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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 […]

Learn How To Write Smashing First and Last Lines

8 1/2 Tips for How to Write Opening and Closing Lines Readers Will Love to Quote

When I’m scanning an Amazon preview to decide if a book is going to be worth my time, the first test is always the opening line. A sloppy, casual, or plain-Jane opening line instantly makes me suspect I’m looking at the work of an author who is an outright amateur or, at the best, someone […]

How To Know It's Time To Write The End

How to Know When to Write The End

I wrote my first book when I was fourteen–and I had no idea when to write The End. I printed the manuscript in December 1999 (just in case Y2K crashed the world and I lost my beautiful story). This was a great accomplishment, of course. I’d just finished writing a book. Except, it turned out, I wasn’t […]

The Re-Readability Factor: Does Your Book Have It? (5 Ways to Make It Happen)

When I was a young reader, I had a horrendously bad habit. Whenever I started a new book, I would systematically read the front cover, the back cover, the front matter, the back matter–and then the final line of the book. I know, I know. Anathema. I clearly remember the day I swore to never do […]

If You Don’t Fix This Mistake in Your Story's Climax, You’ll Hate Yourself Later

If You Don’t Fix This Mistake in Your Story’s Climax, You’ll Hate Yourself Later

The Climax has got to be the best part of your story, right? It’s the maraschino cherry on top of the sundae (that is, of course, if you’re the kind who saves the cherry to eat last). Anyway—the point is you want your story’s Climax to be gripping. You want it to be suspenseful. You […]

Don’t Let This Sloppy Technique Kill the Tension in Your Story’s Climax

Don’t Let This Sloppy Technique Kill the Tension in Your Story’s Climax

This week’s video points out one of the most egregious mistakes you can make in your story’s climax and how to make sure readers never look away from your exciting finale. Video Transcript: Imagine this: you’ve created an amazing story, full of amazing characters, who are clashing in an epic conflict. Your story’s climax has […]

The Only Sure Way to Write an Emotionally Resonant Climax

What makes for an emotionally resonant climax? In other words, what makes for a good climax? Is it danger? Explosions? A face-off between the protagonist and the antagonist? Near-death experiences? Eh, all good guesses. But these things are like the seasoning on top a good climax, rather than the meat itself. And seasonings, by themselves, […]

are the loose ends in your story too loose

Are the Loose Ends in Your Story Too Loose?

Are loose ends in your story a good thing or a bad thing? The very name seems to indicate they’re a bad thing. After all, what else do we do with loose ends but tie them up? But the problem with tying up all our loose ends too tightly is that we often end up […]

Have You Invited Enough Characters to Your Climax

Have You Invited Enough Characters to Your Story’s Climax?

This week’s video talks about which characters need to be present in your story’s climax and how to get them there. Video Transcript: Your book’s climax is its big party, and, believe me, it doesn’t pay to be too stingy with the invites. You’re going to want to see as many of your important characters as […]

The Characteristic Moment Belongs at the End of Your Book Too

The Characteristic Moment Belongs at the End of Your Book Too

This week’s video talks about the little-discussed characteristic moment at the end of your story, which bookends the one at the beginning. Video Transcript: I know you’re totally all over the idea that the beginning of your book needs to feature your protagonist in a characteristic moment. The idea, of course, behind this is that […]