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setting and description

Ask Jami: How Can We Make a Story Believable?

Card hand of 4 aces with text: What Makes a Story Unbelievable?

As soon as immersion is broken for a reader, their suspension of disbelief is at risk, so we don’t want unbelievable aspects of our story to kick readers out of the story midway. When it comes to believability, issues could crop up within the plot, characters, or worldbuilding, and we have to find the right balance within each of those areas.

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December 11, 2014

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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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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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