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Writing Tips

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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Tension as Uncertainty

No matter what your genre, maintaining tension is key to keeping readers engaged.  Too often, I read work where there is something lacking in a scene, and the writer is trying to fix it by resorting to exaggerated emotions (shouts and slaps when the dialogue itself would be impact enough) rough language (that doesn’t match […]

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Language Learning in Literature and Life

As a language learner, things can get a little overwhelming at times.  Having a conversation one-on-one in a second language can be hard enough, but being dropped into an on-going conversation takes everything to the next level.  I still remember the first time I got into a car with a group of people who wanted […]

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Sticking The Landing

When you watch a gymnast doing a parallel bars routine, it is easy to get caught up in the grace and the power – coupled with an I-could-never-do-that kind of awe.  Nothing ruins that experience – or the gymnast’s score – faster than failing to stick the landing.  A double hop – or worse, falling […]

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Kintsugi and The Fine Art of the Character Arc

In real life, we resist change.  But our characters get pushed to change by the plot.  Some characters embrace change, and are more than ready to undertake a hero’s journey. Typically, though, protagonists don’t like change – especially difficult, painful change — any more than you do.  But you have to ignore their protests and […]

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Worldbuilding is People

Part of worldbuilding – whether you are writing an epic Sci-Fi story or a quiet romance – comes down to designing people.  Everyone is shaped by their surroundings, be they a small town in Montana or the confines of a space station.  Clothing, customs, economic structures – all of these were designed by people for […]

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