Category Archives: Writing Lessons

Context, Text, and Subtext: What They Are and How They Help Storytelling

In writing tips, we talk about text a lot. But I feel like we don’t talk enough about context and subtext in this industry. Both are vital to good storytelling and often misunderstood or even mixed up. So today I … Continue reading

Posted in Characters, Description, Dialogue, Resident Writing Coach, Revision and Editing, Show Don't Tell, Subtext, Uncategorized, Writing Craft | 5 Comments

The Powerball of First Page Resources + A Critique Giveaway!

As many of you know, I run a monthly critique contest here at the blog, where I offer to read first pages and share my feedback. People are so grateful to win, but I have to ask: who’s the real … Continue reading

Posted in Editing Tips, Emotion, Empathy, Openings, Pacing, Point of View, Show Don't Tell, Voice | 7 Comments

How to Nail the First Three Pages

Let’s face it, talking about writing the first pages of a novel is stressful. It can strike terror into the heart of even the most seasoned writer, because as writers we all know how scarily narrow the window is, and … Continue reading

Posted in Characters, Openings, Resident Writing Coach, Uncategorized | 13 Comments

Representation in Literature: Why It’s Important & How To Handle It

Happy to welcome Deborah Dixon, a passionate author, editor, and racial justice activist to talk a bit on Representation in Literature, a topic of importance and something I think many of us want to understand better so we can encourage … Continue reading

Posted in Characters, Critiquing & Critiques, Diversity, Editing Tips, Focus, Guest Post, Stereotypes, Uncategorized | 13 Comments

Create Killer Twists: Learn How to Redeem Your Villain

You might think a villain can’t be redeemed. After all, they’re sinister and twisted and think killing people is a post-dinner dessert choice. But even villains are people, and, no matter how coal-crusted it gets, they have a heart buried … Continue reading

Posted in Character Wound, Characters, Resident Writing Coach, Uncategorized, Villains | 23 Comments

On The Quest for Knowledge, Writers Must Show Courage

When we step onto the writing path, we know there will be a lot to learn. We see the mountain ahead and sure, it’s intimidating. But hey, we’re head over heels for story, in love with the author’s dream, and … Continue reading

Posted in About Us, Critiquing & Critiques, Focus, Motivational, One Stop For Writers, Revision and Editing, Show Don't Tell, Software and Services, Story Structure, Uncategorized, Websites, Writer's Attitude, Writing Craft, Writing Groups, Writing Resources | 12 Comments

Capturing Complex Emotion: A Writer’s Superpower

Our brain is driven by emotion. We may like to think we’re rational beings, applying the rules of logic calmly and sensibly to those little and not-so-little decisions, but our every thought, our whole perspective is colored by emotion. What … Continue reading

Posted in Characters, Emotion, Resident Writing Coach, Uncategorized | 20 Comments

And…Action! Applying TV Lessons to Chapter Hooks

We’ve probably all heard the advice to end our scenes and chapters on a hook. At the end of every scene or chapter, readers might put down our book and decide against picking it up again, so it’s important to … Continue reading

Posted in Characters, Conflict, Experiments, Fear, Flashbacks, High Stakes, Resident Writing Coach, Series, Story Structure, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 8 Comments

Where’s Your Edge?

Some of my most enjoyable teaching experiences were with my friends Donald Maass and Christopher Vogler doing Story Masters, a four-day immersion in the craft of fiction. For my day of instruction, I started off showing a clip from the … Continue reading

Posted in Resident Writing Coach, Uncategorized, Voice, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 2 Comments

Powerful Scenes: Using One Stop for Writers’ Informal Scene Map

A while back I profiled some of the custom brainstorming tools at our sister-site, One Stop for Writers, which help take the mystery (and misery) out of story structure. One that I left off that post was our Informal Scene … Continue reading

Posted in About Us, Character Arc, Emotion, One Stop For Writers, Story Structure, Tools and Resources, Writing Craft | 3 Comments