Archive for November, 2010

Author Interview: Sarah Domet

November 24, 2010

As National Novel Writing Month draws to a close, I hope some writers have a good start on a novel. It’s a great time to think about continuing your project or starting on your next one. Sarah Domet‘s new book 90 Days to Your Novel should be in stores any day now, and it’s a perfect for setting a schedule and getting your book written. I recently had a chance to ask Domet a few questions. Here’s some of what she had to say:

When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
I think I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer. I just didn’t know I knew. As a girl, I’d check out collections of poetry from the school library. I didn’t understand what I was reading, but I knew I liked the feel of checking out those books and reading them, even if they didn’t always make sense to me. When we were assigned book reports in elementary school, I’d read books like War and Peace, and hand-write 30 page synopses. (My ever-patient mother would then type these for me, asking me if I could, perhaps, shorten my summaries.)

As a kid, I struggled with shyness—big time. (My school nurse sent me to a speech therapist who asked me why I didn’t like to talk. I shrugged my shoulders in response.) Writing was my outlet. It should come as no surprise that my earliest stories featured me as an outgoing protagonist, accomplishing all of these amazing feats—saving lives, conquering outer space, traveling in time, and meeting world leaders.

What was the first thing you ever wrote?
Something exceedingly embarrassing. I think it was a science-fiction story about traveling forward in time, only to coincidentally meet my family in the future who, of course, sent me home with messages and warnings for everyone. However, the logistics of the story didn’t make complete sense. For example, when I leapt forward in time, my brother and sisters, well into their 30s/40s by then, were all still living at home with my parents. In the illustrations, the “future” family all wore matching one piece jump suits that looked right out of Mork and Mindy.

Click here to check out the complete Q&A with Sarah Domet at

Novel research tips: interviewing techniques

November 23, 2010

Researching your novel is important, no matter what genre you’re writing in. You want the characters and events you portray to seem believable, even if your story is the stuff of fantasy. Accomplishing this usually takes a bit more effort than just looking something up on Wikipedia. Sure the internet is a great place to start, but it’s a good idea to try some other sources as well. You may even want to interview some experts who might be able to provide insight into whatever you’re writing about.

Here’s an article about interviewing techniques from novelist Steven Harper (In the Company of Mind, Corporate Mentality). I’m currently editing Harper’s forthcoming book Writing the Paranormal Novel: Techniques and Exercises for Weaving Supernatural Elements Into Your Story (due February 2011). If you write science fiction or fantasy you should check it out.

Speaking of paranormal fiction, just a reminder about the Things That Go Bump When You Write panel I’ll be part of at February’s AWP conference.

Concept Defined

November 22, 2010

Ever find yourself wondering the difference between your story’s concept, premise, theme, and plot? At first blush these terms might seem like they all mean the same thing… but in terms of understanding how your story works it’s important to make distinctions.

I’ve been editing a book that helps. It’s called Story Engineering by Larry Brooks (author of of six psychological thrillers including Darkness Bound, Pressure Points, Serpents Dance and others). Brooks’s approach to story architecture hinges on what he calls the “six core competencies” of storytelling: the four elemental competencies of concept, character, theme, and story structure (plot); and the two executional competencies of scene construction and writing voice.

In this excerpt from the book he defines concept as a fiction writing element.

Read the excerpt here.

The Scene Defined

November 10, 2010

Any discussion of novel writing or storytelling in its many forms will at some point touch upon the topic of scenes. The word “scene” itself sounds so visual that it automatically brings up the question of the age old writing dilemma of when to show and when to tell. So, the real question is what makes a scene a scene? What elements of fiction writing need to be implemented to create a successful scene and how should your scene work within the context of your story as a whole?

Author Sarah Domet discusses these questions and more in this excerpt from her forthcoming book 90 Days to Your Novel: A Day-by-Day Plan for Outlining and Writing Your Book (due in December).

The article is a great discussion about constructing your scenes: the scene’s goal, what characters are necessary for the scene, what is the conflict, and how the scene works to forward the novel. It’s a great preview for a wonderful book. Check it out.


November 5, 2010

Thought it might be a good time for an update on all of the things I’ve been focused on as of late. Some exciting things going on.

  • In February I’ll be attending the AWP (Association of Writers & Writing Programs) Conference in Washington D.C. On Thurs. Feb 3, 2011 I’ll be part of the panel Things That Go Bump When You Write: Monsters, Myths and the Supernatural in Literary Fiction. Other panelists include B.J. Hollars, Bryan Furuness, Hannah Tinti, Laura van den Berg. The panel is at 10:30 to 11:45. If you’re there come check it out. I’ll be talking about things from my book Monster Spotter’s Guide to North America and also about a book I’m currently editing: Writing the Paranormal Novel by Steven Harper (this is a great book that I think will help anyone who’s interested in writing about monsters, magic, and spooky weirdness)
  • A few books I’ve been editing are nearing publication: 90 Days to Your Novel by Sarah Domet is due later this month–it’s a really great day-by-day plan for writing your book in three months. And Sage Cohen‘s The Productive Writer is due in early December–it’s an inspiring guide for writers that helps with everything from organizing your writing life to strategies for building your author platform… great stuff.

How to Be a Writer

November 1, 2010

Here’s a nice review for Barbara Baig’s How to Be a Writer: