First Page Critique

  I’m currently teaching my First Five Pages class at Lawson Writer’s Academy (psst – you can still sign up!) I love helping writers strengthen their all-important openings. Joe Zarek is one of my past students, and has agreed to allow me to share his ‘before and after’ first page. Kudos to him for working so…

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When ‘In Medias Res’ Works, and When it Doesn’t

You may have heard conventional writer wisdom dissing action beginnings:  car crashes, police chases – everything bad happening at the opening, right up to and including Armageddon. I’m not here to do that. I mean, think about it. Thousands of movies start that way, right? Remember though, movies are visual storytelling. They are usually faster-paced…

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‘Meaty’ Stories, and How to Write One

I watched The Dig on Netflix last night, after several writer friends told me it was good. It was, and it got me thinking about stories that you think are about one thing, but are really about something else. Spoiler alert – I will tell the ending! If you haven’t seen it, here’s the trailer:…

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Trust Your Voice

  In 2004, Christopher Booker published The Seven Basic Plots. There have been others who’ve put forth other numbers, but let’s just agree; whether it’s six, seven, or twenty, it means that your plot isn’t going to be unique. So what’s the use of slaving away, if someone has already written your story? Ah, but they…

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Backstory – Done Right

Okay, I’m finally digging myself out of the butt-high pile of boxes – I should be back with a regular blog next week. In the meantime, here’s another edition of The Write Stuff: What do you think? Can you give us an example of backstory done right from a book or a movie?

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BE the Dude

I am butt-deep in packing paper and tripping over boxes from my move, so this week I’m dishing up another of my ‘Write Stuff’ videos: What do you think? Any other tips for us on how to be in the character’s head?

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How Spill Strong Emotion on the Page

I’ll admit, this blog was sparked by THIS one (it’s awesome-go read it-we’ll wait). It had a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald: “… I’m afraid the price for doing professional work is a good deal higher than you are prepared to pay at the moment. You’ve got to sell your heart, your strongest reactions, not…

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Overused Words

We all have them. Mine may be different than yours. They’re like whack-a-moles – you banish one, and two others pop up. You may think they don’t matter, but they do. They irritate the reader on a subconscious level. Use them enough, and they’ll remember they have to put the laundry in the dryer –…

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Editing Pet Peeves

We all have them.  Things that make us crazy, whether we’re reading a novel for pleasure or critiquing a colleague’s work.  We’re readers first, and I believe these peeves are forged by what we’ve read – like Chinese water torture they fall, drop by drop, until you notice them and continuing until you can’t see…

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Dynamic Dialogue

I teach writing classes, and one of the things I see most often is awkward, stilted or boring dialogue. Why?  Because dialogue in writing is not like dialogue in real life. It’s real life on steroids.  It’s all the great stuff without all the, how-are-you’ s, um’s and awkwardness. It’s all the stuff you lie…

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