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Author Archive > Erika Holt

Quick-and-Dirty Tips for Polishing Your Prose

So, you’ve brainstormed, written, and rewritten. The plot is sufficiently exciting, the theme powerful, the dialogue realistic, the characters complex and believable, the ending unpredictable yet perfectly fitting. Point-of-view and tense issues have been addressed, grammatical errors corrected, clichés banished. But yet…after reading your piece one last time, a lingering dissatisfaction remains. It doesn’t seem […]

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On Sticky Notes, Character Wheels, and Russian Folklore, Or…Planning a Novel

I first met bestselling author Jodi McIsaac when she joined our local speculative fiction writing group (IFWA), shortly after she moved from Vancouver to Calgary. Then I had the pleasure of attending one of her panels at When Words Collide, entitled “Plotters, Pantsers, and Quilters.” She was firmly in the “plotters” camp. And when I […]

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Detailed Character Descriptions: Yea or Nay?

On August 20, 2013, we received the sad news that great American writer Elmore Leonard had passed away. I’m ashamed to admit I’d never heard of Mr. Leonard before Twitter told me of his passing, though of course I was familiar with the Hollywood adaptations of his work. That day, Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of […]

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Breaking Out of a Stylistic Rut (Or Finding One)

As a writer, “style” is a thing we’re supposed to find. It will define us, they say; set us apart as a distinct, creative voice in a vast field of creative voices. It’s our brand. It’s the thing—our “signature”—that marks each of our stories or novels as uniquely ours no matter how different in subject matter […]

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Scene-stealing Antagonists

Merriam Webster defines an antagonist as, “one that contends with or opposes another,” and lists “adversary” and “opponent” as synonyms. Oxford defines the term as, “a person who actively opposes or is hostile to someone or something; an adversary.” Of course in a literary context, an antagonist doesn’t have to be a person. I recall learning in […]

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Query Letters, Synopses, and Samples: Tips From Penguin (Canada) Editor Adrienne Kerr

On August 8 and 9, I had the pleasure of attending a workshop presented by Adrienne Kerr, Commissioning Editor, Commercial Fiction, Penguin (Canada). In advance of the workshop, we each submitted a query letter, a five page synopsis, and a five page excerpt from our novel; in other words, just the sort of package one […]

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What’s in a great first line?

Recently I made a bet with a friend over the outcome of Euro 2012 (why? I don’t know thing about soccer, or football, if you prefer). Shockingly, I lost, and as payment, I’m required to read a book of his choosing. Assignment: Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. I’ve never read a graphic novel […]

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Guest Post by Jack Graham: A novel is an engineering project

Back in March, my colleague John Remy posted here about using kanban, a project management technique originally invented by Toyota engineers, to keep track of multiple short fiction projects. John and I have both worked in the Information Technology field – I as a software analyst. His post got me thinking about how I’ve re-purposed […]

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The Deep End: My Plunge Into the SFF Community

Maybe I’m feeling sentimental these days, but I’ve been thinking a lot about how freaking awesome the SFF community is, and how lucky I am to be a part of it. Okay, I know there are times when it’s not, and there’ve been lots of posts and discussion about that, but today I want to […]

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Why do we write?

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about why I write, or why I started writing in the first place, because over time, these two concepts may diverge. An insidious thing can happen: you can lose sight of what you love about the act, and get caught up in the business of writing: wanting to make […]

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