Traditional Publishing

How does a bestselling author create a story? – Tuesday August 1, 2023

I asked several writing groups what they would like to know about how bestselling authors create, think, and work. What would readers most like to know about them? What would engage you? When you are a bestselling author,  have a writing career, or seek one, I think each writer works out their own patterns and rhythms.

One person said she’d like to know about daily writing routines! “I collect descriptions of famous writers’ routines and I regularly read through them for inspiration. What does a typical writing day look like for them? If there are no typical days, why not & how do they get their work done if there is no routine?Also, how they go from the first idea to the finished manuscript. Every writer has a different planning, plotting & drafting process but I’m endlessly fascinated by how others do it because there is always room to improve & refine your own process.”

I thanked her for the thoughtful answer and responded with what some authors have told us, and added a few of my own thoughts.

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5 Ways ChatGPT Can Improve, Not Replace, Your Writing – Sunday July 23, 2023

It's been quite a year for ChatGPT, with the large language model (LLM) now taking exams, churning out content, searching the web, writing code, and more. The AI chatbot can produce its own stories, though whether they're any good is another matter.

If you're in any way involved in the business of writing, then tools like ChatGPT have the potential to complete up-end the way you work—but at this stage, it's not inevitable that journalists, authors, and copywriters will be replaced by generative AI bots.

What we can say with certainty is that ChatGPT is a reliable writing assistant, provided you use it in the right way. If you have to put words in order as part of your job, here's how ChatGPT might be able to take your writing to the next level—at least until it replaces you, anyway.

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Writing A Book: 5 Steps To Get Published – Friday July 21, 2023

Writing a book is like assembling a puzzle. When you dump the puzzle pieces out, you grab for the ones that go together. You collect edge pieces and snap a few together here and there.

You have a plan - a process for solving the puzzle. Without one, you risk ending up with random clusters of puzzle pieces and gaps in the puzzle’s outline.

However, we know that creatives sometimes balk at processes. We applaud independence, but we also know sometimes you'll need more than a bunch of puzzle pieces (or in this case, words) to write a successful book and get published.

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Outlander author Diana Gabaldon shares her writing tips – Wednesday July 19, 2023

Outlander author Diana Gabaldon's nine-book series has sold more than 50 million copies world-wide.

As a major conference celebrating her best-selling books gets underway at the University of Glasgow, she shares her top three tips for writing a first novel.

1. "Read everything you can get your hands on. Read good stuff and read bad stuff because this is how you are going to learn to tell the difference.

"Why do you like one book over another? Is it because you like the characters more? Well, why do you like the characters more, is it because of the way they talk?

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I finally landed a 6-figure book deal after 20 years of trying to become an author. Here's how I did it. – Wednesday July 19, 2023

Scoring a book deal is always an accomplishment, but after I dreamed of becoming an author for more than 20 years, selling a nonfiction project for six figures to a Big Five publisher felt both astonishing and hard-earned.

Like a lot of people, I'd always secretly harbored ambitions of becoming a writer, but I didn't start taking my craft seriously until my mid-20s when I invested in a Master of Fine Arts. Even then, writing remained a hobby for another few years.

In 2010, I lost my job in elementary education when an essay I wrote was publicized by the New York Post and the whole world — including my then-employer, the NYC Department of Education — was made aware that I had worked as a stripper and prostitute before becoming a schoolteacher.

I turned a humiliating experience into a flourishing freelance career, and I got serious about my ambitions to become an author.

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Chris Parker on writing women narrators and seeing the world from their eyes – Monday July 17, 2023

I’ve been asked why I chose to make the narrator of my first novel, Nameless Lake, a woman, but really, that’s putting it the wrong way round. Something made me start writing in the voice of this character – Emma – and I only realised later that she would be the perfect narrator for the story I wanted to tell.

The roots of my decision might lie decades in the past, with the whole family rushing to the sofa in response to the mournful brass blare of the Coronation Street theme tune. Here was a world dominated by women’s voices, sharp and wild and larger-than-life yet somehow more real than anything else. I absorbed these voices long before I had an inkling that someone, somewhere had written them.

