To Be a Writer

There’s a saying that “everyone has a book in him.” Since self-publishing has become so easy, quite a few people seem to be trying to expel it. During the month of November, hundreds of thousands of people signed up to write a novel during NaNoWriMo. The annual ritual of National Novel Writing Month began in …Read more

写作Fiction for US Adults

Writers of children’s fiction are constantly aware of the need to write with their readers’ reading level in mind. Writers of adult fiction—perhaps not so much. Technical writers agonize over the need to simplify product information and guidelines, but I suspect that novelists generally tend to assume that adult readers read at “the adult level.” …Read more

Color Symbolism in Writing

Advertisers pay a great deal of attention to the colors that go into their marketing materials. There’s even a branch of psychology that studies the way color can affect human behavior. Marketers use color to sell products—red to stimulate the appetite, pink to appeal to women, green for gardening and farming supplies, and so on. …Read more

Words to Describe the Way People Talk

If there is any one interest and practice shared by every human being on earth, it’s talking—usually to other people, but not always. Unsurprisingly, these 7.9 billion talkers possess numerous words for different ways of talking. Many speech words in English derive from other world languages, so the following collection is representative of more than …Read more


Every writer has had the experience of submitting a piece of writing in the certainty that it is free of error, only to find at least one embarrassing typo or other fault in it as soon as it has been published. Sometimes I could swear that the errors that survive numerous proofreadings must be the …Read more

A Drabble, a Dribble—Short Fiction by Any Name

Not too long ago, in the Before Times, when I still dared attend large gatherings like writers’ conferences, I experienced the delight of winning first place in the Flash Fiction category at William Bernhardt’s Red Sneaker conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I’d written the story sometime in the past, but had never done anything with it. …Read more

Naming a Character

The most unforgettable fictional characters begin as a glimmer in the author’s mind. Only in writing the novel does the character go on to acquire the dimensions that will make him or her live in the imagination of the reader years after the book has been read. Sherlock Holmes, Captain Ahab, Huckleberry Finn, Jo March, …Read more

Creative Writing 101

创意是什么房间g? Creative writing is anything where the purpose is to express thoughts, feelings and emotions rather than to simply convey information. I’ll be focusing on creative fiction in this post (mainly short stories and novels), but poetry, (auto)biography and creative non-fiction are all other forms of creative writing. Here’s a couple of …Read more

The Cozy Mystery Genre

As we are in the first week of NANOWRIMO—the yearly challenge to writers to produce a 50,000-word novel in the thirty days of November—an overview of the cozy mystery may be of use to participants who have chosen that genre as their challenge. The adjective cozy (Br. cosy) applies to people, places, and things. A …Read more

Can you write a book or a novel with speech recognition software?

You have a right to disagree with my previous post Writing with Speech Recognition Software. For many writers, dictating a book instead of typing it just doesn’t work. Maybe you can dictate faster than typing. But that doesn’t matter much if you can’t think faster than you can type. The speed bottleneck is often in …Read more

70 Dialogue Writing Prompts

For some writers, dialogue comes naturally. They find it easy to “hear” their character’s voices and they have the knack of crafting dialogue that sounds natural without trying to replicate all the “ums” and “ers” of actual speech. For many writers, though, dialogue can be a struggle. Maybe they don’t know how to get started, …Read more