About the Author

Holly Lisle began writing in 1984, and sold her first novel in 1991. She went full-time in 1992 with a three-book deal from Baen Books, and has been supporting herself and her family exclusively by writing fiction since then (though along with the man, are we solvent months there have been a few canned bean months). She has seventeen books in print and has been published both in the United States and abroad, in both English versions and translation. Her most recent novels, Diplomacy of Wolves...

Above all believe

Believe that what you are doing matters. It does. Believe that you can reach out with your words and change a live. You can. Believe that you are doing something to make the world you live in a better place for all of us. You are. Keep writing. Keep believing. And never give up on your dreams. HollyLisle.com Writers' Forum - busy writing bulletin board HollyLisle.com Writers Resources and Articles HollyLisle.com Forward Motion for Writers http hollylisle.com fm index.html HollyLisle.com...

Act like youre in business

Get a reputation for being pleasant and easy to work with. Take reasonable suggestions, and deal with suggestions that don't work for you in a calm and reasonable way. For God's sake don't become a pain-in-the-ass artiste. If you do, you may find yourself first against the wall come the revolution. And revolutions go through the publishing business about once every two or three years, where editors and publishers all leap up and race madly to grab some other...

Allow the unexpected to happen

Characters sometimes grab the bit between their teeth and take off in directions you didn't expect - and if you aren't a horseman, this image doesn't convey much of raw power or raw terror to you, so I'm going to give you a story from my personal experience. I was thirteen. I had a horse - my parents got him for me from one of those kids' camps that has horses over the summer and looks for places to board them over the winter. He was mine for a season, and while he was mine, I loved him dearly....

Allow yourself to be surprised

This is for the other half of the writing universe - the half that sticks rigidly to the outline, that takes characters who go off in their own directions as a personal affront, and that feels that the writer must control the story at all times. Control is seriously overrated. Take this from the person who used to write thirty-page chapters. Not twenty-nine. Not thirty-one. Thirty. Every chapter. I was proud of the fact that I could write a story that would have the exact word count called for...

Are We Having Fun

In which we discuss that moment in your life when you're sitting at the kitchen table at three-twenty-seven in the morning with a cup of coffee that once might have tasted like something other than toxic waste but that now would make drinking from Love Canal back in the 60's preferable when you've bitten the head off of every human being who has dared to breathe loudly in your presence for the past week when the sound of fingers on keys (or even the scritch of a pen on paper) makes you want to...

Benefits of Membership

The biggest benefit is obviously the privilege of attending meetings (and sometimes the honor of hosting one). At meetings, your work is heard by professionals, semipros, and aspiring writers, and critiqued on the basis of its marketability. You will get marketing information and occasional updates on markets, meet folks who can help you make professional connections, and have a lot of fun. Attending meetings is a privilege and not a right. Memberships can be revoked - for failure to follow...

Bring home flowers

Bring home books instead. Books about writing, books you wish you had written, books about subjects that interest you but that you know nothing or next to nothing about surround yourself with words that inspire you, words that entice you, words that tempt you, words that make your heart beat faster. Personally, (and I know this sounds about as sexy as unwrapping a mummy), non-fiction books about archeology, anthropology, and ancient cultures and civilizations really float my...

By Donald Maass

Heinemann Books, ISBN 0-435-08134-9 - pub. date 1996 Written by respected agent Donald Maass, The Career Novelist covers in intelligent and thoughtful detail the facts of life for any writer who wants to make it as a professional. In twenty clear-eyed chapters, Maass details everything from when to quit your day job to how to find the right agent to how to keep from sinking your own career to how to revive it if you've already made serious mistakes. While geared for the already-published...

By Lawrence Block

I can give you unbiased reviews of lots of writers, but I can't give you an unbiased review of Lawrence Block. I'm warning you in advance. The man is one of my heroes, and my role-model, and one hell of a writer at everything he turns his hand to. Consider yourself warned, then. I started reading Lawrence Block back before I realized that books had authors. (At one point in my childhood, I'm pretty sure I thought they were either dictated by gods or grew on trees.) But the public library had a...

