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Posts Tagged ‘writing’

#IWSG–My Writing Style Doesn’t Work

05 Mar

writers groupThis post is for Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group (click the link for details on what that means and how to join. You will also find a list of bloggers signed up to the challenge that are worth checking out like Kate and Rebecca who inspired me to begin). The first Wednesday of every month, we all post our thoughts, fears or words of encouragement for fellow writers.

This month’s insecurity: What if my style of writing just doesn’t work for the genre I selected?

I have been writing for about 17 years. I started as a fiction writer (had no idea what my genre was), took some classes. Got excited about writing as a craft. I thought it was something I could be passionate about for a lifetime so I wrote a novel. It wasn’t well received. That didn’t stop me. I kept writing and submitting and filing. Write. Submit. File rejection letters. Repeat. Being a smart person, I figured out this wasn’t going to pay the bills so I started writing tech-in-education articles, books, stuff. That worked well. I seemed to have found a good balance of layspeak and tech for lots of people.

But I kept writing fiction, now focused on thrillers. Still I write. Submit. Get rejected. Repeat.

I’m starting to wonder if my writing style doesn’t work for fiction. I’m organized, almost methodical. I like approaches like the Marshall Plan that tells me how many scenes my characters should be part of (not to say I follow it all the time. I like being a rebel). I create my draft in Excel so I can add rows, ideas with alacrity, then convert everything to Word. I probably have all the required pieces of a novel, but I wonder if I’ve organized out the passion. Emotion. Little surprises that just happen and make readers come back.

Don’t get me wrong–I’ve had some success. A first place in a writing competition. Quarter finals in ABNA. I even had an agent for a while… That’s another story. People I respect swear it’s the Universe being quirky, not me being hopeless. I’ve tried quitting, but I’m back at it within weeks, like an addict. I know people who quit smoking and their rough period starts when they quit and continues till they die. Is that what being a reformed writer would be–”Hello, my name is Jacqui and it’s been ten days since I edited my novel…” I get the shakes thinking of that.

Still I wonder. If I self-pub will anyone read? Will I be among those ‘Indie authors who embarrass the profession’? Yikes–I’m depressing myself.

How do you handle this sort of worry?

More IWSG articles:

Am I good enough? Does it matter?–#IWSG

Fear of Saying Dumb Things Scares Me to Death

#IWSG–The World is Changing–Can I keep up

Will I Find Employment if I’m an Older Job Hunter?


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. In her free time, she is editor of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.

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Am I good enough? Does it matter?–#IWSG

08 Jan

writers groupThis post is for Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group (click the link for details on what that means and how to join). Once a month we all post our thoughts, fears or words of encouragement for fellow writers.

My insecurity this month: Am I good enough? Does it matter? By whose measure? At what point in time? Charity inspired my thinking back in October–and I’m still insecure about it!

Becoming a writer should carry a warning label: Beware–dangerous terrain ahead. As writers, we’re always breaking new ground. We write stories no one’s ever read about people who don’t exist. We have no idea if they are intriguing enough for Joe Reader, but we have to put them out there. It’s like wearing a red hat because it feels good (in my case, a black Ugg hat). You have to be ready to stand out, ignore the people who whisper behind hands that you don’t fit in. You must NOT care while you paint a positive face no matter that everyone sports suits and ties–or evening gowns.

I have had mixed success with my writing, making me wonder–am I good enough? The story I wrote years ago from my soul–about early man’s struggle to survive a world where s/he wasn’t king, based on the infamous Lucy–was of no interest to anyone. Agents rejected it. A preview on Scribd got few readers. Serializing it on my science blog (Sizzling Science) went nowhere. I should give up, shouldn’t I? Any sane person would. It’s clear the biography in my head resonates with no one.

But I can’t. It doesn’t matter that no one feels about Lucy as I do. I’m writing her story because I must. Though she lived 1.8 million years ago, she’s me. In fact, her experiences, emotions, thought processes, are so autobiographical, I’m going to rewrite the book in first person. When it’s done, I’ll self-pub.

By any measure, I should not waste the time. I should move on, leave Lucy to be remembered solely by a few ancient bones and artifacts, but my muse won’t allow it. I’ve been writing Lucy for 15 years and I’m not done. I’ve written two other fiction books and over a hundred non-fic, and I still can’t let her go.

In this one effort: I am good enough. No one cares as much as I do to eulogize Lucy’s long-lost life so she is not forgotten. I can do it. I hope when I’m done, I can rest.

Do you have a story like that you can’t let go? That speaks to your soul, your essence?

