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Writing Tips

Making Us Care

I’ve been talking to a lot of people lately about book openings, specifically what you need to accomplish in the first ten pages of your manuscript.  To prologue or not to prologue?  Do you need to set up the scale of the world, or give details on the science?  Should you start with an action scene? These are […]

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Setting and History

A setting is the sum of its history.  Whether you’re writing contemporary fiction, or something set in an invented country, a place’s history provides both context for your story and opportunities to make your story specific. I played into that with the mystery I just released by setting it in Galveston, where I am familiar […]

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Giving Your Story Depth

When talking about story depth, predominantly, you’re talking about how the author has handled themes in a work.  I’ve had a number of writing students who embrace the ideas of planning out character and plot, but totally shy away from discussing theme.  The story events are what they are – entertaining, exciting, fun.  So why […]

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Finding Your Voice

It can take courage to be yourself on the page.  If you are writing “primly” or “correctly,” that can feel safe.  Who can find fault with a voice that sounds carefully generic?  But the story written generically isn’t going to come out very exciting, is it?  More likely, your entire book will sound stilted or […]

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The Power of Lists

I’ve talked before about the power of What If questions when it comes to creativity.  What I want to talk about today is related: the power of making lists. Lists force you to move past the first idea that pops into your head in answer to a What If question.  When I get stuck, I […]

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Let’s Do the Twist

So you’ve come up with a clever twist that you think no one will ever see coming.  And you send it to your beta readers, waiting to hear back that the shock and surprise of the twist had them in awe.  Maybe that’s exactly what happens.  Or . . . maybe they tell you the […]

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Avoiding Emotional Redundancy

Every scene in your manuscript should have a purpose, and move the story forward.  So obviously, you don’t want to waste the reader’s attention with scenes that relay the same information.  But what about the same emotions? Repetition leads to boredom. If, like me, you tend to write long and have to trim back your […]

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Sidekicks and Sounding Boards

Ever wonder why so many characters have sidekicks?  It’s not so much that the character couldn’t do whatever actions the sidekick takes in the story.  It’s that the audience needs to understand the underlying motivations behind the character’s actions, and a sidekick is an easy way to get the protag to vocalize her reasoning. One […]

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Antagonists Who Aren’t Villains

Does every story need a villain? There is a big difference between a villain and an antagonist.  A villain wants to impart physical or emotional pain to your story’s protagonist.  An antagonist is simply at odds with your protag.  Which means a villain is by definition an antagonist – but only some antagonists are villains. […]

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