tension

How to Strengthen Emotions in Our Writing

December 12, 2013 Writing Stuff
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Last time, we discussed ways to use The Emotion Thesaurus to avoid problems like telling instead of showing, head-hopping away from the point-of-view character, and clichéd writing. The fourth issue we touched on was avoiding flat or unemotional writing. This last one is a bigger issue than can be summed up in a couple of paragraphs. Whole […]

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Using Conflict to Understand Our Characters

November 19, 2013 Writing Stuff
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All stories need conflict. As agent Donald Maass says, we need tension on every page. But that doesn’t mean our characters should come to fisticuffs on a regular basis. Instead, conflict refers to whatever stands between our characters and what they want. Why does it take them 300 or so pages to reach their goals or […]

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Does Your Writing Have Rhythm?

November 5, 2013 Writing Stuff
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We’re probably all familiar with the idea that poetry, music, and song lyrics can have rhythm. But prose writing—our normal, everyday writing with sentences and paragraphs rather than lines, stanzas, and verses—can have a rhythm too. I’d occasionally heard a rhythm in my head while reading stories but never paid much attention. Several years ago, when I […]

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How to Avoid a Sagging Middle in Our Stories

October 29, 2013 Writing Stuff
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The middle act of our story isn’t about adding page count to drag out the tension and make the story novel-length. And the middle isn’t a delaying tactic before we get to the “good stuff.” Instead, the middle of our story should be the “meat” of the story. Without setting up the obstacles here, any solution in the final act will seem too easy and won’t be as satisfying.

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4 Tips to Solve 99% of Your Writing Problems — Guest: Janice Hardy

October 3, 2013 Writing Stuff
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I’ve gushed many times about the awesomeness of Janice Hardy’s blog—for good reason. Her writing tips are clear and insightful. She discusses topics more thoroughly than most. And it’s a rare thing when I can’t find an answer to a writing question there. She’s also a super-fantastic person (I’ve met her in real-life, so I […]

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Book Series: Should We Include a Teaser Excerpt?

August 1, 2013 Writing Stuff
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Yesterday, Kristen Lamb ran an encore of one of my posts from last year on her blog. We both liked that post because it discusses the importance of leaving the reader room to use their imagination. In the post, I made an aside about the danger of including a teaser excerpt for the next book in […]

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A Prologue Will Help Our Story When…

July 25, 2013 Writing Stuff
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Last time we touched on beat sheets because of a guest post I wrote for one of my Blogiversary winners. Today we’re going to talk about a subject that came up with one of my other Blogiversary winners: prologues. Prologues are hated by many editors and agents. Surprisingly, I’ve heard from readers who say they […]

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Ask Jami: Can This Story Be Saved?

June 4, 2013 Writing Stuff
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I do a lot of beta reading for friends, and sometimes they come to me with a question along the lines of: “I’ve really struggled with x aspect of this story, and I’m wondering if I should just abandon it. Can you take a look and see if this story can be saved?” Here’s a hint […]

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Why Is Storytelling Ability So Important?

April 30, 2013 Writing Stuff
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What makes some poorly written books fall flat on their face while others succeed despite their flaws? One common answer is “storytelling ability.” But what is storytelling? The concept can seem vague and immeasurable—rather like “voice.” A recent experience with two poorly written books gave me insight into how a deeply flawed story can still […]

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What Soap Operas Can Teach Us about Writing

April 23, 2013 Writing Stuff
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I don’t watch soap operas, but a bizarre conversation tangent (in other words, a perfectly normal conversation for me) triggered my thoughts comparing soap operas to novels. On the surface, they seem very similar. They both have characters, tension, and conflict. However, the more I thought about it, the more I saw differences. And those […]

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