I learn something new with every book I write. Usually, it’s craft-related, or characterization, high concept–concrete things. But this next book taught me something deeper and more important. I’m hoping something in my pain and suffering will keep some of you from the same. First, a bit of backstory. The past almost two years, I’ve…

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Y’all know that I’m the Golden Retriever of the writing world. The grandma cheerleader in a skirt that won’t zip (no photo, because no one wants to see that. Trust me). But I had an epiphany today. I wanted to share, in case it helps you, too. It was one of those golden days. You…

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Descriptions are some of my favorite things to do. But they’re not easy to write well. Descriptions have changed over the years.  Stienbeck’s The Gapes of Wrath was published in 1939. Here’s the beginning: Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge Steinbeck fan, but that was before TV, Netflix, apps, and Xbox. Back when readers had…

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Don’t you just love it when a line in a book so good, that you just have to stop reading to appreciate it for a few minutes? Me too.  I think that’s part of the reason I began writing – to, just once – write one of those sentences. You can find them scattered throughout…

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I do a lot of critiquing. As I get better at craft, I’m starting to catch the nuances of good writing; things beyond the basics of POV, show don’t tell, etc. They’re subtler and harder to spot, but I believe they can be the difference between a ‘good writer’ and a popular author. And yes,…

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I just taught a class on  Beginning Pages recently, so I’ve been thinking a lot about first lines.  Stephen King had something to say about the magnitude of a novel’s first line: “An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story,” he said. “It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about…

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I love almost all literary devices, but the three in this post’s title are my favorites. I’m sure you heard of them, and have probably used them in your writing, but you may not know the definitions, so here they are: Motif is any recurring element that has symbolic significance in a story. Through its repetition,…

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I’ve been in a bad place lately. And admitting that in public is a big deal for me. See, I’m the equivalent of a golden retriever named Pollyanna.  My glass is way full. Except lately. 417 rejections before I finally sold earned me a pretty tough skin. So how could I find myself here –…

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Everyone knows what I call the 10,000 foot edit – it’s the content/developmental edit – it’s looking at your story from a plane, to spot the plot mountains and canyons that need to be fixed. Genre no-no’s? Unsatisfying ending? That night with the weasel scene? Everyone knows about ground level edits – copy/line/stylistic edits that…

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Readers are smart. Smarter than we authors give them credit for. They get where we’re going way before we think they do. I think that’s why it’s so hard to give them an ending that will shock them. I mean, think of the books you’ve read. How often have you been truly stunned by a…

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