As You Know, Bob…

Nat RussoBasics 26 Comments

Psst. Yeah you. I’ve talked to Bob, and you’re pissing him off. He thinks you’re a pretentious know-it-all, and people are leaving the cocktail party in droves. They didn’t come here to listen to the same old stories. Oh bloody hell. That literary agent just walked out. You have any idea how hard it was to get her here in the first place?! Wait. You look confused. Ok, I’ll back up. If you’re a new writer, it’s possible you have absolutely no idea what I’m going on about. That’s ok. Because you are precisely the person I’m writing this article for. That’s an image of a HorribleWriteTip meme I created a while back and shared with folks on social media. It’s a joke, of course—see …

So You Want To Start A Blog

Nat RussoBasics, How-To, Platform 30 Comments

Updated January 24th, 2020. You know you want to. You’ve considered doing it for a while now, but something always stops you. Maybe you’ve already done it once or twice, but it didn’t feel right, so you swore you’d never do it again. It made you feel uncomfortable. Or worse, it turned you into a slave and you couldn’t handle it. All your friends do it, and they look at you funny when you say “I’m not judging, but I just don’t get it.” You’re tempted, but a trusted friend, teacher, or family member advised against it, and their words were powerful. No, I’m not talking about doing drugs. I’m talking about you wanting to start a blog! You’re right to hesitate. Blogging …

Serve the Story

Nat RussoBasics, How-To, Writing 23 Comments

Many of you who follow me on Twitter have seen this tweet that I send out periodically: It’s all about the story. When deciding what to cut, ask yourself: does it serve the story? #writetip Those of us who have been writing for a while have this ingrained in our DNA. Make no mistake about it, though. We didn’t start our writing career that way. Like any other element of the craft, this is something we had to learn over time. Writing is like a muscle. The more you write, the stronger you get. “Also, the Harry Potter novels are just fun, pure story from beginning to end.” – Stephen King on the Harry Potter series. Even Uncle Steve seems to be …

Eddie Izzard on Talent

Nat RussoBasics, Writing 21 Comments

[Update Jan. 5, 2021: I’ve updated the pronouns used throughout this article to be more consciously aware and sensitive to Eddie’s chosen pronouns. Please leave a comment if you happen to come across any I missed.] Many of you are aware that I had the opportunity to see Eddie Izzard in concert last week as part of her “Force Majeure” tour. What I didn’t mention on social media that night, however, is that I had the great privilege of attending a Q&A session with her after the show. Most of the questions that evening were the usual, non-professional interview type questions: What’s the one thing you’d tell your younger self if you could go back to the past? What inspired you to …

Point of View – The Basics

Nat RussoBasics, How-To, Point of View, Writing 31 Comments

Choosing the right point of view (PoV) for your story is the most important—and sometimes the most challenging—decision you will make before you begin the writing process. It isn’t a decision to take lightly. Through your story’s point of view, your reader will experience your world, your story, your characters, and your very purpose for writing the story to begin with. It’s a good idea to become familiar with the various point-of-view options before you set about creating your masterpiece.

Do Your Characters Have an Attitude?

Nat RussoBasics, How-To, Voice, Writing 10 Comments

There are few things more elusive in the craft of writing than the notion of “Voice”. But what many new writers fail to grasp is that “Voice” is far more than just what a character says. It’s about how they say it and how they feel about the world around them. In other words, it’s at least partially about their attitude. You have an attitude. You may not realize it, but you have one. I’m sure you’ve heard the words “don’t give me that attitude!” on more than one occasion. I’m willing to bet you’ve answered a question with a smile on your face, all the while concealing the seething rage beneath your calm exterior. Am I right? Of course I am! …

World Building: Magic Systems

Nat RussoBasics, How-To, Magic, World Creation, Writing 41 Comments

As a Fantasy author, the subject of World Building is near and dear to my heart. If you’re going to build a convincing fantasy world, you may be thinking about developing a magic system. In Necromancer Awakening (now available on Amazon), I went through a painstaking process to build a unique magic system involving “Life” and “Death”. While I was constructing a magic system based on necromancy, it occurred to me (in hindsight) that there are three things a writer should know before attempting this at home:

Eliminate Unnecessary Stage Directions

Nat RussoBasics, How-To, Process, Writing 27 Comments

One of the best directors of the twentieth century, perhaps all time, had this to say: Alfred Hitchcock was accused of many things in his day, but being “dull” was never one of them. The little dull bits known as “stage directions” that are cluttering your work are driving readers away. Let’s see how to avoid them.

Read Your Manuscript Out Loud

Nat RussoBasics, How-To, Process, Voice 32 Comments

“George, you can type this shit, but you sure as hell can’t say it.” – Harrison Ford to George Lucas. Harrison was saying that if George had taken the time to read Star Wars out loud, he would have discovered problems that reading it silently couldn’t reveal. I like his wording better, but let’s take a look at what we’ll find in our work if we take the time to use the spoken voice.