Book Review: The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Book Review - The Idiot

Title: The Idiot

Author: Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Genre(s): fiction, classics, literary, historical, Russian literature

Length: 655 pages (varies based on edition)

Published: 1868-1869

Rating: ★★★★★ Continue reading “Book Review: The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky”

3 Tips for Writing Short Stories

3 Tips for Writing Short Stories

Anyone who knows me knows that I love writing long novels, so it may be surprising that I also love writing short stories. That wasn’t always the case, however—in my earlier authorial years, I hated trying to condense my ideas into 2,000 words (the usual word limit for projects and contests). I even had a hard time when the word limit was bumped up to 3,000 or 4,000. But, slowly, my love for crafting short stories grew and helped me hone some skills that would have otherwise been forgotten in the sea of tome worldbuilding and plotting. Still, it’s tough to come up with a compelling idea that can be conveyed in only a few thousand words—how do you do it and do it well? There are three tips that have helped me over the years and that I hope will help you, too. Continue reading “3 Tips for Writing Short Stories”

How Much Should I Research for My Story?

How Much Should I Research

Every now and again, I ask my followers on Instagram for blog post ideas—not only does it help me when my inspiration is running low, but it helps me know what my fellow writers would like to see addressed. Well, today’s topic is one such suggested question: how much should you research for your story? The short answer is “I don’t know.” It’s very hard to quantify how much worldbuilding any author, much less story, needs. You’ll also get different answers depending upon who you ask; someone like me who loves worldbuilding will likely encourage you to do lots of research, while an author who focuses more on small-scale (micro-first) stories might tell you it doesn’t matter. However, that aside, I do have 2 tips that should help if you’re debating if you really need to read a book about 1500s England or spend half the day learning about space travel. Continue reading “How Much Should I Research for My Story?”

The False Dichotomy of Plot vs. Character

The False Dichotomy of Plot vs. Character

How often have you heard writers say “characters are the most important part of a story”? If you’re like me, the answer is often—and if you’re like me, you’d have had unidentifiable qualms with that piece of advice for quite some time. Perhaps it’s that I’ve long identified with being a plot-first writer, and it seems a bit unfair to focus so much on characters (and needlessly lament how hard plots are). But it’s only recently that I’ve determined what really bothers me about comments like that one: characters and plot do not exist separately from each other in actual stories. Yes, you can separate them during the brainstorming process, and there are benefits to that, especially in the case of a specific problem with one or the other. But in practice it’s harmful to view them as separate entities on opposite sides of a sliding scale, rather than two parts of the mechanics that make a story run. Continue reading “The False Dichotomy of Plot vs. Character”

How to Craft Perfectly-Paced Scenes

How to Craft Perfectly Paced Scenes

Now that I’m writing the second draft of my novel, I’ve been pondering the technical parts of story and prose—and, lately, I’ve been thinking about pacing. Generally speaking, I think I have a good grasp on how to pace my scenes, whether they’re full of action or dialogue or time jumps, but I know that’s a skill I’ve developed over a lot of time (and a lot of drafts) and still need to keep developing. And, just because I feel more comfortable with the pacing of my novel doesn’t mean there still aren’t times when I struggle to insert my protagonist’s inner dialogue into the prose in a natural way, or make tense dialogue short and snippy enough to evoke emotion. All prose-related skills take time and (lots of) editing. But I do think there are ways to help writers nail the essence of a scene on the first or second try, and that comes down to becoming aware of the passage of time and how action affects our senses. Continue reading “How to Craft Perfectly-Paced Scenes”