Craft Screenwriting


National Novel Writing Month 2012 (aka NaNoWriMo or just NaNo) starts in just over a week: November 1st! This will be my fifth year doing NaNo, and hopefully my fourth win. I’ve been slacking on my fiction writing this year, but am really getting back into things now. I’ve got the third book in The Steam and Steel Chronicles nearly done (I’ll be starting on revisions to the fourth likely after NaNo). And I’ve got two ideas I’ll be working on during NaNo.

I’m doing something a little different this year: I’m going to be a NaNo rebel! I’ll be starting the month working on a screenplay: The Difference Between Flying and Falling (hereafter known as TDBFAF). The title was actually taken from a NaNoWriMo “Adopt a Title” thread. TDBFAF is going to be about two people who deeply love each other. But just because they’re absolutely in love doesn’t mean that they have it easy, or that they don’t hurt each other. In fact, I think because they’re so in love, they maybe hurt each other more. It’s going to be a super-low-budget feature, with only a handful of characters and a couple of sets.

Now, since screenplays usually only run 13,000 – 19,000 words, I’m obviously going to need to do more than just one project to reach 50,000 words before December 1st. That’s why I’ll be working on a novel after TDBFAF is complete. The novel will be titled Music For the End of the World (another title I lifted from the same “Adopt a Title” thread, hereafter known as MFEW), and will be post-apocalyptic sci-fantasy. I’m pretty excited about this one. It’s an idea that just came to me as I was reading through the adoption threads on the NaNo forums. It’s kind of a mix between Firefly, Mad Max, Tank Girl, and The Road. Read More Gearing up for NaNoWriMo 2012!


I’m approaching the revision process for the last two books of The Steam and Steel Chronicles, and thought I might share my revision process, as it stands now. It’s based on Holly Lisle’s One-Pass Manuscript Revision process (I highly recommend reading that post before you finish this one—go ahead, I’ll wait), though I’ve made a number of tweaks to it that fit my own way of writing and revising.

A couple of points before I begin, though:

  1. One-pass revision is probably not going to work well for first-time novelists or first-time revisers. If you’ve never revised a novel or if this is your first novel, you’re almost certainly going to need to do more than one pass. That’s okay.
  2. You need to figure out what method works best for you. If you prefer to go over your manuscript ten times, then that’s fine. Personally, I don’t. My goal is to continue writing new things, and get the old things as perfect as is reasonable in as little time as is possible. That means 1-2 revision cycles, tops.

So, without further ado, here is my method: Read More My Take on One-Pass Manuscript Revision


I spend a lot of time on writer’s forums (probably more than I should). Absolute Write is one of my favorites, as are the NaNoWriMo forums until they die out sometime around the holidays (they don’t actually die out, but they do become a lot less active). I’ve been active on various others at times, too.

I enjoy writing forums, and I enjoy interacting with other writers. Especially since I work at home and have very little interaction with the outside world on a daily basis. But there are some questions that get asked on a recurring basis, with slight variations each time, that kind of bug me (maybe it’s just because I’ve spent way too much time on these forums, and so it all seems a bit repetitive to me). Read More Repeat After Me…


After reading this post over on John August’s blog, about what his writing routine is, I thought I might write the same kind of post to detail my own writing habits. I write for a living, both blog articles and copywriting, as well as do some blog editing. On the side, I write novels, novellas, and screenplays. I’ve also written two non-fiction books.

When and Where Do You Write?

I start my writing day sometime between 7:30 and 9:00 every morning. I’m most productive when I get to my desk before 8:00, but that doesn’t always happen. The bulk of my work writing is done at my desk. It’s a giant wooden desk I salvaged from the magazine where I used to work, and was used by my late editor. I like to think that it has good vibes left over from him.

I start with email and checking social media. Then I usually get down to researching whatever it is I need to write for the day. I usually start out with some kind of outline, even if it’s just a handful of bullet points, and then I get down to actually writing. Many posts I can finish in a single day, though some take longer. Books are a different story entirely.

I break for a quick lunch sometime between 11:00 and noon. I’m usually back at my desk within about 20 minutes, and sometimes I even eat at my desk. Then it’s usually back to work until 2:00 or 3:00 at least. At that time, I usually take a break. Sometimes I have errands to run, while other times I just watch a little TV or take a walk. Depends on the day. I’ll work for another hour or two before dinner (we usually eat between 4:00 and 5:00), and then, depending on whether I finished my work for the day or not, I’ll either go back to my office for a couple more hours or I’ll bring my laptop into the living room, and either do more work or spend time doing other things online.

My fiction writing is mostly done either first thing in the morning, on breaks during the day, or just before bed. Read More My Writing Routine


This is one of those things I keep hearing from writers, all over the internet. And I have to say that it drives me crazy. Fucking crazy.

There is a time and a place for swearing in writing (and in real life, I might add). Not every character you have is going to swear like a trucker. But some of them might. And if that’s what they would say in real life, then that’s what they should say in your book. Doesn’t matter if what they’d say is “fudge” or “motherfucker”. If they’d say it, it’s your responsibility as a writer to write it. Read More “Swearing is a Sign of a Small Vocabulary”


NaNoWriMo officially starts in less than three weeks! I’ll be participating again, this time hopefully finishing up the third and fourth books of The Steam and Steel Chronicles. I feel like I’ve finally got some plot issues tied up in my head, so I can move forward with it. The thing is, when I wrote the first two books last year (for NaNoWriMo), I didn’t really have an overall story arc in mind. I just sort of threw everything in there and waited to see what stuck.

So now I’ve got all these potential plot threads that need to be tied up in the third and fourth books (I’m thinking those will finish the story, though I’m also planning a short story or two that will take place between books one and two). I’m not one to just let things go unanswered, and I want to make sure that things people liked in the first two books are featured again in the third and fourth books, without being shoehorned in. I’ve got them all figured out now, though, so I’m eager to get writing again!

But I wanted to put together a guide for surviving (and even winning) NaNoWriMo. I’m hoping it will be useful whether you’re a NaNo veteran or a first-timer. Read More My Guide to Surviving NaNoWriMo


New and old writers alike are often stopped in their tracks at the mention of The Demon Writer’s Block™. Every time they have a hard time writing, they fear it’s the beginning of The Demon Writer’s Block™ and that their writing career is effectively over.

I once claimed that I had The Demon Writer’s Block™ for six years. SIX YEARS! And it’s true that for roughly six years I didn’t really write anything. But that wasn’t The Demon Writer’s Block™. It was due to other factors, including that I just wasn’t putting in the effort. It’s that whole BIC (Butt In Chair) strategy that I just didn’t get at that time.

Now, just because there’s no such thing as The Demon Writer’s Block™ doesn’t mean that there aren’t reasons why you’re having a hard time writing (or why you can’t write at all). But we’ve built The Demon Writer’s Block™ up into this mythical being, a metaphorical demon binding our hands, preventing us from getting anything done at all. And that’s not the case. In fact, there are two relatively mundane things that contribute to so-called “writer’s block”. Both are, more or less, manageable once you’re aware that they exist.

So, what are these two all-powerful things that can control our writing productivity (if we let them)? Read More Repeat After Me: There’s No Such Thing as Writer’s Block