Category Archives: Craft

The Importance of Exposition in Fantasy

The exposition…here we go…the exposition…what a show!

Ahem. Sorry about that, was channeling Mel Brooks for a moment.

Where were we? Ah yes, exposition. The bane of freelance editors and critique groups everywhere, because generally speaking, exposition is boring. In it’s purest form, it’s simply a way giving the reader information in the simplest, flattest way possible. No plot, no characters, no emotion–all the things we love about fiction are stopped dead so that the budding author-to-be can clearly explain everything he or she thinks you need to know about the cultural mores of his race of talking marmosets.

Continue reading The Importance of Exposition in Fantasy

Original Ideas Considered Harmful?

It’s an oft-repeated maxim in writing that good ideas are overrated: a good writer can make a good book out of an awful idea, and conversely, a bad writer will take a great idea and usually turn it an awful book. A common story, first brought to my attention by Brandon Sanderson, tells the origin of Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. To quote Wikipedia:

The inspiration for the series came from a bet Jim was challenged to by a member of the Delray Online Writer’s Workshop. The challenger bet that Jim could not write a good story based on a lame idea, and Jim countered that he could do it using two lame ideas of the challenger’s choosing. The “lame” ideas given were “Lost Roman Legion”, and “Pokémon”.

The moral of the story, aside from “don’t make bets with Jim Butcher ‘cuz he really takes that shit seriously,” is: don’t spend too much time worrying about whether your ideas are good or not, when you could be using that time to write (and thus becoming a better writer in the process).

Continue reading Original Ideas Considered Harmful?

Craft Book Round-Up: 250 Things You Should Know About Writing by Chuck Wendig

Chuck Wendig’s 250 Things You Should Know About Writing will always hold a bit of nostalgia for me. I was around a third of the way through my first novel when I stumbled across it on Amazon, and at the time I had never read anything about how to write–actually, it had never occurred to me that such books could exist. What clinched the deal was the price, 99 cents, and the pitch, which reads (in part): “Contained within are things you should know about plot holes, self-publishing versus legacy publishing, “on-the-nose” dialogue, story versus plot, metaphors, copy-editing, killing darlings with a claw hammer, cursing like an undead pirate, and generally being a cranky and irreverent creative type.”

Continue reading Craft Book Round-Up: 250 Things You Should Know About Writing by Chuck Wendig

On Showing vs. Telling

“Show, don’t tell.” That phrase we all love, or love to hate. But despite its near-ubiquity wherever advice on writing is peddled, I’ve noticed on the various critique and discussion boards I frequent a fair amount of confusion about what showing and telling are, and even some outright resistance to the whole idea of distinguishing one mode of storytelling from another. What follows is my attempt to explain my current thinking on the subject; as always, earnest discussion of all sorts is welcomed.

Continue reading On Showing vs. Telling