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Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, a freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and monthly contributor to Today’s Author. In her free time, she is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.

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End-of-year tech tips: Back up Your Computer

16 Dec

Tech Tips for Writers is an occasional post on overcoming Tech Dread. I cover issues that friends, both real-time and virtual, have shared. Feel free to post a comment about questions. I’ll cover it in a future Tip. Today: How to prepare for the new year:

Q: I’ve had some virus problems and it reminds me that I need to back-up my computer for the new year. I have all of my writing on there–what if I lost it? What’s the easiest way?

A: There are many ways–and I use all of them because I am truly paranoid about losing my work. Here are some ideas:

  • use a back-up service like Carbonite. They automatically and continuously backup to the cloud so even if you forget to do this, they don’t. Even better, you can access your work from anywhere with an internet connection. I love that.
  • email copies of your most important writing to yourself. For WIP, I do it constantly. Every day. If you use Gmail, you can email up to 20 mb. If your file is larger than that (which some of mine are–and my RTFs definitely are) just upload them to the Google Drive associated with your Gmail.
  • Use Windows Backup function. Here’s what you do:
  • Click the start button.
  • Go to Control Panel
  • Select ‘Backup and Restore
  • Select ‘Backup Now’

From there, you’ll select a drive with sufficient space and start. Be forewarned: If you have a lot of data, it takes a while. You can work on your computer while it’s backing up; it’ll just be slower.

A note: This is the same location you’ll go to restore from back-up if you have a problem.

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Subscribers: Your Special is Available

07 Nov

Subscribers to Ask a Tech Teacher get a free/discounted resource every month to help their tech teaching.common core

This month:

10% Discount on new Common Core Book

How to Achieve Common Core with Tech is a five-book series that focuses on using technology to meet particular strands of Common Core standards–Language, Writing, Reading, Speaking/Listening, and Math.

Over and over throughout the 150+-page Common Core roadmap to educational reform, it’s clear the 21st Century learner requires technologic proficiency—digital dexterity to fuel the ‘college and career’ engine. One example: Common Core assessments will be completed online—only possible if students use technology as comfortably as paper and pencil to demonstrate knowledge. To accomplish this requires a seamless integration of technology into classroom curricula.

This series makes that happen. You see how to use computers, websites, tablets, graphic art, infographics, web widgets to scaffold what you already teach–easy-to-understand tech tools, no more complicated than the iPads and manipulatives you already use.

Each lesson includes

  1. Common Core standards addressed
  2. NETS-S Standards addressed
  3. Vocabulary used
  4. Time Required
  5. Grade level recommended and suggested background
  6. Essential Question
  7. Big Idea
  8. Materials required and teacher preparation
  9. Step-by-step directions
  10. Help with tech problems
  11. Extensions—how to differentiate and dig deeper

5 books, 3 out now, 2 next year. Here’s the run-down:

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#IWSG–The World is Changing–Can I keep up

05 Nov

writers groupThis post is for Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group (click the link for details on what that means and how to join. You will also find a list of bloggers signed up to the challenge that are worth checking out like Kate and Rebecca who inspired me to begin). The first Wednesday of every month, we all post our thoughts, fears or words of encouragement for fellow writers.

This month’s insecurity: I don’t know if I can keep up with the changes going on around me.

By this time in my life, I had hoped to be thinking of retiring from a life-long job I enjoyed and found satisfaction from (vested in their retirement plan). I’d have a close group of friends who understood me, allowed me to be me no matter what the question. We’d bounce ideas around, each respecting the thoughts and conclusions of the others if not agreeing with them. I’d be wondering what to do with my retirement years.

None of that happened. I’m nowhere near settled enough to retire–and if I did, I have no corporate retirement plan. I’ve spent so much time working 2-3 jobs, I never found time to cultivate a nurturing group of friends who keep my head straight (thank God for my husband). The world is radically moving from the self-reliant, help-thy-neighbor community I have always respected and relished. There seems to be too much ‘let the government take care of things, not me’. My natural bias for action is losing to a need to rest a little bit rather than take on another Big Job. My children are grown and happy in their lives–doing a good job being adults. I love them dearly, but they have a bigger world now than mom and dad and the dog. The state of the economy has pretty much put the last nail in my retirement coffin–stock market collapse, housing market collapse, Social Security going bankrupt, Medicare in tatters (depending upon who you listen to), Obama’s Affordable Care Act anything but (well, that’s the rumor. Time will tell…).

