — we’ve been taking care of her for so long, and while she is bright and mature and confident, is she ready? I am more aware than I have ever been of my age, of the swiftness with […]

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Creative Intersections: Worldbuilding and Plot

Today, I continue my series of Creative Intersection posts with a discussion of plot and worldbuilding (You can find the first Creative Intersections post here, and the second one here). Many of you asked for posts that would tie plot to pretty much anything, and as I begin work on the third Thieftaker book, City of Shades, I am still thinking a lot about worldbuilding and research, so this seemed a natural combination. Sort of.

Sometimes, the intersections I discuss in these posts will be fairly obvious. The last one I did — plot and character — is a good example of this. Tying together story arc and character arc is a fairly intuitive thing to do. As our narratives develop, so do our characters, and since so much of our plotting revolves around our characters’ emotional journeys, the relationship just makes sense.

As it turns out, this week’s […]

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On Writing and Creativity: Worldbuilding Revisited, part II — How Much is Enough?

Today, I continue the series of posts on worldbuilding that I began last week. First, though, I am very pleased to announce that Tor and I have agreed to terms on a contract for two more Thieftaker books. Thieves’ Quarry, the second book in the Thieftaker sequence, will be coming out next July. And now I can say with confidence that it will be followed by City of Shades in 2014 and Dead Man’s Reach in 2015. So, yay!

Okay, so back to worldbuilding. And let me begin where I left off last week, with what may well be the most important point I made about the process I go through to create the settings for my fantasies. None of the discreet tasks I mentioned last week (map making, creating relationships, coming up with myths and religions, and building magic systems) is actually discreet; rather, it all happens together, in […]

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On Creativity and Writing: Making the Most of Ideas, part V — The Quest

It’s been a few weeks now since the last installment in my series of posts on ideas. And there’s a reason for that. I left off after my post on Blindsides, Gaps, and Spinoffs, a post in which I promised that the next time I wrote about ideas, I would tackle “The Quest,” the process of forcing new ideas when you have none for your next project.

So here I am, faced with writing that promised post. And the truth is, I have no earthly idea of where my ideas come from, much less how to force new ideas to enter my brain. As I said in the first post of this series, “Ideas are funny things. They come from everywhere. They come unbidden, and will absolutely refuse to come if I TRY to force them.” Given that I wrote that in part I, I really have some nerve promising […]

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On Creativity and Writing: Making the Most of Ideas, part IV — Blindsides, Gaps, and Spinoffs

For the past several weeks, I have been writing about ideas — what we do with them, the fears they can elicit, ways in which they remain original even when they are similar to the ideas of other writers.

Today, I would like to talk about the timing of ideas, and how I go about making the most of them no matter when they crop up.

1. The Blindside: We’ve all had this one, right? Sometimes while working on one project we are blindsided by another idea for a completely separate project. We don’t particularly welcome the idea at that point; in fact the ideas that come to us under these circumstances can be a total pain in the butt. A case in point: Early in 1999 I was writing the third and final book of my first series, the LonTobyn Chronicle. I was, at that point, somewhat sick of […]

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On Writing: Characters to Love, Characters to Hate

I’ve been asked quite often why I never went back to write more books in my first series, the LonTobyn Chronicle. There are several reasons — I had other things I wanted to write, I had completed the story I set out to tell, I felt that I outgrew the worldbuilding — but probably the main reason is that I got bored with my lead characters, Jaryd and Alayna. They were both so . . . nice (and I say that with as much of a sneer as I can manage) that after a while I just wanted to slap them both. They were virtuous and kind, generous and wise beyond their years. Their faults were superficial, their magical powers the stuff of future legend. They were, in short, just the sort of people I would wind up hating in real life. By the end of the series, they seemed […]

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