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    Multiple Points-of-View: Tips for Clarity and Creativity

    Years ago, back when I was tinkering with my first novel, I met another writer for coffee. She left the impression she was far more experienced than I was about writing. When I described my first ever work-in-progress to her, I said, “I alternate points of view between this college age woman and her sister-in-law who  . . . .” “Let me stop you right there,” she said. She may have even condescendingly patted me on the hand. “Don’t write in dual POVs. At least not in your first book. You really need to know what you’re doing first. Save that for when you’re really good.” Or something like that.…

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    Tips for Writing A Redemptive Story

    Stories often end with hope: things are set right, amends are made, broken lives are restored. None of us are so perfect that we haven’t needed a chance at redemption. Hope is a universal. You will never go wrong if all points in your story lead to a second, or third chance. Readers resonate with redemptive endings and you can write one too. (Redemptive endings aren’t the same thing, by the way, as a happy ending.)  What should your character be like? Don’t think that a redemptive arc or a hopeful ending looks like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. It doesn’t. Not at all. This is one of the reasons why…

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    Everyone Needs A Spark!

    Join time-crunched writers every for 10MinCon21, an online writing conference July 15-17, 2021. Click here to register now! FAQS for 10MINCON21!  When will this conference be held? July 15-17, 2021 Thursday-Saturday (all times are Eastern Daylight USA time). This is a 100% virtual event via Zoom. What kinds of speakers will be there? We’re very excited to host Angela Ackerman, the coauthor of The Emotion Thesaurus and the website Writers Helping Writers, best-selling suspense author Steven James, literary agent and YA author Eric Smith, and editor extraordinaire and author Tex Thompson. These four speakers are known in their fields and will lead sessions on business, publishing, craft, and editing.  How…

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    10MINCON21 Conference Schedule

    Everyone Needs A Spark! (all times are Eastern Time, USA) Can’t make the Zoom call? No worries! Your admission ticket allows you access for a limited time so you can watch at your convenience. Day 1 – Thursday, July 15, 2021 (all times are Eastern Time, USA) 5:15 – 6:00: Cocktail Hour! You provide the drinks, we provide the conversation! This is your chance to meet new and old friends, share some laughs, and make some new memories! 6:00 – 6:15: Welcome! Our Master of Ceremonies Ian McAllister officially kicks off 10MINCON2021! 6:15 – 6:30: Opening 10 Minute Novelists founder Katharine Grubb 6:30-8:00: Keynote: Steven James “Suspense Essentials: Secrets to…

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    How To Strengthen Your Flabby Middle (for your novel, not your gut)

    Writing the beginning of your book was the best! You knew how to introduce your characters, how to describe that setting, and you created a dynamic inciting incident to get the story rolling. You’re rewritten it hundreds of times and you finally got it right! Then there’s the end. Perhaps you’ve got it all planned out too. You know how the big climactic drama answers all the questions and creates permanent change for the main characters. You can see that last scene, as if it is a movie! But then you have to deal with the middle. Uh boy. You may have hundreds of pages that just sit there, boring…

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    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.…