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Tip-heavy posts about writing skills and concepts that improve our stories. Sample topics: how to create a strong character, storytelling skills, information dumps, using point of view, subtext, using themes, building scenes, etc.

Does Every Scene Need a Goal?

Page from chemistry book

I love when I make my readers think.  Even better is when they turn around and make me think even deeper about an issue.  *smile* Yesterday, K.J. Pugh blogged about my last post (where I talked about cliffhangers and hooks) and brought up the issue of sequels I briefly mentioned.  No, […]

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May 8, 2012

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Cliffhangers: Not Just for the End of a Book

Necklace of a carving that looks like a fish hook

Pitches, queries, back cover copy, and full-length stories all have writing techniques in common.  For one thing, they all need a strong opening. We talk about that being a “hook,” something that grabs the reader and pulls them forward to the next line, paragraph, and page. A similar approach works within […]

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May 3, 2012

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Do Your Stories Match Your Voice?

Opened padlock and keys

I’ve been having a great conversation with Serena Yung in the comments of one of my posts about voice from a few weeks ago, so voice has been on my mind again this week.  When I found a fantastic article by author Julie Leto about voice and how it relates to our writing, […]

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April 12, 2012

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What Makes a Character Unique?

Man taking off mask

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.” Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare Wow, Bill, you have no idea how ahead of your time you were.  I know it must be hard to believe, but hundreds of years after you […]

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March 8, 2012

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Can We Have Too Much Voice?

Pile of doughnuts

Is it possible to have too much of a good thing?  Sure.  We’ve all overindulged in our favorite foods before.  No matter how much we might like sweets or any other type of food, something can be too sweet, too rich, too whatever. In my last post about how to add […]

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February 21, 2012

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Need Voice? Think Out Loud

Empty speech bubbles in different styles

“The voice didn’t grab me.” Uh-oh.  Isn’t that feedback one of a writer’s worst nightmares?  Voice is one of those things that feels like we either have it or we don’t.  And we think we can’t easily change it because our voice is so internal to us. But all is not […]

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February 16, 2012

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Pitch Prep: What Makes a Great First Page?

Series of outdoor entrances, pulling the eye deeper into a garden

It was a dark and stormy blog post.  *snicker* We’re continuing to prepare for the January 10-16th Pitch Your Shorts pitch session by tackling the issue of story openings.  (Check out Tuesday’s post for everything there is to know about pitching.) While the purpose of a pitch is to get a request, […]

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January 5, 2012

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Story Climax: The Whole Point — Guest: Victoria Mixon

Picture of Victoria Mixon

I’m excited to share today’s guest post by editor A. Victoria Mixon with everyone.  Her new book The Art & Craft of Story: 2nd Practitioner’s Manual recently came out and is a great addition to our writing craft library. In fact, her blog tour posts have been excerpts from this […]

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November 15, 2011

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What Makes a Story Feel Unrealistic?

Sepia-toned drawing of nighttime on fantasy planet with large moon and hot air balloons

With fiction, a fine line exists between stories we can relate to (no matter how fantastical the setting, characters, or plot) and those we can’t. We’ve all heard the phrase “suspension of disbelief” in relation to movies and books to explain how we accept the impossible. Every genre has different […]

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November 10, 2011

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What Drives a Story: Plot or Characters?

Dog sled in the snow

Wish me luck.  I’m about to dive into one of the eternal debates among writers.  Which is “better”: a plot-driven story or a character-driven story? If you’re not familiar with the debate, let me explain why this question is so fraught with potential landmines.  A common snub against genre stories […]

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July 26, 2011

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