But years later, through some miracle of luck and time travel, I stood in a bar in Manchester while the Street’s creator Tony Warren shook my hand and told me he had enjoyed an episode I had written. I had somehow stepped into a parallel universe and was part of a team responsible for putting words in the characters’ mouths, fifteen of us taking turns to pick up the endless story and bring it to life by getting inside the skins of these people whose faces were as familiar to us as our own.

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My A.I. Writing Robot – Tuesday July 11, 2023

In May, I was confronted with a robot version of my writer self. It was made, at my request, by a Silicon Valley startup called Writer, which specializes in building artificial-intelligence tools that produce content in the voice of a particular brand or institution. In my case, it was meant to replicate my personal writing voice. Whereas a model like OpenAI’s ChatGPT is “trained” on millions of words from across the Internet, Robot Kyle runs on Writer’s bespoke model with an extra layer of training, based on some hundred and fifty thousand words of my writing alone. Writer’s pitch is that I, Human Kyle, can use Robot Kyle to generate text in a style that sounds like mine, at a speed that I could only dream of. Writer’s co-founder and chief technology officer, Waseem Alshikh, recently told me that the company’s goal is to use A.I. to “scale content and scale language.” For more than a month now, I have been experimenting with my literary automaton to see how well it accomplishes this task. Or, as Robot Kyle put it when I asked him to comment on the possibility of replacing me: “How could a machine generate the insights, observations, and unique perspectives that I provide as a human?”

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How does anyone make a living writing about what they love these days? – Monday July 10, 2023

You may have to subsidize the price of passion, but you don’t have to become a foot soldier in the clickbait content cavalcade.

A few months ago, Serena Coady, a London-based journalist, wrote on Twitter that she was courted by an editor at an entertainment news site that “rhymed with Green Pant.” That wasn’t newsworthy; it was the limbo champion rates, which Coady shared.

My disgust — what the hell are “Super Features”? — soon hardened into indifference. I’ve been a full-time freelance writer since 2008.  Inspired by Roger Ebert’s annual “Movie Yearbooks” and Entertainment Weekly during its smart, snarky mid-’90s heyday, a healthy chunk of my career was spent trying to be an entertainment writer. I saw gigs like this, built on speed and clicks and being kind of, sort of, not really adjacent to showbiz, all the time.

I had some of them. I wrote posts for an entertainment blog for $6 a pop. I profiled actress Rose Byrne, who was lovely, for the unpleasant rate of $12. This personal essay on dating shows fetched me nothing.

I’ve written about my travails as a movie reviewer before. The balcony isn’t just closed; I fear it’s bricked solid.

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Dangling modifiers, misplaced commas muddy your writing – Saturday July 8, 2023

Here's a grab bag of gifts for those who want to remove common errors from their writing.

Common error No. 1: Misuse of a plural verb.

"In the end, neither the malicious glee from the Right nor the aggressive minimization from the Left are treating this case with the sensitivity it deserves."

Because that sentence cites two elements — malicious glee and aggressive minimization — the writer has been seduced into using the plural verb form "are treating." But the controlling form — neither/nor — requires the singular verb "is treating."

The word neither means "this one." The word nor means "that one." The same rule applies with either/or.

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How a Midwest Teacher Went From Posting Scary Stories on Reddit to a Film Deal for His Debut Novel – Wednesday June 28, 2023

Jimmy Juliano’s debut novel, “Dead Eleven,” has an unusual backstory.

The book, out Tuesday, is a spooky tale of a remote island where inhabitants are obsessed with ’90s nostalgia, which earned a coveted jacket blurb from “Goosebumps” guru R. L. Stine and already has a film development deal with A+E Studios. But Juliano is the first to admit that his path into publishing and Hollywood “feels like a back door into the industry.”

Juliano, an educator who works at Lake Forest High School in suburban Chicago, first made a name for himself as u/Red_Grin, a Reddit user posting scary stories to the NoSleep subreddit. The community, with over 17 million members, is “a place for redditors to share their scary personal experiences” — and while the stories (probably) aren’t real, “treat everything as though it is a true recount of events.”

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