When Worlds Collide

When worlds collide you get great stories as explained in this beautifully written post by .

When Worlds Collide

Have you ever felt out of place? I’m sure. We all have. Meeting the new in-laws. An interfaith church service. Asking the price of a necklace at Tiffany’s. The ER. CIA headquarters in Langley. Strange environments where people are different.

One summer day commuting to work on my bike, I stopped at Sander’s Bakery on Lee Avenue in the Brooklyn neighborhood of South Williamsburg. A bakery is a bakery, right? Well, no. Sander’s is in the heart of Brooklyn’s vast Chasidishe, ultra-orthodox Jewish community. The shop was filled with men in long sideburns wearing black coats, Tzizit vests and beaver hats. Women wore wigs, calf length skirts and sturdy shoes. All spoke Yiddish. The shelves were brimming with challah, strudel, rugelach, kippelech, sufganiyot, Napoleon cake and cookies.

In my jeans, black tee and bike helmet, I stood out. Customers avoided my eyes. I am goyim. A non-Jew. An outsider, suspicious, not unwelcome but not welcome either. Cyclists have been attacked in South Williamsburg. To some, I would be less than human. Some, I knew, might believe that I literally lack a soul.

Read the full post on Writer UnBoxed.

How Steven Spielberg Handles his Villains

It is all about restraint, whether you are a writing a scary villain or sexy scene. Some things are better left to the imagination or hinted at – after all our minds are great at creating and filling in the details.

How Steven Spielberg Handles his Villains

By Steven Pressfield

Steven Spielberg loves to tease us with his villains.

He shows them only indirectly.

In the audience we see the effects of the Bad Guys’ actions, but we rarely see the malefactors themselves.

This is tremendously powerful because it makes us imagine what the forces of evil look like, and that’s always scarier than actually seeing them in blinding daylight.

Remember the scene in Jaws with the three yellow barrels? Our heroes in their boat (Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider, and Robert Shaw) harpoon the shark with cables linked to three huge yellow air-tank-like barrels. The barrels float on the ocean surface, enabling our hunters (and us) to see the shark’s movements from the boat even when the finned menace is submerged.

The great cinematic moment is when the three barrels go churning across the surface at high speed toward the boat, then dive under and come up on the other side.

We never see the shark.

But wow, how we imagine him.

Read the full post on Steven Pressfield!

A Look at Masterful Voice

It is human nature to compare ourselves to others, especially those we deem successful in their field. But what do you do when there is no one who writes like you do? Sometimes being the only person like you can be lonely, just ask Kermit. But it can also mean that you are unique in ways that are great, like Tigger or Aretha Franklin.  I friggin love C.S. Lakin in general, but this post is really good, about not losing what makes your writing yours. Don’t lose your voice.

A Look at Masterful Voice

by C.S. Lakin

I love talking about voice in fiction. I veer off from other “experts” in definition about voice. I believe that some people are referring to the writer’s style when they talk about voice.

Take a listen to what literary Donald Maass says about voice in Writing the Breakout Novel:

“I am looking for authors with a distinctive voice.” I hear that from editors over lunch almost as often as I hear, “I am looking for big, well-written thrillers.”

What the heck is “voice”? By this, do editors mean “style”? I do not think so. By voice, I think they mean not only a unique way of putting words together, but a unique sensibility, a distinctive way of looking at the world, an outlook that enriches an author’s oeuvre. They want to read an author who is like no other. An original. A standout. A voice.

Read the full post on Live Write Thrive!



Top 10 Words That Will Kill Your Writing DEAD

Oh-oh I am guilty of a few of these. However, In my defense I only use “however” in business writing. Now I am going to be extra careful none of these are used in my literary writing. It is a great post because by getting rid of these words you actually make your writing more active.

Top 10 Words That Will Kill Your Writing DEAD

So I read screenplays for a living, plus I spend a huuuuuuge part of my life reading FOR FUN (wtaf!), so I’ve discovered there are certain words that crop up again and again and again which threaten to TORPEDO writers’ narrative efforts.

