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Planning Your Story

Story planning tips and advice. Sample topics: using beat sheets, developing arcs, techniques for those who write by the seat of their pants, deciding on story ideas, etc.

The Thin Line between Character Strengths and Flaws

A yin-yang style wave with text: When Is a Character Strength a Flaw?

Last time I asked you to share your superpower, that trait—useful or not—that makes you unique. Everyone shared some great stories, although none of us had skills that would land us on Cracked.com’s “Real People with Mind-Blowing Mutant Superpowers” list. *eyes the superpowers that made the list* Maybe that’s a […]

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April 11, 2013

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Can Story Themes Help Pantsers Write?

Landscape with Magnifying Loupe in foreground with text: Themes: Our Story's Big Picture

My favorite blogger, Janice Hardy, had another great post last week. This time she talked about how writers can develop their theme. She shared three tips for understanding how themes work in our stories. One of her tips struck me—a confirmed pantser—as a great way to keep our pantsed stories […]

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February 19, 2013

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The Point of a Scene: Thinking in Concepts

Pencil connected to a light bulb with text: How Detailed Do Our Ideas Need to Be?

A couple of months ago, I read a blog post that forever changed how I approached drafting scenes. That probably sounds melodramatic, but it’s true. We’ve often talked about the differences between plotters and pantsers (those who write by the seat of their pants), and how as a die-hard-and-happy-about-it pantser, […]

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November 20, 2012

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Write Romance? Get Your Beat Sheet Here!

Drawing of plot arc with text: Romance Writers--What's Your Arc?

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month—write a 50K word novel during November) starts today, and while I plan to continue blogging throughout NaNo, I wanted to make sure I gave you something good to keep you happy during my crazy month. *smile* Of course, whether or not you’d define today’s post […]

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November 1, 2012

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Michael Hauge’s Workshop: Are These Characters the Perfect Match?

Two matched puzzle pieces with text: Find the Perfect Match...for your Character

Last time I shared tips from Michael Hauge’s presentation at the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Conference about how to make romance (or love interest) relationships feel deep and not superficial. Most of us have probably read books where, at the end of the story, we didn’t trust the couple to […]

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August 14, 2012

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What Stories *Won’t* You Write?

Square piece of road pavement painted with "STOP" in the middle of the woods

In my last post, we talked about voice and how we tend to write the same types of characters, premises, and themes over and over.  That’s not a bad thing.  Those stories resonate with us as writers. Similarly, there are stories we would never write.  Stories might be so against our internal grain […]

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April 17, 2012

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What If Our Story Idea Has Already Been Done?

Computer screen duplicating image into infinity

In my last post about Google search terms, I mentioned that we sometimes have lots of content around a search’s keywords and yet have never answered the question directly.  In that case, Google just gave us an idea for a blog post.  *smile* One search term that led people to my blog this […]

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March 22, 2012

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How to Revise for Structure, Part Two

Cover image of Larry Brooks's Story Engineering

Last time, we discussed Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat craft book and how we can use his writing tools to revise our work.  His beat sheet points out when story events (beats) should occur in a screenplay, and most of his advice applies to all forms of fiction writing. Whether we dig into […]

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February 14, 2012

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How to Use the “Save the Cat” Beat Sheet for Revisions

Cover image of Blake Snyder's "Save the Cat"

Before I start, thank you to everyone who commented, tweeted, and emailed me with support after my last post about losing my cat.  You all have filled me with virtual hugs and put a smile on my face.  Thank you.  *hugs back* In fact, after writing that post and reading […]

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February 9, 2012

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