Writing tips
Challenge your characters
On August 13, 2018 | 0 Comments

My editor once told me that the way to write an interesting novel is to put a series of obstacles in front of the main character. A successful author offered similar advice: Put interesting characters into an interesting situation, and you have the foundation for an interesting story. These statements may sound simplistic, but they […]

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Outline or no outline?
On July 2, 2018 | 0 Comments

I recently completed a screenwriting program to learn how to adapt one of my novels for film. One night the instructor brought up the concept of outlines, and I found myself leaning forward to hear his thoughts. In the eight books I’ve written, not once have I worked from a detailed outline, and I’ve always wondered if I was […]

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Examples of why it’s better to “show” than “tell”
On June 4, 2018 | 0 Comments

If you’re still puzzled by the concept of show vs. tell, you’re not alone. I think many authors tell too much because they want to make sure their readers “get it.” To that I say, “We get it!” I recently finished a novel in which the author repeatedly explained why the characters were doing or […]

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Why it’s good to avoid adverbs
On May 21, 2018 | 0 Comments

One function of adverbs is to modify adjectives, in other words to describe something that already describes something. That alone should give you an idea of how necessary – or unnecessary – they are when used for this purpose. For example: He drives really fast. She is very happy. We are super glad to be […]

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What is the passive voice?
On April 9, 2018 | 0 Comments

Unless you’re a grammar nut like I am, chances are you’ve never heard the term “passive voice.” Here’s a quick explanation: Passive voice without attribution is when we learn that something happens without learning who did it. For example: Active voice: Gloria ate all the cookies. Passive voice without attribution: All the cookies were eaten. Active voice: […]

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Watch out for repetitive descriptions in your writing
On March 26, 2018 | 0 Comments

In previous posts I’ve addressed my tendency to overuse certain words, phrases, or gestures, for example she bit her lip and she walked home slowly. To solve the problem I use the “find” option on Microsoft Word to catch the over-usages before my manuscripts go to the copyeditor. Some still slip through, but I’m getting better. For words […]

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Don’t “tell” on top of beats that “show”
On February 12, 2018 | 0 Comments

In previous posts I’ve discussed how useful beats (action) are to show your readers instead of telling them. I also advised against using beats too often because it can dilute their effect. Another way to devalue the impact of beats is by telling readers what those beats are already showing. For example, the following beats do a solid job of letting us know what […]

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Beats are great, but don’t overdo them
On January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

A beat is an action that shows readers how a character is feeling instead of telling them. For example: Krista slammed the door shut. “I said leave me alone!” Compare the above to this: “I said leave me alone!” Krista shouted, furious. Having Krista slam the door not only shows us that she’s furious instead of telling us, it also gives us a visual […]

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My inner monologue on inner monologues
On January 15, 2018 | 0 Comments

Recently I received conflicting advice regarding inner monologues, and as a result I’ve engaged in a running inner monologue of my own. I wrote my latest novel, Bridges, in third person from the point of view of the protagonist. Here are two examples of how I originally presented her inner thoughts: EXAMPLE A Daphne looked up […]

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Does your dialogue match your characters?
On January 1, 2018 | 0 Comments

One of my favorite parts about finishing a first draft, outside of the profound feeling of accomplishment, is that after months of hard work I’m finally able to sit back and read the entire story from beginning to end. It’s impossible for me to experience my work with completely fresh eyes—that’s why I strongly believe […]

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