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Writing

The Hack’s Guide to Killing Your Darlings

Warning: Hacks for Hacks tips may have harmful side effects on your writing career, and should not be used by minors, adults, writers, poets, scribes, scriveners, journalists, or anybody. Every critique session since the 1930s has included someone saying the phrase, “Kill Your Darlings,” and it must continue ever after, …

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Hiding Your Eyes From Edits?

An iconic promo shot from ‘Bird Box.’ That’s Sandra Bullock at the oars with Julian Edwards , left, and Vivien Lyra Blair. Image: Netflix ‘Don’t Open Your Eyes’ While I confess that I’ve been tempted to wear my #BirdBoxChallenge blindfold when editing other people’s copy, I was wide-eyed when Josh …

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How Writing and Submitting Short Stories Improved My Novel

Photo by Aftab Uzzaman If you’re writing a novel and are nowhere near the end, why spend time on short stories? Doesn’t that distraction delay getting to the end of the current draft, a moment that always feels months away? I thought so once. One year, I wouldn’t let myself …

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The Editor’s Clinic: The Limits of Editing

    One of the comments in last month’s Editor’s Clinic suggested that the piece I worked on should have been rewritten once or twice before the editing commenced.  (Incidentally, I’d encourage you to go back to that discussion.  At the time it went up, I was working to get …

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But I Won’t Do That: Sex and Revisions

Photo by Clint Mason Many years ago, I worked for Planned Parenthood as a sex educator. My primary work was going into the community and talking to people about things we most often think of as sex ed basics: sexually transmitted infections and birth control methods. Those are important issues, …

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Mathematical Equations of Perfection in Nature

Photo Credit: Pictoscribe – Fibonacci Math Nobody’s perfect, I thought by myself to myself, as I walked my mountain cove one spring morning. I am measuring me against me. The time of writing consistently and arrogantly and prolifically against the me now who watches her bank account as if it …

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Writing What You Don’t Believe

Photo “face time-2” by Albyn Davis No, this isn’t about writing dishonestly. Quite the contrary. I’m returning to a topic I’ve touched on before, but with a different slant this time around. Please bear with me. We live in an era of such extreme social and political division that if …

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Seeking Truth in Fiction

photo adapted / Horia Varlan A few weeks after my first husband’s suicide, when I was able to think again, one thought pulled me forward through the difficult years of recovery to come: I was meant to write about this. But how? Back in the late 90s, the memoir revolution …

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Fudging History: Is It Ever OK?

As a reader of fiction, I appreciate historical accuracy. A novel with a historical setting, whether that be Tsarist Russia or Feudal Japan or the South America of the Aztecs, can spring to life for the reader when the author has a genuine passion for the period and culture. To …

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The Different Types of Editing Explained

My last article, on the pitfalls of self-editing, provoked some discussion about the different types of editing. There’s certainly a lot of confusion around, and it’s not surprising. There’s line editing, copy-editing, developmental editing, structural editing, substantive editing, and then proofreading. Editors can hardly agree on exactly what’s involved in …

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