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showing vs. telling

4 Tips for “Setting” a Mood — Guest: Becca Puglisi

Setting Thesauri covers with text: Creating a Mood with the Setting Thesauri

The Thesaurus books by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi are a must-have for every fiction author, and they now have two new Thesauri books: Urban Setting and Rural Setting. Becca’s here today to talk about how setting is important for more than just describing the time and place of our scene.

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June 14, 2016

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What Goes into Building a Movie in Our Mind?

Movie screen in front of seats with text: The Difficulty of Creating Movies in Our Mind

Sometimes as authors, we struggle to create a well-rounded world or characters that feel so real to readers that they experience a movie in their mind. Stories that feel like we can crawl in and inhabit them are often lauded as special, but why is it so hard to succeed in that goal?

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April 28, 2016

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Brain Science: How Do You Imagine?

Theater curtain opening to reveal text: Featuring... Your Imagination

Aphantasia is the term for when someone can’t imagine something in their mind–“mind blindness” or not having a “mind’s eye.” As writers, this perspective not only gives us all sorts of story and character ideas, but it can also raise many questions about the concept of imagination itself.

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April 26, 2016

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Subtext: Creating Layered Characters

Reflections on a water surface with text: Getting Under the Surface of Our Characters

I’ve written many times about how much I love subtext, the stuff that happens between the lines. Subtext lurks in many aspects of our stories and helps immerse readers and add realism and tension. In addition, subtext can help us build layered characters.

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April 21, 2016

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How to Weave Story Elements and Avoid Info Dumps

Garbage can with text: No Info Dumps Allowed

Our stories consist of many elements—from backstory to dialogue—that each contribute to our story. Yet we can overdo those elements with an information dump. How can we include the different elements while making sure we don’t cross over into Info Dump Land? Let’s talk options…

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March 10, 2016

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Story Conflict: Villains vs. Antagonists

Man sitting in a dark room with text: Does Every Story Need a Villain?

Conflict is one of those words we all think we understand, but the writing-world meaning doesn’t have the same connotation as the non-writing meaning. Yet it’s only after understanding conflict that we’ll see the difference between antagonists and villains in storytelling.

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March 1, 2016

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Strengthening Our Observation Skills — Guest: Laurel Garver

Observation Scope overlooking Toronto skyline with text: How to be a Better People Watcher

It’s usually best to avoid “naming” emotions in our writing and to show those emotions instead. But to put the Emotion Thesaurus’s emotional cues into our voice, we might need to add our own spin, like from our observations of the real world. Today’s guest post has tips for how to develop our observing skills.

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November 17, 2015

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