Tag: writing advice

Video Saturday: #Writing Advice from Nalo Hopkinson (How to Write Descriptively)

Great video today on writing descriptively from Ted Ed by award-winning author Nalo Hopkinson. Hey, the fact this video starts with these lines…I was hooked.

“Her legs were noodles. She began to question her half culinary existence when she realized her hair was poison needles.”

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Video Saturday – Michael Connelly – Advice to Writers

Michael Connelly  is author of detective novels and other crime fiction.  The ones I’m familiar with feature LAPD Detective Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch and criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller. The latter is the main character in the 2011 film The Lincoln Lawyer with Matthew McConaughey (and is likely to become a new tv series as well.) 

His video and advice is short and sweet. 

You must keep writing and you must keep reading

 What is interesting and what I think might be a slightly more controversial point is that he says you MUST write every day.  I’ve seen some discussion from folks who have pointed out that there are folks with other jobs and families and other obligations.  They carve out time on the weekends and on many days, but not necessarily EVERY day.

So…”write every day”  True or untrue?

Video Saturday – Jackie Collins’ Advice to Writers

I couldn’t resist.  Video Saturday’s author is Jackie Collins.  Believe it or not, her books were some of the first “grown up” books that I read.  My parents had a few books on “their” bookshelf in the guest livingroom (the room no one ever used and us kids were forbidden, on pain of death, from entering). I remember seeing them there and wondering what kinds of books were there.  So one day,  I snuck in and pulled a book out to read.  I don’t remember which one it was, only that it said Jackie Collins on the front in big letters.  Did I get a surprise when I opened that book; I’d never read anything like it.  And can’t say that I have since, either. 🙂   And before you scoff, let me just point out that she has written 28 novels, all of which have appeared on the New York Times bestsellers list, and sold over 400 million copies.

Few Words – But 5 Minutes of Video from Stephen King

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I’ve been struggling of late (okay, most of the time) in my writing.  I’ve completed short stories and sold a few and then found myself struggling towards a novel.  I was thinking, “Okay, you’ve done the appetizer’ it is time to move on to the main course.”  But every time I tried, I failed.  And failed spectacularly, not even getting enough material on the page to constitute a complete short story.  So, it was interesting to hear a few words from Stephen King on this issue.

Points from the 5 minutes of video:

– Short stories are an art form in their own right.

– You can lose your ability/skill to do good short stories.

– A novel can be a quagmire young writers stumble in to before they’re ready.

– Good short stories are an art of miniaturization.


Unfortunately, I cannot find the full video on Borders’ Media site.  But at least this little bit gives me some food for thought…and some hope.

Quotable – @LAGilman

I’d been reading genre fiction since I was a kid. Loved it. Loved dragons and magic and fantasy and adventure and all of that “good stuff.” I spent most of my attention and thoughts on the stories and characters. As I grew older, I have to admit, my curiosity about the authors grew. And with the ubiquity of the internet, I discovered I could actually MEET these heroes (at least digitally). I could read about them and their lives; I could follow them; I could learn more about character motivations and the “behind the scenes” of the novels; and I could learn about the creators of those worlds. It was awesome. It still is awesome.

More and more authors are active online now. In some ways you could say it has become a requirement of the profession. So…in part-pride and part-shame (regarding my partial-author-cyber-stalking) I thought to have today’s “Quotable” come from probably the first author that I actively followed online – Laura Anne Gilman.

Laura Anne is the author of the popular Cosa Nostradamus books for Luna (the “Retrievers” and “Paranormal Scene Investigations” urban fantasy series), and the award-nominated The Vineart War trilogy from Pocket, as well as the forthcoming story collection DRAGON VIRUS. A member of the on-line writers’ consortium BookView Cafe, she continues to write and sell short fiction in a variety of genres.

Laura Anne Gilman Photo © 2009 Elsa M. Ruiz

Laura Anne Gilman Photo © 2009 Elsa M. Ruiz

I had discovered her more personal writing on LiveJournal and commenced following; and perhaps not so oddly our first interactions were about politics rather than writing.  Regardless, she was always gracious and polite and I had the great pleasure (after many years of following online) to meet her in person at Balticon (not 2011)…and get a book signed and share a drink while at it.   So with that introduction, let me put before you a collection of quotes from her online writing, blogging and tweeting that may be of interest to those seeking advice on writing.


  •  You sit down. You tell a story. You do it any damn way it comes out that works consistently for you. You hope people like it. You hope people pay you for it. You do it again. And again. That’s all I got. Zen and the Art of Writer Maintenance. You can cheer me on and I can cheer you on, but in the end? In the end it’s down to how you get your getting done, done. So get it done.


  • Idea + Plotting + Research + Word choice + Editing/revising = Writing.


  • The ability to create – to synthesize a new, meaningful reality – doesn’t appear out of thin air. It’s the pooling of everything we think and feel and experience, the observations that we’re not even aware we’re making… You’re looking for new experiences, both small (the taste of a new food, or a style of music you’re not familiar with) and large (learning that yes, you CAN [or can’t], jump off a bridge with nothing but a bungee cord to protect you, and all the emotions that come with that).


  • …we often don’t see the implications or undertones of our own work, caught up in the intensity of the writing. Not because we lost control, but because we gave control up to the part of us that delves into our brain and gathers the material we need to tell stories in the first place….Revisions are like that. Yes, you’re looking at the broken bits, sentence by sentence, chapter by chapter. But it’s also the chance to see the larger picture, sense the impact of the whole – not only on the characters but on the readers.


  • Writers work alone. Unless you have a co-writer, the actual writing of a story involves your brain, your notebook, and your keyboard, and that’s it.


  • Sometimes you need to learn


  • Conferences [are like] to going to the doctor, for your writing life: you’ll either get an “all clear, keep doing what you’re doing” or you’ll be handed a wake-up call about what you need to change, drastically, in order to get/stay healthy.


  • When is enough research, enough? …The advice I follow, and I gave to my writers for years was to treat it the way you would a meal. When you’re reaching the point of being comfortably full, when your body says “we’re done,” then put down your fork and stop eating.


  • Often we worry so much about getting the facts right, we forget that we’re also making it all up as we go along.


  •  Reading for pleasure is to the writer what muscles stretches are to the athlete: if you don’t, you’re going to hurt yourself.

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