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Fact or Fiction? How Novelists Can Blend Factual Research with Creative Storytelling

man studying ground

Today’s guest post is by author Jack Woodville London, whose new book A Novel Approach, just released:

Readers who have some passing knowledge of literature might be startled when in reading The Three Musketeers they encounter a passage in which D’Artagnan refers to Gulliver’s Travels. The dilemma is that The Three Musketeers is set more than a hundred years before Jonathan Swift wrote about Gulliver. Alexandre Dumas got it wrong.

On the other hand, no one came nearer to getting it right than Patrick O’Brian. His seafaring novels highlight practices of gammoning and warping the futtocks, details that tend to overshadow the writing that brought such terms our way. The Three Musketeers is undeniably a classic; The Wine Dark Sea is the subject of much (unfair) criticism for burying a good story in unnecessary historical details. Continue Reading…

Why Cinematic Technique Is Essential for Novelists

eye with camera

This week I’ve released my new writing craft book Shoot Your Novel, which I feel offers writing tools that are not taught by any other writing instructors. Those of you who have been following my blog for a while may have gone through the whole course last year, post by post, and if you have, I hope you have learned some very new approaches to writing fiction.

Why should writers learn new approaches? Aren’t the “old” approaches time-tested? Don’t they work?

They do. However, times have changed in some very significant ways. The primary way has to do with the type and deliverance of media in our modern world. Sol Stein in his highly regarded book Stein on Writing said, “Twentieth-century readers, transformed by film and TV, are used to seeing stories. The reading experience for a twentieth-century reader is increasingly visual. The story is happening in front of his eyes.” This is even more true in the twenty-first century. As literary agent and author Donald Maass says in Writing 21st Century Fiction: “Make characters do something that readers can visualize.” Continue Reading…

An Author’s Advice to Literary Agents

woman blowing on book

Today’s guest post is by writer Cara Sue Achterberg.

I sometimes feel as though I have read hundreds, no thousands, of articles written by literary agents filled with advice for wannabe writers. I’ve even trekked thousands of miles to hear them tell me that same information in person. When I can’t make it in person I listen to podcasts while simultaneously playing Solitaire. I’ve logged so many hours I can now play Spider Solitaire with two decks—and win!

At this point, I think I know all there is to know about how to artistically grovel to agents. But I’m wondering if agents know all there is to know about how to treat wannabe writers? Sure, I realize they hold all the cards in this potential relationship, but I think they could stand to read at least one article about the proper care and feeding of those of us vying for their attention. Continue Reading…

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