Blog

Every Client is Temporary

Tuesday, January 26, 2016
By Phil Elmore
Every Client is Temporary

There are writers, and there are working writers. A working writer is someone who makes his living writing to specification, on contract, by assignment, and so forth. In other words, he or she writes for clients. Most working writers would gladly trade the day-to-day grind of word counts, painful edits, vague outlines, and rougher-than-rough... »

Here’s to the Next 527,040 Minutes

Thursday, December 31, 2015
By Phil Elmore
Here’s to the Next 527,040 Minutes

As 2015 comes to a close, I have to say that I’ve learned a lot this year. It wasn’t my best year, but it wasn’t my worst. I had a little fun, I spent a lot of time working (and trying to catch up), and I face the new year with a mixture of... »

When Politics Get Personal

Friday, November 13, 2015
By Phil Elmore
When Politics Get Personal

Writers are an expressive lot, and like any group of human beings, they have politics. I am always a little surprised when an action writer is anything other than a conservative or libertarian, to be honest, but I recently found out one of the long-time writers of a series to which we’ve both contributed... »

Your Opening Is Weak

Friday, November 13, 2015
By Phil Elmore
Your Opening Is Weak

“Always grab the reader by the throat in the first paragraph,” said Paul O’Neill, “send your thumbs into his windpipe in the second, and hold him against the wall until the tagline.” It’s some of the best advice you’ll get when it comes to opening a novel. If your opening lines don’t grab the... »

You’re Not A Big Enough Thief: Writing Characters and Dialogue

Tuesday, November 10, 2015
By Phil Elmore

Characters are something I’ve always done well or, if not well, then easily. What I mean is that some authors spend a lot of time agonizing over both characters and character names. ┬áIf you have trouble with either, there’s a simple answer to the question, “Why do I struggle so much writing characters?” That... »

Word Count and Writers’ Conceit

Thursday, October 29, 2015
By Phil Elmore

If you know a writer who proudly tells you all about the massive word count of his latest creation, you are talking to an amateur. Words, in and of themselves, are not valuable. They only matter when A) you are being paid by the word; or B) your contract stipulates a minimum word count,... »

Your Special Little Friend, Profanity

Monday, October 26, 2015
By Phil Elmore
Your Special Little Friend, Profanity

How often should you swear? How often should your characters swear? Even among earnest authors telling serious stories, this can be perplexing. If you never use profanity, you may find yourself engaged in “Breakfast Club” editing, replacing terms that make much more sense with nonsense words. (The TV edit of Breakfast Club famously replaced... »

Stop Giving Bad Writing Advice

Thursday, October 22, 2015
By Phil Elmore

One of the regrettable side effects of a world in which anyone can publish any garbage straight to Amazon is the proliferation of “indie” authors. Now, mind you, I have nothing against independent authors as such. I am and have been one of them. Then again, I have nothing against “martial artists” as such.... »

No, You Won’t Be Suing Anybody

Monday, October 19, 2015
By Phil Elmore

Writers all hate each other. We’re all jealous of one another’s success and we’re all quietly convinced that another man’s paycheck comes at our expense. For most writers, there’s nothing more painful than hearing that someone like John Scalzi just signed a six-figure deal, because Scalzi’s also the sort of person who spends his... »

Your “Bestseller” Won’t Make You Rich

Friday, October 16, 2015
By Phil Elmore
Your “Bestseller” Won’t Make You Rich

A couple of years ago, Patrick Wensink, writing for Salon, admitted that his Amazon bestseller, Broken Piano for President, made him nothing. It didn’t make him rich. It didn’t even make him a comfortable sum in terms of a year’s income. It amounted to peanuts, to chickenfeed, to numerous other metaphors for a relatively... »