Getting Your Writing Down

Getting Your Writing Down

Anne Lamott has advised writers to first “get it down,” and later, “fix it up.” The important piece of her counsel is to keep these two sessions separated—you don’t want Editor You to interfere with Creative You. Writing Tip for Today: Let’s take a look at the first part of the writing equation—getting it down. […]

Writing 101: Paragraph Length

Writing 101: Paragraph Length

Whenever I tried to help my daughter with papers she was assigned in college, she always felt uncomfortable with my tendency for shorter paragraphs. I usually compromised with her, but with a reminder: In English class we’re subjected to rules that don’t always translate to writing for publication. Writing Tip for Today: Is there an […]

Writing Characters to Life

Writing Characters to Life

Writers are often encouraged to fill in a grid of specifications about the characters they write. Height, age, hair and eye color are entered as well as education, occupation and location. These character forms are useful as a start. But readers will identify more with characters who speak to their emotional core. Writing Tip for […]

After the Writing Conference

After the Writing Conference

  I’ve just returned from a wonderful writer’s retreat in Newberg, Oregon. It’s always great to mentor other writers and to recharge my own batteries by hanging with writers and old friends. But I’m tired. Really tired. Writing Tip for Today: What can writers do in the aftermath of a retreat or conference? Recover First, […]

Writing a World

Writing a World

Fantasy and Sci-fi writers often point to world-building as their most important task in writing a fictional story. Writers and readers alike love the details, the imaginary places and the made-up rivalries. Yet if too much attention is placed on the world and not enough on the human aspects, even the best sword-clanging or laser-gun […]

Writing the Memoir

Writing the Memoir

Most of the time, I stick to writing tips about fiction. But since I’m giving a talk about memoir writing this week, it’s what’s on my mind. Writing about your life is popular but even if you don’t plan on doing any memoir writing, its techniques can be useful to fiction and nonfiction writers alike. […]

Three Fiction Essentials for Writers

Three Fiction Essentials for Writers

Fiction is a little like knitting: most people will ignore a certain number of mistakes, but the overall piece needs to hang together. In writing stories, readers will tolerate some imperfection, but some elements, if left undone, create story holes so big that readers will look elsewhere. Writing Tip for Today: Let’s examine three things […]

Is Your Fiction a Story?

Is Your Fiction a Story?

  With NaNoWriMo coming up in November, it’s a good time to brainstorm story ideas. But is the fiction you hope to write really a story? Writing Tip for Today: Here are three ways to tell if the novel you’re writing is a solid story: Arc or Episodic? Some novel writers are not quite sure […]

Writing Irresistible Fiction

Writing Irresistible Fiction

  Today’s writing arena is very crowded. Everyone, it seems, wants to write and publish their fiction. One of the fiction writer’s most pressing questions these days has to be, “How can I make my story stand out?” Writing Tip for Today: Practice, determination and skill-building are important–but they’re not everything. Here are three more […]

Writing: How to Pace a Scene

Writing: How to Pace a Scene

  Last time, we focused on the importance of pacing in a novel. Today, let’s examine ways to pace an individual scene as you draft your fiction. Writing Tip for Today: What are some writing techniques to pace a scene? Magic Threes One of the easiest ways to pace a scene is to think in […]