By Natalie Goldberg

Shambala Press, ISBN 0-87773-375-9 - pub date. 1986 If we never forgot what we learned, we could read this book once and never get stuck in the middle of writing again. However, I find that with every new book I start, I forget as much as I remember, and somewhere in the heart of the story, I get lost. I become sure that I've forgotten how to write, or that my story has deserted me, or that it wasn't worth writing in the first place. When that moment arrives (or at least when the moment after...

By Syd Field

Dell Publishing, ISBN 0-440-57647-4 - pub. date 1979, 1982 First off, let me say that not all writing books are for all writers, and this is one of those books that will only appeal to some. It is not, however, only appropriate for screenwriters and screenwriting hopefuls. I hold the firm opinion that the smart writer will look outside books aimed only at his specialty if he wants to learn - and if you want to write novels, and if you're having problems with plotting them, this book will give...

Concept Discussions

This is more of an I've already published a few books and now I've sold one on an outline and a sample chapter sort of section, but sequentially, this is the point where the process takes place, so let's go through how it works. NOTE I have done this many times, it can be grueling, it can beat your ego into pulp, and you have to be good at it or you will find yourself making enemies where you need allies. Here's the scene. Your editor calls you on the phone, (or sends you a letter) and says she...

Courage of Falcons

To defeat the Dragons, Kait and Ry must destroy the source of the sorcerers' power -- the Mirror of Souls. But if they succeed, they will lose the only weapon that can stop Luercas from becoming a demonic god who will enslave the entire world . . . forever. Chapters, reviews, and books available at the HollyLisle.com Book Shop. The Following Books, sample chapters, and reviews are also available at the Book Shop, subject to availability. Fire in the Mist Bones of the Past Mind of the Magic...

Deadline Concerns

Your editor says the first draft is due in December and the published book will be on the shelves a year later. So you actually have some fudge time, don't you You can be a few weeks (or a few months) late getting the book in, right No. You can't. First draft is just the beginning of the process of getting your book ready for publication. Once you're done with it, the editor will read it - and she needs some leeway on the time it will take her to do that, because yours is not the only project...

Dealing With Money

The first reality of writing full time is that money is always tricky. You have it in large chunks, then you don't have it at all. You can't count on a check every week, or every month, or even every six months. It comes when it comes, and you have to figure out how to make it last until it comes again, even though you never know when that will be. Here's how you do it. 1. Put aside more money than you could possibly need before you leave. Figure out what it takes you to survive for a year, and...

Determine a voice

For salable novels, you need to resign yourself to either first person (Let me tell you about the time I found a diamond in my soup, and almost got killed by a hit man.) or third person (The stranger picked up his spoon and stirred it through his chili. He chuckled and glanced up at the waitress. Let me tell you about the time I found a diamond in by soup, and almost got killed by a hit man.) Second person, the voice so popular in those choose-your-own-story adventure juveniles (You stir your...

Dialogue Workshop

I got a question in my e-mail not too long ago on how to do dialogue. As far as I've ever been able to tell, writing good dialogue comes from being able to hear voices in your head that aren't there - which in times past has been enough to get you burned at the stake or drowned at a dunking post, and which currently, if you admit to it in the wrong company, can get you a quiet room with rubber walls and all the free Thorazine you can swallow. Never let it be said that writing well is not...

Diplomacy of Wolves

Kait Galweigh, a young diplomat cursed with a dark secret, must choose to save a world that shuns her and would destroy her if that secret were revealed. Book I of THE SECRET TEXTS, and Locus 1 Bestseller. Chapters at Order online at Book 2 of the SECRET TEXTS Vengeance of Dragons Kait Galweigh must find a path to hope when a long-cherished prophecy shatters, leaving its believers, the only people who can battle an evil returned from centuries of hiding, crushed and despondent.

Do not expect consideration

You have a job, right You're going to be sitting at a keyboard stretching your brain for God knows how many hours. Your family (and friends) will keep this in mind, right Wrong. Your family and friends will figure as long as you're home all day, you might as well be doing something useful, like laundry, or running the kids everywhere, or going out to breakfast or lunch or shopping or The list of things other people will find for you to do is endless, and destructive beyond belief. Given the...

