Plot Stitching and Seam Rippers

I made it through Home Ec without doing myself bodily harm.

Considering that the girl at the table next to me ran the needle of her electric Singer sewing machine right through her finger (and broke the damn needle off IN her finger), I figured that I dodged a bullet.

One of the tools we used in that class was a seam ripper. It was a pointy little sharp hooked thing that slid under stitches and cut through thread so you could take out a crooked seam. Part of sewing is ripping out your mistakes and putting the pieces back together again. And while I haven’t sewed anything since that long-ago class, years later, I’m thinking about seam rippers, and how sometimes you have to tear things apart to re-stitch them. It happens when you’re sewing a shirt, and it happens when you’re stitching a plot together.

I’m working […]

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A Special Release Day Quick-Tip Tuesday

Welcome to a special release-day edition of Quick-Tip Tuesday. Today is the official publication day for Shadow’s Blade, book III of The Case Files of Justis Fearsson (following Spell Blind and His Father’s Eyes). I have a giveaway going on my Facebook page; my publisher, Baen Books, is giving away five copies on Goodreads; I’ve been posting teasers from the book and last week I recorded an interview for the Baen podcast. Pretty standard release time stuff.

I love this book and this series, and would very much like to write more in the Fearsson universe, so if you have not yet started reading the Fearsson books, please consider picking them up and giving them a read. And if you have been reading them (thank you!) and have been waiting with bated breath for this newest volume to drop, now’s a great time to order your copy. We’ll wait. [Cue […]

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Friday Fundamentals: Copula Spiders

 

I admit that I really enjoy teaching writing; therefore, I tend to read about writing quite a bit as well.

When I came across Attack of the Copula Spiders: Essays on Writing by Douglas Glover, I had to read it. It is, in short, about how to write a novel. I’ve not finished the book yet, and I admit to skipping ahead to the chapter on copula spiders (page 43, if you’re interested in that sort of thing). So, that’s where we’re going today.

Turn with me in your books to page 43.

 

Today’s post will be my thoughts on reading about spiders.

Not that kind of spider! This kind of spider!

I posted this image on Facebook not too long ago and got quite a few different reactions, so I’d like to test it here and see if the results are […]

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When Life Gets In The Way – And It Will

We are writers. No matter what we write, we are writing about life, about living, about the things that matter to us, about the pain and joy and music and poetry of living. We are writing about the insecurity and excitement of romance, a mystery that needs to be solved, a life decision that needs to be made, a loss that has been suffered, a battle or war that needs to be fought.

We write, and as we write, we incorporate and use every good and wonderful and easy thing that has happened to us, as well as every difficult and painful and dreadful thing that has happened to us in the past. All that we are, all that we have survived, is part of our characters and our plotlines and the landscapes of our writing. The feel of water from a cold shower can be interpreted and twisted into […]

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Pacing

There’s a lot to be said about developing pacing in a story. Far more than I’ll attempt to deal with today. I just want to talk about a couple of things. So first, what about pacing? Why is it important?

It’s the momentum and progress of your story. You want to keep the excitement going, keep readers wanting to turn pages, draw out tension and ratchet it up, and build a riveting tale. Pacing is the speed at which you reveal things, have action, and move through scenes. Some books are “nonstop thrill rides.” That means that there’s something happening all the time and most of the time it’s scary or unnerving. Then there are stories that are more introspective and slower builds. The things that happen are lower key and not as dramatic or life-threatening, and yet if you care about those characters and what they’re going through, you’re […]

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Outlines, Plot Twists and Google Maps

I generally consider the whole ‘pantser’ vs ‘plotser’ debate to be a Shrodinger’s Cat dilemma–we plan and pants simultaneously (and yeah, at various points in the process, the book might feel dead and alive at the same time depending on whether or not you’re looking at it). Truth be told, the pantsing/plotting happens recursively as well. You can start with an outline for your novel (if you have a publisher and a contract, you’ll have had to at least come up with this much). Depending on your style, you may have outlines for every chapter, even every scene. Hell, I heard about someone who had a 60K ‘outline’ for a 90K book (which made me think what he really had was a 60K first draft). Whatever floats your boat. But just remember ….

At some point, you’re going to run into construction cones, ‘bridge out’ signs and the mother of […]

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Quick-Tip Tuesday: What We Can Learn From Ro Laren

The other night, my wife and I were watching old episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation (we own the whole series on disk). We’re on season 5 right now, and we came to one of our favorite episodes: the first episode with Bajoran Starfleet Ensign Ro Laren (played by Michelle Forbes). Ro was an amazing character — and this is a terrific episode — because she was everything a Starfleet officer wasn’t supposed to be: rebellious and disdainful of authority, prickly and opinionated, and more devoted to her own people than to the principles on which Starfleet was founded. Adding her to the cast shook things up a bit, and freshened the series at a time when it might otherwise have started to grow stale.

 

As I watched, it occurred to me that other shows of which I’m a fan had done very similar things with their casts. […]

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