Nathanael Green's Blog

An advertising copywriter, novelist, and freelance writer's brain goo.

Archive for the ‘Writing Fiction’ Category

Carefully Crafting Headlines and Barfing Up Titles

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There’s a distinct difference between writing headlines for advertising or marketing copy and writing titles for fiction. Here is that difference:

Writing headlines is an interesting, challenging process where I get to try different techniques
to craft an engaging line to elicit a specific response.

Writing titles sucks.

Oh, I know they’re both in my job description. As a freelance copywriter, I often write multiple headlines in a day. (Here’s an old post on what it is a copywriter really does, just in case you’ve forgotten.) And as a fiction writer, every piece I write needs a title.

So why the big difference? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Nathanael Green

January 7, 2013 at 9:02 am

“The Slut Buck” is in Apiary Magazine

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What’s the slut buck, you ask?

I know, I know! You’ve been asking this question for YEARS with no good answer. Well, today, dear readers, if you go download the 2011 online issue of Apiary Magazine (which, of course, you should), your curiosity will be slaked with my short story of the same name.

Plus, I hope you’ll check out one of my favorite stories in this issue: “Only Leaves” by Leyla Eraslan—it’s a beautifully told tale of a girl and her tree that doesn’t know it’s a tree. I hope you like it as much as I do.

What? You want MORE reasons?

Written by Nathanael Green

July 18, 2011 at 8:24 am

Listening to Find Your Characters

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I don’t generally attribute specific sources of inspiration to my writing, but occasionally, something grabs my attention and says, “Hey! You need me!”

That’s how I had a theme song for a novel before I even started writing.

Here’s what happened. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Nathanael Green

July 13, 2011 at 8:36 pm

SUBMIT! How You Get a Short Story Published

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I felt a twinge, something along the lines of angry defiance the first time I noticed the link on a literary journal’s website:


Later, I figured out that this was the link I needed to click to get my fiction published. It had nothing to do with domination of any sort.


“How do you get a story published?”

I’ve been asked that a few times lately, and there are entire libraries written on craft and storytelling and selling your novel. So I’m going to skip all that for now. Instead, here’s a quick explanation the submission process and how writers’ creative brain-dribbling ends up on public display.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Nathanael Green

March 24, 2011 at 7:28 am

New Story in Fractured West

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My most recent piece of fiction, “Pretty Don’t,” is available in print in the current issue of the very sleek Fractured West. I have a copy in my own little grubby gauntlets, and I’m flattered to be included among the writers chosen for this issue – there’s some great fiction in those pages.

If you pick this up (you can do so here), you may notice that it conforms to a British spelling style. That’s because Fractured West is based in Scotland. So that means I’m an internationally published author, right?

Written by Nathanael Green

March 9, 2011 at 7:48 pm

4 Surprises of Writing a Novel

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So, I wrote a novel.

OK … I’m writing a novel since I’m going through yet another round of edits. Still, through the first, second, and third drafts, there were a number of things that surprised me about the process. Here are four:

1. Imaginary people surprise you.

To a lot of non-writers, it sounds like mumbo-jumbo when authors talk about how their characters surprise them. How can your own fictional creations surprise you? You control them. They wonder.

For most people, this idea makes as much sense as my old roommate’s suggestion of “Just bend your knees when you least expect it. It’s fun!”

But he may have been on to something because yes, my characters did do things that I hadn’t expected; my brain tricked itself.

No, my hands don’t suddenly type away while I watched in horror. It was more like I was just working on a scene and suddenly, everything I planned just felt wrong. And it was. Because in a flash, I knew my characters wanted to do something different. Something I never thought of before. The revelation surprised me, and I usually let them do what they wanted.

2. Writing 4,000 words a day isn’t as scary as you think.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Nathanael Green

November 22, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Posted in Writing Fiction

Quick Thoughts on Rejections

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rejectedFriend and fellow Rosemont writer Shawn Proctor posted a blog entry about the reality of rejections almost all writers must endure. Check out his blog here.

That got me thinking: I don’t imagine that many non-writers think about the heaps of rejections (usually pre-printed and written to politely say “get lost”) that most writers accumulate before finally seeing their work in print.

Writers will toil over a story for weeks, months, or years until we decide to abandon it (for it’s never really finished), then package it up and send it to a publisher, hoping that they’ll put our words in print for all to see.

And more often than not (much more often), we don’t hear anything for months. Then in the mail appears our self-addressed, stamped envelope with a rejection letter: “Thanks, but no thanks.” Like Shawn says, the supposed average is one publication of a story for every hundred times it’s submitted.

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Write Like You’re Playing Guitar

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This ties in to writing, I promise, so bear with me through a quick story.

Carefree me and my Takamine

When I was first learning to play guitar, I practiced constantly. I had my Takamine acoustic on a stand in the corner of my room, always at-hand, ready to play any time I had ten minutes to noodle around.

I played a lot. And 97% of it was terrible. My fingers felt like frozen sausages. My pick fell out of my hand and into the sound hole. It was dreadful.

But it didn’t bother me because it was just practice. I wasn’t performing live, and no one in their right mind expected me to play like Eric Clapton.

And only a handful of times did I record myself. And then with the sole purpose of listening for my mistakes and altering my practice to focus on the trouble spots.

But most of the time, there were no microphones. And even after the most frustrating sessions, I could pick it up the next day, after all the squawks had faded into the ether, and play with relish.

So why isn’t writing like that?

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Written by Nathanael Green

February 25, 2009 at 8:01 am

You’ve Got 20 Seconds to Change Your Life … Are You Ready?

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You’ve got twenty seconds in an elevator with the literary agent/record producer/employer/customer of your dreams … can you pique their curiosity with what you’re offering?

If you’ve done your homework, you’ll have an elevator statement ready to grab their interest.

What is an elevator statement?

Read the rest of this entry »