• Craft

    Twelve Questions To Ask Yourself After That First Draft Is Done

    You’ve finished your first draft! You are so, so, so proud. This is an accomplishment worth celebrating! And in the midst of your hard work, you’ve fought all kinds of self-doubt and torment. The quoted author was right, you really did just open a vein and bleed.  But you’re not done. Please, for the love of all that is super easy publishing, please don’t think you’re done. If your goal is to be a serious writer, to be a viable literary force in your genre, to be a legitimate player in the world of books, please don’t stop with your first draft. You’ll need to improve on it. Here are…

  • Craft

    How The “There Are No Rules” Rule Can Set You Up For Failure & Mockery

    I’m not sure who started the “there are no rules in writing” rule. It certainly wasn’t an English teacher. There ARE rules. Rules for grammar, spelling, and punctuation bring order and dignity to our language. There are also rules for storytelling, rules for submissions, rules of common sense, rules of general communication that YOU MUST follow if you want to be taken seriously.  If you are a writer then your job is to communicate to your reader. If you are deliberately being sloppy, apathetic or lazy then the message you’re sending to your reader is “I’m above the rules” or “You’re too stupid” or “Conventions aren’t for geniuses like me.”…

  • Craft

    Top 10 Ways To Improve Your Writing

    You want to improve your writing? It’s oh, so easy and oh, so hard. I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that if you are reading this blog then you are a writer. Even if you don’t think you can call yourself that, you probably have aspirations for literary greatness, fame, or fortune. The right kind of greatness, fame, and fortune only comes from those writers who spend their time improving their craft. How do you get better? Glad you asked! Top 10 Ways To Improve Your Writing 1. Read, read, read. Read in your genre every chance you get. Try reading the Classics. Read your writing buddies’…

  • Craft

    Why Mutually Exclusive Desires Make Great Conflicts

      Your story should be jammed packed with conflicts. You should have conflicts about the setting, like the tropical storm that’s been seen down south is heading north and could turn into a hurricane. Or, you could have conflicts about every day life, like maybe the cat is missing and he has a history of getting caught in small spaces. Also, you could have conflicts involving sickness, like a character with Crohn’s disease can’t stop eating animal crackers. Or maybe a conflict regarding money: the bank may foreclose on the family homestead any minute now. A great story has many kinds of conflicts all layered on each other, each eating…

  • Craft

    Why Your Spell Checker Is A Shifty-Eyed Hack

    You can’t trust your spell checker. Generally speaking, a spell checking feature on a word processing program will do a fair job in finding words that are misspelled. That’s all it’s capable of doing. If you think that an automatic spell check will do enough work to make you a good writer, then you are mistaken. Your spell check is a hack — in that, it only does what it is programmed to do. And I’d even go as far to say that it’s shifty-eyed (if it had eyes) because good writers know not to trust automatic editing tools completely. You’re going to need a bigger and better self-editing tools,…

  • Craft,  Motivation

    Eight Reasons You Should Write Every Day

      Did you write today? Are you going to? In the book The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg said, “Most of the choices we make each day may feel like the products of well-considered decision making, but they’re not. They’re habits. And though each habit means relatively little on its own, over time, the meals we order, what we say to our kids each night, whether we save or spend, how often we exercise, and the way we organize our thoughts and work routines have enormous impact on our health, productivity, financial security, and happiness.” I think if you write every day, you can become a happier, more confident writer.   1.…

  • Beautiful Words,  Craft

    Never Say Never: Writing “Rules” That Beg to Be Broken

    By Jennifer Worrell How many of you have heard the old saw, “Write it your way!” or “Write the story you want to read!” And so you do. And then you’re told…you can’t do that. Only {insert bestselling author names here} can do that. But no one explains why. How did successful writers get that privilege, and who gave it to them? Creative writing is nothing without artistic expression, but that’s impossible to achieve if you’re imprisoned by arbitrary rules. In search of a like-minded community, I joined far too many online writers’ forums. A lot are great (especially this one!) and can help you through many a muddy spot…

