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Writing Tips

Outline Now to Save Time Later

Discovery writing can be fun, and there is a certain enticement to the idea of telling yourself the story for the first time at the same time as you write it for your audience.  But if you are having trouble finishing projects, or you want to boost your productivity to finish projects faster you really […]

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Writing Craft - Books!

Let’s talk books!  Specifically writing craft books.  As writers, wanting to improve our art is natural, and learning from the insights – and the mistakes – of others is one of the quickest ways to do that. It’s no surprise that my own writing manual is my favorite.  Obviously, it reflects the way my mind […]

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Keeping Pace

In a way, pacing in a book is like interval training.  The reader would get worn out if the events were always at peak tension and breakneck speed.  But without any challenge to the characters and threat to their goals, the reader quickly becomes bored. As you write, be deliberate in the way each scene […]

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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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