Brian Klems

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How to Write Novels About Faraway Lands

In explaining why he wrote his novels, the great writer Joseph Conrad once told his readers that it was so they could “glimpse the truth for which you have forgotten to ask.” These words no doubt resonate with many writers, but especially with those of us who choose faraway places and times for our...

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Writing Dystopian Fiction: 7 Tips

As the middleclass lives out the tale spun by Stephen King’s Thinner, we might find ourselves picking up a dystopian novel to relive our despondent youths. In other words, if you feel angry about the current political milieu, then you just might be a dystopian author.

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4 Approaches for the First Chapter of Your Novel

There are four primary approaches for beginning a successful novel. Probably more, including some highly experimental ones, but these are the classic main four. Run your story idea through the filter of each of these and see if one of them feels right for your book.

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From Proposal to Contract in Under a Week

For several years I labored in the agent fields, trying to harvest one for my book on helping doctoral candidates finish their dissertations. My approach, I was sure, was new, based on my longtime practice of coaching doctoral students and editing their dissertation drafts.

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Four Tips for Writing for the Romance Market

BY JESSICA BARKSDALE INCLAN After writing literary short fiction and then six contemporary novels, my then-agent told me to go henceforth and write a romance. A romance? I thought. Really? So when I decided to try my hand at romance, I learned a lot about writing in that genre. Here’s what I know...

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5 Moral Dilemmas That Make Characters (& Stories) Better

Readers can’t resist turning pages when characters are facing tough choices. Use these 5 keys to weave moral dilemmas into your stories—and watch your fiction climb to new heights. —by Steven James Key #1: Give Your Character Dueling Desires. Before our characters can face difficult moral decisions, we need to give them beliefs that...

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How to Destroy Your Initial Idea (& Make Your Story Better)

Pablo Picasso said, “Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.” I wasn’t there when he said it, and I have no idea what he meant. He may have been in a bad mood. But I’ve always thought the statement sounded pretty cool. It makes the creative artist seem powerful and iconoclastic,...

Must You Have a Room of Your Own to Write

I have long puzzled about the most effective place to write. If you too are in a quandary, or lament you have no writing spot to call your own, maybe this piece will help you enlarge your perceptions about your own physical and mental writing places, spaces, and times.

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Are Subjects Joined by And Singular or Plural?

Q: I’m writing a letter and am uncertain which sentence is correct: Your passion and commitment to my company HAVE inspired many, or, Your passion and commitment to my company HAS inspired many? —Carrie G. This kind of thing used to trip me up, too, as a subject with multiple nouns in it seems...