I call these ‘crutch words’ (quiet at the back). Crutch words are those we may rely on in EARLY DRAFTS, which we need to seek out with a torpedo of our own and DESTROY in the edit process. Whether you’re a screenwriter or novelist (trad or self published), look out for these suckers …

1) ‘Suddenly’

The actual word ‘sudden’ means ‘quick and without warning’, so it’s especially ironic that including the word LITERALLY SLOWS THE ACTION DOWN. WTAF is the point?? Compare:

Read the full post on Bang 2 Write!

Quick Link: Sometimes You Have to Break the Rules on Social Media

Quick links, bringing you great articles on writing from all over the web.

I admit it, this post freaked me out. Committing to social media pushes my buttons and I need a lot of baby steps to get there.  On the niche site Social Media Just For Writers, guru Frances Caballo shares what she has found to be helpful in dealing

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Sometimes You Have to Break the Rules on Social Media


In the past, I’ve recommended strict rules about social media use.

Don’t argue politics. Stick to neutral topics. Be aware of your readers’ differing opinions.

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

I’ve not only broken my own rules, I’ve shattered them. Yes, you heard me correctly.

You see, during the worst fire in California’s history, which occurred in my community, a lot changed around here.

For one, the way I kept in touch with the majority of friends during this time was through Facebook.

How could I, in the face of many friends’ tremendous losses, post empty quotes and information about my blog posts? It wouldn’t have made any sense.

So I got down and dirty, so to speak.


Read the full post on Writers and Authors!

Quick Link: Write What You Know? Well, Not Quite

Quick links, bringing you great articles on writing from all over the web.

If you are writing non-fiction, write what you know is great. But even then you will get assignments that you will have to research.  Write what you know is great for new writers, to get them started but after that I have always questioned this particular idiom.  Writers and Authors poster, Jo Linsdell has some great thoughts on the subject for you to check out.

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Write What You Know? Well, Not Quite

Ever been to jail? Rome? A remote island off the coast of Argentina? Driven a tank? How are you going to take that experience and transform it into material for your novel?

One of the first things I had to learn as a writer is that simply retelling something as it “happened in real life” doesn’t cut it in fiction. I put that in quotes because I can recall writers in workshops responding to critiques by saying, “but that’s how it happened.” The trouble is, that’s great for journalism, or writing a memoir, but fiction has a larger requirement for voice, and voice has to be established from the start—long before the “true story” makes its entrance. And that voice is going to determine how that true story is told, and the events have to be true to the character that’s already been established. Why? Because in good fiction, character drives action, and the character I create may not have the same thoughts or react in the same way as the character in the event as it actually happened.

Read the full post on Writers and Authors!

Quick Link: Want To Win NaNoWriMo This Year? 7 Tips On Writing And Productivity

Quick links, bringing you great articles on writing from all over the web.

How are you doing with your NaNo words? Even if you are not writing with NaNo this year, everyone can use tips on writing and productivity all year round! So head on over to The Creative Penn and check it out!

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Want To Win NaNoWriMo This Year? 7 Tips On Writing And Productivity

Ready to take your writing seriously? Getting ready for NaNoWriMo and need some writing and productivity tips? 

I had a demanding day job when I did NaNoWriMo in 2009, but I was committed to the writing, so I got up every weekday at 5 am before work to get my words in.

Those words became the kernel of Stone of Fire, my first novel, and that month of writing changed my life. Now I have 15 novels and if I can do it, you can too!

If you need some help with writing or productivity, you can get 13 awesome books as part of the Storybundle NaNoWriMo special available for a limited time.

Here are 7 tips that I picked up from books in the deal. Click here to check out the Bundle.

(1) Schedule your writing time

Read the full post on The Creative Penn!

Quick Link: 5 Writing Tips: Harlan Coben

Quick links, bringing you great articles on writing from all over the web.

