Category Archives: Writing Tips


DRS Episode 521 – The Multiplot Problem

Paul asks the question: can you recycle conceits and characters?

Like the show? Considering becoming a Patreon patron or purchasing one of our stories and thanks for listening.



DRS Episode 514 – The Swampy Middle

Terry and Paul explore the swampy middle, the hazards ahead, and how to handle them.

Like the show? Considering becoming a Patreon patron or purchasing one of our stories and thanks for listening.



DRS Episode 447 – Butcher on Writing Part 2

Paul and Terry discuss Jim Butcher’s “On Writing” posts.



Steven Pressfield – “The Most Important Writing Lesson I Ever Learned”

Around the Dead Robots’ office we see a lot of blog posts and whatnot about writing, but sometimes one comes along that hits the nail so soundly on the head that I have to sing its praises far and wide. This is one such blog post. It is from author Steven Pressfield’s blog, and it offers a great deal of wisdom. Here is, for me, the central and most saliant portion of the post –

“Nobody wants to read your shit.

There’s a phenomenon in advertising called Client’s Disease. Every client is in love with his own product. The mistake he makes is believing that, because he loves it, everyone else will too.

They won’t. The market doesn’t know what you’re selling and doesn’t care. Your potential customers are so busy dealing with the rest of their lives, they haven’t got a spare second to give to your product/work of art/business, no matter how worthy or how much you love it.

What’s your answer to that?

1) Reduce your message to its simplest, clearest, easiest-to-understand form.

2) Make it fun. Or sexy or interesting or informative.

3) Apply that to all forms of writing or art or commerce.”

To read more, AND YOU SHOULD, go here.

Thanks, Steven. Thank you very much.


The Power of TK!

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!