I’m religious about my work habits. I set aside two hours a day for writing only. I decide what I’ll work on and do that thing until it’s done or the two hours are up. I’ll add 15 minutes here, cut 15 minutes there, work on a lower priority item if I finish the high … More I’m between projects and I need your help deciding what to work on next.
You’ve just finished a novel certain to win a Pulitzer Prize, and you’re particularly proud of one character, an individual not of your race, sexual orientation, and gender. You’ve struck a blow for diversity in literature, one of your core values. Blogger and consultant Mikki Kendall has a suggestion: If you think you’ve done a … More Should you hire a sensitivity reader to scrutinize your novel?
If I were to list personal predictions for 2016, they wouldn’t include an email from an agent or publisher with a contract for one of my books. 2015 looked pretty hopeful for Carbon Run, with encouraging words from one agent, who suggested stronger interest if I’d only have a professional editor go over the manuscript. … More What happens when you remodel your social media platform
An unfinished version of this post appeared earlier by mistake. Apologies for my fat fingers. A couple of days after Star Wars: The Force Awakens opened, Washington Post contributor Matthew Bowman pointed out a long fascination by the Mormon community for science fiction and fantasy. Some of the most well-known and best-selling writers in the … More What Catholic sci-fi writers can learn from Mormon writers.
Great fiction dramatizes times, places and attitudes it was never meant to illuminate. Shakespeare’s plays are loved today, despite the sometimes impenetrable language and unacceptable sexism and racism, because they reveal the universal. For several years, I’ve been interested in how fiction authors deal with climate change, and John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath is one … More How writers can read The Grapes of Wrath as climate fiction
I find the genre wars incredibly entertaining, mostly because they’re pointless, and the participants waste an amazing amount of time making their points when they could be writing good stories. The kerfuffle everyone in the scifi universe talks about these days concerns the definition of “science fiction.” Traditionalists, who call themselves the Sad Puppies, have … More More Skirmishes in the Genre Wars
I’m reading a new mystery novel and there’s a problem. I can’t help but think the author is holding back, like a sprinter on the starting block, but not quite ready to run all out. The novel’s characters are too nice to each other, preferring to forgive than hold a grudge, pulling back from saying … More Why science fiction writers should reveal their inmost selves
The activist and public relations man Dan Bloom, who originated the term “cli-fi” in 2008, recently posed the question to me in an email: Is climate fiction a genre, a theme, or a motif? I laughed, because these are the kinds of questions that resemble the old saw about debating the number of angels who … More Is climate fiction a genre, a theme, a motif, or what?
In my past day job as a communications director for a non-profit, I wrote a lot of news releases. We had no money for advertising, so we depended on local TV stations, newspapers, and bloggers to help us get the word out. I’m assuming that you, as an independent author, have little or no funds … More How to write a gripping news release for your new book
I scribbled my way through the first six and a half chapters of my latest project, The Princes of Antarctica, when I ran out of gas this week. The feeling was just like the shock and disappointment I had in 1987 as I drove up Interstate 5 from Redding, Calif., to see my girlfriend in … More How to abandon a draft without feeling like a failure
I’m planning a second novel with a climate change theme under the Carbon Run title. The new project doesn’t have a working title yet, although it’s definitely a Carbon Run II. Let’s call it CRII for short. It’s not a sequel, in that I’m not interested in following most of the character’s lives after Carbon … More Carbon Run II: Does Antarctica rise?
I’m participating in the “Cli-Fi Novelists Writing Process Blog Tour,” which so far includes the writers Risa Bear, Lisa Devaney, Karen Faris, and Clara Hume. Look for more contributions on the Clifi Books website and Dan Bloom‘s blog. What are you working on now, or just finished? I’ve recently finished Carbon Run, which is a … More Cli-Fi Novelists Writing Process Blog Tour
Give someone half a chance, and he’ll criticize you for the smallest thing. People who read my manuscripts criticize the color of a character’s boots, or the choice of “a” over “the.” We give acres of screen space and paper to members of the chattering class who have nothing better to do than to point … More How to cope with criticism without losing your mind
One of my beta readers said that a draft of The Vault of Perfection, the sci-fi novel I’m currently revising, reminded her of Raymond Chandler‘s novels. It’s a compliment I hardly deserve, but it came as a surprise, because I’d never read any of his books. I knew he had pioneered the “hard-boiled detective” novel, … More Three things Raymond Chandler taught me about writing
I always laugh whenever somebody asks about my writing “process.” Many new writers and readers expect the conception and birth of a story to start with an inspirational moment followed by furious scribbling and late nights at the laptop. After a few months of intense activity, a book appears on a shelf or in a … More Random and messy: What writing process?
Mark Nykanen, author of Primitive, Carry the Flame, and other environmentally themed novels, and Mary Sands Woodbury, editor at Moon Willow Press and the website Clifibooks.com, offered their thoughts on climate fiction and its future in publishing. (Material is edited.) What is “climate fiction,” and is it a new genre of fiction? Nykanen: I like … More Thoughts on climate fiction from a writer and a publisher
Writers, especially new writers, are on the lookout for rules that will guarantee, or at least enhance the potential for success in the artistic or commercial marketplace. If you’re interested in writing in the new genre of “climate fiction,” here’s a few boundaries that will help you understand your role as climate storyteller. 1. Climate … More Six rules for putting climate change into your fiction
A literary event in April 2014 has me thinking that climate fiction may have arrived in Seattle. Richard Hugo House, a non-profit organization that supports writers with educational programs and events, has posted the schedule for its annual Hugo Literary Series. The org has invited three writers–Nick Flynn, Rick Bass, and Jennine Capó Crucet–to write about … More Seattle literary event may debut climate fiction
Science fiction is about the present, not the future. That’s why I like the genre, at least as a writer. I was attracted to sci-fi as a kid in the 60s, inspired by the earliest space shots. One of the first books I remember reading was Promise of Space, by Arthur C. Clarke, who was … More Sci-Fi Is About Now, Not Later
I’ve had enough with “said.” Way back when I was first learning journalism, an editor told me never to use anything but the word “said” or “says” when attributing a quote, as in “‘I am not a crook,’ President Nixon said.” Put another way, don’t use other verbs, such as “commented” or “opined,” which feel … More He Said, She Said: Enough ‘Said’