Fiction My timeline is collapsing.

My timeline is collapsing.

Yesterday’s New York Times headline read, nay, screamed: Cyberattacks Put Russian Fingers on the Switch at Power Plants, U.S. Says  (NYT, 3/15/18) … And blew my fictional timeline to bits. The first Joe Mayfield/Louise Napolitani novel, Fatal Score, turned on the idea that a good technological development (gene sequencing and analysis) is borrowed to shore …

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Mechanics Pantser … or not

Pantser … or not

There are two approaches to writing fiction.  A Pantser writes from the seat of the pants. The writer lets the characters pull the story along. An Outliner (maybe we should say ‘Engineer’) lays out the story … the plot line … then begins writing.  So far, I’ve been a Pantser. My third novel has a …

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Fiction Plot Complexity and the Value of Regularity

Plot Complexity and the Value of Regularity

A fine Minnesota writer, William Kent Krueger, plans his mystery novels out in detail, I’m told.  He is well known for going to a diner each morning and writing.  His stories are detailed and coherent, and his prose is clear and finely balanced.  His Ordinary Grace won the 2014 Edgar for best novel.  Clearly, he …

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Fiction Cyberwar


Not long ago, a writer friend said, “You’d better get published quickly, or your concept will be part of history.” He’s right. Back when I got the idea for my first novel, Fatal Score, I thought there would be a future war in cyberspace. I guessed at the time (2011) that it would start with …

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Mechanics The Writing Paradigm

The Writing Paradigm

Ponderous title, no? The paradigm of writing has been one of my discoveries, the kind that slaps you upside the head and then laughs at you when you look back over your benighted stumble toward understanding and realize that it was always there, obvious. You were just too dense to see it. Webster’s defines paradigm …

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Fiction The Blasted Backstory

The Blasted Backstory

I took a great short course on backstory at the Cape Cod Writer’s Conference last week. Michelle Hoover, the teacher, is a fine writer (literary fiction – The Quickening) and knowledgeable instructor. I really needed the course. She remarked to us that we control some part … maybe 60% … of what the reader gets …

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Mechanics One Rule of Writing from South Park

One Rule of Writing from South Park

Great writing advice.  Not Aristotle’s Poetics.  Not E.M. Forster.  Not even Stephen King.  They’re great resources, but … TA-DA … South Park.  Great short interview with Matt Stone and Trey Parker in which they divulge their ONE RULE of good writing! You’ll like it.  Script writer, fiction writer, makes no difference … it’s good advice.  …

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Fiction The Pilgrim’s Progress

The Pilgrim’s Progress

When I started out writing Hack the Yak, I didn’t think about genre, length or plot.  Just an interesting story.  The characters pretty much wrote the plot as they developed.  I ended up with 127,000 words, a main plot, two subplots, and a trip through the country where the blues music I love came from.  …

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