Traditional Publishing

What Is Chekhov’s Gun? A Guide to Planting & Paying Off Details in Your Writing – Monday September 19, 2022

Writing a play or screenplay is a complex process that comes with a lot of rules of thumb—some more intuitive than others. One of the most important is Chekhov’s gun. Keep reading to learn about Anton Chekhov, his famed concept, and examples of the technique in film and television.

Anton Chekhov was a famed Russian playwright whose works include “The Seagull” (1895), “Uncle Vanya” (1898), “Three Sisters” (1900), and “The Cherry Orchard” (1903). After his death in 1904, Chekhov’s works went on to inspire countless movies and TV shows, and the concept of his “gun” has influenced screenwriting since the early days of cinema. 

Chekhov corresponded with many other playwrights, offering advice for their careers. One of his primary principles was that playwrights should avoid making false promises to the audience; if you set an early expectation, you must make sure it’s resolved. “If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one, it should be fired,” Chekhov wrote. “Otherwise, don’t put it there.”

[Read the full article]

Guide on submitting a manuscript – Monday September 19, 2022

Dear Emerging Creative,

This is one for the novice authors – because no one tells you how to do some of this stuff.

Submitting a manuscript to a publisher or magazine editor – whether it be short fiction, a non-fiction essay, or a novel – is a bit like writing a job application.

Celebrated New Zealand novelist Catherine Chidgey had this sage and pithy wisdom to offer: ’Make sure your work is typo-free – consider asking someone to proof it for you – and keep your cover letter brief.

‘How is your book similar to other successful books? How does it achieve something new?

‘Under no circumstances include emojis.’

The final sentence goes for most things in life.

[Read the full article]

Lucy Foley: ‘I never know the murderer when I start writing my books’ – Sunday September 18, 2022

Lucy Foley’s hit crime novels are always set in glamorous places – a New Year’s Eve getaway at a highland lodge, a wedding at a remote Irish island, a beautiful Parisian apartment – but she usually writes them from somewhere completely different. “I wrote The Hunting Party in Iran, where it was really hot. I was finishing The Guest List [the Irish island] in an Airbnb in Paris when I came up with the idea for The Paris Apartment.” She likes to travel when she’s writing, and when we speak she has recently returned from six weeks in Northern Spain, where she rented an apartment with her toddler and got to work on a new book. Which is set, naturally, in the West Country.   

Doesn’t it put her off, visiting wonderful new locations and then trying to immerse herself in entirely different ones while she’s writing? “It’s probably a bit w**ky to invoke Hemingway, but he said that to write properly about a place you have to have left it. And I do think there’s an element of that for me. It means you have to imagine somewhere more vividly.”   

[Read the full article]

Thomas C. Foster on the Seven Deadly Sins of Writing – Friday September 16, 2022

If you hang around the writing racket long enough, you will see every sort of writing success and failure imaginable—and some you can’t imagine. I spent forty years teaching courses in writing and in literature where writing was a major component. Both during and after that time, I have been writing more or less steadily, sometimes frantically, once in a while ecstatically.

Through all that time, I have seen—and accomplished—all manner of failure. For some reason, students would sometimes come to my office to apologize for their poor (in their estimation) efforts, as if they had let me down personally. Often it turned out that the writing was anything but a failure, but it didn’t strike the student as a winner. Lacking any means of absolving themselves, they were asking me to do so for them. After offering what help I could, I obliged. In one terrible case, a brilliant mature student, although far too young for this fate, closed my door (something I never did on my own) and told me that trying to read and write for my course had revealed a change in her brain, an early-onset, not-yet-specified dementia. We wept together. Usually, such talks were much more mundane, with students seeking help after tying themselves up in knots. Help was one thing I had plenty of, both on my own and in sending them to our excellent writing center where their peers had knowledge and skills under less threatening rubrics than “professor.”

[Read the full article]

How Dealing in Facts Helps Fiction Writers Hone Their Craft – Wednesday September 14, 2022

When I left my career in journalism in 2018 to study creative writing, I was worried that my training as a news reporter might make it hard for me to write fiction. After all, if there was one thing my time in newsrooms taught me, it was that I wasn’t allowed to make things up. The facts were the facts. Dates and stats needed to be tripled-checked, statements and names confirmed, timelines cross-referenced, and if I ever got anything wrong, a correction had to be issued as I sulked in embarrassment.

And so, getting started in fiction felt like pulling teeth. I continuously doubted myself, unsure if the characters and events I concocted were believable. For months I wrote while looking over my shoulder, as though the Fact Police were going to tackle me to the ground for daring to do make things up. But as I kept writing, spinning up my novel, All That’s Left Unsaida literary mystery about a young woman who tracks down the witnesses to her brother’s grisly murder, determined to find out what happened and why they each claim to have seen nothing—much of my journalism training, which I’d thought would hold me back from writing fiction, actually helped me draft, revise, and sell my novel.

