How to Run a Writers’ Circle

It’s a bit of a departure from my usual “Ooh Shiny!” swords and whatnot, but ultimately, I am a writer and I do writerly things.  One of those writerly things is providing support to my fellow creative people. For three years, I have run the Bonavista Writers’ Circle in Montreal: a group of writers of various skill levels and interests who come together to brainstorm, edit, critique each other’s work, and provide workshops for skill sharing.  We’ve all learned so much together and come through as stronger, more confident writers.

I’m not able to run the Circle anymore because my wife and I are moving to Finland for work. I’m saddened at having to leave behind this amazing group of people, but I will look back on our time together with pride and a smile. The Circle has taught me a lot, and I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned about running a group like this. Chances are, if there isn’t a Circle in your area, you’ll have to do what we did, and create your own.

Continue reading “How to Run a Writers’ Circle”

Realistic Writing: Head Injuries

Your goody two-shoes hero doesn’t want to kill people, so he just knocks them out. Sounds pretty straightforward right? Except it isn’t. Do you have any idea what it takes to render someone unconscious with blunt force trauma? Before I read this article, I didn’t! What’s more, you might not want to. It’s all too easy to die from the after effects of being hit on the head.

A word of warning: this is a frank account of the realities of head injury. If violence makes you squirm, you may not want to click.

Now brace yourself guys, this is gonna hurt.

Continue reading …

Ten Rules for Query Letters – By MAGGIE STIEFVATER

I stumbled across this post recently while browsing Maggie’s site and thought perhaps some of y’all who are interested in traditional publishing might like to take advantage of her advice.

I completely forgot to post about queries yesterday, after I promised. I realize this makes me a Bad Person and you have my permission to throw Virtual Tomatoes at me now.

Okay, that’s enough.

Here are my thoughts on query letters. Because it’s early and I’ve only had one cup of tea, we’re gonna go with numbers to organize things, because good holy pete, there is nothing like a numbered list to add order to a blog post. So.

1. People overthink queries. Okay, so they are the only thing that an agent or editor might ever see of your work. So they have to embody everything about your personality and your books personality in a single page. So you will get absolutely nowhere if your queries suck, no matter if you’ve written the Great American Novel. Still, people overthink them. And this is why. Because…

CONTINUE READING…

10 Tips and Tricks for Creating Memorable Characters

 A friend of mine found this excellent article on developing good, fully-fleshed-out characters. 

Check it out!

Science fiction and fantasy are built on cool ideas and fascinating worlds — but those things are only as good as the people who live around and inside them. How do you create compelling fictional characters? It’s a huge challenge. But here are some tips that might make it easier.

There’s no silver bullet or easy formula for creating characters who live and breathe inside your head (and hopefully other people’s heads, too). If there were, we’d all be using it and it wouldn’t be such a nightmare. I struggle with this all the time — I’ll have a story reach an eighth or ninth draft before I realize that a major character is still basically a scrap of paper, carried along through the story on the wind. And after years of grappling with this issue, I’ve come up with some things can help me to imagine the character as a real, separate individual instead of a function of the plot or story.

Note: this essay is adapted from a mini-lecture I gave at Clarion West a couple weeks ago. Thanks to everyone there who asked questions and gave feedback on it. (And this is a good place to plug Clarion West, which is an amazing writing program that you should all support and apply to. I had such an incredible experience there, and felt privileged to hang out with the next generation of mind-blowing SF writers.) Continue reading “10 Tips and Tricks for Creating Memorable Characters”

How to Write Fight Scenes

How to Write Fight Scenes

A gripping, movie-worthy fight scene is a joy to read but sometimes difficult to write. If you run into trouble when it’s time for your characters to throw down, I have some pointers that may help you get into the proper headspace and articulate what’s going on.

First thing’s first: Location.

Where does the fight take place? Familiarize yourself with the area. Even if you don’t go into painstaking detail in the actual scene, you—the writer—need to know this place inside out, including the area surrounding it.

Get some graph paper and sketch the layout of the location as best you can. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Treat it like you’re trying to describe a rough blueprint of your apartment to someone who’s never been there before. What is this space usually used for? Where is everything? Think about the place from a tactical perspective. Are there any features or objects that someone could take cover behind/under/inside? Is there anything that can be used as an improvised weapon? Are there features that present hazards? (Subway tracks, flights of stairs, a cliff edge…)

 

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