Does the group have any interest in the type of writing you want to do

This may seem irrelevant to you - you may be thinking We're all writers, right They'll be glad to help me. Unfortunately it isn't true. The worst horror stories I got were from writers who wanted to write SF or romances and attended meetings at the other large local Schrodinger's Petshop's Writer group in the area. They found themselves and Requirements unworthy, and stupid - in spite of the fact that many of them did very good work. They were not, you see, considered sufficiently literary to...

Does the group have set guidelines for behavior and a way to remove troublesome members

Shouldn't be necessary, should it After all, everybody's an adult. or at least literate. At least that's the theory. Schrodinger's Petshop In fact, however, a removal rule is necessary. Membership Guidelines p.37 You can get a great group together, and you can be having wonderful meetings, and someone will unsuspectingly bring the Writer From Hell with him to a meeting. This writer will ignore the rules, attack the other writers, try to hog the meeting, refuse to even consider changing a word...

Dont get drunk

Don't order the most expensive thing on the menu just because she's paying. Don't make a pass at her no matter how cute she is and how studly you are (or any variation on the gender thing). Listen more than you talk. (Yeah, I know I already said that, but I wanted to be sure you remembered it. It's the most important rule.) Finally, hanging out. A few more rules. Don't hog access to the editor you won't be the only writer at the party (or fair, or whatever) and others will want to hang out...

Dont only read things you like either

If you hate romances, ask someone who is both knowledgeable about the field and a bit discriminating what some of the good ones are. Pick up two or three and read them from start to finish. Ditto if you hate SF or fantasy or mystery or mainstream or whatever. You can find tools everywhere, and you will find more of them in fields that have been fallow for you for most or all of your life than in the fields that you have been plowing and depleting for years. If you want to stay fresh, you cannot...

Editor Etiquette

First off, let me tell you that you're getting a writer's, not an editor's, perspective on how a writer should approach and work with an editor. The editing I've done has been on a high school yearbook, and on several newsletters over quite a few years, and while working as a writing instructor for Writer's Digest (briefly), but none of those count as a professional credit, so I cannot give you the scoop from the other side of a professional editor's desk. I have, however, managed to work with...

Embrace a theme

Know whether the story you are writing is about good versus evil, or about the transcendence of love, or about anything that can go wrong going wrong. You'll find additional themes as you're writing that will add depth and resonance to your main theme, and sometimes the main theme will shift focus part way through the book, but if you don't know what the theme is to begin with, you won't have any control of it when it shifts. And theme more than anything else is what will unify the beginning of...

Example Dialogue Workshop

I wasn't expecting you here. It's been a real day for expectations. Where were you I've been waiting here for an hour. You didn't leave a note or - I wasn't planning on going anywhere -I can see that. Where's your coat I left the house in a hurry. I um my mother The hospital reached you God, I'm sorry. That's why -The hospital They called me when they couldn't get you. I don't understand. Your mother. You said - I ran out to buy some flowers for her. She's been so down....

Finding Silence

We who write or aspire to write make much of place. A place to work, a room of our own, an office, a nice quiet spot at a corner diner where the waitresses know not to ask how we're doing if the pen is moving a place in the world to call mine. We claim this space in the name of writing, and guard it jealously, because space set aside acts to validate our dreams, and reminds us of the promise we have made to ourselves - the promise to write. When we are in our space and writing, spouses need not...

First know how it ends

This may seem obvious - but then again, maybe not. Back in my days of thirty-page novel starts that never went anywhere, i never knew how the story would end. it was only when I figured this key point out that I finished a novel. (Hearts in Stitches), a supposed-to-be funny romance novel about a nurse and an architect that, fortunately, died by fire. Actually, was killed by fire. By me. On purpose. Trust me - it was kinder that way.) You can simply tell yourself, When I reach the part of this...

Give your character serious problems that he or she cant resolve in one book or even ten

Spenser deals with the mob and crime in Boston. Neither the mob nor Boston criminals are going anywhere anytime soon. Spenser could live forever and still not run out of enemies to fight. Matt Scudder is dealing with New York's criminals. same story. In a fantasy series, you'll have the rival wizards' college, or the nightmare creatures that live just over the border, or the poisoned magic that pours down from the North Pole every winter. In a western series, you'll have the Civil War or the...

