One Neat Trick to Writing Great Mystery Plots
vulture.com – Thursday October 17, 2019
I spend a lot of time thinking about a Raymond Chandler quote I once read. “The perfect detective story cannot be written,” he said. “The type of mind which can evolve the perfect problem is not the type of mind that can produce the artistic job of writing.”
Well — shoot. It has the ring of truth to it, unfortunately. Almost every writer seems to start out interested either in narrative or talking, story or language, before filling in the rest later. This is why it’s funny when literary novelists who couldn’t write a competent John Wick novelization (I put this challenge squarely to A.S. Byatt) call J.K. Rowling a bad writer. She’s an indifferent stylist, sure, but in most of the other ways a writer can be “good” — character, plot, imagination — she’s brilliant. Past brilliant. Meanwhile Chandler, whom many of the same people (rightly) revere, could never, as he freely admitted, explain who killed the chauffeur in The Big Sleep.
The contemporary novelist who comes closest to real parity between story and art may be Tana French. Her most striking gift is for voice, but if her plots aren’t flawless, you can see nonetheless how hard she works to make them very, very good, with just an occasional faint seam showing, nothing more. But that’s almost certainly a product of tenacity and intelligence, not instinct. I would bet French has spent more time thinking about structure than Agatha Christie — who hatched her perfect plots in the bathtub, serenely eating apples — ever did.
Removing the Mystery From Mystery Writing: 13 Tricks Used by Acclaimed Novelists
vulture.com – Tuesday October 15, 2019
What makes reading a good mystery so satisfying? A writer’s hard work. A complex story à la Gone Girl doesn’t just pop out of a writer’s brain fully formed on a random Tuesday. Giving readers what they crave is about structure and pacing and, ultimately, originality. In 2019, it’s also about writing characters with more depth than your archetypal male dick motivated by some dead girl who maybe, if she’s lucky, gets to have a name.
To learn more about the elements of great mystery architecture, Vulture asked eight masters of the form to anatomize their thinking, from the most conceptual level down to the technical details. None of their tips or habits are compulsory, and some even contradict one another, but together they represent craft perfected to the level of art. (Spoiler: Literal crafts are sometimes involved.)
Experts reveal their top tips for how to write a book
goodhousekeeping.com – Tuesday October 15, 2019
If you want to know how to write a book, we've got the answer. While it's a daunting task, it's not impossible and here, experts share their top tips to help you get published.
November marks National Novel Writing Month, a global initiative which aims to inspire and encourage writers across the world.
The goal is to write 50,000 words in a month – which sounds daunting but in fact is just over 1000 a day. So if you’ve always wanted to know how to write a book, now is the perfect time.
10 Tips for Writing (Both About Yourself and in General)
juneauempire.com – Sunday October 13, 2019
One of my favorite (and simultaneously most hated) qualities of children is their tendency to be unintentionally blunt.
Over the past year, my daughter, son and their little parliament of friends have called me out on hiding my baldness with a Yankees cap, wearing the same clothes every day and “having claws” (read: grossly unclipped toenails). I don’t even want to tell you the comments I hear at the pool. Suffice to say I need to cut back on the midnight Nutella spoons.
Earlier this week, the apples of my eye point-blankedly asked me why I didn’t have a job. I told them that wasn’t true, that I was a writer, to which they both responded: “no, a real job.” So I printed a copy of my curriculum vitae. I still don’t think they were impressed — even after they checked my references.
There Is No Such Thing as 'Too Similar' When Publishers All Want the Same Book
jezebel.com – Wednesday October 9, 2019
A few years ago, when I was shopping my now-shelved first novel, an industry insider told me to put the word “girls” in the title. “Girl” novels were big at the moment: Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, The Girls. But a few months later, I was told I had to change the title. There were too many novels about girls.
That is pretty much the way the publishing industry works. Once a title becomes wildly popular, rival imprints rush to get their hands on books that are slight variants on the same conceit until they have too many books on the same topic—say, a woman with a substance abuse problem who witnesses a crime—and once that topic is oversaturated, they move on to something else. In a recent Buzzfeed article, historical fiction novelist Kim Michele Richardson said that details in bestselling author of MeBeforeYou Jojo Moyes’s new novel are too close for comfort to those included in her own work. However, in an industry that frequently gets stuck on the same idea, the similarities in their work look more like byproducts of how well both women know which details are required of their genre, and the fact that many books are becoming difficult to distinguish from one another.
