strong characters

3 Acting Tips to Strengthen Our Voice — Guest: Libby Heily

November 10, 2016 Writing Stuff
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When writing, do you ever make the facial expressions of your characters? In that way, most writers are like actors, but other acting skills can help our writing too. Today, Libby Heily shares how we can deepen our characters, strengthen our voice, and sharpen our dialogue with acting skills.

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When Fiction Is Better Behaved than Reality

October 11, 2016 Random Musings
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Recently, the U.S. election insanity dragged in the romance genre. Uh, wait, what? Some memes have claimed women shouldn’t be mad about the words used in Trump’s bragging because…Fifty Shades of Grey. Let’s explore this idea—without politics. *smile*

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Strengthening Stakes: It’s Not about Going Big

September 27, 2016 Writing Stuff
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A story’s stakes are one element that keeps readers turning pages because they want to see if our characters succeed. At first glance, we might think bigger stakes are better for sucking in readers, but not every story lends themselves to huge stakes. Are “quieter” stories doomed to fail the “page-turner” test?

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Backstory: Finding the Right Balance — Guest: Janice Hardy

September 8, 2016 Writing Stuff
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Today, Janice Hardy shares her revision advice on how to include the right amount of backstory. Too much slows the pace, and too little can leave readers confused. Her tips help us avoid the issue of slow pacing, learn how to hide backstory, and identify when we need more.

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Character Arc Development: Is There a Best Approach?

August 18, 2016 Writing Stuff
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There are almost an infinite number of ways we can develop our story. As long as we end up with a finished book, our process works. And just like the variety found in the overall writing processes we might use, we have many options for how to come up with our protagonist’s arc as well.

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Why Is “Unlikable” Often a Deal-Breaker for Readers?

June 21, 2016 Random Musings
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A recent article about unlikable heroines pointed out that likability is often more of a problem for female characters than for male characters. While I’ve learned how to minimize those issues with my characters, the problem still rankles me.

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Character Development Is a Two-Edged Sword

May 26, 2016 Writing Stuff
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As writers, we do everything we can to make readers invested in our characters in some way. An invested reader is a happy reader, right?
Well, maybe not. Let’s take a look at the other side of character development.

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Plot Obstacles & Character Agency

May 17, 2016 Writing Stuff
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Ashley asked a question in the comments last week that gets at the heart of strong, proactive characters. Even in literary fiction, characters are usually faced with making choices, and whatever triggers those choices is where we’ll find plot and character agency.

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Plot Obstacles: Too Easy, Too Difficult, or Just Right?

May 12, 2016 Writing Stuff
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Our characters have to overcome many problems throughout our plot, but changing the obstacles doesn’t always fix story problems. Sure, sometimes an obstacle doesn’t fit the story, but too often, the obstacle itself isn’t broken—but the storytelling around the obstacle.

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What’s the Difference between Plot and Story?

May 3, 2016 Writing Stuff
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When we first start off as writers, if someone asks us about our story, we might launch into an overview of our story’s plot. It’s easy to think the plot is what our story is about. But with few exceptions, story isn’t the same as plot.

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