What I do have is my brain. My momma promised that was the one thing no one could take from me–my knowledge–and again she appears to be right. It’s still chugging along, rolling through these problems, searching for solutions. This is a process I can’t stop–never have been able to my entire life. I’m a problem solver whether I like it or not. When friends ask a casual question, “How can I do…”, I always come up with an answer. I’ll let you know what I work out this time.

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Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blog, IMS tech expert, and a monthly contributor to Today’s Author. In her free time, she is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.

 
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NaNoWriMo — Oh No

04 Nov

novel writingNational Novel Writing Month–affectionately nicknamed NaNoWriMo–started in November 1999 as a fun way for twenty-one friends to encourage each other’s novel writing by publicly committing to write 50,000 words in thirty day.

And then NanoWrMo grew up. November 2011 logged 256, 618 participants and 36,843 winners (defined below in the rules), penning 363,082,739 words. As in 363 million! The tagline–thirty days and nights of literary abandon–couldn’t be more true. Novels are to creative writing what road trips are to driving. In any month but November, they take from one to ten years to complete, exhaust the writer and infuriate those close to them who don’t understand how fictitious people can be so gal-darn fascinating. Writers–and some estimates say 80% of us believe we have a book inside our brains trying to get out–who commit put everything else in their lives on hold as they go full bore to see how many words they can pen. An online ezine I write for has excused all NaNoWriMo writers from submitting articles during the month of November.

Some make it, many don’t, but everyone comes out believing the challenge helped their writing. At least, judging by the glowing reviews on blogs like this.

Here’s what you do to join the fun (from NaNoWriMo’s website):

  1. Sign up for the event by clicking the “Start Here” button at NaNoWriMo.org
  2. Follow the instructions on the following screen to create an account.
  3. Check your email for the account validation email and click on the link included.
  4. Log into your account, where you’ll be prompted to finish the sign-up process.
  5. Start filling out information about yourself and your novel in My NaNoWriMo.
  6. Begin procrastinating by reading through all the great advice and funny stories in the forums. Post some stories and questions of your own. Get excited. Get nervous. Try to rope someone else into doing this with you. Eat lots of chocolate and stockpile noveling rewards.
  7. On November 1, begin writing your novel. Your goal is to write a 50,000-word novel by midnight, local time, on November 30th. You write on your own computer, using whatever software you prefer.
  8. This is not as scary as it sounds.nanowrimo
  9. Starting November 1, you can update your word count in that box at the top of the site, and post excerpts of your work for others to read. Watch your word-count accumulate and story take shape. Feel a little giddy.
  10. Write with other NaNoWriMo participants in your area. Write by yourself. Write. Write. Write.
  11. If you write 50,000 words of fiction by midnight, local time, November 30th, you can upload your novel for official verification, and be added to our hallowed Winner’s Page and receive a handsome winner’s certificate and web badge. We’ll post step-by-step instructions on how to scramble and upload your novel starting in mid-November.
  12. Reward yourself copiously for embarking on this outrageously creative adventure.
  13. Win or lose, you rock for even trying.

Testimonials like this one are pretty common:

It’s pretty much the weirdest, craziest, and most nerve wracking thing you can do. Dedicate a whole month to writing a novel. For fun. And yet thousands across the world have been doing it for more than ten years. That means sitting down at a computer and pounding out almost 2,000 words every single day, for thirty days straight. The result? Maniacal laughter. Frustration and repeatedly asking yourself why you ever signed up to do this in the first place.

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5 Ways to Write Like Your Hair’s on Fire

07 Oct

writingI’m a very organized person. I like everything in its place, ducks lined up, no chance of interruptions, then I can get into my writing. I couldn’t find that sweet spot until my children had moved out because until that point, I’d drop anything when they needed me. I still do, but as adults, those times are more rare.

These days, I get a lot of writing done. My office is perfectly arranged. I have two monitors; one shows my writing, one my research. I have four back-up drives automated so I don’t worry about losing work. I have a fan I can turn on if it gets too hot. I have shelves of books right behind my chair–I swivel and I can find the description of Mt. Kilimanjaro I need for an article. To my left is a glass of ice tea, more a crutch than a thirst quencher. I was going to put a baby frig in a corner, but my husband sold it to a neighbor! Now, getting a snack is a mental break. My Labrador Casey regularly visits, or lies outside the door, keeping an eye on me.

What sets my hair on fire is deadlines. My modus operandi is to take on as much as I can until it’s too much, then I scramble to finish it. As a result, I’m always hurrying to finish one writing job so I can get to another. We could psychoanalyze why I do that, but today, I want to share how I manage to accomplish it:

  • I write everything as though I have a deadline that must be met. Think fast. Organize fast. Get ideas down and edit. Then, move on. I trust my skills. I hope I’m better than my inner muse thinks I am.