This is a short but good post at Publishers Weekly by bestselling author Harlan Coben. It amused me but still good words to write by.

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5 Writing Tips: Harlan Coben

Working off my Rule 3, I’m going to skip boring you with a long introductory paragraph and get straight to it:

1. You can always fix bad pages. You can’t fix no pages.

So write. Just write. Try to turn off that voice of doom that paralyzes you.

Read the full post on Publishers Weekly!

Quick Link: Should You Give Up On Your Novel and Write Something New? – by Janice Hardy

Quick links, bringing you great articles on writing from all over the web.

Usually, the problem for me is to ignore the shiny sparkly new story that is begging to be written, but I recognize that not everyone is as impulsive as me (thank goodness!).  So when is the right time to give up on a story and move to something new? Janice Hardy from Romance University has some tips to help you decide.

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Should You Give Up On Your Novel and Write Something New? – by Janice Hardy

How many unfinished and abandoned manuscripts do you have? Author and blogger Janice Hardy shares her insight on the dilemma all writers face.  

Right after my third novel was published (2011), I hit a bad patch of writing. My muse had gone vacation, every sentence I typed was a battle, and writing became a chore I dreaded. Although it felt like giving up, I shifted my writing focus to nonfiction until telling stories became fun again. Eventually it did, but it took years.

I wrote a lot of so-so novels during that time. Every single one had an idea I loved, but they need a lot of revising and overhauling to make them work, and I’m not sure if revising them yet again is a good idea or not.

Idea #1 frustrated me for two and a half years of revisions. Idea #2 took another two years of my life. Idea #3 was a NaNo project that actually made writing fun again, but then languished when I wasn’t sure what to do with it next.

I want to make these novels work. The stubborn side of me needs to make them work–it’s a grudge match at this point. But going back to them risks me falling back into that same bad patch of frustration.

The end of last year, I picked up Idea #3 again. It was the novel that reminded me why I loved to write, and the one that had the least emotional baggage attached to it. It needed serious gutting and revamping of both the plot and the characters, but the story was sound and the idea excited me.

Last month, I sent it to my critique partners and beta readers, and it’s getting the kind of glowing feedback I haven’t seen since I sent them my debut novel (The Shifter). I’m overjoyed, and it’s given me hope that those other two ideas are indeed salvageable.


Tips on Creating Reader-Friendly Books for Today’s Busy Readers

This post by Jodie Renner originally appeared on the Independent Book Publishers Association site in October 2014.

Today’s readers are much busier and more distractible than ever before. Their time is precious and fragmented, and they’re constantly bombarded with other demands on their attention. To grab nonfiction readers and keep them turning the pages of books you write and/or publish, it’s critical to make sure the writing is clear, concise, and vivid.

Here are some quick tips for you to relay to your authors or use yourself in revising the style and presentation of nonfiction to entice and engage readers. (Similar tips work for fiction, as you may be glad to know.)


Use a clear, chatty, reader-friendly writing style

Use casual language and everyday words for immediate comprehension and inclusion. Don’t be pedantic or preachy, and avoid pretentious, show-offy words and flowery phrases. You’re writing to inform and engage, not to impress. Your goal should be clear communication of your ideas and immediate comprehension of your points. And of course, never talk down to your readers.


Read the full post on the Independent Book Publishers Association site.


50 Tools That Can Improve Your Writing Skills

This post originally appeared on dumblittleman in May of 2007. a

Last year we posted a large list of tips aimed at improving your writing skills. Since then, the site that we referenced changed all of the links and our post was rendered useless.

That is until today. Rory Sullivan a reader of DLM, displayed some remarkable generosity (that he calls nerdishness). He took the time to update all 50 of the links and he asked that Dumb Little Man republish this great list. The decision was pretty simple for me because I actually use these sites as reference for my own writing.

So with that, here is the original list with the updated URLs. Before you start firing off emails to your customers or you embark on that eBook writing project, do yourself a favor and review.



Click here to view the full, linked list of 50 writing tip articles on dumblittleman.