Give your character some endearing qualities that make you want to visit with him or her again and again

Give him a soft spot for kids or dogs. Give her a passion for chocolate, or for rescuing the down-and-out. Create for him or her a sheer joy in living that transcends the mire into which you are eventually going to throw this poor shmuck. You have to like spending time with this person - over the years, you're going to be giving him or her as much of your time as you give to a spouse, and more than you give to a best friend. Make sure you share some common loves.

Handing In the Resignation

I only have two pieces of advice here. 2. Don't resign by using firearms. Otherwise, whatever you do is probably cool. A friend of mine danced on his desk in the law office while cutting his tie into small pieces. The second time I quit the day job - the time I quit for real - I went home and had a bonfire in my back yard in which I burned my uniforms. (There are times when living in the country is a wonderful thing. That wouldn't have been nearly as satisfying in a fireplace.) It was great....

Having the Contracts to Quit On

If this sounds ominously like I'm saying you have to sell a book before you quit, that's because I am. Don't quit the day job because you got a killer idea for a series, or because you're sick of work and you think writing would be more fun (it would - but that's not the point) or because you've finished your first book and your friends all love it. For that matter, don't quit the day the editor calls you and tells you that she wants to buy your first book. Don't quit the day you sign the first...

How to Query an Agent

I received a letter recently asking if it would be better to send a humorous letter to an agent when asking for representation than a more serious one. I've included my response below, along with a sample query letter and suggestions that you might find helpful if you've reached this stage. There is no secret to getting an agent but persistence, sadly. I wouldn't recommend a gimmick or a funny letter. Every agent and editor and publisher I know is inundated by people trying to be different,...

If you cannot learn to listen you will not succeed Sacred Writism

The third leg of the Holy Trinity of Doom Signs is the phrase I don't believe in revision. Robert Heinlein offered some wonderful advice to writers, and created some brilliant books and some unforgettable characters, but he also offered this one piece of advice that simply leaves me open-mouthed with disbelief. He said, in his list of rules for writers, Rule Three You Must Refrain From Rewriting, Except to Editorial Order. This is a great rule if you're already writing publishable prose. But...

Keep the machine in good working order stay healthy

And you're saying, Eh Like . . . exercise and shit like that Oh, yes. Exercise and shit like that. You won't be lifting those bales and toting that hay, but to work your mind, your brain still needs a good supply of oxygenated blood, and healthy highways to get it there and back to the heart and lungs. Twenty minutes of aerobic exercise four times a week or better, and a diet as low in animal products (none is best) and as high in raw fruits and vegetables as you can manage will strip the...

Know your genre

In a perfect world, every book would be equally marketable to every publisher, and we'd all sell everything we wrote and make millions doing so. But we haven't yet reached that perfect world, so in the meantime, you're going to need to know what you're writing so that you'll have an idea of who might buy it. It really, really helps to know this BEFORE you type The End and print out your final copy. Or, worse, get fifty rejection letters from publishers who tell you they don't publish books of...

Life Changes Writing Writing Changes Life

I don't know a writer whose life hasn't influenced his writing. We all borrow heavily from the angst and joy in our past. I know that I've strip-mined large sections of my weird childhood in Alaska, Guatemala, Costa Rica and small towns throughout Ohio to fuel the collisions of cultures and people that fill my books. Trekking through the Costa Rican rain forest gave me the Wen jungles (though not, thank God, the mobile trees). My own kids gave me Barney and Carol, Kirtha, Karen, and bits and...

Make dates

While it probably wouldn't make a lot of sense to take your writing out to dinner or to a movie, it makes perfect sense to make dates with a local writers' group, or with a friend who writes. Give yourself one night every two weeks, or one afternoon a month, where you can give yourself over to the luxury of talking about writing with other people who are equally smitten by this passion of yours. Use these dates as an opportunity to 'get dressed up' - that is, to prepare some writing to take...

