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Learn about Writing

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.

What Makes a Character Unlikable?

Frowning

Believe it or not, I sometimes actually follow my own advice.  *smile*  Recently, I helped score a few contest entries, just like I recommend in my post about why all writers should volunteer to judge contests. One of the entries was—I’m afraid there’s no nice way to say this—dreadful.  The […]

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June 21, 2011

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Do Stories Need a Theme?

Disney's California Adventure theme park

Earlier this week, Julie Musil had a great post about how to create story endings that resonate.  I almost wrote an epic comment to her post, but decided to save my wordiness for here.  And I get to use one of my vacation pictures—Disney’s California Adventure theme park, get it? […]

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May 26, 2011

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What Disneyland Can Teach Us about World-building

Puzzle of globe

First, I want to thank J.A. Paul and Rachel Firasek for their guest posts.  I had fun with their interviews and I hope you all did too. Yes, I’m back from a fun, exhausting trip to Disneyland.  And yes, my vacation inspired a blog post.  You’re not surprised, are you? […]

May 17, 2011

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Make Your Antagonist a Force for Good

Sinister man

Wait…what? Well, we want to make our antagonist good for our story anyway.  *smile* Kristen Lamb has been running a fantastic series on antagonists (Part One, Part Two, Villains, Balancing Evil, Inner and Outer Demons).  She shares more gems than I can capture here, so definitely check out her posts. For […]

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May 5, 2011

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What Creates Good Writing: Instinct vs. Skill

African Lion

I’m still in the deadline cave and self-banned from Twitter, but I wanted to post about something I’ve realized through this revision process. It’s probably safe to say we all want to get better at our jobs, whether that’s writing or something else.  But how much of what we do […]

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February 24, 2011

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What Makes Omniscient POV Different from Head-Hopping?

God's Eye View

Last time, we talked about how head-hopping is something to avoid, and not just because there’s a rule against it.  Any change in point-of-view (POV), whether using an “allowed” technique or not, risks weakening the connection between the reader and the story. Head-hopping authors sometimes say they’re writing in omniscient […]

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February 1, 2011

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Why Is Head-Hopping Bad?

Mannequin heads

Depending on who you talk to, head-hopping is somewhere between a shoulder shrug and the-world-is-ending bad.  Note that neither of those extremes thinks that head-hopping is good.  I suppose it could be positive if used in some sci-fi story, along the lines of “body snatchers,” but we’re talking about it […]

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January 27, 2011

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How to Create a Strong Character: Let Them Live

Checkerboard Black Hole

Congratulations!  We made it to the end of the checklist for creating strong characters.  We’ve given our characters goals, delusions, lies, and flaws.  Only one thing left could go wrong… Do They Die Before the End of the Story? The flowchart specified that a character had to survive to the […]

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November 9, 2010

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How to Create a Strong Character: Give Them Flaws

Cracked Statue

We’re almost through with the list of how to create strong characters.  So far, we’ve ensured they had goals and contrasted their self-image and persona.  Next up… Do They Have Flaws? To feel lifelike, our characters must have flaws like real people.  Without flaws, our characters risk making our whole […]

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November 4, 2010

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How to Create a Strong Character: Use Masks

Question Mark in Doorway

We’re working our way through the list of how to create strong characters.  So far, we’ve ensured they had goals and analyzed how their self-image differs from reality.  And related to that contrast we talked about last time… Do They Merely Represent an Idea? Characters are often most cardboard-like when […]

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November 2, 2010

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