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    Author, writer, reader, dog-person 

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  1. It seems like a sure thing, right? The fictional memoir of a scandalous, salacious, and ruthless Hollywood superstar couldn't help but be a bestseller, even if the titular character is invented. Filled with mansions, parties, fine wines, fancy foods, and enough big reveals to fill a year's worth of People Magazine, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was destined for the same greatness as its star character. Or was it? Obviously it's pointless to speculate about whether or not a book would be successful without a core aspect of its nature. But I believe that the thing that launched thi
  2. In the spirit of frankness, I'll admit that it took me a while to pick this one up. I'd seen The Midnight Library by Matt Haig on pretty much every 2020 list imaginable. The sales were through the roof, the 5-star reviews stacking up, and still I dragged my feet. What was the appeal of a story about a suicidal woman experiencing all the lives she didn't live? It didn't exactly sound like a crowd-pleaser to me. But eventually, I couldn't stand the suspense. I checked out the audiobook, cleared my weekend schedule. And was blown away. This story is an emotional, brilliant, heartwa
  3. It seems I'm with the consensus here. This video offers some solid, some not-so-solid advice. I agree with writing the rough draft fast (although one page a day? Seems too modest of a goal IMO) and getting to the end before tinkering. I can't count the number of writers I've seen take 2, 5, even 10 years to get to the end of their novel, always jumping back to re-tread ground they've already covered so they can do it "better" (despite the fact that there's no way to fix a story until you understand how it ends). I appreciate the idea of minimizing the giant into the tolerable, both in ter
  4. Like everyone above, I think there's something to be said for these tips. Basically, it boils down to writing in the clearest, most energetic way possible. There's a temptation among writers to lean into the "artistry" of writing in ways that detract from the story, which is never a good idea. Pretty prose can be a plus, but story is king, and aiming to convey that story in the most straightforward manner possible can help new writers get out of their own way. However, I'm not sure I'd use this video as any kind of training tool. I think it's "rules" aren't great as a foundation and shoul
  5. Sweet is in the title! In the past year there has been an enormous call for escapist, feel-good fiction. Is anyone surprised? Whatever one's background or inclination, 2020 was quite the ride. I think we all found ourselves looking for worlds and stories that would allow us to just get away, and this universal craving has, unsurprisingly, affected the market. Agents and publishing houses everywhere are hunting for exactly this: cheerful stories, with just enough substance to avoid outright frivolity, that encourage readers to forget their worries for 300+ pages. Are you looking to ca
  6. Is there a more classic story than man vs. nature? Yes, I admit, I caved to the hype and read (or rather listened to) Midnight Sun, the latest installment of the guilty-pleasure franchise that is Twilight. I'll also admit that I was one of the millions of teenage girls who read the original quadrilogy under the table during math class, breathlessly wondering whether Bella would end up with Edward or Jacob (the vampire and werewolf, respectively, for those who didn't partake in this pop culture juggernaut). At the time I was young, lonely, and as ill-fitting in teenage society as any book
  7. Writing a series is serious business! If you're a fantasy or science fiction fan, then few things are more classic than the trilogy arc. Dating back to Lord of the Rings (probably even long before that), there's something about the three-book structure that calls to the human subconscious. We like stories that break into three parts, that travel from humble beginnings to epic middle to explosive end, especially in genre fiction. And I've seen few modern trilogies as successful at this arc than Pierce Brown's Red Rising series. [SPOILERS AHEAD] Red Rising starts, as many boo
  8. I confess, I'm not much one for romance novels. My few early introductions into the genre were bodice rippers featuring Fabio's bulging pectoral muscles and a woman swooning beneath a bold-face title. Needless to say, I ended up squarely in the science fiction and fantasy genre, where at the very least the covers were more discrete. However, in the age of Kindle and cheerful cartoon cover designs, I decided to take another gander at what's going on in Romancelandia and check out Evie Dunmore's debut bestseller, Bringing Down the Duke. I am pleased to report that, while there was some bodi
  9. I thought this pretty solid advice! It's a bit of a rambly video and could have been done in a more condensed fashion, but her tips were a great place to start for a new writer. No complaints from me on this one. I suppose if I had to gripe, I'd say it's pretty common sense stuff. I did like her point about making sure you're learning from good people, since bad writing advice seems to perpetuate on the internet ad infinitum. We are obviously the good people here
  10. I agree with Michael, this was distractingly theatrical. Kind of ponderous and self-important, to be honest. I think telling writers to be "honest" is the same as saying that they need to find their "voice," which is a true statement but not altogether useful for the writer learning their craft. Those sort of meta-skills just come from repetition, practice, and listening to feedback, and isn't something one can just wake up and start doing. The one useful piece of advice in here is to read like a writer, not like a reader. I agree with that, where if you're serious about the writing
  11. Good points Michael! You’re totally right on the originality of ideas. I was speaking in terms of archetypal stories (eg the hero’s journey) which have been done, but of course can be remade into endless new varieties, both high concept and not. Perhaps the way to charitably interpret her blunt advice is to embrace the creative remaking of old ideas and don’t waste time trying to reinvent the wheel? Familiar yet different is, after all, the root of most high concept stories. I agree though, this video did feel like it had a very specific axe to grind. More of a rant than con
  12. Oh dear, I think this will show how cynical I've become... I'll agree with Kara and Joe that she's pretty unpleasant and shrill in her delivery. I wouldn't recommend this video for that reason alone. But, at the risk of being the debbie downer of the group, I wouldn't necessarily disagree with her points. In my previous pre-med career, I had a physician tell me that if a person can be talked out of being a doctor, then they should be, because they won't have the fortitude to make it. Alas, I would apply the same advice to writing as a profession. Now, if you're writing as a hobb
  13. In the context of NaNoWriMo, I find this video to be a useful kickstarter for new writers looking to figure out how they're going to start page one. I especially like the idea of "types of progress" whether it be through information, physical movement, etc. While I do think Sanderson's "Promise, Progress toward that promise, and Payoff" structure is quite a bit oversimplified... [SEE BELOW]
  14. So I'll admit, I'm kind of a Green brothers fan. I find their YouTube channel charming and escapist. I also unabashedly loved The Fault in our Stars. It's like a melodramatic Titanic for teenagers and I was there for it. That said, I agree with Joe that this video might do more harm than good when it comes to giving writers advice. It sounds like Hank is (as we've been hammering on so hard here) a panster. From the way he described his process, it sounds like he sort of wanders through the story and sees where his interest (and the characters) take him. He's right that novels take time, b
  15. If you can write an excellent heist story, I can all but guarantee that fame and fortune will come knocking on your door. Everyone, and I mean everyone loves a well-constructed caper. Oceans 11, The Italian Job, The Thomas Crown Affair, The Lies of Locke Lamora, Mistborn, etc. The list goes on and on. As consumers of fiction, we love the feeling of the story shifting beneath our feet, of being outsmarted but reveling in the fact that we could have figured it out if we'd only been clever enough. Everyone knows the joy of a good twist, or a great mystery, and heist novels are chock full of both.
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