Social media is a dumpster fire (This week in books)
Nathan Bransford Blog
by Nathan Bransford
2d ago
This week! Books! You know it, I know it. Social media just isn’t what it used to be. Approximately 15 years into the social media era, and 8 years after GameGate marked the beginning of the end, we’re at a messy nadir, where the giants (Facebook/Instagram, Twitter, Snap) are earnestly committing suicide, the insurgent (TikTok) faces an uncertain future, and the phoenixes attempting to rise from the ashes (Mastodon, Post, Hive, insert new startup here) are pitiful cartoon versions of the giants that mostly just remind us of what we’ve already lost. Ideas for what can or should fill the smolde ..read more
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Another mass shooting and another and another (This week in books)
Nathan Bransford Blog
by Nathan Bransford
1w ago
I’m not quite ready to return to full blogging in the wake of the recent mass shooting in California (calling it that doesn’t even narrow it down), which hit very close to home literally and figuratively. I and my loved ones are okay, but I’m going through that heavy time where I’m feeling a lot of things around people who are feeling even more because they’re steps closer to the tragedy. Thankfully we were celebrating Lunar New Year’s Eve together last Saturday night. Please keep the wonderful Star Ballroom family and the broader Monterey Park community in your thoughts and consider donating ..read more
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The worst sentence structure on the planet (This week in books)
Nathan Bransford Blog
by Nathan Bransford
2w ago
This week! Books! David Owen of The New Yorker and I should absolutely go bowling together because he has written an exhaustive screed against front-loaded, somersaulting sentences, which has a surprising history with roots in journalism and misguided “elegant variation.” David my man, tell it like it is: The awkwardness is obvious if you imagine hearing one in conversation. No one has ever said to you, “A sophomore at Cornell, my niece is coming home for Christmas,” or “Sixty-six years old, my wife is an incredible cook.” Either sentence, if spoken, would sound almost comical, as though the ..read more
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Do you want the reader to understand your story? (page critique)
Nathan Bransford Blog
by Nathan Bransford
2w ago
If you’d like to nominate your own page or query for a public critique, kindly post them here in our discussion forums: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog Also, if you’d like to test your editing chops, keep your eye on this area or this area! I’ll post the pages and queries a few days before a critique so you can see how your redline compares to mine. And, of course, if you need help more urgently or privately, I’m available for edits and consultations! Now then. Time for the Page Critique. First I’ll ..read more
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Infuse a character’s desires into their observations
Nathan Bransford Blog
by Nathan Bransford
2w ago
One of the most fundamental principles for writing a novel is that characters need to want something and they need to actively go after that thing. In genre fiction, this is often either self-evident (the character needs to defeat the dragon or solve the crime) or translated into something very concrete. It’s fine to simply tell the reader what the character wants. They’ll lap it up and start to invest in the story. Desires in literary fiction tend to be more internal and complex. And with the very best writing, you might not even notice that the writer is communicating the character’s desire ..read more
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How to live creatively
Nathan Bransford Blog
by Nathan Bransford
3w ago
Over the last seven years I’ve embarked on a wholesale transformation of my entire life. Back in 2010, I left the book world behind to pursue a more corporate existence. Within just five years, in 2015, I had somehow ascended from being CNET’s first social media manager to running a recruiting program for the world’s largest hedge fund. Picture the scene in 2015: I’m sitting on a picnic table on a warm Connecticut summer evening clutching a top shelf bourbon at the company’s anniversary party. Mind you: I grew up shooting crawdads in rice fields in the middle of nowhere, now I’m surrounded by ..read more
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Holiday break
Nathan Bransford Blog
by Nathan Bransford
1M ago
I’m going to take the next few weeks to rest, recover, and do some goal setting for the new year, so this will be the last blog post of 2022! I’ll still be answering emails and booking consultations though, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you need editing or advice. This might also be a good time to check out my classes on query letters and finding a literary agent, which you can take at your leisure! Meanwhile, here are the top ten most-read posts I published in 2022: How to utilize exposition and context in a novel How to write good dialogue in a novel Essential computer skills for write ..read more
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This year in books (2022)
Nathan Bransford Blog
by Nathan Bransford
1M ago
This week! Books! This is going to be the last “This Week in Books” of 2022, so here’s your “This Year in Books” roundup! Some quickfire thoughts: Booksellers will likely remember 2022 as the year of Colleen Hoover, who filled up the bestseller lists like she owned the joint. Her path to megabestsellerdom was also a bit uncharted. Rather than making a huge splash with her first few books, she plugged away for years until her books took off with BookTok, making her more of a grassroots bestseller. When you pair Hoover’s success with Brandon Sanderson’s brain-exploding Kickstarter in April ..read more
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Focus on the helpful details (query critique)
Nathan Bransford Blog
by Nathan Bransford
1M ago
If you’d like to nominate your own page or query for a public critique, kindly post them here in the discussion forums: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog Also, if you’d like to test your editing chops, keep your eye on this area or this area! I’ll post the pages and queries a few days before a critique so you can see how your redline compares to mine. And, of course, if you need help more urgently or privately, I’m available for edits and consultations! Now then. Time for the Query Critique. First I’ll pres ..read more
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How to write a character who’s adrift
Nathan Bransford Blog
by Nathan Bransford
1M ago
No one opens up a novel to read about the boring bits of life: brushing teeth, doing the dishes, office drudgery. We read to escape those things, to be entertained, and to see the world in a new way. One of the difficulties of capturing some of life’s challenges in a novel is that they don’t always easily lend themselves to narrative form. At times, we’re all struck by a sense of aimlessness triggered by grief, depression, or a missing sense of purpose. And yet it’s really tricky to make aimlessness engaging in a novel. In a novel, the reader wants to see things happen. The characters need to ..read more
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