  • Craft,  Reading,  Uncategorized

    Seven Reasons Why You Should Read Your Manuscript Out Loud

      Have you ever read your work out loud? Long before you submit your work to your beta readers, before you assume that you’re done, before you start thinking about renting that billboard to advertise your latest literary genius, you should read your manuscript out loud. Start at page one. Finish at “The End.” And listen. And keep a red pen handy to make notes. I’m completely convinced that you’ll make a lot of notes. I’m convinced that you’ll hear far more errors than you’ll ever see. Reading aloud reveals everything. This is why you should read your manuscript out loud: You’ll hear words repeated. We all have writing habits that need…

  • Beautiful Words,  Character Development,  Craft

    Eight Ways You May Be Bungling Your Dialogue In Your Novel

      “I’m not bungling my dialogue,” you say to yourself. But you’ve had a few complaints from your beta readers about how they don’t like the characters. You’ve been told the story feels dead. While your plot is tight and your pacing is perfect, the characters themselves feel off. The trouble could be your dialogue. Dialogue is the soul of the characters. Dialogue is what brings the story to life for your reader. Are you bungling it? You may be bungling you dialogue if . . .  You’ve forgotten about the influence of setting. Your story’s setting may play a role in the way that your characters speak. But too…

  • Craft,  Organization

    Ten Questions To Ask Before Writing An Interesting Scene

    In a novel, what is a scene? A scene is a small increment of the story that progresses the story forward. A novel is full of them. And while this may seem obvious, they ain’t easy to write. Have you written a scene and not known where to start? Ask yourself these ten questions! The purpose of a scene is to put the characters in a new situation in which they are either pushed toward or pulled away from their objectives. Your scenes are the necessary steps that the characters take for the advancement of the story. Your characters could be in the scene deliberately, say Betty and Veronica arrived…

  • Character Development,  Craft,  Uncategorized

    Eighteen Ways To Write An Emotionally Abusive Villain

        Let’s say you want to write a villain who doesn’t wear black, doesn’t have a weapon and doesn’t do all the things that typical baddies do.You want an emotionally abusive villain. Emotionally abusive villains are scarier than the Darth Vader types, in my humble opinion. They can play with a person’s mind, trick them into thinking that they are safe, twist their reality and torture their soul. In real life and in real literature  emotionally abusive villains have been responsible for all kinds of evil. Often emotional abusers are subtle. They don’t go for the obvious name calling. Instead they want to be see as following the letter…

  • Craft,  Revising and Editing,  Uncategorized

    Does Your Backstory Make Your Readers Stabby?

    Backstory? Oh yes, you’ve been working on that character’s backstory for months! You’ve written thousands of words of backstory! You know how his parents met, how he got that scar on his pasty white tuckus, and why he gets all shaky and whiny when he’s served enchiladas. This is all important stuff you told yourself as you dumped it out into the first chapter of your work-in-progress. It sets the stage! The readers can really know him! This will make the story richer! Your character’s backstory may have bored your reader to tears. They left after the second or third page. They want a story: they don’t want genealogical report or long-winded…

  • Craft,  Revising and Editing,  Uncategorized

    Four Reasons Why Authors Shouldn’t Be Nice In Their Stories

    Nice authors can be dull ones. I think that authors should be well-behaved and respectful. They should have great ethics and never be undignified or rude in public where their readers can see them. I fully believe that an author’s brand is far too fragile (especially in this competitive market) to risk alienation by their readers for their bad behavior. But when it comes their writing, authors need to stop being meek. Instead they should be as mean as they can possibly be within the confines of their genre. If well-mannered authors carry their sweetness into their stories too much, they risk weakening their books. Nice people can make dull…

  • Craft,  Inspiration

    7 Ways To Keep Your Buzz & Write Drunk — By Elaine Bayless

      “Write drunk. Edit sober.” Easy enough, right? It means to write without boundaries, loose and wild and out of control. Thoughtful word selection and complex grammatical decisions belong in the world of editing. And yet, how often do you “lose your buzz” and start editing right in the middle of writing? How do you write drunk? During Nanowrimo each year I see dozens of people falling into the editing trap when they should be writing. I get it: I’ve been trapped by those some concerns too. But nothing kills the possibility of finishing your work faster than accidentally falling into editing mode. Here’s 7 ways to keep your buzz…