Writing Your Character’s Big Secrets

Writing Your Character’s Big Secrets

We’ve all heard that our stories must contain rising tension and plenty of conflict. As a new writer, I thought that meant stuff had to blow up to make the conflict apparent. Boy, was I wrong! Writing Tip for Today: To maximize tension and conflict, force your character to reveal her biggest, darkest secrets. Here […]

Mastering Scenic Reminders

Effective scene writing weaves nearly a dozen elements together to tell the story: everything from a purpose, lots of sensory details and most importantly, a character at a specific time and place. Even when the place setting is spelled out at the opening, readers will need reminders to keep imagining the scene. Writing Tip for […]

How to Revive a Dead Scene

How to Revive a Dead Scene

Last post we discussed injecting some kind of death into every scene—to keep tension rising and story moving forward. But what if you’ve written a scene that’s DOA? Writing Tip for Today: Let’s talk about some ways you can breathe new life into a scene that’s dead. Is it Chit-chatty? Scenes that include a lot […]

Writing Death into Scenes

Writing Death into Scenes

James Scott Bell teaches that every scene must include death. Whether it’s the death of a dream, the death of hope or the death of a real person, every scene in fiction must propel the protagonist toward an alternate way of solving a problem. Writing Tip for Today: Death isn’t something most of us want […]

Write Deep, Write True

I’ve just returned from teaching at a wonderful writing conference located in the redwoods of Northern California. There, for six days I taught classes, read manuscripts and met with writers about their work. One bit of advice I gave again and again was to learn to write deeper and truer. Writing Tip for Today: Here […]

Writing to Know Oneself

Writing to Know Oneself

Forgive me for deviating from my usual practical tips, but once in a while it’s good to ask what it all means. Writing Tip for Today: How does a writing practice illuminate our understanding of ourselves and others? Learn What You Know “I write to discover what I know.” –Flannery O’Connor. What was true for […]

Writing Character Motivation Circles

Writing Character Motivation Circles

In fiction, we all want our characters to be as alive to readers as they are to us. Yet, who hasn’t struggled with writing a character who is fully developed and three-dimensional? Writing Tip for Today: Here’s a simple method for increasing character depth and stakes in your story using motivational circles: The Cheese Stands […]

Fixing Your Ailing Storyboard

Today’s post will show you how to remedy a storyboard (and by extension, plot) with problems.Writing Tip for Today: So you’ve laid out your novel’s scenes and taken a more holistic and objective look at your story. The nice thing about storyboarding is that you can add, rearrange or cut scenes without messing around in […]

Three Ways to Outline Fiction

Three Ways to Outline FictionWhether you’re a plotter or a pantster, the more you write the more likely you are to outline at some point. Outlining before, during or after your draft is finished can show you your story’s strengths and spot flaws.Writing Tip for Today: Here are three ways to use outlining in your […]

Three More Tips on Show, Don’t Tell

Most writing teachers talk about show, don’t tell in terms of avoiding explanations and increasing concrete sensory details. These techniques are vital. But to master show, don’t tell, here are some lesser-known writing tips. Writing Tip for Today: Let’s take a look at some other ways to attain “show, don’t tell”in your fiction. Manage Readers […]