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Category: Sunday Reblog

Taking Risks in Your Writing: “Really Going There”—Writer Unboxed

Today’s reblog comes from at Writer Unboxed. In this post, she explores how “really going there” allows us as writers to get the most out of our writing by taking risks and “letting it all hang out.”

Because I am also an editor, this is hard for me in my own writing process. As I write, I want to go back and edit, make it perfect before moving forward. Sometimes, it takes a real act of will to move forward at all. However, in writing, especially fiction writing, sometimes, you have to turn off the editor and let the story, the creation, flow. Let it run wild. I think this is essential in the first draft.

There will be time for perfecting the details later.

Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 version of The Shining is on Netflix now, so my husband and I recently rewatched it. It had been over a decade since I saw it last, and I was a little worried it wouldn’t hold up. (Don’t worry, horror fans; it holds up.) Despite Stephen King expressing dissatisfaction with this movie version of his novel, I think we all know that it’s the best version, plain and simple, and there’s really only one reason for that: Jack Nicholson’s performance as Jack Torrance is stellar. Outstanding. To this day, it remains one of the most chilling roles in cinema history.

When my husband told me about a YouTube video he’d come across showing behind-the-scenes footage of Nicholson pumping himself up for the infamous bathroom scene (aka ‘Here’s Johnny’), I knew I had to find it. The relevant pre-scene footage is only half a minute long, and necessary for the point of my post today, so I hope you’ll go give it a quick watch: “Jack Nicholson Prepping for The Shining.”

My husband’s commentary? Something along the lines of, “He’s acting like an actual lunatic. Can you imagine being on set with him?”

Yeah. That’s what struck me, more than anything else: to get that iconic scene, Nicholson was willing to make an absolute fool of himself in front of his support staff, coworkers, and bosses. He was willing to really go there, because that’s the only way, I’m convinced, we can get to deeply authentic art.

My next thought was: Thank goodness that, as a writer, my art happens alone. Thank goodness I don’t have to embarrass myself in front of other people to really go there.

That thought has been haunting me for a week now, because it’s a lie.…

Continued at Really Going There


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No Conflict Between Characters—Helping Writers Become Authors

Today’s reblog comes from K. M. Weiland over at Helping Writers Become Authors. She covers why a lack of conflict leads to an ineffective scene and then goes on to tell you what you can do to fix a no-conflict scene with basic tips on scene structure that can makeover your entire novel.

I slapped the FedEx guy this morning.

Okay, not really. My FedEx guy is totally cool. And he brings me cool stuff. I’d never slap him. But that got your attention, didn’t it? Way more so than if I ‘d said, “I thanked the FedEx guy this morning.”

The difference between the two accounts, of course, is conflict. You may not have thought well of me for slapping that poor, undeserving FedEx guy, but I guarantee you would have been interested! Conflict isn’t nice, but it’s inevitably interesting.

And yet writers sometimes create scenes in which there is no interpersonal conflict between their characters. The result, of course, is that everyone’s happy. Except for the readers–who are bored out of their minds.

How to Bore Your Readers With No Interpersonal Conflict

Here’s what your story looks like with no interpersonal conflict:

Geraldine walked down the road to the Averils’ house. The scent of jasmine wafted all around her as she entered the yard through the trellised lych-gate.

Percival’s sister Cordelia answered the door. She looked fetchingly splendid in a new dress of lavender organdy. She beamed. “Gerry, darling! You’ve come for tea after all. Percival will be pleased. Mama too.”

Percival was going to ask Geraldine to marry him today, she just knew it.

Overcome, she flung her arms around Cordelia. “Isn’t it a lovely day?”

Now just assume this scene keeps playing out without a hint of irony. Geraldine and Cordelia have a simply wonderful teatime with Cordelia’s simply wonderful brother Percival, who has a simply wonderful proposal in mind, after which he and Geraldine can ride off into a simply wonderful HEA.

James Scott Bell calls this the problem of “happy people in happy land.” Believe me, I totally get why someone would want to write this. It’s happy. All the characters are friends. They get along. They smile, they wave. There’s no violence, no dissension, no fear, no sadness.

Heavenly it may be, but interesting–or realistic–it ain’t.…

Continued at: Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 48: No Conflict Between Characters – Helping Writers Become Authors

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Give Readers Engaging Fiction — The Editor’s Blog

How can writers make sure that their readers read their stories all the way through to the end? What makes a story engaging enough that your audience will keep turning those pages? Why do readers stop reading 10 pages or 10 chapters into a novel? In today’s reblog, Beth Hill of The Editor’s Blog gives writers tips on why some writing does not engage readers, what readers want, and how to make your fiction more enticing. Join her and find out how to “treat readers well and feed them tasty fiction.”

