Category Archives: About Us

Quieter Protagonists: 3 Ways to Help Them Steal the Stage

While readers love to see larger-than-life characters with passion, take-charge attitudes, and heaps of boldness and daring, not every protagonist wears an extrovert skin. In fact, looking at real-life demographics for a second, I think there’s a lot more people … Continue reading

Posted in Character Flaws, Character Traits, Characters, Description, Emotion, Emotion Thesaurus Guide, Empathy, Experiments, One Stop For Writers, Point of View, Positive & Negative Thesaurus Guides, Show Don't Tell, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 1 Comment

Deepening Our Story: Theme It Like You Mean It

Our story’s themes—our messages to readers of what to value or believe—can add depth and meaning to our writing, but to avoid being too on-the-nose, our themes are usually developed in the story’s subtext. Unfortunately, working in subtext means we … Continue reading

Posted in Resident Writing Coach, Subtext, Theme, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 20 Comments

Raise the Stakes By Making It Personal

Compelling novels have many different ingredients that make them fascinating to read, but one standard components is a healthy, continual dose of ACTION. The protagonist is always doing something: weighing alternatives, choosing options, making decisions and then acting on them, … Continue reading

Posted in Characters, Fear, High Stakes, One Stop For Writers, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 6 Comments

Garlic Breath For Writers (aka, Bad First Pages)

“If you cannot write a compelling opening scene, from the opening sentence, I’m not going to finish your proposal.” – Agent, speaking at a recent writers conference The opening page of your novel is your big introduction. It’s what an … Continue reading

Posted in Openings, Point of View, Resident Writing Coach, Show Don't Tell, Uncategorized | 15 Comments

Three Ways The Setting Can Steer Your Story’s Plot

The setting is a powerful force. Not only does it evoke mood, create tension and conflict, allow you to share critical backstory in a non-dumpy way, and draw readers deeper into the story through powerful sensory detail…it can also steer … Continue reading

Posted in Description, Mood and Atmosphere, Plotting, Setting, Setting Thesaurus Guides, Show Don't Tell, Tension, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 13 Comments

Want Memorable Characters? Focus on the Little Things

I love building characters. In fact, “building” is apt, because for me, they come a piece at a time. A brick or two might lock into place as I wrestle with that hateful night demon, Insomnia. Another may manifest with … Continue reading

Posted in Basic Human Needs, Characetr Hobbies, Character Arc, Character Flaws, Character Traits, Character Wound, Characters, Description, Emotion, Motivation, One Stop For Writers, Reader Interest, Show Don't Tell, Software and Services, Subtext, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons, Writing Resources | 19 Comments

Mapping Your Story’s Setting

As writers, we do our best to know our story’s setting as intimately as we know our characters. We can visualize the buildings, rooms, and geographic landscape. Maybe we even know the climate well enough to feel its heat or … Continue reading

Posted in Resident Writing Coach, Setting, Uncategorized | 31 Comments

Milestones that Provide a Valuable Opportunity to Look Back

So, funny story. In January, Becca and I hit 10 years of blogging. TEN YEARS. That’s a lot of time, but also not a lot of time, because we all know time flows differently in the book business. It’s all … Continue reading

Posted in About Us, Emotion Thesaurus Guide, Foreign Rights, Goal and Milestones, Motivational, One Stop For Writers, Positive & Negative Thesaurus Guides, Publishing and Self Publishing, Sales Numbers & Helpful Data, Setting Thesaurus Guides, The Business of Writing, Uncategorized | 41 Comments

Writing By Design Part 2: Pattern and Repetition

In my previous installment, I introduced you to writing by design and how you can use techniques from the visual arts to inform your writing. In particular, we looked at the concept of space and how the finite nature of … Continue reading

Posted in Experiments, Reader Interest, Reading, Resident Writing Coach, Subtext, Uncategorized, Writing Lessons | 8 Comments

What Does Your Protagonist Want BEFORE the Story Starts?

Imagine getting up in the morning and not wanting anything (not even coffee). No, seriously, try. Imagine having no agenda. Sure, that may sound great for a bit – especially given that crazy-busy seems to be the new normal. But … Continue reading

Posted in Character Arc, Characters, Motivation, Resident Writing Coach, Uncategorized, Writing Craft | 18 Comments