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Will I Find Employment if I’m an Older Job Hunter?

04 Sep

writers groupThis post is for Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group (click the link for details on what that means and how to join. You will also find a list of bloggers signed up to the challenge that are worth checking out like Kate and Rebecca who inspired me to begin). Once a month we all post our thoughts, fears or words of encouragement for fellow writers.

This month’s insecurity doesn’t sound like a writing insecurity, does it? Bare with me. I’ll get you there. I went to a get-together at the home of a writer friend, Diana. I thought we were going to talk about blogging–all of us getting our struggling blogs going, following each other, in a mutual rising tide sort of thing. But it didn’t work out that way. We got distracted (though I think Diana planned this). We got to talking about our jobs, careers, futures. Everyone sitting there was over 60 and had been booted from a job with Big Business (one was Barnes and Noble, another a teacher, a few were a while ago and they were still looking for that next opportunity). There was amazing talent in that room–writing, sales, IT–and still we all wondered if anyone would take a chance on us. Mostly, we decided no, no one would, so we’d have to do it ourselves.

We had good reason to believe we were on our own. Arleen Bradley over at Career Coaching wrote this:

Some company recruiters … discriminate against the unemployed in hiring. Resumes submitted through the big board sites and career fairs drop to the bottom of the pile never to make it to the top because these resumes are thought to come from the unemployed and the unemployed need not apply.

She shared terms used by recruiters when considering an unemployed applicant (as opposed to those gainfully employed):

  • lazy
  • apply for any available job whether or not their skills match the requirements
  • submit unprofessional resumes
  • can’t follow simple directions
  • haven’t kept up with the changes in their field and their skills are rusty
  • rude to people below the hiring managers’ level
  • stalkers

That didn’t describe a single person in the group I was with. Every one of them was struggling, eager to work, ready to be creative about where their next dollar could come from. They were researching, learning new skills (like blogging), helping each other. Does that sound lazy or incompetent?

And Arleen understood that:

…that is not the case in most situations now. Many people were laid off because their entire department was eliminated, their jobs were sent overseas, or the company folded.

Which is where blogging came in. My group of writers would create blogs to start our Next Big Career, to promote ourselves, using the beneficence of social media as the engine for our paycheck. We would share our resources, see what happened.

But what if nothing happens?

Now, I’m pretty upbeat so I choose to take the upside of this abyss and call it an opportunity. In fact, my small group is a microcosm of what I see going on all over the country. Older people are going self-employed. They’re refusing to be beaten down when traditional job paths kick them to the curb and tell them they’re finished. They aren’t finished. They’ve only just begun. They’re networking, reaching out through blogs to others, offering their skills for free or fee, and doing it with energy, alacrity, cerebral panache. Most sixty-year-olds will live twenty more years, way too long for most retirement funds. Older workers are ready and willing to create a patchwork of revenue sources, stitched together from being a WalMart greeter, an Examiner.com columnist, and a self-published author on Kindle. This is what gives headhunters nightmares. Older workers aren’t looking for that fulltime job that pays six figures. They’ll take their expertise, tested skills, track record of accomplishment and put it to work for themselves, in their own business.

Which is where insecurity pokes its nose under my positive tent: What if it doesn’t work? What if my friends (and maybe me) put a lot of work into something that fails? What if they spend the finite asset of their energy and enthusiasm on an idea that can’t be monetized enough to carry them through to a social security check that my never arrive?

I just tore off another fingernail at the prospect. I better get back to my writing. I KNOW I won’t succeed if I don’t finish my current WIP.

BTW, anyone interested in starting an online 60+ group?



Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blog, IMS tech expert, and a monthly contributor to Today’s Author. In her free time, she is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.

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9 Tips for Mystery Writers

05 Aug

mysteryWho doesn’t love a good mystery? Pitting your wits against the master sleuth, seeing if you can outthink a Sherlock Homes wanna-be, figure out the answer before they do? Who needs Brain Games when a talented mystery writer is out there?

So when you go to the bookstore in search of a mystery to wile away the weekend hours, do you also check out thrillers? Aren’t they kinda sorta pretty much the same?

