Melissa Caruso Profile picture
Author w @orbitbooks (THE IVORY TOMB out 12/6!) Swordfights in ballgowns. Writing tips etc: https://t.co/QXkIwcKDkf Mastodon: melissacaruso@wandering.shop
Arthaey Angosii Profile picture Kennedy 🧭 Profile picture 2 added to My Authors
Oct 4 20 tweets 4 min read
I'm getting close to a point where I'll be writing a big fight scene, and I thought I'd share some process thoughts!

I had some big fight scenes in THE IVORY TOMB as well which I'm really proud of, and I feel like I'm learning and refining my strategies for how to do them. In no particular order, things I like to know/figure out going in before I write the fight scene:

FEELINGS - What is the emotional landscape of my participating characters going in? What just happened? What's at stake? What relationships are in play?
Sep 28 5 tweets 1 min read
Whew, time to get my head back in the book after a whirwind long weekend. I'm hoping to wrap this pass on my draft ASAP so I can do a full second pass before I turn it in...I have so many ideas for making it better already! I know some writers who do a very polished first draft, crafting everything methodically and beautifully on the first pass, but much as I'd love to do that, I can't seem to avoid an extended messy flailing phase. 😂
Sep 27 28 tweets 9 min read
Okay WOW. Just WOW.

My 19yo daughter found it. She found the labyrinthine magical bookstore that you thought only existed in stories. This place is WILD and clearly chock full of forbidden tomes that open portals to other worlds.

Get cozy and come with me on a magical journey. A dark wood bookshelf full ... Small, innocuous storefront with poetic name: CHECK.

(Spoiler: It's bigger on the inside) A green awning reads LYRICA...
May 20 21 tweets 4 min read
Okay, I feel a writing thread coming on! Here we go:

How to unf*ck your through line.

You ever get that feeling that something's not right—a reluctance to push ahead, a dissatisfaction with your draft—but it's hard to pin down?

For me, often that's a through line issue. These can be tricky, because there are lots of reasons that the thread runnning through your book from beginning to end might be broken or snarled!

Here are some questions I ask to try to assess what might be wrong:
Jan 5 25 tweets 5 min read
Hmm, let's see...How about a craft thread on structure?

I love structure & feel pretty confident working with it—I feel like it's a strength for me, and I can give decent structural feedback.

But the funny thing is that I know VERY LITTLE about classic structural models. 😅 When people talk about beat sheets or Save the Cat or a 5 act structure, I can only nod along. I haven't read a lot of books on structure, and I don't subscribe to any formula.

When I think of structure, I'm talking about certain key pieces that come together to make a story.
Oct 26, 2021 8 tweets 2 min read
One of the big challenges of writing (and editing) to a deadline is pacing yourself!

I look at daily wordcount as a vague progress bar, but that's deceptive for a few reasons.

For one thing, it's often all over the place! Here's my current chart of words edited per day: Some sections need total rewrites and others only need light tweaks, so there's a HUGE variation in how much I can do per day.

For drafting it's only a little more consistent, since some sections are just faster to write than others.
Oct 25, 2021 27 tweets 5 min read
THE TETHERED MAGE turned 4 years old yesterday! I've been an author for 4 years, yikes!

Here's a baby author pic of me at my debut party. 😊

Have a thread about what's changed & what I've learned over those 4 years! I'll add to it intermittently so long as this post gets likes. Melissa reads from THE TETHERED MAGE, wearing a fabulous red Having a book baby is surprisingly like having a human baby. Suddenly this new thing is taking over your life, putting all these new demands on you and eating up your time & energy, and it's wonderful and you love it SO MUCH but some days you feel like it's destroying you. 😂
Sep 10, 2021 21 tweets 4 min read
Here's a question I think a lot of writers ask themselves: Can I turn writing into a full time career?

That was always my dream—to be a full time author someday, with no other job. And now I am, sort of! But wow is there a lot I wish I could tell past me. So you get a thread! 😁 Here's what I wish I'd known to plan for, and want all aspiring authors to know: no matter how lucky you get, because of how traditional publishing works, even in the best case scenario there will be this long awkward period where you need another source of income.
Mar 26, 2021 23 tweets 5 min read
Here's a topic that comes up often when I'm talking with writers at all stages of their careers: social media presence!

Bearing in mind that I am NOT any kind of social media expert, here's my own experience, opinions, & tips on author social media.

TLDR: Do what's fun for you. I think a lot of writers feel pressure to have some kind of sparkling and witty social media presence, whether they're querying and trying to make a good impression on agents or published & trying to gain readers. But I think a lot of times that pressure is misplaced.
Mar 9, 2021 20 tweets 4 min read
OK, riffing slightly off a request, here's a thread on supporting characters!

This is a topic near and dear to my heart, as I almost always have to strengthen my supporting characters in revisions. In no particular order, some thoughts:

An easy trap to fall into is making supporting characters largely defined by their relationship to the main character. The Best Friend who is there just to listen to the MC's problems and be worried about them and give them advice, etc.
Oct 6, 2020 18 tweets 4 min read
I need more caffeine before I can write, so in the meantime, here's a thread about a SFF writer's great bane: info dumps!

