Writing Craft

I often get asked for advice from people trying out the craft. Over the years, I’ve written little articles that describe my thinking about certain issues and added these to my blog. This section of my website is a link to all of those “writing craft” blog entries. It will make them easier to find to house them all in one place.

Someday I may even write a book about it.

Finding Your Own Voice

Finding Your Own Voice (or, in other words, how to make characters feel real) by Jeff Wheeler Inside almost every work of fiction, usually on the copyright page, is a disclaimer that publishers put there to deflect potential lawsuits stating that the incidents and people represented in the work are fictional and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead . . . blah, blah, blah. I’m probably not the only person who reads this statement and thinks, “Yeah, right.” I think most…

Sci-Fi Roots

I’m a fantasy author, but it may surprise you to know that my first love was science fiction. I still have strong memories and impressions dating back to 1977 when I was sitting in the Century movie theaters on Winchester Blvd in San Jose (which, incidentally, kind of looked like a trio of mini-Death Stars) and watching Star Wars. You know, the original. That was an event that shaped my love of the genre. So in honor of Rogue One…

What comes after Kingfountain?

Today is pub day for my novel, The King's Traitor. Everything about the Kingfountain series has been a risk for me. Writing from the point of view of an eight year old protagonist? And a boy at that? Thwarting the love interest in book two and making everyone (including myself) cry? Imposing a gap of years between the action happening in all three novels? I know my publisher was scratching their heads at what I was thinking. But that was…

Deep Magic is back!

I've been giddy with excitement about this for months now and can finally share it. After a 10 year hiatus, Deep Magic is back! Ten years ago, we shut down the e-zine after a four-year run including 49 issues. In June, exactly ten years later, we'll be re-launching Deep Magic: the E-zine of Clean Fantasy and Science Fiction. I've pulled together the original founders (myself, Jeremy, and Brendon) and we invited some new people to be on the team, like Charlie Holmberg!…

What love really looks like

I don't know if I've been a hopeless romantic for most of my life, but probably so. All my books have some romance in them--well, except maybe the Wishing Lantern! One of the reasons I've loved The Empire Strikes Back so much is it coined the phrase "scruffy-looking nerf herder" which continues to be an inside joke in my house. As a kid, I also completely got hooked on the cult HBO favorite "Somewhere in Time" and thought how cool it…

The lonely profession

I’ve had some conversations and interactions lately that have reminded me that writing is truly “the lonely profession.” Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining nor is this posting a rant. Being an introvert, I’m very comfortable in my own head (where all my characters live!) and I don’t often feel the lack of human interaction because of friends, my church, and my awesome family.   But I do remember what it was like before my big break happened.…

Developing Characters – the Johari Window

One of the most satisfying things about reading a book is watching how characters progress. Robert Olen Butler talked about human yearning being the key driver of any story, that writing "is the art form of human yearning." In the Muirwood Trilogy, Lia hungered to learn how to read, then to serve the Medium, and finally to save her precious abbey. One of the things I learned during my career at Intel was a concept called the Johari Window. It…

There is power in persistence

There is power in persistence. I have told this story several times to friends and family, but I do not think I have shared it on my blog. There was a time, three years ago, when I was tempted to quit writing. In 2011, I had self-published the Muirwood Trilogy and the reviews were good, but I was feeling a little discouraged because there were still so many typos that needed fixing. I have since learned that even with a…

The Imagination Muscle

From time to time, I get requests for writing advice. I’m not very big on offering writing advice because I truly believe there isn’t one way to do this business and what works for me won’t necessarily work for someone else. Instead, I’m a believer that practicing writing is the way to go (such as Stephen King’s quote about writing a million words and Malcom Gladwell’s 10,000 hours to master a skill). Lately I have been reading James Altucher’s book…

Destruction and Creation

I read a great essay many years ago by a famous US Air Force pilot named John Boyd. He had a very interesting life and there’s a great book about him called Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War. Reading that book led me to pursue some of John Boyd’s original writings, including his essay “Destruction and Creation” which was written in 1976. I’d like to credit him and his OODA Loop theory as the origins of…

The Bookstore Apocalypse

My wife loves to watch Morning Joe and told me about a recent interview that the author James Patterson gave. He’s donating $1 million dollars to help independent bookstores survive. http://www.msnbc.com/morning-joe/watch/how-to-preserve-the-cherished-local-bookstore-184294467957 I have no problem with how he spends his own money, but there was a lot of interesting observations in the interview about how competition in the book selling industry is changing business so quickly that independent bookstore owners can’t keep up and are struggling to survive. In addition…

Here There Be Dragons

There is something essential about having a map in a fantasy world. Back during medieval times, a cartographer would reach the edge of their known world and often draw a picture of a dragon or a sea serpent with the label, “Here There Be Dragons”—meaning, in short, “I have no idea what’s over here.” I write fantasy fiction and maps have always intrigued me and are a key part of my writing process. Just as the story evolves, so do…