Category Archives: On Writing

Writer’s Digest May/June 2016

Writer's Digest May/June 2016

Writer’s Digest May/June 2016

Now arriving in mailboxes, on newsstands soon. The web issue includes articles on:

Building your platform with your blog
How to build your email list
Best practices for Twitter and Facebook
101 Best websites for writers
Interview with novelist Rainbow Rowell
Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Award winner
Plotting and Pantsing
Meditation and writing
Agent Emma Patterson
Breaking in
And more

$6.99 retail, $2.50 via 8-issue subscription
72 pages
May/June issue on sale until May 30, 2016
Writer’s Digest website

NaNoWriMo 2015 win

Completed the first draft of the first two parts of a four part series today. Racking up 50,300 in wordage by day 30 of National Novel Writing Month 2015 qualifies for the win. With success in 2008 and 2012 (CampNaNo) that makes me a three-time winner. Congrats and thanks to writing buddies Leslie, Dave, Jeff, Sam and of course, the stealthy Cinma. Onward to part three!


Writer’s Digest, January 2016

Writer's Digest, Jan. 2016

Writer’s Digest, Jan. 2016

Write Your Novel in 2016
The Machinery of Desire The most compelling characters are driven by conflicting desires. Here’s how to use that yearning to pull all the right parts of your story in motion. by David Corbett
Rewriting the “Rules” of Dialogue Understand why and how to break these 7 common rules about writing dialogue, and you’ll write more effective, nuanced, and engaging character conversations. by Steven James
Power Tools It’s not the size of your writer’s toolbox that matters—it’s how you use what’s inside. Become proficient with these 2 tools, and you can fix most any story problem. by Elizabeth Sims
Novel Writing from A to Z Staring down the first blank page of your novel-to-be can be daunting—but any hesitation stops here. Our A to Z guide of expert tips, inspirational advice and helpful hints will walk you from Page 1 through The End. Compiled by Baihley Grandison & Tyler Moss
Interview: Jojo Moyes For proof that resonating with readers is what matters most—and that “overnight success” is often a whole career in the making—meet Jojo Moyes: one of the hottest yet humblest writers on the world stage today. by Jessica Strawser
Literature With a Splash of Lime Plan your next vacation around one of these Caribbean literary festivals, and enrich your writing life island-style. by Joanne C. Hillhouse

Plus: Writer’s Workbook, Inkwell and Columns

Writer’s Digest Website

NaNoWriMo 2015

nano_logoI’m starting NaNoWriMo today. This is my third time, and past successes in 2007 and 2013 (Camp NaNo) gives me some confidence going into this year’s marathon. After two novels (first drafts) and several dozen short stories I self-identify as an outliner. I’m more prepared for this NaNo than the previous and fully intend to meet or exceed the 50,000-word finish line. (Warning: I may post progress reports here or on Facebook.)

If any writers out there in the virtual world want to buddy up my handle in NaNoLand is “Krauss.” Thus far, Sam Gafford (lordshazam) is on-board—thanks man!


Big-Finish-The-frontBouchercon panel discussion, October 8, 2015
The Mysteries of Plotting, Narrative & Voice (paraphrased notes)
James Hall (moderator), Sandra Balzo, Sarah Ward, Wallace Stroby, Sharan Newman

How do you plot your stories?
SW: I started with the premise, then wrote what I thought might have happened. The rewrite was a big project!
SN: I like writing with the 12th century as the setting, it’s easier than a modern setting.
WS: Planning the heist is difficult, involves a lot of research. The fun part of writing is the other stuff.
SB: I like writing character and dialog more than plotting. I start with a premise and with the characters in book. Who will be the victim? Who will be murdered? My editor told me, the character has to solve her own problems, rather than looking for outside help.

What about research, or other advice?
SW: Try to keep the mystery going as long as possible. You can add clues along the way in the second draft.
SB: I do tons of research and get many ideas along the way.
WS: You have to be careful, research can be a rabbit hole. What people remember about Chandler’s stories is Marlowe, not the plot.
SN: I started writing after I was laid off. Took me six years to be published. I have to write myself into a book. I make notes of what to research as I go along.
SW: Get a good editor.

Describe your writing process.
WS: I keep notecards—aim to write vertically not horizontally.
SB: Sometimes not knowing where you’re going is better than knowing.
SW: The only failure is when you quit.
SN: Get the bones down, a first draft of only 20 or 30 thousand words. Flesh it out in the second draft. I love editing.

Your final thoughts?
SN: It’s really all about voice, my stories bring out a braver, brassier me. Characters are composites of real people—more interesting than most real people.
SB: For historicals, make sure your characters speak in their era, be careful not to use contemporary idioms.
SN: Humor comes out of the situation characters are in.
WS: When writing is going well, you’re coasting. When it gets difficult, it’s probably slowing the pace of your story as well.