You need to convey so much information to the reader in SFF, and you need to do it in a seemingly effortless way that doesn't disrupt the story. HOW?! When you can, I'm in favor of conveying stuff like worldbuilding implicitly. Show us characters moving through the world and living in it, and let the sensory details and daily life habits and such speak for themselves rather than pasting your worldbuilding notes into the book.
Oct 5, 2020 5 tweets 2 min read
Hey, I know I haven't been posting much lately (2020 + deadline + bricked laptop), but I need to yell about a few great fantasy books I've read recently! THE BONE SHARD DAUGHTER by Andrea Stewart:

* A creepy empty palace full of locked doors and sinister constructs and deeply unlealthy family dynamics

* A smuggler who refuses to admit he has a heart of gold & his mysterious yet adorable animal companion

bookshop.org/books/the-bone…
Jul 6, 2020 20 tweets 4 min read
So I realized I haven't really done a writing craft thread on through lines! And I talk about them all the time and I always get questions about what I mean.

It's surprisingly hard to explain, but I'm going to take a stab at this! HERE WE GO!

THROUGH LINES: THE THREAD (First, a disclaimer: You may see different definitions of through lines in different places. I think film uses the term more than fiction. I'm going to talk about my own understanding of it, because I find it INCREDIBLY HELPFUL, but I am not some kind of Through Line Authority.)
Mar 2, 2020 15 tweets 3 min read
Thinking more about this article and the idea of fantasy gateway books in general...Thread!

One of the article's suggestions is basically (paraphrasing) to try to match your recs to the potential reader rather than throwing your fave classic at them, which I heartily agree with. I know I'm someone who loved fantasy from the very start and deliberately sought it out, despite having no friends or family who were really into it.

So my entry path is VERY DIFFERENT than someone for whom "it's fantasy!" is not a recommendation in and of itself. 😂
Jan 16, 2020 27 tweets 5 min read
Here's a writerly topic I've been meaning to try to talk about for a while: social media!

Bear in mind that I'm NOT any kind of social media expert, so I can only speak from personal experience, but I'm happy to share what I've got. 😁 Social media (for a writer) can work pretty differently at different stages of your career.

Before you get a book deal, *unless you're a nonfiction writer*, seriously don't worry about building your platform or how many followers you have or anything.
Jan 4, 2020 31 tweets 9 min read
Okay! FOR REASONS, here's a thread on the challenges and advantages I've faced as a female swordfighter, since fantasy often gets this wrong.

First thing I'm going to do is a pivot: it's not actually about gender at all. Some women are 6' tall and burly! Some guys are 5' 2" and scrawny! Enbies are all over the place!

So this is really just a thread about swordfighting when you're kinda short and not super ripped. 😂
Jul 31, 2019 32 tweets 6 min read
Here's a #WritingCraftMC thread I got a request for a while back: How to fix a soggy middle!

So often we have a great beginning for a book and an exciting ending, and then the middle chapters are just kind of...there?

The good news is that you can absolutely fix that! The bad news is that it's a lot of work. 😅

BUT HEY! Not being afraid of work is like one of the top 5 key things you need to be a published writer! And structural stuff is always a ton of work to fix and that's totally fine and normal and everyone has to do it. So let's go!
Jul 11, 2019 16 tweets 3 min read
Here's a thread on something near and dear to my writer heart: secrets.

Specifically, how they spread.

I once had the rare opportunity to watch a secret spread with X-Ray-Vision clarity, and it was actually really cool and I learned a lot. Which I now share with you! How did I get to watch a secret spread in realtime? I was running a campaign larp where players wrote event summaries after each session. There was a character with a Big Secret sufficiently shocking that each time a player learned it, the circumstances wound up in their summary.
Jun 18, 2019 14 tweets 4 min read
I had a request for a thread on pacing, and specifically on how to figure out what's messing up your pacing when you can tell it's off. This is a great topic, so here we go!

#writingcraftmc thread! There are a whole bunch of factors that contribute to good pacing, and sometimes you get that feeling that it's not what it should be but aren't sure why. (This still happens to me ALL THE TIME—I just spent a bunch of time fixing pacing in my WIP, in fact.) Some things to check:
Jun 3, 2019 8 tweets 2 min read
Fantasy vs. Magic realism:

So you're walking home from work and you meet a talking moose.

Fantasy: Tells you why/how the moose talks (Moose shifter, fairy blessing, etc)

Magical realism: Look, it's a fucked up world and sometimes you meet a talking moose, what do you want Also, importantly, magic realism has a specific (Latin American) cultural origin & lineage.

Also also, fantasy can be literary without being magical realism!

But I don't have moose analogies for either of those. 😂
Mar 12, 2019 9 tweets 2 min read
Oh crap. I think I finally figured out publishing.

IT'S THE FAIRY REALM.

Think about it.

(Thread) Time passes differently there. A hundred years can go by in the time it takes for an agent fairy to read a single query.