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setting and description

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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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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Expand Our Senses and Improve Our Descriptions

Sleep mask with text: Describing with Other Senses

How many hundreds of times have we all heard the advice to “show not tell”? That’s often good advice (except for the times when it’s not *smile*). Other than the exceptions, “showing” usually is better than telling because it pulls the reader deeper into the story. But that means we […]

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June 12, 2014

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5 Insights from Bestselling Authors

Close up of a dandelion at seed with text: 5 Insights from a Writing Conference

The Desert Dreams Writing Conference always exceeds my expectations. However, not all of us are so lucky to have easy access to quality writing conferences, so I wanted to share my top takeaways from the conference.

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April 8, 2014

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3 Tips for Skipping the Boring Parts

Long road toward mountains in the distance with text: Skip to the Good Parts

I was going to rant about poor editing today, but I closed the wrong window in my computer and lost all 1000 words. *sigh* So I’ll try it again later when I’m not so sleep deprived from WANACon preparation. Instead, I’m revisiting a different topic today. We’ve heard the saying: Life […]

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February 20, 2014

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4 Tips to Solve 99% of Your Writing Problems — Guest: Janice Hardy

Underwater picture with text: Dive Deep to Solve Your Writing Problems

I’ve gushed many times about the awesomeness of Janice Hardy’s blog—for good reason. Her writing tips are clear and insightful. She discusses topics more thoroughly than most. And it’s a rare thing when I can’t find an answer to a writing question there. She’s also a super-fantastic person (I’ve met […]

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October 3, 2013

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What Soap Operas Can Teach Us about Writing

Floating soap bubbles with text: Writing Tips from Soap Operas

I don’t watch soap operas, but a bizarre conversation tangent (in other words, a perfectly normal conversation for me) triggered my thoughts comparing soap operas to novels. On the surface, they seem very similar. They both have characters, tension, and conflict. However, the more I thought about it, the more […]

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April 23, 2013

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Writing Research: A Pain or a Gain?

Microscope with text: Research: Pain or Gain?

Readers often think that fiction writers just make stuff up. And that’s quite true—when it comes to most stories and characters. However, the supporting details of settings, props, jobs, and plot events are another matter. Whatever genre we write, we usually have to do some research in the course of […]

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November 27, 2012

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Worldbuilding, Genres, and Reader Expectations

Image from header of Melinda Collins's blog

After I agreed to do a guest post for my friend Melinda Collins, she suggested I write something about worldbuilding. Despite being a paranormal author who continually invents worlds slightly different from our own, I haven’t written many posts about that topic yet, so I sat down to brainstorm ideas. […]

August 16, 2012

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