5 Types of Books to Make You a Better Writer

This is a re-blogging of a post I wrote a couple of years ago, but I believe the content continues to be valid. It’s said that writers should be readers – which is true – but just what exactly are we supposed to be reading? Here’s my take on books for writers:

A Craft of Writing Book

This is one category that I need to work on more. I’ve read a few books on the craft of writing, but it’s something that even the best authors can always get better at. If you want to get better at writing, then constantly writing is important – but a how-to writing book can help you strengthen your writing strengths, adjust your weaknesses, and point out mistakes you didn’t even realize you were making. Continue reading

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5 Google Tips for Authors

The Internet is a writer’s friend. We use it for research, for social media, and for selling (and buying) books. I offer tips and personalized coaching for writers and their social media platforms, and so I thought I’d write a blog post along similar lines to help writers with their Googling.

Research Names

Some time ago I got into the habit of researching proper names before I used them in a story, and I believe it’s a good habit to have. I think it’s especially important in contemporary or historical fiction, because it’s very easy to accidentally name your character after someone famous (that you didn’t know about, but that one of your readers most likely will). I also recommend doing it if you want a fictitious town (or road or school) in a real place; like, say, you want your characters to live in small-town Nebraska, but you don’t want to make said small town an actual real place. Go ahead and research cities, towns, and communities in Nebraska so that you don’t accidentally wind up setting your story in a real place that you will then mispresent because you thought it wasn’t real. Continue reading

It’s Never Too Late to Get Organized

Just a quick post today, and one that is mostly me preaching to myself.

Do you ever have detailed plans and goals that you’re working towards, and then you get distracted or derailed? A lot of different things can pull you away from pursuing your goals. In my case, over the past few months, I uprooted my life and moved across the country, bought a house, had family come visit right after I’d moved in, and so on. Yes, that’s just an excuse, I suppose, but at any rate, I’ve fallen a bit behind on my writing goals for the past few months. Continue reading

The One Thing They Never Tell You About the Freelance Life

Well, maybe this point has been covered by freelancers and entrepreneurs before. But if it is covered, then I don’t think it’s addressed enough. So what is this elusive, ill-addressed yet important factor of the freelance life?

The fact that it’s all in your head.

What I mean by that is that to be a successful freelancer or independent creative, you’ve got to have your brain in the game. And I don’t mean just for the knowledge of your industry – though obviously that’s important.

I’ve read dozens of blogs and articles about how to organize your time by setting timers, calendar notifications, or special apps. The same with organizing your budget to having an irregular income stream. Again, these are vital skills if you want to be a freelancer or otherwise self-employed.

But few people discuss the mental aspect of all of this. The organization and discipline really starts in your head. Continue reading

Writing Historical Fantasy

What is historical fantasy? Well, in my mind, historical fantasy is just what it sounds like: historical fiction with a fantastical twist. Just like contemporary fantasy or urban fantasy has a present-day setting but features magic, monsters, and other elements of fantasy – historical fantasy is the same, but just using a time and place from history as the setting.

Right now I am writing historical fantasy – specifically I’m writing dieselpunk or decopunk, stories set in the 1920s, but with magic and some advanced technology. I’m doing a lot of research, but I’m also doing a lot of world-building from scratch.

Here are some tips that I am applying to my own work, and that I think are important to consider if you want to start writing historical fantasy: Continue reading

Worldbuilding Tips: Where to Get Ideas

Many people ask me where I get my ideas. That’s always a tough question to answer, but today I’ll share some tips on where I get ideas for worldbuilding. I hope these help you to create alien creatures, futuristic technology, magic spells, new cultures, and all the trappings of building a world.

Build on Common Tropes

I wrote this post a while back about being unoriginal when creating fantasy creatures. There’s a reason that so many fantasy stories feature dragons and dwarves and goblins. And yet, the dragons and dwarves and goblins are different in every story, every world, every sub-genre. There are as many ways to add unique elements to the old standby of “large fire-breathing dragon” as there are people to write the stories. Don’t discount the old traditional classics as a great jumping-off point for original ideas.

Build on Real Things

In this post, I discuss two examples of stories that use real animals as fantasy races. Like the previous point, there’s a lot of value in starting with something familiar and then adding your own creativity to it. Whether you’re creating a race of armor-wearing polar bears, or a dystopian sci-fi world where dolphin and whales have advanced beyond humans, there’s a ton of inspiration in the real world all around. Continue reading