How to Show the Passage of Time in Your Novel

This week’s video discusses two ways in which you can trip your readers up with the passage of time in your novel—and how to avoid them. Video Transcript: The passage of time is one thing all stories have in common. In some stories, such as “The Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce, maybe only a few […]

Are You Giving Readers the Tools to Understand Your Story?

This week’s video talks about when and how to explain pertinent details to your readers, using examples from Lisa Shearin’s fantasy Magic Lost, Trouble Found. But before we get to the video, I’ d like to share with you a fun and useful opportunity. Earlier this week, I was offered two free tickets to the online training event Writer’s Hour […]

The Value of Good Customer Service

This  post is by Carrie Spencer. Hi all! My name is Carrie and I’m a customer-service-aholic. Yes, I just made that word up. I’ve been in the restaurant business for twenty-two years as a bartender, a waitress, and a manager—occasionally all at the same time. In order to be successful in the restaurant business, you […]

Don’t Even Think About Using First-Person Unless…

This week’s video talks about one very important qualification that must be present in every first-person narration—and without which your story is doomed. Video Transcript: First-person is a popular narrative perspective, among both authors and readers, since it allows the narrating character to directly address the reader by funneling the entire story through his head, […]

Are You Choosing the Right Words for Your Story’s Tone?

This week’s shows how you can follow the lead of fantasy authors Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman in creating unique characters by choosing the right words for your story’s tone. Video Transcript: Words are the link between the ethereal realm of our imaginations and the concrete reality of our books. So it’s no surprise that […]

Should You Ever Use Unusual Narrative Forms?

When readers open a book, they usually know what they’re going to be getting. First- or third-person narrative voices, told in the past tense, in a linear timeline, are the most common narrative forms. Readers are familiar with these forms and comfortable with them, and, because these forms allow a nice blend of flexibility and […]

How to Create Subtext by Letting Your Readers Fill in the Blanks

As I discussed in a recent post (“Why Your Reader Is Your Co-Writer”), the best authors understand how to sketch their stories with just enough detail to let readers see the scene, while still leaving room for readers to fill in the blanks. The trick for how to create subtext with just the right balance […]

Waiter! There’s a Smphurphle in My Fantasy Novel: Do's and Don'ts of Made-Up Words

Waiter! There’s a Smphurphle in My Fantasy Novel: Do’s and Don’ts of Made-Up Words

One of the joys writing fantasy is the necessity of creating made-up names for your unique worlds, races, creatures, and technology. However, even the best of fantasy writers occasionally take this to a worrisome extreme when they start slapping made-up names on things that really aren’t so fantastical after all. In Alchemy With Words (edited […]

The Simplest Trick for Avoiding Info Dumps

Sometimes authors are faced with the necessity of avoiding info dumps while feeding the reader large chunks of information via internal narrative. The problem, of course, is that, faced with pages of straight narrative in solid blocks of text, readers often grow restless. Vital as the information may be, readers want to get back to […]

The Kung Fu Panda Guide to Writing Action Scenes

You don’t have to love kung fuuuuuuu to enjoy a good action scene, but you do need to understand the basics of the action scenes scene if you’re going to blind readers from overexposure to your action awesomeness. Fight scenes, chase scenes, and other action extravaganzas appear in stories of every genre, so consider the […]