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Writing Tips

to-wiki-or-not-to-wiki
Musing, Writing Tips

To Wiki or Not To Wiki

So before I started teaching writing, I was a Youth librarian.  And as everybody says, you can take the girl out of the library, but you can’t take the library out of the girl.  Especially when it’s someone like me.  I was always the one chasing down the…

the-power-of-what-if
Musing, Writing Tips

The Power of What If

When I do my prewriting classes, I always start with a session on idea generation.  Sometimes students will already have a character in mind, or a genre they want to work in, or a few plot events, but I ask them to put that aside and – as a group – work…

im-definitely-not-in-a-story-right
Literary Terms, Writing Tips

I’m Definitely NOT in a Story, Right?

Last month I talked about character self-awareness in the psychological sense.But today, I want to get into the other way this term is used when talking books:  literary self-awareness, where we find fictional characters who either understand their genre, or who realize they are taking part in…

but-thats-not-what-i-meant
Writing Tips

But That’s Not What I Meant!

Readers are trained to try and figure out puzzles.  No matter what the genre, we give them clues in our foreshadowing, paid off in plot twists and revelations that feel surprising-yet-inevitable.  As readers, we want to feel smart – like we figured out what the writer was trying to…

oooh-look-a-mirror
Musing, Writing Tips

Oooh, look! A Mirror!

So this may get a little introspective, but I was thinking a bit today about self-awareness in fictional characters.  Too little, and your character feels cold and unlikable, too much and they feel whiney and overly sensitive.  Why is it such a delicate balance?Maybe some definitions would help…

purple-prose-the-tackiest-pants-patch
Writing Tips

Purple Prose: The Tackiest Pants Patch

Sitting around with a group of writing students a while back, the concept of purple prose came up.  Nearly all of them knew they were supposed to avoid it, but not necessarily what it was, or where the term came from.To understand the idea, you need to think in…

hemingways-iceberg
Writing Tips

Hemingway’s Iceberg

One thing I see students doing repeatedly is over-worldbuilding.  They get the idea that to make their worlds absolutely real, we need to know every scrap of backstory, and to have detailed schematics on every piece of technology.  The problem: this slows the pace and takes the focus away…

are-you-in-omniscient-pov-or-are-you-head-hopping
Writing Tips

Are You in Omniscient POV? Or are You Head-Hopping?

So at tonight’s SNW, one of the questions that came up was on the difference between head-hopping (a generally accepted no-no) and omniscient POV.  The key here is to remember that the omniscient narrator is a persona, who happens to know what is going on with your…

using-pinterest-to-improve-your-writing
Writing Tips

Using Pinterest to Improve Your Writing

I’ll admit it.  I am a Pinterest addict, heading rapidly towards 10,000 pins.  I make some sort of Pinboard for every class I teach, and every project I plan – not to mention those I’ll probably never get around to.   While the most obvious thing for a writer…

outlining-and-road-trips
Writing Tips

Outlining and Road Trips

We went on a mini-road trip over the weekend, and that got me thinking about journeys, both real and literary. The weather the past week or so has been unseasonably warm and absolutely gorgeous. We have a brand new little car (after sharing a gas-guzzling vehicle for three…

86
Writing Tips

Character Development and Development as a Writer

On Friday, we had a meeting with the new/returning  Work Study Employees for the kids/teen camps.  I asked them all to tell each other their majors.  When they’d gone around the room, one of them jokingly asked, “So what’s your major.”“Life,” I said.  And it…

physical-description
Writing Tips

Physical Description

So I thought I’d kick this off with a few of my favorite things. Bicycling into the sunset, a really good chocolate cupcake, The Princess Bride. Let’s focus for a moment on that last one.I’ve spent the morning putting together my PowerPoint for the character development…