A Tale of Two Reviews

I don’t remember much about the classes I took in college. Four decades have come and gone, after all. But one of my favorites, a course on criticism, has stayed with me. One of the most important lessons is that criticism is about much more than personal taste. Saying “I liked it” or “I didn’t…
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The Obligation to Write

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Sometimes, when I read my old stuff, I don’t remember writing it. And sometimes I think it’s good. I’ll marvel at a particular word choice or phrase, pondering “Where the heck did that come from?” It’s a wondrous feeling, knowing I was in the flow at that moment, the mysterious lightning-in-a-bottle process in which we…
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Brian’s Top 10 Fiction Writing Tips

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Not one person has ever asked me for my top 10 writing tips. (Nine tips maybe, but not 10.) But if you think that’s going to stop me, you’ve got a horse of another thing coming. (See tip #6.) Most of these came from other people. I’ve tried to give them proper credit where I…
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Things happen when they’re supposed to

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Things happen when they’re supposed to. I didn’t make that up. In fact, it’s a cliché. But that doesn’t mean it’s untrue. I find it comforting when I start to think I should have written my first novel long before I did. All that wasted time, right? Well, no. One of the first things they…
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Quote This!

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I’ve been a fan of hard-boiled detective fiction ever since taking a noir class in college (easy A). So when a book reporter recently asked me about my favorite quote from a work of fiction, this one from Raymond Chandler’s “Farewell My Lovely” sprang to mind: “I needed a drink, I needed a lot of…
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Mr. Titleman

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I love naming stuff. Albums, books, movies, businesses, pets, you name it. (Actually, I name it.) My goal is to someday retire and get people to pay me for this. I even have a name picked out for the company: Mr. Titleman. While I’m waiting for the big bucks, here’s a list of titles I’ve…
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The Magic of Words

If you stop to think about it, writing is a mystical process. It starts with thoughts (actually, it starts with coffee) representing concepts, ideas and feelings. Thoughts, of course, are stand-ins for whatever’s going on in our heads and hearts. Then we take those thoughts and make them even more abstract by transposing them into…
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Fab Four

Earlier this year, Sirius/XM satellite radio launched a channel devoted to the Beatles. In between all the hits (collectively and individually), they sprinkle it with early demos, alternative tracks, rarities, live recordings, covers, interviews, forums and a whole lot more. It’s a great reminder of what made the Beatles so special in the first place,…
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Squash those wiggle words

Need kind of a quick tip to make your writing a bit tighter? Get rid of some of those wiggle words; you know, the words that tend to leave you an out? That perhaps make you sound less confident? That should pretty much do the trick. But seriously, folks. Here’s that same weak, flabby paragraph…
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Many Happy Rewards

As writers, we can go days, weeks or even years before enjoying the tangible benefits of our work. These benefits may come in the form of monetary compensation, positive reviews or simply a nice email from a fan. But what about the little victories that get us through the daily slog, the ones that keep…
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