Between the Lines

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Between the Lines
by Jessica Page Morrell
Writer’s Digest Books, 2006
ISBN 978-1-58297-392-0
$14.99 paperback, p.256

Read an excerpt
Backstory is a powerful tool for developing characters.  In Chapter 1: Backstory from Between the Lines, examine the four essentials for backstory (1) raising the stakes, (2) revealing motivations, (3) expressing innermost fears, and (4) revealing obstacles.  Plus, download a PDF of the chapter here.

About the Book
Transform an ordinary story into a nuanced and memorable work of art. Effective storytelling stems from many elements, the most crucial of which are unseen or blended in so unobtrusively that they are difficult to spot and analyze. Still, they are necessary to the wholeness and coherence of a story—to create a work that lingers and resonates in the reader’s imagination.

In Between the Lines, author and writing instructor Jessica Page Morrell shows you how to craft a unified and layered novel or short story by mastering subtle storytelling techniques, such as:

•    Using emotional bombshells, surprises, and interruptions to intensify cliffhangers
•    Enlarging your story world through the use of layered subplots
•    Building suspense one scene at a time to maximize the emotional payoff
•    Anchoring your premise to your protagonist’s character arc
•    Transitioning into and out of flashbacks without interrupting the mood of your story

Detailed instruction combined with examples from well-known authors turn seemingly complex topics like subtext, revelations, misdirection, and balance into comprehensible techniques that will elevate your writing to the next level.

About the Author:
Jessica Morrell is the author of Writing Out the Storm and has been teaching writers for fifteen years. She works as a writing coach, freelance editor, corporate trainer, and columnist, and she is the former Writing Expert at In addition to teaching at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, Jessica conducts workshops throughout the Pacific Northwest and at conferences. Her Web site is She lives in Portland, Oregon, where she is surrounded by writers.

About for Between the Lines:

Jessica Morrell’s unique talent for breaking down the elements of strong fiction into understandable concepts makes Between the Lines a must-read for anyone facing the daunting task of turning a good story into a great one.
—Lani Diane Rich, author of The Comeback Kiss, Ex and the Single Girl, and Time Off for Good Behavior

Writing fiction may look easy—and in fact it is. It’s writing compelling, readable, publishable fiction that’s challenging. New writers are often told to use techniques like flashbacks and foreshadowing, but they’re not told how to do it. Jessica Morrell’s Between the Lines shows both new and experienced writers how to take so-so fiction and add depth, resonance, and readability. It’s an enjoyable read filled with practical, doable advice and plenty of examples that will improve your fiction.
—Kelly James-Enger, novelist and author of Six-Figure Freelancing: The Writer’s Guide to Making More Money

Jessica Morrell understands the writing process and the writer. Whether you are a beginning writer or a seasoned pro, Between the Lines will instruct, inform, and inspire. This is the essential guide.
—Linda Elin Hamner, Emmy-winning writer for Santa Barbara and author of Letters From Cleo and Tyrone

Between the Lines contains everything one writer could possibly convey to another about the art and craft of writing, while also being a joy to read. Entertaining, personal, accessible, and specific in its advice, Jessica Morrell’s invaluable guide invites the reader to explore every aspect of fiction writing, providing a plethora of ideas, insights, practical suggestions, and techniques that have much to offer everyone from the beginner to the most advanced writer.
—Nancy Hardin, film and television producer (Frida and Noriega), and former New American Library editor

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