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How to Evoke Reader Emotions With “Surprisingness”

Have you ever read a book for a second, third, even tenth time—just to experience the emotion the story evokes? Clearly the elements of the story aren’t a surprise. You know exactly what to expect. If so, you were benefiting from an author who knew how to evoke reader emotions. Literary agent Donald Maass says […]

3 Must-Know Ways for Creating Meaningful Settings in Your Novel

3 Must-Know Ways for Creating Meaningful Settings in Your Novel

Sad but true, setting in novels is mostly ignored. It’s as if writers feel they must sacrifice attention to setting on the altar of getting the story moving, but nothing could be further from the truth. The settings in your novel serve a number of very powerful functions in your scenes, and that’s why setting is an […]

Do Writers Really Have to Learn All That (Yucky) Grammar?

Do writers really have to learn all that (yucky) grammar? In a word, yes. In two words: absolutely yes. I hear groans. I hear protests. You hated English Comp in school? Old, crotchety Mrs. Snigglegrass made you dissect sentences and name the parts of speech? You got a what as your final grade? I feel […]

The Secret to Show, Don't Tell

The Secret to Show, Don’t Tell

Gone are the days of the long narrative passages we used to see in novels written by greats like Dickens and Steinbeck. Even though literary prose is still highly praised and found in many bestselling commercial novels, the trend over the last few decades has been to “show, not tell.” Meaning, readers prefer scenes in which they are watching […]

One Dish of Critique—But Hold the Criticism!

Critique. Just the word alone makes authors cringe. Why? Because it reminds us of another word that has a negative connotation: criticism. Yet, as authors we understand the need to have another pair of eyes look closely at our manuscript and give us constructive advice and direction so we can make our book the absolute […]