Middles

I'm in one right now - a middle, that is. Actually, I'm nearing the end of the middle, which in my humble opinion is the utter worst place in the universe to be. The loathsome middle in question happens to be in Curse of the Black Heron, but it wouldn't matter. I've never met a middle I liked, and if the middle weren't CotBH, it would be something just as bad, or worse. Writers come in all sorts. There are folks who dread the blank page, and who have an absolute terror of getting the thing...

Miscellaneous Questions

Why do you do this page - don't you worry that you're making more competition for yourself No. I'm my own competition. If I can write better books, I'll sell better. If I can help you write better books, you'll sell better. But the people who buy your books won't stop buying my books because of you. They'll buy both. I do this page because a couple of idealistic writers (one who has gone on to be phenomenally successful) took me under wing when I was a neophyte and told me how to do things...

Mistake Number Five I mistook business relationships for friendships and acted accordingly

Called me up from time to time to chat about the state of publishing. My editor and I went to a Ren Faire together and had various breakfasts and lunches together, and had a great time discussing my books when I sent them in. We played practical jokes on each other. I had fun. So I thought my publisher, my editor and I were friends. I made business decisions based on a sense of personal loyalty, trusted that my friends would not suggest courses of action that...

Mistake Number Four I overcommitted accepting too many contracts of the wrong types

Depending on the hole you dig yourself into, this can be a tough mistake to avoid. I was short on money - I'd quit my day job too early in my career, I was the sole support for my little family, and the offer of additional contracts for collaborative work seemed like a godsend - extra money for less work than I would have to do on solo novels. (And you're thinking, But she said collaborations are more work than solo novels. You're right. They are. But I didn't know that at the time.) At the...

Of all the possible sins that the hopeful writer can commit The Big But is the worst You cannot make excuses for your

If someone who knows the industry tells you that your manuscript isn't right for Knopf and you need to submit to other markets, don't say, But I only want it to be published by Knopf. If a pro tells you that your plot is hackneyed and your characters are thin, But I intended it to be that way . . . is decidedly the wrong answer. If an editor tells you that you're going to have to give the story a real ending, But I want to leave the reader in suspense . . . is going to get you round-filed and...

Questions About Publishing

How do I pick a publisher for my book The best way to find the publisher who will be right for you is to find the books that you read that are most like the one you have written (in genre, in style, in tone) and see who publishes them. If they bought books like yours, the odds are vastly improved that they will buy yours, too. Don't waste time sending off your book to those publishers who advertise in the backs of magazines. (Not even the ones who advertise in the back of Writer's Digest.)...

Questions About the Business of Writing

How do I keep my work fresh and my enthusiasm up sooner or later, everyone wonders this about any job, and writing is no different, as evidenced by the number of times this question comes in. You want to think you're going to stay as fresh on the fiftieth book as you are on the first, but reading through the works of some of your favorite authors who have been in the business for twenty or more years, you start noticing a tiredness of plot and characterization, a sort of gray sameness that...

Questions About Worldbuilding

How important is your story to you People hear the word worldbuilding and automatically assume that the discussion is going to apply only to people who are writing science fiction and fantasy - after all, for everyone else, this is the world they're going to be writing in, and it has already been built. That's not the case. You're worldbuilding when you sketch out a floorplan of the house that your character lives in so that you don't accidentally have her bedroom on the first floor in chapter...

Remember your priorities

This can be tough once you're well into the project, when it stops being one big hoot and starts feeling like real work. So give some thought to the question while you're still having lots of fun. Was your goal just to do a fun story with your friend Was it to get both of you published Was it to make both of you financially independent (Good luck if that's the case - collaborations are not usually the golden road to Mugging the Muse Writing Fiction for Love and Money riches.) Or were you aiming...

So how can you avoid making this mistake

Look at the books published in your genre by the various publishers you're considering. Which of these books have sold well Which are labeled bestsellers, indicating that the publisher can successfully bring a book to the attention of the bookbuying public Which are stocked well by chains, indicating that the publisher can successfully negotiate the hellish computerized chain ordering system Which are on the shelves with other books by the same author, indicating that the...

