Is your writing a hobby, an art, a business, a vocation, a profession? Let’s discuss
This question was raised in a Facebook group this week: if you’re not earning much from writing, does that make it a hobby rather than a serious pursuit? My gut reaction was ‘no’, and I’d like to examine why. What follows will be a few attempts at definitions, a few assumptions – and I want this to be the start of a discussion rather than the last word. So do let me have your thoughts at the end.
Continue reading on Nail Your Novel >>
Mastering the Art of the Scene
Not too long ago, I was working on a client’s novel-in-progress and noticed a recurring pattern: at the end of every chapter, the story stopped abruptly, sometimes even in the middle of a conversation. One character would ask a question and the other would simply not reply. I kept turning the pages thinking that the author must have inadvertently added extra line spaces, but no – that was where the chapter ended.
I asked the writer what was going on, and she explained: “I did that to create tension, so the reader would want to know what was going to happen next.”
While that impulse is excellent, the execution was not. It’s not random curiosity that you want to engender in the reader. It’s story-specific curiosity.
Continue reading on The Book Designer >>
5 Sentences Demonstrating Whether to Capitalize and Punctuate Quotations
When the syntax of a sentence containing a quotation is not straightforward, it can be difficult to determine whether the first word should be capitalized and which punctuation marks, if any, should attend the quotation. The following sentences illustrate some of the pitfalls, and discussions and revisions point to their solutions.
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Asking “Why?” to Create Rich Characters for Your Novel
I do a lot of manuscript critiques. Hundreds a year. I find the best way to get writers thinking about their plot and characters is to ask a lot of questions. And since I’m a novelist who loves deep, rich characters, I like to challenge my editing clients to push past the ordinary and into the realm of the complex.
For, people are complex. Humans are complicated. They really are. Maybe someone will disagree with me and claim the opposite. That people are simple, easy to figure out.
Well, I’m guessing those who really believe that will probably portray boring, flat characters in their fiction.
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I swear, I just made it up (No, really, I did)
‘So I read your book,’ they say.
When someone I know personally – a relative, a friend, a former co-worker or classmate – says this to me, I never know how to respond. You cannot ask ‘And what did you think?’ because that puts them on the spot and anyway I don’t want to know because it might be bad. Usually I either mumble a thank you, or giggle nervously and say that that’s good because now there’s going to be a quiz.
Sometimes though, before I can do any of these socially awkward things, they get a bit of a glint in their eye and their face adopts a kind of suspicious-yet-bemused expression (trust me, this exists) and then they say something like ‘Who was x based on?’ or ‘Where did you get that idea?’ and everything – their tone, their face, the little pause they took before they asked the question – suggests to me that they think they already know the answer, and that the answers lies in my real life.
Continue reading on Catherine Ryan Howard’s blog >>