Craft and Story Beginnings

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Confessions of a Chronic Genre Shopper

**GIVEAWAY! Evangeline is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks** Debut author Evangeline Denmark, CURIO (Jan 2016, Blink), shares her forays into several genres before finally arriving at YA Steampunk Fantasy.

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3 Tips For a Better First Revision

The first revision is probably the most important factor in sculpting your novel. One of my favorite quotes to express this idea is by Shannon Hale who wrote: “I'm writing a first draft and reminding myself that I'm simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” The first revision...

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Write Opening Pages that Grab Readers’ (and Agents’) Attention — April 3 Webinar (with Critique!) by Agent Victoria Marini

Strong opening pages are essential to getting your novel noticed by an agent. First pages often dictate whether an agent requests a manuscript or rejects the query, and first chapters can mean the difference between capturing and sustaining a readers' attention or losing it entirely. As an agent with Gelfman Schneider / ICM Partners,...

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Character Development: Finding a Friend for Life

Like all writers, my methods for building characters are a mix of mishmash and melting pot, drawn from both personal experience and academic study. Below is a short list of the ideas I’d like to cover. 1. A Character Who Refuses to Die 2. Know Your Archetype 3. The Great Man/Woman Theory 4. What MUST the Character Do...

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How I Learned to Kill My Darlings

William Faulkner said, “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” When I first heard that from my mentor, the late Andre Dubus Jr., I knew what he meant. Don’t show off! It’s about the story, not about you, the author. But this was easier said than done. I’ve always been a pretty good story...

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Should You Simply “Write What You Know”?

I am now going to give you the super-secret key to being a good writer. You will probably read it and say, “Phoo, Chapman, I’ve known that for years.” That may be, but if you are honest with yourself, you struggle with it, as I do, every time you sit down to write. Good...

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Writing Routines that Work

2. Write when you’re hot. Practice pays off, but if the daily grind really isn’t your thing, then follow your instincts. Write when you’re ready to pour whole chapters/stories/volumes out onto the page. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has spent his career considering the behaviors and thought processes of creative folks: writers, scientists, comedians, mountain climbers, visual...

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How to Write a Novel: 7 Tips Everyone Can Use

2. Begin with character. Make her flawed and believable. Let her live and breathe and give her the freedom to surprise you and take the story in unexpected directions. If she’s not surprising you, you can bet she’ll seem flat to your readers. One exercise I always do when I’m getting to know a...

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5 Tips for How to Write a Young Adult Crossover Novel

1. While you should certainly feel free to include characters of whatever age you choose, make sure there’s at least one teenager. While young adults often read books without teenaged characters (I was partial to Somerset Maugham stories and Solzhenitsyn, to cite a needlessly bizarre example) those generally aren’t considered part of the YA...

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Subverting Adverbs and Clichés

Writers constantly have rules thrown at them left, right, and center. Show, don’t tell! Stop using so many dialogue tags! More sensory detail! More tension! Speed up the pace! Yada yada yada ... it can become overwhelming, yes? I used to feel overwhelmed by it all too. In fact, I still do sometimes. It’s...

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Writer’s Block: 5 Ways to Get Rid of It

2. Write something completely different. A teacher at school gave me this advice. When you’re stuck, don’t just try to think outside of the box. Try a whole other box. If you write YA, try writing a steamy scene. If you write thrillers, try writing a picture book. The change in format and tone...

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The 9 Ingredients of Character Development

1. Communication style: How does your character talk? Does she favor certain words or phrases that make her distinct and interesting? What about the sound of her voice? Much of our personality comes through our speech, so think about the way your character is going to talk. Her style of communication should be distinctive...

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Writing Effective Grief In Fiction: 5 Ideas For Writers

Grief alone is not enough to make a novel. It can be the backdrop, sometimes the obstacle, but novels must be flavored with other focuses, obstacles, and emotions in order to draw in their readers. Here are 5 ways to use grief more effectively in fiction: 1. Make Them Care. When starting to...

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The Top 10 Worst Types of Critique Partners

4. The Distractor. She wants to talk about anything and everything but writing. Her children started swim lessons last week, her mother-in-law is visiting Paris next month, it's windy (cold, hot, rainy, etc.) outside, her favorite hairstylist is moving salons... you get the idea. She often has to leave the group session to take...

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Storyboarding For Success: Plotters vs. Pantsers

Where writers are concerned, there are plotters and there are pantsers. Pantsers fly by the seat of their pants when they write a story. They start off with no more than a kernel of an idea or a first sentence or a character, and away they go. They have no idea where they are...

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5 Reasons to Set Your Novel in a Famous Place

3. A Receptive Audience Will Await. Since Islandport Press released Strangers in October 2012, I’ve realized the extent to which people who love Old Orchard Beach (Maine) love the idea of a book set there. The town has only about 8,000 year-round residents, but the population swells to more than 100,000 in the summer....