Below are some of the skills I picked up as a journalist that, rather than being a hindrance, have been an enormous help in writing fiction.

[Read the full article]

Five Writers on How Writing with Creative Constraints Unlocked Their Projects – Tuesday September 13, 2022

I have long been an anxious writer. Every sentence written reminds me of the hundreds more that could have stood in its place, missed opportunities for assonance or characterization, clauses left dependent that could have—should have—been made independent. Often it takes all the perseverance I can muster not to leap up and gaze out the window, or better yet, flip open a book by somebody who’s already figured it all out.

For me, the anxiety of writing is the anxiety of possibility. Musical performance—despite all its lore of stage-fright, jitters, and choking—has been my salvation. When performing in front of an audience, a wrong note can’t be taken back; the audience hears it immediately. I find this precariousness strangely freeing. Rather than obsessing over what was previously played, I’m forced to move forward, adapt, and accept my failings. Mistakes become opportunities; a wrong note may suddenly evoke some new cluster of tones I wouldn’t have found otherwise, or veer a solo into provocative territory.

[Read the full article]

Val McDermid, Michael Robotham, J.P. Pomare on writing crime – Monday September 12, 2022

Three of the world's finest crime writers; Val McDermid, Michael Robotham and J.P. Pomare join Kathryn in the studio. The trio are touring New Zealand this week, with an event, Crime after Crime.

Val McDermid is crime-writing royalty, with over 18 million copies of her books sold to date and several TV adaptions.

Michael Robotham is Australia's hottest crime writer; his Joseph O'Loughlin series was a worldwide bestseller and The Suspect is now streaming on TVNZ.

He's well known for The Secrets She Keeps, now an award-winning TV drama, and his latest book Lying Beside You is an international bestseller.

Rotorua-born J.P. Pomare is no stranger to Aotearoa's shores - his debut novel Call Me Evie won the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best First Novel, and his second book In the Clearing will soon grace our screens via Disney+.  The Wrong Woman is his fifth book. 

[Read the full article]

Publishing needs JK Rowling to be a monster – Wednesday September 7, 2022

The trouble with JK Rowling is that she has done nothing wrong. Back in 2020, she wrote a carefully worded, compassionate piece about sex and gender. It’s here if you want to read it. 

In it, she described “a climate of fear that serves nobody – least of all trans youth – well”. At no point did she express the even mildest disapproval of gender non-conformity, let alone call for “trans genocide”. “Trans people,” she wrote, “need and deserve protection […] I feel nothing but empathy and solidarity with trans women who’ve been abused by men.”

The response to this piece was obscene. Some of it’s here if you want to read it. I am aware, however, that checking original source material is not the done thing when it comes to having an opinion on Rowling. 

Shortly after the publication of her blogpost, countless op-eds appeared explaining what Rowling “really” meant. To summarise them all, Rowling was lying about not hating trans people and wanting them dead, and you could tell this by the fact she said she didn’t hate trans people and didn’t want them dead. 

[Read the full article]

The Guardian view on BookTok: a welcome disruptor of the status quo – Monday September 5, 2022

The bestselling book in the UK last week, and of the year so far, is an American novel that was published in 2016. If that sentence sounds implausible, the odds are you have not yet caught up with the latest social media sensation. It is called BookTok and it is a strand on the video-sharing platform TikTok that was started by young book lovers at the height of the Covid pandemic.

One of its standout successes is Colleen Hoover, a 42-year-old former social worker from Texas, whose young adult romance It Ends With Us has sold an astonishing 427,000 copies in the UK so far in 2022, according to the market analyst Nielsen BookScan. This outnumbers any other book in any format or genre.

[Read the full article]

So you want to write a bestseller? Try these top tips – Sunday September 4, 2022

Everyone, they say, has a book in them. But where do you start? With the Melbourne Writers Festival about to open, we asked leading authors to give their tips on how to create a literary triumph.

Fiction: C.S. Pacat

Write the book that you want to read. This is a cliche, but few people actually do it. Imagine that you are walking into a bookshop or a library. There is a book you are looking for but never find. The reason you never find it is that this book doesn’t exist on the shelves. This book exists only within you.

This is the book you must write. You will know some things about it instinctively. Imagine yourself searching for it seriously. Close your eyes. You know what genre it is. You know how you want it to make you feel. Write those things down. Do you know anything more? The type of characters it might have? The setting? The type of journey it takes you on?

[Read the full article]

Page of 109 14