Find a room of your own: top 10 tips for women who want to write
theguardian.com – Saturday October 5, 2019
How does a woman write? This woman is writing on her laptop in bed wearing her lipstick. She looks quite ridiculous. She is wishing the teenagers downstairs would make less noise and will go down periodically to shout at them and to get some biscuits, maybe some cheese, a small snack that she needs to sustain herself every other paragraph or so.
This woman wishes she was like the young people she sees writing in cafés or on the bus, who seem to be able to write anywhere. She wishes she wasn’t so precious about peace and quiet and remembers she didn’t used to be. In fact, she used to sit next to a man in a newspaper office who was covered in nicotine patches, chewing nicotine gum and drinking double espressos until he vibrated. Still, she always met the deadline. He didn’t, so was in a constant state of torture.
What Is A Book Coach? A Guide To Seeking And Becoming One
bookriot.com – Friday October 4, 2019
Are you still scratching your head trying to work out just what exactly a book coach is?
Here’s the scenario:
You’ve got a great idea for a book, you read copiously, and you’re a pretty talented writer (if you say so yourself). You’ve read On Writing by Stephen King and The Writing Life by Annie Dillard and you’re acquainted with copious theories on plot and pacing and characterisation, but you just can’t seem to get that New York Times bestselling book from your head to paper.
Chris Hammer: 'I am a serial killer. I kill my darlings left, right and centre'
theguardian.com – Sunday September 29, 2019
Chris Hammer’s career as a political advisor was meteoric and very, very short.
Three weeks after he started a job with Labor MP Stephen Jones, he got “this fantastic book deal”. “I was laughing and crying, it was just unbelievable,” he says.
That was a Friday. On the Monday, he resigned. “Stephen was most gracious about it all.”
Shortly after that, the international and television rights to Scrublands, Hammer’s debut novel, were sold. Overnight he had became that rare, elusive thing: a writer who could make a decent living from fiction. Yet even now he has difficulty calling himself an author. “It is even more difficult to say I am a novelist,” he tells Guardian Australia.
A penny a word - you pay
By G. Miki Hayden
Instructor at Writer's Digest University online and private writing coach
firstwriter.com – Saturday September 28, 2019
GMH: What common style mistake bugs you the most?
Phyllis Grann, the first woman CEO of a major publishing firm: The use of unnecessary words.
Writers being paid by the word say that instead of “bang,” they might write “bang, bang, bang” for gunshots. That’s really a joke—sort of. While often the length of a story or article is fixed by guidelines and a flat fee is paid, sometimes writers do get paid by the word, even today. But any writer imagining that adding unnecessary words to a piece is a good idea isn’t the writer who is going to sell the story or article. And that’s the long of way of saying that the best writing is economical writing. How many words should the story or article be? As many as telling the story takes, but not a single word more.
YA Authors You Should Be Following for Writing Advice
bookriot.com – Thursday September 26, 2019
Writing…is hard. I wanted to say something more profound about the exhausting and turbulent life of a writer and the never-ending worry of publishing and judgment, but when it comes down to it, writing is just hard. We do it anyway, though, because it’s some sort of natural instinct to use our words to say something, anything. We still write, even when we don’t want to. Even when I’ve tried to quit writing entirely, I still come back to it.
And oh, how I wish it was this beautiful, graceful moment where you sit at your perfectly messy-while-still-organized desk, take out your fountain pen, and the most profound and perfect words stream out onto the paper. No, it’s a gruesome process, fighting your way back into writing.
Luckily, we’re never in it alone. Personally, I don’t have a ton of writing friends to bounce ideas off of or get inspiration from, and I’m sure it’s the same for a lot of people. But what’s really pushed me out of a deep, dark writing slump is other writers. And thank god for the internet, because I’ve got an endless amount of writing advice to pick through!
After some deep digging, writing prompts, and podcasts, I’ve gathered some of the most helpful writing advice I’ve found, from some pretty spectacular YA authors.