Truth: Mysteries often get confused with thrillers. They’re both plot-driven, action-oriented, fast-paced with a dramatic climax, but there are differences:

  • The generally accepted difference: In a mystery, you’re trying to solve a crime that’s been committed. In a thriller, you’re trying to prevent a crime from being committed.
  • In a thriller, you’re waiting for something significant to happen. In a mystery, you’re trying to figure out why it happened
  • According to Donald Maass, a thriller must have a believable plot that’s also incredible. Mysteries just need to be clever
  • According to Alfred Hitchcock, thrillers are about suspense and mysteries are about surprise (I’ve liberally rephrased his thoughts, but this is the essence)

If you want to write mysteries, here are some tips for doing that well:

  1. problem solving is central to plot and characters
  2. many characters are suspects or have traits that are suspect
  3. clearly describe the setting, providing clues that are carried through the story
  4. details are critical. Subtle details are best
  5. sprinkle clues throughout the story
  6. have distractions from the primary plot
  7. the solution must be supported by clues provided throughout the story
  8. each character should have some flaw that makes them look guilty of murder
  9. own G.K. Chesterton’s oath required of each member in the British Detection Club: “Do you promise that your detectives shall well and truly detect the crimes presented to them using those wits which it may please you to bestow on them and not placing reliance on nor making use of Divine Revelation, feminine Intuition, mumbo jumbo, Jiggery-pokery, coincidence, or Act of God?”

That’s it. I’d love to hear from mystery writers–what do you consider critical to creating compelling mystery novels?



Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blog, IMS tech expert, and a monthly contributor to Today’s Author. In her free time, she is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.

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32 Tips for Science Fiction Writers

22 Jul
science fiction

Science Fiction is not like writing a romance novel, or a thriller. You-all who claim this genre understand that. You are inventing a new reality. The story’s strength comes from being able to convince readers to accept your version as true–to willingly suspend their disbelief long enough to journey with your main characters.

Here are some tips (and in some cases, quotes–they all don’t share tips) from those who do it best. Let me know if you agree:

Isaac Asimov (author of I Robot and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

Isaac Asimov’s reputed writing tips revolved around paying attention to plot, vocabulary, and information. SOAP Presentations discusses these in more detail–I’m going to move on to something more fun. Here are seven quotes that will give you a better idea what Asimov considered integral to good stories (for more, visit Writers Write):

  • Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinder critics and philosophers of today – but the core of science fiction, its essence has become crucial to our salvation if we are to be saved at all.
  • I write for the same reason I breathe – because if I didn’t, I would die.
  • From my close observation of writers… they fall into two groups: 1) those who bleed copiously and visibly at any bad review, and 2) those who bleed copiously and secretly at any bad review.
  • Science fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not.
  • Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.
  • Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.
  • You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success – but only if you persist.

Ray Bradbury (author of Martian Chronicles and Farenheit 451)

I collected these from all over the internet, but Jim Denney at Unearthly Fiction has a massive collection you’ll enjoy:

  • Read intensely. Write every day. Then see what happens. Most writers who do that have very pleasant careers.
  • Stuff your head with stories, metaphors, poetry, Shakespeare, science, psychology, philosophy.
  • Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world.
  • Fall in love with movies, especially old movies.
  • Read dreadful dumb books & glorious brilliant books, & let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head.
  • I wish craziness & foolishness & madness upon you. May you live with hysteria & out of it make fine stories.
  • I have a sign by my typewriter that reads, DON’T THINK!
  • All of the good, weird stories I’ve written were dredged out of my subconscious.

Arthur C. Clarke (author of 2001: A Space Odyssey)

These, too, are pretty popular on the internet. For a long list, visit Writers Write:

  • End what you began!
  • Politicians should read science fiction, not westerns and detective stories.
  • I don’t pretend we have all the answers. But the questions are certainly worth thinking about..
  • The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
  • I don’t believe in God but I’m very interested in her.
  • I’m sure the universe is full of intelligent life. It’s just been too intelligent to come here.

Frank Herbert (author of Dune)

  • There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.
  • The gift of words is the gift of deception and illusion.
  • You don’t write for success. That takes part of your attention away from the writing. If you’re really doing it, that’s all you’re doing: writing.
  • The truth always carries the ambiguity of the words used to express it.
  • Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.
  • The function of science fiction is not always to predict the future but sometimes to prevent it.

Robert Heinlein (author of Stranger in a Strange Land, Starship Troopers)

A lot of writers don’t publish ‘writing tips’, but you can get a lot out of their words. These Heinlein quotes told me as much about doing my craft well as the shelves of books I’ve collected:

  • Don’t handicap your children by making their lives easy.
  • Always listen to experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done and why. Then do it.
  • If you would know a man, observe how he treats a cat.
  • In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it.
  • Thou art God, and I am God and all that groks is God.

What are some writing strengths Sci Fi authors do better than any other genre?


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a weekly columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blog, IMS tech expert, and a monthly contributor to Today’s Author. In her free time, she is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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