Authors Want to Know: What Is a Chapter?

the chapter size and length train by gordon longWhen the minions sit around the gruel pot chewing the crunchy bits, sometimes we get going on the esoterica of writing, subjects like, “How long is a chapter?” is it all right to use ‘alright’?” Or, more appropriate, given the food intake in this joint, “How do you spell ‘diorhhea’ ‘dihorhea’ ‘diorhea’… ‘the trots?”

When it comes to the length of a chapter, I think that’s a bit of a red herring. It’s not how long the chapter is; it’s what the chapter is there for. We break our writing into sentences, clauses and phrases for specific reasons, usually to do with conveying meaning. Likewise, we break novels into chapters.

Why? Continue reading “Authors Want to Know: What Is a Chapter?”

Writing Tip: Another Set of Words to Trim

HAIRCUT (002) indies unlimited writingI wrote an article here a couple of years ago suggesting ways to tidy up shaggy writing. It’s been a while, and perhaps it’s time for another trim.

Everyone has a list of words and phrases you should “never use.” Many of these are not specific taboos. They are just loose writing that could be tightened if you recognize the symptoms and want to try harder.

Here are a few words and phrases you might consider adding to your private list. Note that I have found all of these at one time or another in a “real” book, and often while I’m polishing my own work. Continue reading “Writing Tip: Another Set of Words to Trim”

Genre Writing is Like Playing Jazz

JAZZ BOOKS (002)You have to try a new genre in order to find out what genre writing is all about. I did that recently, and here are some thoughts that resulted.

My Story

I have been a Sci-Fi fan since I was about 10 years old. I cut my teeth on Andre Norton, Robert Heinlein, and Isaac Asimov, so the genre runs deep in my subconscious. But I have never written a Science Fiction novel.

So in the depths of the winter of 2018, when we had no snow and no sun and I was heavily submerged in Seasonal Affective Disorder, I decided to make a change. I would write some Sci-Fi. Nothing fancy. Just a fun Space Opera, with spaceships and artificial intelligence and…well, I decided to keep it simple and have no aliens. I was just starting out, after all.

A Warning from Another Art Form Continue reading “Genre Writing is Like Playing Jazz”

6 Types of Writers and How to Edit Them

WRITERS_DOGS (002) courtesy of pixabay.comWriters, did you ever wonder what those editors were saying about you as they sat around the gruel pot fighting over the crusty bits? Well, I was kicking back at the off-leash doggy park the other day, and I noticed a distinctly familiar topic of conversation: relationship problems and how to deal with them. This post is to give writers and editors an idea of how the other half thinks.

The ideal relationship between a writer and an editor is when either one of them can say pretty well whatever they want about the manuscript, and the other will react to the comment as if it was a comment on the manuscript. And only the manuscript. I’m sure you know what I mean.

This does not always happen. Let’s look at a few points along the spectrum of interaction. If you’re an editor, just enjoy this. If you’re a writer, try to figure out which of these apply to you. Both of you think about how it affects your relationship. (For this post, the generic masculine pronoun has been used to protect the guilty.) Continue reading “6 Types of Writers and How to Edit Them”