Spend time developing new ideas even when youre working on a book

Keep notebooks, doodle out concepts, create characters you don't need and don't have any place for yet, write down lists of titles that sound cool, draw maps to noplace, develop lists of names. Keep plowing the field of your mind, so that when this book is finished, stories will already be growing in it and you will be hungry to write the next one. And the next. And the next. The writer's work is never done. (But if you set yourself sensible page limits each day, you at least get some...

Take planned risks

If you've always written in first person, force yourself to write a book in third person. If you've always kept your distance from your characters, force yourself to write one story locked tightly inside your main character's skull, able to use only that character's senses and knowledge. Write something from the point of view of someone completely unlike you - someone you don't understand and don't think you ever could understand. Write a story from the point of view of a dog . . . and not a...

The Perfect Busmans Holiday

I've been writing books under contract since 1991 - a happy state for me that has primarily meant I've known I had some money due when my book was finished. For a long time, I didn't see any real downside to writing under contract. I was writing my own stories, after all - my own worlds, my own characters, my own plots. Even when I did collaborations or work-for-hire, I was fortunate to be working in worlds or areas of worlds that I took a large role in designing, writing with characters that I...

The Rules For Exercise

Sit with your eyes closed until you can see these two people standing in front of their house. See where they're standing in relation to each other (near far ), how they hold their bodies, the expressions on their faces when they surprise each other on the walk. 2. Remember that one of them has something to hide and the other has something to tell. You have to know what these two things are before you begin. The two bits of business can be anything you like. 3. Remember that one character is...

The Writers Toolbox

Every profession has its tools and requirements, and writing is no different. Hardware and software are nice, but they won't make you a writer. These four tools, used regularly and with the best of what you have in you, will. English - If you cannot spell, if you don't know how to punctuate a sentence, if you aren't sure about grammar, if you don't recognize the appropriate place to break a paragraph or remember how to set off dialogue from narrative, then stop right here. You must know all of...

Use an outline

This is, I know, anathema to many writers. Some believe it makes the process of writing mechanical. Some think it removes the element of discovery from the writing process. But I've been using outlines since I started. I've only written one book without one (Sympathy for the Devil ) and I haven't found outlines at all restraining. Remember that an outline is only a map. If you find some unmarked side roads you want to explore once you're moving well, explore them. If you discover an entirely...

Work in other mediums

I paint I draw I write music and play the guitar (though not well) I knit sweaters and crochet lace and afghans I do beadwork. At times in the past I have spent some time learning the basics of how to play the hammer dulcimer, the cello, and the pennywhistle. I write a middling amout of poetry. None of these things is ever going to earn me a dime (well, maybe the painting might someday, and I have done the maps and such in some of my books, but in general none of this is going to earn me a...

Write outside of your field

I'm currently working on a novel that no one might ever see. I've been dinking with it for a few years, doing a couple of pages in my spare time or when I'm stuck on the books that I have contracts for and know I'll get paid for. It's not SF, it's not fantasy, and my agent has already let me know that although he loves the idea and the bits of it he's seen, it's going to be tough to move. I might not be able to sell it, and if I do sell it, I might make first novelist's pay for it. Doesn't...

Write what you love not what sells

Back to Hearts in Stitches, the one romance novel I tried. I had this vision of myself as a romance novelist, putting out one book every two months and sitting on a bank account that would shame Fort Knox. The problem with this lovely image is that I was writing romance not because it was what I loved with a passion, but because I didn't mind romances, and some of them I thought were kind of cute, and I thought they'd be an easy way to make a buck. Here's a little lesson I learned from that...

Schrodingers Rules of Being Critiqued

The person who is speaking has taken the time to listen to your work, and wants to help you find ways to make it better. 2) Wait until everyone has finished critiquing before making comments. 3) Explain only if necessary. Don't rebut. 5) Realize that everything can be improved. 6) Be willing to make changes. Conversely, don't change anything you feel must remain in order to make the story yours. Things you may not say when being critiqued. Your mother was a hamster and your father...

Ideas A Hundred for a Dollar

So if I offered to sell you a hundred novel ideas for a buck, would that be a good deal, a fair deal, or a lousy deal It would be a lousy deal. Trust me on this one. I can come up with a hundred usable ideas for novels without breaking a sweat. So can you. So can anyone. Novel ideas aren't unique, they aren't rare, they aren't breathtaking. They are the nitrogen of the idea world - plentiful, everywhere, and only useful if you know what to do with them. Why do I mention this Because it will be...

