Posts tagged Writing
On Writing the Gruesome Details

Perhaps the greatest thing I ever learned about writing came from my parents when I was young. Just five years old, I’d moved with my twin sister, brother, and parents to North Carolina. In those first few weeks, we saw the world through new child eyes. North Carolina was hilly; it was greener and quieter than where we lived in California or Iowa. One afternoon, when my father drove us on those small town streets, he asked my mother if the kids had ever seen roadkill. I don’t remember her words, but I imagine she scrunched up her nose and shook her head laughing.

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Editing Checklist: NaNoWriMo Revision Month

Whether you won NaNoWriMo this year and have a messy manuscript to show for it or you’ve worked tirelessly all year, carefully constructing your words to the end, every manuscript—no matter how tidy—needs an editing plan. Ask any author and he or she will agree: A first, second, third, or tenth draft is a brain-child, a labor of love. You may be the kind of author who would rather keep it hidden in your bedside drawer than let a scary, word-ripping vampire of an editor pry your story out of your dead cold hands.

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Identifying Writer's Block

The concept of writer’s block was one I never challenged—until I read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. She points out—beautifully, I might add—that a block of some kind suggests “that you are constipated or stuck, when the truth is that you’re empty.”

She peels back the layers to tell us that, perhaps, we’ve been looking at the problem of a lack of creativity from the wrong angle: “If your wife locks you out of the house, you don’t have a problem with your door.”

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Deepening Characterization: How to Avoid Flat Characters—Part 2

If you’ve ever read a boring story, chances are you’ve seen the effects of Flat Character Syndrome firsthand—and it’s not pretty. In my last post, I talked about why flat characters are problematic, and how to determine if your own “darlings” are suffering the same fate. Simply put, flat characters are unrealistic. Their true emotions, conversations, struggles, motivations, and reactions don’t come across on the page. I mentioned that a few well-known symptoms of FCS include issues with point of view, inconsistencies with physical appearance, and a lack of goals, motivations, and fears.

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Deepening Characterization: How to Avoid Flat Characters—Part 1

You’ve successfully pumped out the first (or second) draft of your novel—Bravo!

You deserve a cookie (no, really, completing a book is an impressive feat, no matter how rough it may be in its current stage!). If you’re trying to motivate yourself toward self-editing or searching for the right editor for your manuscript, don’t forget to stop and pat yourself on the back.

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How to Handle Flashbacks with Care

The word flashback often causes many writing instructors and editors to say, "Eesh. Not this again." When handled carefully, flashbacks are effective storytelling techniques; however, using them with reckless abandon can significantly confuse readers.

My philosophy? Never throw out a potentially useful tool in your story. There's always a fine line to consider when utilizing flashbacks, just as with other storytelling techniques. Authors should always be careful not to use too many flashbacks, especially in the beginning of a novel. As a writer, you never want readers to ask, "Why didn't the author start here, in this setting or in this time?" Messing with chronology and pacing is no joke. You want readers to focus on the plot and characterization, not the order in which things occur or how certain information unravels.

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How to Prevent Continuity Errors and Protect Story Arcs

When asked what developmental editing entails, most editors describe many things, including the importance of continuity. Continuity errors can destroy a solid story, and ensuring consistency among character development, plot, world building, and more can make all the difference in a reader’s experience. Continuity errors in movies or books can ruin the viewer or reader’s experience because they pull the audience out of the story. A great writer maintains continuity in all elements of a story, including the characters’ physical appearances, habits, language, and more. Continuity and story arcs are paramount to a book’s success, which is why editors follow particular style guides and fill out style sheets.

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