time travel in writing

We Are All Sci-Fi Writers: Making Use of Time Travel in Writing

As a writer of speculative fiction, I’m wary of time travel as a narrative tool. It occupies this strange place where it somehow both makes things easier and makes things more complicated. Take Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I love the “time turner” sequence. It does a great job of resolving the major […]

how authors kill suspension of disbelief by drawing attention to themselves

How Authors Kill Suspension of Disbelief by Calling Attention to Themselves

This week’s video discusses the pros and cons of in-jokes and how to avoid using them to kill suspension of disbelief. Video Transcript: I’m totally a fan of in-jokes, the little nods to shared knowledge or experiences that make those in the know feel just a little extra awesome for being able to pick up […]

Are You Benefiting From the Intimacy of Pronouns?

Are You Benefiting From the Intimacy of Pronouns?

Here’s another peek at the archives while I’m away on family business. Pronouns are those clever little inventions that allow us to replace nouns and avoid clunky repetition. How awkward would it be if we had to mention our character Col. Daniel Fitzgerald the Elephant Trainer by name five times in one paragraph? Thanks to […]

Is Your Story Suffering From the Montage Effect?

This week’s video warns against summarizing your story’s best scenes. Video Transcript: There’s a section I’d say, oh, about halfway through the remake of Red Dawn, in which the surviving young people put on their game faces and start figuring out how to take the battle back to the enemy. Under the direction of their Marine leader, […]

How to Use Stream of Consciousness

How to Use Stream of Consciousness

This week’s video answers a viewer’s question about the uses and practicality of stream of consciousness. Video Transcript: One of you asked that I do a video on the technique of stream of consciousness and its best applications. “Stream of consciousness” is the term applied to a form of narrative that’s found in deep POVs. […]

5 Signs You May Be a Windbag

5 Signs You Might Be a Windbag

This week’s video discusses the problems of overly long books and how to avoid them. Video Transcript: I love long books: those big fat hardbacks that are too heavy to even hang onto, and you just have to let ’em flop open in your lap. There is something so delicious about being immersed in an […]

The Secret to Show, Don't Tell

The Secret to Show, Don’t Tell

Gone are the days of the long narrative passages we used to see in novels written by greats like Dickens and Steinbeck. Even though literary prose is still highly praised and found in many bestselling commercial novels, the trend over the last few decades has been to “show, not tell.” Meaning, readers prefer scenes in which they are watching […]

Have You Set the Right Tone for Your Story?

This week’s video talks about an oft-overlooked but surprisingly crucial decision about how to choose the right tone for your story. Video Transcript: Tone is one of those things, along with author “voice,” that can be difficult for us get our heads around, since to some extent, it just happens. But tone, even more than voice, is something […]

The Fine Line Between Insulting and Bewildering Readers

The Fine Line Between Insulting and Bewildering Readers

This week’s video talks about the author’s need to balance on the narrow line between treating readers like they’re idiots and assuming they should know things they can’t. Video Transcript: How many times have you been told that your readers are smart? We’re warned repeatedly not to dumb down our writing, because, after all, chances are good that our […]

How to Show the Passage of Time in Your Novel

This week’s video discusses two ways in which you can trip your readers up with the passage of time in your novel—and how to avoid them. Video Transcript: The passage of time is one thing all stories have in common. In some stories, such as “The Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce, maybe only a few […]