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Writer's craft

The Pedant: how to make your editor happy 6: What's all the fuss over hyphens?

What's all the fuss over hyphens?

President Woodrow Wilson once declared (heavens knows why) that the hyphen was ‘the most un-American thing in the world'. Observant readers will have noticed that he couldn't have said this (and no one could have written a report of his words) without a hyphen; thus perhaps proving that the President was blithely unaware of grammatical irony.  Read more

Ask the Editor 4: Why do I need you?

Why do I need you?

Ask the editor: Why do I need you?  Read more

Ask the Editor 3: writing a synopsis

Writing a synopsis

The synopsis is a strange document; it is at once the dullest, and perhaps the most important, part of the submission package. It reduces your book, your creative project, to a few lines of plain, unadorned narration; yet it allows a publisher to see the book as a whole, to get a feel for the narrative arc and the development of the plot.  Read more

Ask the Editor 2: the submission letter

The submission letter: practice and pitfalls

Your submission letter (also known as the query letter) is the first thing a publisher will read; that makes it an important document. Get it right, and you have captured their attention; get it wrong, and your book may be rejected without being read. In this article, I will look at the ground rules for the letter, and the pitfalls you should try to avoid.  Read more

Ask the Editor 1: What genre is my book?

What genre is my book?

I am asked this question surprisingly often. I say surprising because one might assume, most of the time, that the genre of a book is obvious. And, most of the time, it is relatively obvious; authors tend to aim their efforts at specific markets. But once in a while, you come across a book that defies simple classification.  Read more

Worldbuilding 5: culture


Culture is a slippery concept; it's one of those terms we all know the meaning of until we actually think about it. For the writer, culture can be a two-edged sword: ignore it and your story lacks depth, colour and context; focus too much on it and you risk bamboozling - or worse, boring - your reader into putting the book down.  Read more

Worldbuilding 3: geography and physical location

Geography and physical location

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Worldbuilding 2: the basics of writing fantasy fiction

The basics of writing fantasy fiction

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Worldbuilding 1: character names in fantasy novels

Character names in fantasy novels


One of the more rewarding - and difficult - things about writing a fantasy novel is having the opportunity to create and describe a world different from our own; one where magic is real, where non-human beings interact with us, and where reality has a shape and texture that is anything but mundane.  Read more

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