Once upon a time, I decided to write fiction. I consumed as many sources of craft advice (agent blogs, how-to-write books, author Twitter threads, etc.) as I could find. That advice often came in absolutes, as in, always write a certain genre in a certain tense, never start a story with a character waking up, and definitely don’t ever use -ly adverbs. Click the title above to continue reading.
As in real life, our characters sometimes need to pause and reflect on something before responding. This silent beat is often indicated with an ellipsis or the word finally, as in, “Yes,” she said finally. Nothing wrong with marking a beat this way, but here are some alternatives you can use to invigorate some of the beats in your dialogue.
A couple of years ago, my critique partner, with respect to the first chapter of one of my books, asked me why I had only described my setting according to its non-human characteristics. The scene was outside a palliative care facility during the day, so wouldn’t folks be visiting relatives? Click the title above to continue reading.
There’s a scene in Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects that gave me goosebumps, except the action responsible for said goosebumps had nothing to do with the plot. Click the title above to continue reading.
A few chapters into my first book, I got fed up with all the scrolling. Many authors use apps such as Scrivener to more easily move between chapters and scenes. Scrivener has many other functions, but I prefer working in Microsoft Word. I decided to take advantage of Word’s table, linking, and formula functions, and the result is a template, that after much tinkering, does everything I need it to do. Click the title above to continue reading and to find the template.
In Jessica Strawser’s debut Almost Missed You, two characters have a life-changing date at Cincinnati’s Lumenocity, an orchestra-curated light-show. Anyone remember the scene when Harrison Ford’s Richard Kimble slips into Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade to evade pursuers? How much more exciting does Pride and Prejudice become once the Bennett sisters have a ball to look forward to? Some of these events are more integral to plot than others, but all of them make the stories they’re included in more interesting as a result. Click the title above to continue reading.
I was watching Lady Bird recently. It’s summer in the beginning when the protagonist breaks her arm, and then a whole bunch of stuff happens, including Thanksgiving, and then cut to her cast being taken off, and I instantly had a sense of how much time has passed. Click the title above to continue reading.
Test screening is to films what beta reading is to books. In film, studies are being done on technology that can gauge a test screen audience’s neuro and biometric responses. Suffice it to say, when this technology proves viable, I will not be able to afford it. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want a way to know which parts of my books make people laugh, cry, or want to throw their e-reader against the wall. Click the title above to continue reading.
Easily avoidable misunderstandings as a device to create conflict, whether reading or watching it, I dislike this so much, it elicits an eye roll from me every time. The conflict just doesn’t feel logical. And because I’m aware that I don’t like this, I’m (hopefully) careful not to let this or any other of my literary pet peeves happen in my own writing. Click the title above to continue reading.
You’re stuck on a question about how to use a writing device, and off to the Internet/library/bookstore you go. Perhaps you stop after article number one, thinking certainly this must be the definitive answer, because this publishing professional has game to spare. She may well, but still your search should continue. Why? Click the title above to continue reading.