• Uncategorized

    Tips for Writing Strong Rising Action

    What’s going to happen next? We’re at the edge of our seat? The plot thickens! Do your readers have these kinds of reactions as your story progresses? They can if you have strong rising action. Rising action is the progress of your main character as they move toward the big climax. Figuratively, this is like climbing a mountain. The higher the altitude and the steeper the narrative incline, the harder the going for your characters. Progress is not a straight line, instead it is full of hazards, steep inclines, crevasses, obstacles, unpredictable weather, faulty equipment, and self doubt. Yet, as your protagonist faces conflict and tension, their journey generally continues…

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    Questions To Ask When Writing A Scene

    Rhett Butler takes his hat and heads to the door. Scarlet O’Hara is right behind him. They’re parting for the last time. She pleads after him, asking in her self-absorbed way about her future. What will she do? “Frankly my dear,” he says at the threshold. “I don’t give a damn.” And he turns his back on her forever. This is a classic scene from a classic film, one that may even be all that a viewer can remember from Gone With the Wind. The scene concludes the relationship between Rhett and Scarlet and the film and leaves the viewer satisfied and probably wondering what took him so long. The…

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    How To Tease Your Reader With Red Herrings

    A great writer is like a magician: they can create diversions to get attention off reality and the truth of a situation. In literature, red herrings are often the devices that writers use as a sleight of hand. A red herring tricks the reader, but in a good way, and creates a surprise at the end which delights and resonates with the reader. How do you create a red herring? In the development of the plot, regardless of the genre, a writer can look for parallel or false trajectories of the plot or subplot that can, potentially, lead to nowhere. Often mysteries do this well. Check out any Agatha Christie…

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    A Hero’s Journey Checklist

    The hero has a mission. Only they can accomplish it. Does that sound familiar? That’s an oversimplification of the hero’s journey. Whether you were aware of it or not, you’ve read or watched countless interpretations of it. The hero’s journey is a common plot structure, especially in fantasy, science fiction, and thriller genres. It’s common because it of its familiarity. Who doesn’t tire of a hero setting out on a quest and facing conflicts along the way? What makes each successful hero’s journey plot successful are the details of the story teller. As you plot your hero’s story, make sure that you hit all the high points of this structure,…

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    Tips For Dividing Your Story Into Chapters

    A goal of every author: to get their readers, perhaps snuggled under the covers, to turn the page and say, rather sleepily, just one more chapter. The end of chapters feel like a good place to turn out the light, right? So how do you know where to make the distinctions? Where to tell that reader that perhaps they’ve read enough and they really need some sleep? Within the basic three act structure, chapters have even more specific purposes determined by where they fall in the story. First Act? Chapters of the first act often set up the inciting incident, introduce characters, setting, drop in a little backstory, explain carefully…

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    Are writing competitions worth it?

    By Melanie Roussel My ambition for 2021 is to gather 50 writing rejections. That’s not as scary as it sounds. Actually, it’s exactly as scary as it sounds, but not as gloomy as you might imagine.  In 2020, despite the world turning itself upside down, I managed to amass 31 rejections. It would have been 33, but two of my short stories were published. And while I’m slowly stacking up rejections from literary agents for my hardboiled detective/sci-fi novel, most of these came from the near limitless writing competitions out there.  I know a lot of writers who’ve completely given up on competitions. Usually, it’s a mixture of rejection fatigue…

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    Tips for Writing A Not-So-Happy Ending

    Despite what you may have read as a child, books can have unhappy or not-so-happy endings. An ending that isn’t so happy is one where at the end of the story, your main character never gets anything that they were aspiring for. Stories with unhappy endings are much like math problems in which the final answer is a negative.  Endings may have a silver lining, or something redemptive, but generally, in an unhappy or not-so-happy ending your protagonist comes out with a loss. The loss could be so severe that it’s a huge victory for the antagonist or it could be a revelation of the inner character of the protagonist.…

  • Craft,  Creativity

    What Do I Do When My Story Isn’t Going Anywhere?

    It is very possible to want to write a story, have a story idea, and plan on knocking out 50,000 words in 30 days without really knowing the important necessities of a story. Sure, in Western Culture we've heard countless stories, we have a general idea of beginning, middle and end. We know that you need characters and setting and some sort of plot despite the title of this book. But to write a story you really need to get a handle on what's needed in a GOOD ONE before you try crafting one.

  • Craft

    Eight Must Haves For A Great Story

    Now there are other issues that you may want to address as you plod along with your work-in-progress, like point of view or genre. But these eight are crucial. Learn all you can, practice all you can, and get all the help you can. And you can be an excellent storyteller.

  • Craft,  Revising and Editing

    Five Ways To Make Your Story “Good”

    Unfortunately, that descriptor "good" is a vague one. We may not even know what we're asking when we ask it. We may not want anything from the person we are asking except a nod, and maybe their dinner order. We really only want validation that our creative efforts aren't wasted and that maybe that MFA degree wasn't a waste of money.

  • Craft,  Creativity

    Five Ways To Develop Writers Voice

    Each life has a unique story and we can't help but be affected by our heartbreaks and victories. We've all be educated in one way or another and this will play a role in the development of our writer voice.

  • Craft,  Creativity

    How To Make Your Scenes More Cinematic

    You've read over the descriptions of the settings that were rich and details. As you turned the pages, you may have had a sense of action and tension that felt exactly right. As you read the dialogue, you could actually hear the characters speaking. You saw them bust into the safe, stash the jewels into their pockets, and scurry out the back door before the owner walked in the front. You love books that read like movies.