Writing Advice

Help for Authors and Writers

Hello, and welcome to my Resources for Writers pages!

I am a professionally-published and self-published author with experience in a publishing company as well. Here you’ll find a collection of tips, tricks, essays, and general ramblings on the art and craft of writing. Where possible, I’ve used excerpts from books I’ve written or co-authored, to illustrate the ideas I talk about.

Much of the content here comes from answers I’ve written on Quora about writing. The essays and advice you see here are just a small sliver of what I’ve written about writing over there.

I’ve tried to organize this page in some semblance of order by subject, but, well...


The Craft of Writing

The process of assembling words to create tapestries of the imagination

Showing vs Telling
What does it mean to “show” rather than “tell?”

Characters Lost in Life
How do you write a character adrift in life, not on a mission?

Extending Scenes
Novice writers often find their fiction quite short, to the point of terseness, and also flat, lacking emotional impact. How come? What can you do about that?

Writing Realistic Characters
What makes characters seem authentic? How can you write characters that aren’t flat or one-dimensional, that feel like real, well-rounded people?

Writing Good Antagonists
Your antagonist deserves to be as richly realized as your protagonist

Inserting Humor
Almost any story can benefit from humor. But where does it come from?

Characters Being Controlled
How do you describe a character who is possessed, mind-controlled, or otherwise not in possession of his or her agency?

Describing Your Characters
When should you describe your characters? How? How much? What do you describe?

Writing Minor Characters
How do you create minor characters that still seem vivid and real?

Names, names, names!
What do you name your characters? How do you come up with names?

Choosing your tools
What word processor do you use to write a novel? How do you arrange your files?

Writing diversity
This one weird trick can make your writing more diverse without seeming tokenized

Writing credible science fiction
You’re a sci-fi writer who wants to write plausible, credible future tech. How do you do it?

Writing a novel
Sitting down to write a book seems pretty intimidating. How do you do it? Do you write an outline fiorst? Do you need to come up with the ending before you write? Do you skip around when you write?


Writing Dialogue

Hints, tips, and tricks for writing dialogue that flows well and feels natural

Writing Effective Dialogue
Tips for crafting dialogue that flows and moves the plot along

Writing Internal Dialogue
The mechanics, and reasons, for showing a character’s internal dialogue in your manuscript

Making Dialogue Interesting
How can you make dialogue engaging? What does engaging dialogue look like?

Dialogue Dont’s
Okay, talking about what you should do when you write dialogue is all well and good, but what are some things you shouldn’t do?

Exposition Through Dialogue
Why is it considered bad form to do your exposition through dialogue? Is it ever okay? How can you make it work?

Confrontation Through Dialogue
Some tips for writing dialogue of a confrontational nature

The Mechanics of Written Dialogue
What are the rules of written dialogue? What about situations where dialogue is messy, like when a character is interrupted or trails off?

Editing and Publishing

Editing and Publishing

Self-publishing or traditional publishing, tips on finishing your masterpiece

Publishing: What Do You Look For When Editing a First Draft?
So your first draft is done, and now the editing begins. Now what?

Publishing: Ten Things for Every New Writer to Know
A quick list of things that will help you go from novice writer to published author

Publishing: Why Should Self-Publishers Pay a Cover Designer?
There is a lot to cover design, and a badly-designed cover will look amateurish even if readers can’t explain why it’s amateurish

Identifying Scams, Cons, and Predators
The publishing business is filled with predators that will steal your money and your work. Here’s how to spot them

Book Design for Self-Publishing
Book design is hard. This will help you avoid some of the obvious pitfalls.


Miscellaneous Writing Tips

Things I couldn’t find a better way to classify

Inventing Languages
No, we can’t all be J. R. R. Tolkien, but what do you do if you need to invent a language?

Magical Combat
You’re writing a magical system for your world, but you want to make sure the magic doesn’t become so overpowered it completely dominates the world. How do you do that?

Writing Ethics Into your Novel
Fiction explores, and exploring ethics is just as valid as exploring anything else. How do you incorporate morals and ethics in your writing without being tedious?

Writing Sex Scenes
Yes, of course this is part of the writing toolkit. How do you write sex scenes?

Staying Motivated
Writing a book is hard work. How do you keep yourself motivated to stay at it?

The Stages of Writing
A bit tongue in cheek, but maybe not as much as you think

Revealing Your World
You’ve worked hard on your world. Should you start your novel with a chapter explaining it to the reader?

Improving as an author
If you want to write but don’t feel you have a natural proficiency at it, how do you improve your skill?

Using popular ideas without becoming derivative
I want to write a book set in a magic school for wizards without sounding like, you know, that other series set in a magic school for wizards. What do I do?

Writing disabled characters
How can I write disabled characters without coming across as tokenizing or offensive?

Writing Prompts

Writing prompts

Random input, random output

If you blow in my ear...
Part 1 of what turned out to be a multi-part series

Just Because We Had Sex...
Part 2 of what turned out to be a multi-part series

Admit it, you love me.
Part 3, in which he tries to convince her he isn’t smitten

We are the children of stardust.
A philosophical musing takes an unexpected hard-boiled detective turn

A packet of crackers.
The most innocuous things can turn into violent action thrillers

Envy is unbecoming.
It started as a philosophical discussion. It turned into future-gangland action

A hell of a drug.
Musing on the nature of loneliness

A perfect gift.
This started as a simple question: Describe a character looking for a perfect gift. It ended up in some weird, almost Neil Gaiman worldbuilding.

So yeah, I’m a gamer.
What started simple (“what might come after “so yeah, I’m a gamer?’” quickly turned into a weird, violent vignette about a cyberpunk underworld.