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story structure

Does Drafting Terrify or Energize You?

Woman leaping above a field with text: Does Drafting Make You Feel Free?

Last week I started a new work-in-progress (WIP). Yay! I love drafting but I know others don’t. Some people call the first draft a “discovery draft,” and that description certainly holds true for me. My first drafts are all about discovering the story. Literally. I’m a reformed plotter and now […]

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June 11, 2013

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Ask Jami: Can This Story Be Saved?

Puzzle missing a piece with text: Can a Broken Story Be Saved?

I do a lot of beta reading for friends, and sometimes they come to me with a question along the lines of: “I’ve really struggled with x aspect of this story, and I’m wondering if I should just abandon it. Can you take a look and see if this story can […]

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June 4, 2013

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Four Tips for Beta Reading in Other Genres

Close up of knothole in a fence with text: Beta Reading Outside Your Genre? 4 Tips to Breach the Genre Borders

Recently, a good friend of mine asked for my help in identifying the issues with her story. She’d struggled with it on and off for years and was wondering if she should just chuck the whole thing. I offered to take a look at it, even though her story’s genre […]

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May 21, 2013

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Three Tips for Better Storytelling

Little girl reading to little boy with text: 3 Tips for Better Storytelling

Last time, we talked about how good storytelling can salvage even a poorly written book. As I mentioned in that post, storytelling skill is different from writing skill. Many people have a hard time defining what makes good storytelling—and that makes it difficult for us to improve. Yet I’d argue […]

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May 2, 2013

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Why Is Storytelling Ability So Important?

Footbridge heading into woods with text: Tell Me a Story...

What makes some poorly written books fall flat on their face while others succeed despite their flaws? One common answer is “storytelling ability.” But what is storytelling? The concept can seem vague and immeasurable—rather like “voice.” A recent experience with two poorly written books gave me insight into how a […]

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April 30, 2013

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Recipe for a Successful Synopsis

Index card box with text: Recipe for a Successful Synopsis, Synopsis 101

Whether we’re entering contests or submitting manuscripts to agents or publishers, at some point, most of us need to write a synopsis. Many writers hate writing synopses, but I don’t mind them. At least not anymore. Synopses no longer intimidate me now that I understand what’s supposed to go into […]

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February 12, 2013

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Actions and Reactions: The End-All-Be-All of Storytelling

Rippled panel with text: Building a Story One Action & Reaction at a Time

This might be a deep philosophical post. Or it might be random thoughts triggered by my remaining sugar coma (7 Thanksgiving desserts!). You’ll have to let me know. I’d been thinking about doing another post about actions and reactions in writing, but the more I thought about it, the bigger […]

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November 29, 2012

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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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