Some element in every story should pop for the reader, whether it’s the puzzle in a mystery, the threat in suspense, the story world in science fiction, or the relationship in a romance.

Readers have to have reasons to continue to read a book past the first page or two, and you’re the one who has to give them those reasons.

One big advantage for writers is that readers come to books intending to enjoy them, intending to get lost in characters and the events overtaking them. You don’t have to do anything to prime the pump.

Yet you do need to deliver. You’ve got to give readers something more captivating than their real-world distractions.

The reader brings an appetite, but you’ve got to serve up the meal. And it should be tasty. Not too skimpy, not bland, and not overly spiced.

Readers come to your books hungry, wanting to enjoy what you serve up, but that doesn’t mean that you can slack off and serve slop.

Readers want a story that tastes good, that looks good.

Sometimes they may want a light meal, sometimes a full seven-course dinner. But they definitely want more than stale crackers and tepid water.

It’s your job to serve an appetizing meal.…

Continued at Give Readers Engaging Fiction | The Editor’s Blog

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5 Ways to Find A Writing Community — Blots & Plots

Community. We all know how much of a difference it can make. This week, I am featuring an important post from Jenny Bravo of Blots & Plots. She provides some good tips on how to find like-minded people on your writing journey, both virtually and in person. I found this particularly timely since I have added to my own writing community this week by joining my statewide writers’ club. Having other people to bounce ideas off of,  to commiserate with, and to share information with is invaluable. I hope that you have or soon find a writing community that gives you those things as well!

 5 Ways to Find A Writing Community

Let’s be honest. As glamorous as writing sounds, it all comes down to you, at your desk, writing alone. Pretty depressing, huh? But what if you could socialize your writing experience, and still stay productive? I’d say, sign me up!

When I was writing my first novel, These Are the Moments, I decided that I needed to find a writing community. It was important for me to make friends that understood the ups and downs of the writing process, and to meet people in all stages of this adventure. No matter where you are in your journey, it’s time to socialize your writing experience.

Below I’ve broken down the five, most effective ways to find a writing community:

Find a Twitter Chat

Twitter is my favorite social media platform, by far. It’s a quick, creative way to connect with people that allows you to ask questions, tweet at writers you admire and of course, participate in Twitter chats. A Twitter chat is an event hosted by one or multiples users, tracked with a hashtag in a set time frame.

For instance, Kristen of She’s Novel and I host a Twitter chat called Story Social. Every Wednesday at 9 PM EST, we tackle different topics about social media for writers, using #StorySocial.

The secret? Getting to know the regulars. After several months of hosting our chat, Kristen and I have gotten to know our chat-frequenters. It truly has become its own community, and I look forward to chatting with our friends every week.

To join in on the fun, follow the Story Social Chat host account.…

Continued at : 5 Ways to Find A Writing Community — Blots & Plots

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Plotting “What Happens Next?”: Sunday Reblog

When you are plotting your book, there are going to be times when you are stuck, when you are not sure what should happen next. This week’s Sunday Reblog ties into my last post on Moving Forward When You (or Your Characters) Are Stuck. This article from Janice Hardy at Fiction University gives some solid practical advice on plotting and getting from point A to point B when it is more than just your character’s motivation that is in question.


plotting, outline

Where Do I Go From Here? Plotting Through “What Happens Next?” Part One

Whenever I’m not sure where the plot goes it’s almost always due to a goal issue. I’ve usually lost sight of what the protagonist was after and why she wanted it in the first place.

The rough part is, I often know what happens next in the plot, which makes the whole thing ever harder to manage. The story needs to go there, but I can’t quite figure out how to get the protagonist from point A to B.

When you find yourself in the same situation, step back and look at the scene from both a macro and micro perspective. Keep drilling down (or pulling back) until you find where the problem lies.

Continued at Fiction University: Where Do I Go From Here? Plotting Through “What Happens Next?” Part One


Other Plotting Resources

  1. K. M. Weiland uses tips from her book Structuring Your Novel to teach authors how to successfully plot each scene effectively to keep readers interested. How to Structure Scenes in Your Story (Complete Series)
  2. In a guest post on The Writer’s Dig (Writer’s Digest), Karen S. Wiesner offers authors the Story Plan Checklist to help them cover all of their bases when plotting their novel. Your Novel Blueprint
  3. Chuck Wendig, in 25 Ways To Plot, Plan and Prep Your Story, offers a variety of techniques for plotting your story and just getting the job done. In this list, you are bound to find at least one method that appeals to you.
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