editing

Ask Jami: How Many Characters Is “Too Many”?

October 21, 2014 Writing Stuff
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Kim wants to know if there’s an optimal number of characters to include in a novel. That’s a great question because we want to hit the balance between the claustrophobia of too few characters and the confusion of too many characters.

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Cause and Effect: Understanding Story Flow

October 9, 2014 Writing Stuff
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In the real world, the cause of something happens before the effect. But in writing, we can put words into any order we want, which might leave the reader confused. If they have to reverse events in their head, they’re probably no longer immersed in our story. Not good.

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Showing Emotions: Finding the Right Balance

September 25, 2014 Writing Stuff
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The ability to manipulate our readers’ emotions is a good thing (as screwed up as that sounds). Storytelling and keeping readers’ interest often comes down to creating emotions in our readers. So let’s take a closer look at how we create emotions in our readers and how we find the right balance.

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First Pages: Tips to Avoid Cliches and Weak Writing

September 18, 2014 Writing Stuff
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Many stories “strike out” with readers in the first chapter. So our opening pages are just as critical to sales as our book cover, title, back-cover blurb, etc. Let’s take a closer look at cliches to avoid and tips to make those pages work for us.

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Too Close? 5 Techniques to See Our Story Objectively

September 16, 2014 Writing Stuff
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After we complete a first draft, we might want to dig into revising right away because we’re still excited and passionate about the premise. But many writers say it’s better to do something to gain “distance” from our story first. Distance helps us see our story objectively so we can revise ruthlessly, not clinging to our intentions but seeing our story’s potential.

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Feedback: Finding Problems vs. Fixing Problems

September 11, 2014 Writing Stuff
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If we’ve ever let beta readers or critique groups give feedback on our stories, we’ve probably run into the issue of receiving conflicting advice. In fact, if we’ve ever let more than one person read our work, we’ve probably received conflicting advice. *smile* One reader may love a character someone else hates. One person may think a subplot […]

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How to Make Sure Readers Don’t Close the Book

September 4, 2014 Writing Stuff
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Many articles and infographics have tried to answer the question of what makes readers stop reading. They usually include a list of offenses like typos, too boring, confusing, etc. And those are all true. But a recent post took a more analytical approach to measuring problem areas. Jefferson Smith started a reading program called “Immerse […]

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Are You an Expert? How Writing Changes Our Brain

August 19, 2014 Writing Stuff
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Recently, an interesting article discussed research on the brains of writers. One important finding seemed to match research in other areas, namely that experienced people think differently from those just learning the ropes. Being an expert isn’t just about knowing more.

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Introducing the Beta Reading Worksheet!

August 12, 2014 Writing Stuff
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Many of us find beta readers by offering to exchange our work with other writers in a “I’ll give you feedback if you give me feedback” arrangement. That structure means we have to do a good job with our feedback if we want to continue the beta buddy exchange program.

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Writing Active Settings, Part 2 — Guest: Mary Buckham

July 24, 2014 Writing Stuff
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USA Today bestselling author Mary Buckham is back with Part Two of her guest post on writing active settings that keep our story flowing and connect readers to our characters. Today, she’s sharing the second biggest hurdle to writing great descriptions.

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