The Right Way to Write

So many blogs, books, and classes these days tell you how to write. Some offer craft of writing education, others (like mine), offer tips and ideas for genre-specific works. For example, I’ve offered advice from my own learning and writing experience about inventing fantasy words for your epic fantasy or sci-fi story, or researching for and writing historical fiction.

But a bigger, and perhaps more important, question is this: is there a right (and thusly, wrong) way to write? My answer is both yes and no.

First of all, in fiction writing, there are some basics that yes, you need to get right if you’re going to have a marketable (or even readable) book. Stuff like coherent plot, characters, and basic grammar and spelling really do matter. Studying writing crafts books, taking seminars from established writers, and just plain old reading well-written books are great ways to learn how to write right.

But what about the more abstract elements of writing “right”? Does that even mean? Continue reading

How to Write Historical Fiction

For those who don’t know, I am currently writing – and reading – historical fiction. To be specific, I’m currently writing in the historical fiction sub-genre of historical fantasy, retro-futuristic science fiction, or dieselpunk.

One of the key elements of writing historical fiction and its various relatives is, of course, research. And as any writer knows, the very act of doing research can often inspire other ideas – which can be great if you’re just at the start of putting together a book, but can also derail you from a good work in progress.

But anyway, let’s say that you’re wanting to try out the historical fiction genre. Where do you begin? As with most any writing, I believe good historical fiction writing comes from reading books in that genre. Also, most historical fiction writers have a love of history – whether it be a love of a certain place or time in history, or a broader love of anything that is old. So if you love history, how do you start writing a fictional story? Continue reading

Small Town Writing

Two years ago I made a huge change in my life: I left my hometown (the only city I’d ever lived in) and moved clear across the country to a small town that I’d never even visited before.

I haven’t regretted the move at all. Even so, after two full years now, I’m still finding myself periodically marveling at the differences between the big city east coast life I grew up with, and the small-town north-west life I live now.

It’s great fodder for stories, for sure. Even though my current WIP does not take place in a small rural town, I’m filing away my observations for potential future writing use. And now, I’m sharing these little observations with you! So if you’ve never lived in a small rural town, then feel free to take some of these tidbits and use them to inspire your own writing!

A Town of “The”

My town is small enough that it’s a town where many things are “the.” As in, “the post office,” “the Chinese restaurant,” and “the gas station.” It used to be a town of “the traffic light,” but then the light was removed. There is only one other traffic light in the entire county, just past the north edge of town; so my town is officially now a no-light town. Continue reading

Overcoming Writer’s Block

I don’t believe in writer’s block. Yes, I believe that writers can get stuck, frustrated with, disillusioned by, and tired of their writing projects. I believe this because I’ve experienced all of these things.

However, “writer’s block” to me sounds permanent and insurmountable. And it is most certainly neither of these. So whether you’re experiencing writer’s block, writer’s pause, frustration with your characters, or uninspired by your plot, there is a way out. Here are three tips that I use when I get stuck.

Go for a Walk

Or a run, or a swim, or vacuum your house, or work in the garden. In other words, do something besides sitting there staring at the blank page. Physical movement helps—it gets blood flowing, and distracts you. And if you haven’t cleaned in a while, well, then you’re killing two birds with one stone. Double your productivity! But seriously, I do some of my best thinking while I’m doing physical tasks that require very little conscious thought, such as vacuuming or talking a long walk. Continue reading

Choosing a Historical Time Period for Your Dieselpunk Story

One of the aspects of dieselpunk is the time period and associated aesthetics. The “punk” aspects of fantasy, the paranormal, high-tech gadgets, or alternate history blend with the “diesel” age—from about World War I to post-World War II/1950s era.

I chose the Roaring 20s for the setting of my dieselpunk series starring the enigmatic high-class adventurer Mrs. Jones. Why the Roaring 20s? Well, for the story I wanted to tell and the world I wanted to build, it seemed like the most ideal time period.

Post-war Decadence

My main character Cornelia Jones is a wealthy, upper class woman who very much enjoys the privileges of her class. Fine clothes, dinner parties, and a house full of servants is what she expects out of life. She’s not arrogant or snobbish, but she is accustomed to luxury. The 1920s saw a booming economy and a world of people ready to put the grimness of the Great War behind them. For a character who loves the glamorous life, the Roaring 20s was an obvious choice for a setting. Continue reading

What to Do When You’re Sick of Blogging

I’ve been diligently blogging for over five years. One post a week every week, only missing a handful of times over the course of several years. I’m proud of the discipline I learned, and happy about all the comments, followers, and connections I’ve gained. But over the past year or so, I’ve become much less diligent about that one post a week.

What was my reason? I got busy. I got distracted. And to be honest, I just got plain tired of blogging every week. Now before you ask—no, I’m not shutting down this blog and quitting the blogging scene. I’ve decided to return to regular blogging in 2019 because, after all, I am still a writer.

Anyway, I got to thinking about my options. Since I’d admitted to myself that I was sick of blogging, what should I do about it? I think there are several options for any writer if they’re ever faced with this realization—whether they’ve grown tired of blogging, tired of social media posting, or just plain tired of writing. None of the following options are right or wrong—I think each person needs to decide what is the best choice for them at that time. Consider your options, consider why you’re sick of blogging or writing, and consider what your ultimate goals are. Continue reading