The Dead Robots' Society

Writers on Writing

Writing Tips

From the blog of Tobias Buckell:

I’m blazing to finish a story I owe, and need to finish up. Mainly I’m trying to lay down a solid draft, and to do that I’m just writing it out and not bothering to get stuck on details that need clarified. I used to just create a bracket and note inside, but Paolo Bacigalupi once taught me the trick that journalists use to make these notes easily findable: TK.

For example, you’re writing along and hit a note that isn’t important to the plot or anything that is a detail that does need to be added in. Instead of stopping to figure it out, or research it, you write something like “He jumped into the [TK make/model of car] and slammed the door shut.” The ‘TK’ is a somewhat statistically improbable letter combination, so you can, in draft, just do a find for TK and work your way through in a later draft fixing little things.

A lot of writers ask me how you keep your butt in the chair, or dodge writers block. The use of little tricks like ‘TK’ as well as skipping scenes you don’t want to write until you have a better idea later are neat tricks.

Some writers can’t move on, it’s part of their process to get all the details just right. That’s cool too.

But sometimes, you can’t know the details until you’ve written out a draft and the way in which everything sits around that blank spot allows you to realize that ‘oh, X is the solution’ and easily write it in.

Thus, I’ve made lots of little TK notes to myself today.

Good advice, Tobias!



  1. Aha! I’ve just been doing the (ctrl-b ctrl-u caps) in my writing. The TK is a great idea! I’ll have to incorporate that. I’m a big believer in caging the inner editor and getting the first draft done. It’s amazing the number of projects I’ve started where I’ve let the inner editor out too early and it’s completely sabotaged the project.

  2. The only problem for me… is I’m writing about Psionics… TK comes up quite a bit LOL



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