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6 Steps to Researching a Story — Guest: Tracy L. Ward

Scientist mixing chemicals with text: 6 Steps to Research Our Story

No matter what genre we write, we’re likely to have to research something. If our stories take place within the real world, we might have to research events, settings, or diseases. If our stories take place outside the real world, we might have to research theories, ideas, or concepts. In other words, today’s post about how to research for writing projects will be relevant to most of us.

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November 11, 2014

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Ask Jami: How Do We Describe Characters?

High-heeled shoes with text: How Do We Describe Characters?

How we describe characters often depends on our story’s genre and what impression we want readers to have. When we’ve talked about descriptions here before, we focused on how it’s important to describe our settings enough to anchor our readers. Do we have to describe our characters to the same extent?

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October 28, 2014

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

Silhouette of a crowd with text: How Many Characters Do We Need?

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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October 21, 2014

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NaNo Prep: Are You Ready to Start Drafting?

Screenshot of a blank Scrivener project with text: Are You Ready to Start Drafting?

It’s almost time for NaNoWriMo, when thousands of writers will try to cram 50,000 words into a 30-day deadline. If you’re doing NaNo and anything like me, you might be freaking out a little as November nears. Although this is my third year with NaNo, this will be my first time doing it “for really-real.”

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October 16, 2014

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Showing Emotions: Finding the Right Balance

Stacked stones in a tower with text: Balancing Emotions in Our Story

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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September 25, 2014

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First Pages: Tips to Avoid Cliches and Weak Writing

Blank book open to first page with text: What's on Your First Page?

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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September 18, 2014

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Are You an Expert? How Writing Changes Our Brain

Fingers on a piano with text: What Makes an Expert?

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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August 19, 2014

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Writing Active Settings, Part 1 — Guest: Mary Buckham

Place setting on a table with text: Using Point of View to Bring Settings to Life

The trick to sharing setting information (which our readers do need) without dragging down the pace is to write active descriptions. Active descriptions let the reader imagine the setting in their mind, keep them anchored in the story, and slip in information so seamlessly that they never realize they’re reading descriptions.

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July 22, 2014

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