Today LitHub starts a new series of questions for writers. Fascinating to see what top level concepts go into a book and where writers were in their lives when they produced a book.

How might you answer?

1. Without summarizing it in any way, what would you say your book is about?

2. Without explaining why and without naming other authors or books, can you discuss the various influences on your book?

3. Without using complete sentences, can you describe what was going on in your life as you wrote this book?

4. What are some words you despise that have been used to describe your writing by readers and/or reviewers?

5. If you could choose a career besides writing (irrespective of schooling requirements and/or talent) what would it be?

6. What craft elements do you think are your strong suit, and what would you like to be better at?

7. How do you contend with the hubris of thinking anyone has or should have any interest in what you have to say about anything?

Important message means powerful writing: abundance versus scarcity mindset

The fact is that the scarcity mentality and the perpetual warrior style it demands are incompatible with any civilized political creed.

This quote comes from today’s New York Times opinion piece by David Brooks. It exemplifies how a big thought yields powerful writing. His concept of the world shifting from a philosophy of abundance to one of scarcity is an idea of the times. A massive idea that makes for a deeply memorable short piece. Massive ideas packed into small spaces are the stuff of Pulitzer’s. How will your writing change how the world thinks — and sees itself?

Writing in Brazil about clichés and original ideas

O maior clichê sobre clichês é que eles não são originais e, por isso, devem ser evitados a todo custo. É uma afirmação cheia de boas intenções – como é característico dos clichés – mas que deixa de fora um ponto muito importante: todo clichê já foi uma ideia original.

How good is your Portuguese? Here is a great website full of more than 500 articles on writing, especially short stories.

Google Translate does a good job opening the door:

The biggest cliché about clichés is that they are not original and therefore should be avoided at all costs. It is a statement full of good intentions – as is typical of the clichés – but that leaves out a very important point: every cliché was an original idea.

Read the full article here and don’t let the Portuguese stop you.

Voicing great

One of my articles to have great voices in the comments. We can hear voice even in a piece of text so short. Is a voice agreeing, praising, questioning or defending an opposite view? Comments are a great example of diversity in voice. We all come from a different place.

The article is on voice and why writers need to develop one. How is your voice doing? What ever form it takes, you have to be ready to stand behind it.

Bar or cafe: Where do you prefer to write?



Who drank what where? Check LitHub’s tour of literary hideaways frequented by great authors. This list reminds us of how important ‘space’ can be to writers. Many authors advise picking one place. This encourages ‘getting into the flow’ – you know you are there to write and only to write. You also have the stuff you need around you (staplers, printers, window to look out of) and not what you don’t need (noise and the rest of the world).

Other authors can go anywhere and write. They like mixing it up and often don’t mind noise, in fact, commotion helps stir the creative juices.

Some authors pick based on mood and project. If an author is writing about a river, they might choose to write on the peaceful banks of one for inspiration.

Some author considerations are purely practical: you like a beer or a cup of coffee when you write. You want the possibility of running into friends. Or you don’t. You love the moment the door locks behind you in your home office. Or your ability to hang a million PostIt notes on the wall where you can always see them. Etc.

All of these preferences are right – if they work for you. Location is about empirically determining where you get the best work done on the tightest schedule so you can carry on to the next project — or have extra time to pop down to the cafe/bar. Multitasking if you are already there working.

Where do you work best? Which of these literary locations would you want to visit most? Have you visited any? More to suggest?


Are you more Utopian or Dystopian?

The word “dystopia,” in a divided time in America, is cool again. Cool, overused, and, at this point, abused.

A great article on the rise and rise of dystopian fiction and what it says about the state of society. From political rebellion to pop posters? Where to go from here?

We all have our views of the world, and most often what is of most interest is ‘change’. A fresh perspective, a different way of looking. Is it time for some positive envisioning again? Or are we just rolling over into submission?

like riding a dragon…

I can experience things I have been dreaming of for a long time, like riding a dragon…

Top German author Cornelia Funke writes to ride dragons. Isn’t the love of the new and unobtainable why writers write — and why we all read?

This quote is from an article on her top ten tips for writing fiction with ghosts.

There are so many similar lists from top authors – which is your favorite? Which writing rules do you swear by?