Questions About Agents

When you have at least one novel manuscript or screenplay completed and an idea of what your next couple of books (or screenplays) will be. You don't need an agent to represent you on short stories or poetry. If you only want to sell the one book that you've completed and you never want to write another, you might need an agent to get the best terms for the book you've done, but you probably won't be able to get one. Agents want clients who work in profitable fields (novels, screenplays) and...

Experts Professionals and College

Do I have to have a college education to make it as a writer I haven't finished high school. Can I still write I've always wanted to be a writer, and I've done a lot of writing, but I couldn't afford to go to college when I was younger . . . This question arrives in my e-mail box about once a week, worded in any of a dozen different ways. Some of the questioners tiptoe around it, embarrassed to ask, pretty sure they know what the answer is going to be, but hoping that it won't. Sometimes I can...

Write a good outline and stick with it

This doesn't seem like such a big deal. You and your friend share a vision. You've talked endlessly about it, you know who your characters are and where you want them to go, and the fact that you don't have the whole story worked out doesn't seem relevant. However - from my own experience here - the act of writing changes the vision, and even with an outline you can end up in trouble. My friend and I had agreed to write a book together in a universe that I created in which the heroine was so...

Character Creation Dos and Donts

Don't start your character off with a name or a physical description. I know this doesn't seem logical at first glance - after all, you name a baby before you get to know him very well. Why wouldn't you give your character a name and blue eyes before you find out anything else about him There are a couple of reasons. The first is that you have a lot of preconceived ideas about names and body types. Perhaps every charlie you ever knew was a great guy, while every Barry you knew was an idiot. so...

About Literary Agents

Please realize that finding good representation requires a major effort on your part, professional and courteous conduct, and a top-quality product. About using the term product to describe your work do remember that your book is your product not your baby. You'll probably have to give it a nose job and whack off at least one of its arms before it reaches publication, so start thinking of it as your product now. The surgery hurts a lot less that way. Don't query any agent before you've...

Is anybody happy to see you

Do people make an effort to include you Did anyone ask you your name Did you like anyone there I'd link the theme song from Furthermore, are you happy to be there Do Cheers here, but it would slow you look forward to going to meetings your reading. Just think of the When you get home, do you want to write, or theme song, and you'll get the do you want to become an accountant idea. If it isn't fun, if it doesn't add something positive to your life, don't waste your time. I hope this helps you...

Timed Writing Workshop

I am indebted to Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones, for what has become one of the staples of my own writing practice. Though I don't do timed writing quite the way she says most of the time, I still find it essential to cutting through the murkiness of my own mind when I'm stuck, and for sharpening images while I'm working on a book. I prefer working at a keyboard to writing in longhand, so I almost always type my timed writings directly into the computer. If you don't like...

Say What You Mean

You want to talk about fear This is where the process of writing comes right down to sweat under the armpits, racing pulse, dry mouth, and the urge to get up and go to the bathroom, or to switch over from the word processor to Maxis Space Cadet for five or ten quick games of pinball, or where the dust on the ceiling suddenly becomes an unbearable affront that you have to get rid of Right Now. This is where facing anything else becomes preferable to facing the words on the page, because the...

Schrodingers Petshop Press

We're considering doing chapbook-style publications of members' work. Format would be similar to what you see in your hand-book, printing costs would have to be absorbed by the members involved in each project, and marketing would be up to the interested individuals. This is just something we're thinking about for the time being - if you're interested, let me know. The chapbook format would lend itself nicely to speculative fiction poetry, small collections of short stories, or individual...

About Writing for the HyperspaceZOO

The ZOO has added an Outside Opinons column. If you would like to submit an article, maximum word length for a single article is 600 words. Maximum series length is three issues. I'm open to any aspect of writing, from articles on technical writing to personal experiences to how you do research. I require professionally formatted submissions - that is, typed, double-spaced, with your name, title, and page number at the top of each page. I don't pay. I'm not a professional publication. If you...