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cause and effect

Cause and Effect: Understanding Story Flow

Waterfall with text: Don't Mess with Story Flow

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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October 9, 2014

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Building a Character Arc: Start at the End

Train tracks ending on a beach with text: Want a Strong Arc? Start at The End

As I mentioned with the worksheet I shared last week, it’s often easier to work backward when we’re framing our story. At the very least, knowing the ending often makes it easier to see our character’s arc.

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July 17, 2014

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6 Steps to Balance Your Editing: Plot vs. Characters

Balance with a gold ball and a silver ball with text: Finding the Balance in Revisions

After we’ve finished drafting our story and the warm fuzzies of that accomplishment have faded, it’s time to buckle down for the next step: revising. Many of us aren’t sure where to start with revisions, even when we know something is wrong with a story. When I help authors edit […]

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June 17, 2014

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When Should We Skip a Scene in Our Story?

Boulder in a river with text: Every Scene Needs Obstacles

Every story beat or turning point scene—when events affect the main story question, conflict, or goal—needs to be included in a story. But what about non-turning-point scenes? How can we tell when to include them and when we can skip ahead?

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May 8, 2014

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What Makes a Story Event a “Turning Point”?

Wood plank balanced on an old pier post with text: How to Recognize a Turning Point

Between questions on Facebook and some of my editing clients, I’ve had several conversations lately about story turning points: what they are, what they mean, and how to recognize them. As writers, we all need to understand turning points. If we plot or plan our story in advance, we need […]

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February 4, 2014

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How to Strengthen Emotions in Our Writing

Dumbbell with text: Stronger Emotions Strengthen Our Writing

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 […]

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December 12, 2013

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Fix 4 Common Writing Problems with “The Emotion Thesaurus”

Cover of the Emotion Thesaurus with text: Writing Tips with The Emotion Thesaurus

A couple of weeks ago, Becca Puglisi, one of the co-authors of the fantastic Thesaurus books, shared her tips for using the new The Positive Trait Thesaurus and The Negative Trait Thesaurus books. Her advice can help us develop our characters at all stages of planning, drafting, and editing. But the […]

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December 10, 2013

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NaNo Wrap-Up: Beat Sheets 101

Green chalkboard with text: Beat Sheets 101

Now is the time of year when thousands of writers look at their NaNoWriMo story and think: Yay! Okay, now what? (Or if you’re like me, you’re still drafting the denouement for the final scene, but I’m close to finishing. *smile*) Whether we wrote by the seat of our pants or […]

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December 3, 2013

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5 Tips for Getting Unstuck in Our Story

Brick wall with text: Facing a Wall? 5 Tips for Getting Unstuck

A couple of weeks ago, I was stuck in my latest work-in-progress (WIP). One scene wasn’t progressing because I couldn’t figure out why my character was doing what he was doing. I just knew that he was doing it, even though he knew the action was a Bad Idea (TM). Why, […]

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August 27, 2013

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