Backshadowing (foreshadowing in reverse)

Backshadowing (foreshadowing in reverse)

Allow me, if you will be so kind, to coin a new word. As authors, we’re trained to always foreshadow. This means we drop hints to the reader in advance—preferably three or more times—that something is going to happen. Why foreshadow? Mostly, to avoid deus ex machina. Foreshadowing can also strengthen your work because of plot doubling, a trick I use often. Plot doubling is a term I learned from David Farland. It happens when you use the same plot twice, but the second time is stronger...

Of words and word counts

Of words and word counts

Words. They are what we writers do, the end result of our efforts, the outpouring of our psyches. The quality of your words and the order in which they appear combine to make your final product, your story, your book. But this post is not about which words you use. This post is about the number of words. Book length When first starting out, would-be novelists are often perplexed to find that manuscripts are not counted in pages. After all, isn’t that what the end product is? Pages? But...

Skipping the worldbuilding

Skipping the worldbuilding

There are three primary things that go into making a novel: character, setting, and plot. The prewriting process is where you design out all of those things before you begin putting words to paper. Authors are all over the map on how exactly they do this. Brandon Sanderson creates detailed plot outlines and figures out all of his setting details, but discovery writes his characters. Many writers start with a strong character, but discovery write the plot. George R. R. Martin discovery writes...

Breaking the outline

Breaking the outline

Sometimes your characters say or do something you didn’t expect. Every writer falls into a spectrum between “architects” and “gardeners” (also called plotters and pantsers). On the left we have writers who thoroughly outline everything down to the scene (or even paragraph!) level. On the right, authors will come up with just a beginning, or maybe even just one scene or character, and see where things go from there. The distinguishing attribute is usually how you...

Writer’s block

Writer’s block

I just experienced, and conquered, my first “writer’s block.” Much has been written about the phenomenon, but I thought I could add my own experience and thoughts about it. Some writers will tell you that writer’s block doesn’t exist. This is in fact very good advice, because it encourages writers to stop focusing on the problem, and instead focus on the solution. Writer’s block does, in my opinion, exist, however. But it may not be what you think it is....