Category Archives: Uncategorized

Writing to the Beat: Translating Story Beats to Any Genre

Readers of my blog know I’m a big fan of beat sheets, even creating a beat sheet for romance stories. Because of that, writers ask me what beats they should include in their mystery, thriller, or *insert any genre here* … Continue reading

Posted in Character Arc, Characters, Conflict, High Stakes, Plotting, Resident Writing Coach, Story Structure, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 13 Comments

Introducing…the Occupation Thesaurus!

Let’s say you’re at a party, and you meet someone new. The small talk begins. If you want to learn more about them, what’s one of the first things you ask? “So, what do you do?” Asking this question can … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 81 Comments

Get Your Mind Right: An Easy Trick for Nipping Creative Fear in the Bud

The funny and talented Sarah Moore is back today to help us get over our fear of creating. As writers, we have a lot of challenges to face, and this is one that we really need to beat into submission … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Using the Novel Journal for Writing Breakthroughs

I was at a Bouchercon some years ago and did a panel with some other thriller authors. Before it began we were interacting with some people in the audience, and a woman in the front row made a funny comment … Continue reading

Posted in Experiments, Resident Writing Coach, Uncategorized, Writing Craft | 25 Comments

The Emotional Wound Thesaurus Releases Soon. Will You Help Us?

It’s that time again: a new thesaurus book is coming! Why? Because we believe The Emotional Wound Thesaurus is the writing guide you’ve been waiting for. Great fiction relies on deep, authentic characters who have needs and desires readers can … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 24 Comments

Why Characters Need Choices in Fiction

Help me welcome one of our favorite people, Janice Hardy (@Janice_Hardy). She has a great post on the importance of providing characters with stake-heavy choices, so please read on. 🙂  Choices drive every single conflict in a novel. The protagonist … Continue reading

Posted in Conflict, Empathy, Guest Post, High Stakes, Pacing, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 11 Comments

Want to Find the REAL Story? Ignore Your Instincts

Guys. I’ve fallen in love with this essay by Emily Ruskovich. It so beautifully captures the author’s process of how stories evolve, how they morph from a single image, feeling, or idea into a full-fledged story—if we just let it lead us to … Continue reading

Posted in Short Stories, Uncategorized, Writing Craft | 20 Comments

How to Keep a Short Story Short

Part of constraining a short story to its simplest form is to observe the convention of its length. Edgar Allen Poe said it should aim for a single effect on the reader and should be of a length that could … Continue reading

Posted in Resident Writing Coach, Short Stories, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 7 Comments

Character Motivation Entry: Entering a Competition and Winning It

What does your character want? This is an important question to answer because it determines what your protagonist hopes to achieve by the story’s end. If the goal, or outer motivation, is written well, readers will identify fairly quickly what the overall story … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Struggling with (and Regaining) Confidence in Your Writing

Every writer’s toolbox is unique, containing the techniques, reference books, personal library, and lessons or “best practices” we’ve acquired over time. But there’s one tool that all writers need despite their target audience, genre, or years of experience. It’s just … Continue reading

Posted in Motivational, Resident Writing Coach, Uncategorized, Writer's Attitude | 26 Comments