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    10 Tips For Creating a Dysfunctional Family In Your Fiction

    To paraphrase Tolstoy: “All messed up families are the same, they are messed up in a different way.” If you want to create conflict in your fictional family life, there are millions of different ways to do it. Generally speaking, most conflict in families comes from power struggles. In abusive situations, one person usually holds most of the power and they conditionally give power to the other members of the family.  Here are a list of 12 general ways that this power struggle might manifest itself in a family. And as awful as it is to go through in real life, the fight for power is a gold mine for…

  • Craft,  Creativity,  Organization,  Revising and Editing,  Self Talk

    Fantastic Fridays: 3 Writerly Traps To Avoid

    Sometimes writerly challenges require complex solutions. Other times, our challenges with writing arise from some very basic issues stemming from how we are approaching our early drafts. It’s not that we’re choosing a wrong path, it’s that we’ve fallen into some subconscious patterns that are making things more difficult than they need to be. Since the first step in changing those patterns is to become aware of them, I thought I would share a few reminders of common first draft traps that writers fall into. Trap #1: Trying to write the whole thing at the same time Note: This trap isn’t about trying to complete your story in one marathon…

  • Craft

    Tips For Writing A Memorable Fight Scene

    A fight scene is the most elemental form of conflict. A well-written one can be mesmerizing and enjoyable! Craft yours carefully and you'll have your readers cheering and booing in all the right places.

  • Creativity,  Discipline,  Organization

    Fantastic Fridays: Clear Your Head

    Do your writing plans and projects tend to get jumbled in your brain? Even when I have a clear list of projects and tasks, I can end up taking on a bit too much and getting overwhelmed. My brain fills up with tasks and ideas and projects and I feel like I have no idea where or how to start. Luckily, I now recognize that feeling as part of the challenge of writing and I have a plan to help clear my head. If you end up with the same sort of jumble, maybe my process will help. Feel free to adjust anything that doesn’t work for you! Note: If…

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    Potential Lies Your Protagonist Could Tell Themselves

    Conventional wisdom suggests that protagonists should likable, or at least if not likable, relatable. The strongest protagonists could be those that the reader sees themselves in, even for a moment. But what is it that they recognize? Could it be self-delusion? Great stories often come out of the internal struggles that characters face as the story progresses. Sometimes as the story unfolds, the lies crumble before them, one at a time, so characters have to recalibrate how they view the world and their circumstances.  Lies can be the biggest obstacle protagonists face. Here are some suggestions on lies your characters may believe. Potential Lie #1: Others’ approval is everything! What…

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    Creating the “Happy” Protagonist

    Recently I finished listening to the audio version of “A Gentleman in Moscow” and I have to say, it was one of the best books I have read in my life! Besides the stellar writing, the complicated plot, the big ideas that it addressed, I liked it because the main character, Count Alexander Rostov, was happy. He was happy despite his harrowing circumstances, the loss of his position and relationships, the tedium of his prison and the hopelessness of Soviet Russia in the mid-20th century. Was Rostov Pollyanna-ish, a goody-two-shoes, or completely unrelatable? Not at all, despite his own confession that he was a fuddy-duddy. Instead, I was compelled to…

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    Tips For Writing A Worthy Anti-Hero

    You’ve watched them, or read about them, and you knew the main character was the one you were supposed to be cheering for, but . . . what if that protagonist wasn’t always good? They may be an anti-hero, and if you’re conflicted about them, you’re supposed to be. Read this: Men’s Health: 19 Anti-Heroes We Can’t Stop Rooting For Why do we like Anti-Heroes so much? Anti-heroes are often troubled, complicated, and come with a lot of baggage. Perhaps their popularity is a reflection on a more cynical society that we are drawn to anti-heroes more than the typical good guy. We may identify with their values. Moral absolutes…

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    Capturing Your Readers with Character Hooks

    When I was in college, I listened to a speaker who, at the podium, had a towel on his arm much like a waiter. When he began his speech, I kept waiting for him to make reference to the towel. Oh, I thought, the longer that he took to get to the point, this is going to be creative and good, and I’m going to be dazzled by the reasons why the towel is there. I watched him, waiting, hanging on every word. But he went through his entire 30-40 minute presentation a never mentioned the towel at all.  I was baffled, but I had been hooked by his presence.…

  • Motivation,  Writing Prompt

    Fantastic Fridays: Scratch That Writing Itch

    I know lots of people who don’t write regularly but they yearn to. They may not have a specific thing they want to produce but they want the pleasure of playing with their words.  The problem is that when they sit down to write, they have no idea where to start. They want to jump right into the writing part but they don’t have a way to launch themselves. If that describes your current writing obstacle, I have something for you to try: a personal writing challenge. Check out the list below to get started. 1. Have a look at your schedule for the next while.  Can you commit to…

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    Reasons Why Your Manuscript May Have Been Rejected

    Getting a rejection is no fun. After all the work that you’ve put into a project, it is discouraging and sometimes demoralizing to receive yet another rejection email. It’s all the more painful if this is the third, or thirteenth, or thirtieth, or three hundredth one. There could be reasons why. Most editors, agents, and publishers don’t take the time to point out flaws in a submission. And if you ask, you’re likely not to get an answer. So consider these — admittedly oversimplified— problems that could have been the culprit. Have you written about old trends? Publishing, like everything else, has trends that ebb and flow. No one has…