Writing Tip: Research the Obvious

Let’s say you’re writing a scene in your story, a scene that takes place in a beauty salon. Now, if you yourself have spent 20 years working in beauty salons, maybe you can write that scene off the top your head. But if you’re like most of us, you have only passing exposure to life […]

Yay! Juvie Fantasies and Major Online Writing Course

As of May 1st, prices are going up on Holly Lisle’s online career-survival course for novelists. Update: I’m just going through the first couple of walkthroughs Holly has so far added to How to Think Sideways. And all I can say is, “Wow!” Two important announcements that Holly Lisle posted on her blog last week: […]

Discovering Character Secrets from Your Relatives!

Much of the time, we treat relatives as obligations: “Yeah, but what can you do? He’s family.” This year, during the holiday break between December 25 and January 1, the kids and I and Grandma and Grampa piled into a rented minivan and trekked 7 hours to southern New Jersey… where the aunts and uncles […]

Character Ideas Through Substitution

Here’s another way to generate character ideas. Substitute one reaction for another. We all tend to make our characters behave like ourselves or like people we know. So let’s say I’m a computer geek who tends to be shy and reserved, except when I’m talking about computers. Then I’m talkative and outgoing. They say, write […]

Better Character Ideas: Throw Two Away

Here’s a simple way to generate better character ideas, or story ideas of any sort. This isn’t so much a source of story ideas as a way to improve existing ideas. You can do the same thing with setting, plot, or whatever story idea you need. It’s exceptionally simple. Just throw the first two ideas […]

A Necessary Step to Creativity

The brain is a marvellous thing, the most complex organ in the human body, and the most important for everything we do. Why do we so often treat it like a drill press? During my years as a software engineer, I’ve seen more brain abuse than I care to think about. (How’s that for irony?) […]

Where to Get Character Names

After all my bellyaching about how little character names really matter in the grand scheme of things, here are some of my favorite on-line sources for character names.

How to Handle Too Many Ideas

Keep an idea journal. For your stories, for your blog or podcast, for your business, for your personal development, keep an idea journal. It’ll help you in more ways than you might expect.

Where to Get Character Ideas

I’ve discovered a new source of character ideas, at least for me. Anyone can get ideas in the same way, even if not from the same source.

The Secret to Naming Characters

This is something that pops up from time to time on the writing boards: How do you choose names for your characters? Writers are desperate for a magic formula, a secret for coming up with perfect charcter names. Well, I have it.