Category: On Writing

In Search of Perfection and Nitrous Oxide

I think I wrote the perfect paragraph today. It was short but concise. It had imagery, emotion, depth, universality. The rhythm of the words was so exquisite it hurt. The prose flowed exactly as it should; it could be no other way. There may even have been a whiff of Proust’s madeleines about it. Which is completely inappropriate, because I head-wrote it…


Just What Do You Mean By “Etchings?”

Over on FaceBook, a writer friend shared the link to “Get Rid of On-the-Nose Dialogue Once and For All,” an excellent piece by K.M. Weiland about improving dialogue through subtlety and subtext. The article reminded me of this RSA Animate video, an animation of a short talk by psychologist and linguist Steven Pinker on indirect communication. For writers, “Language as a…

White Rabbit

We’re All Mad Here

Wednesday, after two and a half years of work, I graduated from Seton Hill University’s MFA in Writing Popular Fiction Program. For some ungodly reason (at a Catholic university, no less) I was appointed class speaker. What follows is my commencement speech. It’s longer than my usual posts, but I hope you enjoy it. As for me, I’m going to…

I Am (Not Only) a Camera

Point of View can make or break a story. As writers, we have a lot of decisions to make. Who will tell the story—or be our POV character. Will the POV character tell the story in first (I), second (you), or third (she) person? Do we need more than one POV? Writer and editor Jon Gingrich explains a few of…

Contracts: Ask for help

I’ve been reading a lot about the Permuted Press situation, all written by people with more knowledge of the situation than me, so I won’t comment on it, but—

As a type designer, I have done work on a royalty or advance plus royalties basis similar to traditional book publishing, and I have done work for hire in which I gave up all rights to the final work. Each time I did work for hire, I knew that was what I was doing and was well compensated for it.

Writers, if you are signing away all rights to your work for the life of the copyright (until 70 years after your death), you are effectively doing work for hire whether or not the contract uses that phrase. Please, before signing a contract, understand what you are signing, and if you don’t, seek advice from someone who does. (This is in no way meant as a justification of Permuted Press’s actions or an attempt to blame the victims. It’s meant as a cautionary plea. It’s a rough world out there. We need to protect ourselves and each other.)