Tag Archive: J. K. Rowling


I took a creative writing course at my first college. I dropped it later, because the professor didn’t know how to actually teach creative writing. That’s not to say that I knew what I was doing; I’d been writing since I was eleven, and by the time I took this professor’s class I was told by one professional author and another English professor that I was publishable, but I (today) wouldn’t consider myself (then) to know what I was talking about any more than that professor. I learned far more from the assigned texts than I did from her.

The problem with many creative writing courses is that they spend a lot of time teaching you what not to do rather than what you should do. That’s a lot easier, I suppose; as I frequently say, writing is an art, not a science. There are a few ways to fail, and an near-infinite number of ways to succeed. It’s easier to talk about what not to do. The problem is that these courses go on and on with their rules rather than treating it as an art form. When I teach writing, I actually approach it the same way one might teach drawing or painting: here’s some stuff to try, and here’s how to refine it. The rules of fiction aren’t the laws of physics.

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One such rule, which this professor was quite strict on, is one that many of you will no doubt have heard. Don’t use adverbs. The professor in question was even more specific: “Don’t use -ly words.” Whether she didn’t care about adverbs that didn’t end in -ly or she just thought we didn’t know what an adverb was, I don’t know; it could honestly have gone either way. (You can tell I didn’t enjoy that class.)  Continue reading

Don’t Dump

One of the most common mistakes, even with professional storytellers, is to deliver a lot of exposition in a small space, or otherwise give “idiot lectures” where you have one character being a bit more dumb than usual simply so that a second character will have to explain something to him (and therefore to the audience). This is often called infodumping, and it’s often hard to avoid — but the best authors watch out for it and work around it.

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You may or may not have heard the latest faux controversy about J. K. Rowling. No, it has nothing to do with her characters. Instead, it’s a Huffington Post writer named Lynn Shepherd complaining that Rowling is such a good author that she’s crowding out everyone else. She tells Rowling that she should just stop writing and give other people a chance. If you don’t want to click on her article, here’s the summary: Rowling has too much of a market share, which means every book she publishes is a book overlooked from another author who hasn’t become famous yet.

There has been a lot of pushback so far. I won’t post more than one link, mainly because the BBC’s article has more than enough links from successful authors who say this is ridiculous. I wasn’t even going to do more than link to that article, because every single point has been refuted multiple times by the authors linked there, and that’s just a small sample so far. What could I add? Continue reading

The “Harmione” Controversy

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you know what happened last week. I was asked what my opinion was. Well, I didn’t wind up feeling like it was worth a blog post because while I jumped into the discussion early (on my personal Facebook, though), others were quicker with the articles and went into more depth than I would have. Continue reading

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