setting and description

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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How to Use Holidays in Our Writing

Decorated star-shaped cookies

*Quick Reminder: I hope you’re all getting a 10-60K story ready for the Pitch Your Shorts pitch session coming January 10th.* Most of us have a favorite holiday (or two).  Sometimes we love a holiday because of the meaning behind the day.  Sometimes we love a holiday because of the celebrations […]

December 29, 2011

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Writer Resource: Thesaurus Collections at The Bookshelf Muse

Dust Storm in Phoenix area July, 2011

Last year, I discovered the fantastic resources available for writers at The Bookshelf Muse blog.  Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi have created valuable references for writers with their thesaurus collections. The Emotion Thesaurus gives lists of all the different ways to show an emotion (including non-cliché ones!).  The Setting Thesaurus includes […]

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July 14, 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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The “Matrix” Approach to Scene Setting – Part Two

Falling Matrix Code

In Part One, I proposed my Matrix theory for describing action and scenes in stories and talked about why it works.  In this post, I’ll explain how to successfully use the technique to add details, both with narrative and dialogue—and how not to use it. So as I mentioned last […]

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September 8, 2010

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The “Matrix” Approach to Scene Setting – Part One

Matrix Digital Tunnel

Last time, I explained how to avoid dumping information into stories and how dialogue is often used incorrectly to convey details to readers—the “As you know, Bob” technique.  It just so happened that my friend Simon C. Larter posted a related article with info dumps in dialogue that worked that […]

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September 7, 2010

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Banish the Boring Parts

Table Setting

Last time, I mentioned how stories—the good ones anyway—avoid the boring parts of the journey by jumping into the action.  Today’s post continues that “skip to the good parts” theme to talk about settings. Setting is the sense of time, place, and mood within a story.  Descriptions create a world […]

August 25, 2010

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