In which I subvert my nature and become a morning person…

I’ve always been a night owl. 10pm rolls around and suddenly I’m full of ideas and a burning desire to start projects and be creative. This is especially true for my writing, since the late evening is generally the only part of my day that offers any quiet or solitude.

The drawback to this is that when I’m really on a roll with my writing I tend to start keeping vampire hours, writing from 10pm until 3-4am. Sometimes I greet the dawn with bleary eyes before retiring to my coffin. This wreaks havoc with the rest of my life, of course. Responsibilities and commitments suffer, my family never sees me, and the house looks a mess. Make dinner? What do you mean? I just woke up! 

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To Pseudonym or Not to Pseudonym

Shakespeare very likely asked this question as well–though I’m sure he did it with more eloquence.

Whether or not to use a pseudonym (a pen name) is a question pretty much every writer asks themselves when considering publication. There are plenty of reasons to use one, and just as many not to. Read more

A Cautionary Tale: 3 Writing Rules That Can Derail Your Story

Lisa Cron wrote a fantastic blog post on Writer Unboxed, outlining three oft-preached and just as oft-misapplied ‘rules’ that can derail an otherwise brilliantly executed story.

Last year I had occasion to read a batch of ten page manuscript submissions in a hurry, one right after the other. What I noticed was startling in its consistency.

All of the writers had clearly spent time learning their craft. All of them had something to say. And all of them, by meticulously following what they’d been taught, had rendered their stories mute in the exact same way.

It was heartbreaking, given the talent in the room.

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The Curious Case of the Nameless Character

Recently, I listed opening a book with a nameless character as one of the 5 Reasons I Put Your Book Down. In comments, I was asked to elaborate a little more for the benefit of those who are wondering why it’s such a big deal. I attempted to answer in comments, but (in classic form) my answer grew a bit beyond its context.

Here is why I personally believe the technique of not naming your characters can be risky one–and when I think it can work: Read more

The Home Stretch

Tomorrow is August 26th, which will mark exactly two months from the day I finished my second draft of Chaos. Instead of diving right into draft 3, as I intended, I had a number of non-writing-related projects fall into my lap over the summer. While I’m not usually happy about having very little time to write, I think it may work out to be a good thing in this instance. A little distance from a story is helpful when you’re contemplating changes on any significant level.

As I cast nervous glances at the novel, and the list of revision ideas I’ve compiled over the past few weeks (even if I’m not writing, I’m still THINKING about writing!), I’m also thinking more about what will come after this next pass. I’m very much hoping that draft 3 will be my last major rewrite before I start down the path to try to get it published.

CJ Jessop, a good writer friend, is a little further down that path herself. Right now her novel, which I had the opportunity to beta-read (and vastly enjoyed!), is out on submission and she keeps me regularly updated on how that’s going. While I agonize her over every rejection, because I like both her and the book so much, it’s been neat watching her go through the submission process, and I think it’s taken a little of the fear out of it for me.

I’ll be back to biting my nails to a quick once it’s time to send Chaos out, no doubt, but it’s nice to feel like the path is being personally blazed for you before you get there. If you want to read along with CJ as she attempts to get her first novel published, you can check out her blog here.

~ RM

Close Up Editing & Assessment

Ashley Capes, a good friend and writing buddy, has recently launched Close Up Editing & Assessment, a service for fiction and poetry writers. Whether you’re looking for overall manuscript assessment, line-editing, or proofreading, he and his wife Brooke Linford have numerous editing, writing, teaching, and publication credits between them that they can put to use helping you get your work into the best possible shape.

I’ve been in a writing group with Ashley for nearly a year, and it’s been brilliant having access to his insight and technical knowledge. He has an excellent grasp of story structure, character, and an ear for prose that has helped me hone and tweak my second draft far beyond what I believe I would have been able to achieve alone. Read more

Tess Grantham on The Power of Doubt

Tess Grantham, a member of my writing group, Alchemy, has a brilliant post on her blog titled “The Power of Doubt”–how it hinders us as writers, and how it pushes us to become better.

…Doubt is the improver in baker’s flour. It’s the magic ingredient in Grandma’s secret steak and kidney pie recipe. It’s the great arbiter of good work. How are we supposed to improve anything if we believe everything we create is flawless?

Read the whole (fantastic) post here.

~ RM