The Third Way

The Third Way

I can still feel the kneeler biting into my knees as I begged the pastor to pray for me. “I’m a failure at tough love,” I began. “No matter what I do, I can’t throw out my son.” For me and loads of other moms like me, “tough love” means “kicking him out” or “turning […]

Writing Fiction: Summary or Action?

Writing Fiction: Summary or Action?

When you’re more than halfway through your story and you reach a critical chapter, do you recap (summarize) or do you act it out? The pace at which your story unfolds boils down to summary vs. action. Writing Tip for Today: Let’s discuss any story’s basic needs at different points of a scene, chapter or […]

Writing with Clarity

Writing with Clarity

When I started writing for publication, I had to unlearn some habits until I was writing with clarity. Aside from the smallish pun on my name, more than two decades later I still try to help writers understand and apply what writing with clarity means. Writing Tip for Today: How does clarity impact writing and […]

Writing Short Personal Essays

Writing Short Personal Essays

One thing I almost always counsel my students to do while they finish their novels is to begin writing short personal essays for publication. Why? It’s all about your author cred. Writing Tip for Today: What are some tips for creating short personal essays for publication? The One-inch Frame Start with your life—but keep the […]

Novel Writing Tips and Tricks

Novel Writing Tips and Tricks

Writing your novel has been a long and often frustrating process, but you are not the writer you were when you started. The process of novel writing has improved your skills. Writing Tip for Today: Let’s talk about some ways your revisions or your next project can be even more effective. Watch Those Looks In […]

Writing Effective Characters: Three Tests

Writing Effective Characters: Three Tests

Fiction writers know that to attract and keep readers, we must write effective characters. But what does that mean? Writing Tip for Today: Here are three little tests that will give you an idea of how effective your characters are: A Burning Desire You’ve heard me discuss story stakes many times, but did you know […]

Monster Meth

I pick up my adult son’s sunglasses—cradle them, really. Yesterday he showed them off to me—his grin so wide you’d think he’d won the lottery. These flimsy shades were from the dollar store, he said, but I like them. And he did. But today, he’d say those glasses are made out of plastic so cheap […]

Rewriting the Small Stuff

Rewriting the Small Stuff

As we’ve discussed over the past few weeks, rewriting a novel is a multi-step process. We now appreciate that revision is more than mere copy editing, but copy edits are also an important part of the process. Writing Tip for Today: Here are a few areas to address as you move into the copy editing […]

Rewriting a Novel: Part III

Rewriting a Novel: Part III

After you’ve torn out your hair rewriting the “Big Picture” of your novel, you may be ready to pitch the manuscript into the trash. But wait! There are more important steps to a strong self-edited novel. Writing Tip for Today: After the structural components have been fixed, what’s the next step of novel revision? One […]

Novel Rewriting Part II

The “Big Picture” revision we discussed last post may take a lot of rearranging, addition/deletion and much thought. Whole chapters may need to be lopped off. But let’s say you’ve done it. Now what? Writing Tip for Today: What are some ideas for “next step” revision? Storyboarding As you see your novel’s Big Picture more […]