How to Kill a Character—And Avoid Hate Mail

How to Kill a Character—And Avoid Hate Mail

Some of the most powerful stories in literature and cinema have a surprising common element: The death of a main character. At first glance, this would seem to be an instant turnoff. Why hang with a character for 300+ pages only to watch him get knocked off in the end? But the truth is, when […]

Top 7 Reasons Readers Stop Reading

Top 6 Reasons Readers Stop Reading

Ever wonder what a novel’s nightmares would look like, if it could dream? Naturally, I can only guess. But I’d say the spine-tingling fear of being put down is probably at the top of the list. When reader stop reading, poke their bookmark in between the pages, stretch, yawn, and drop the novel back on […]

6 Reasons Not to Listen to Your Critique Partner

6 Reasons Not to Listen to Your Critique Partners

Your critique partners, critters, alpha readers, beta readers, proofreaders, editors, loyal slaves and subjects—whatever you want to call them, they’re a vital part of any author’s arsenal. No matter how talented and studied we may be, we’re always going to need an objective pair of eyes to look at our work and point out the […]

11 Dichotomous Characters–and Why You Should Be Copying Them

Fiction writing doesn’t offer many shortcuts or magic formulas. But today I am going to give you a secret ingredient in that coveted recipe for memorable and realistic characters. What is this ingredient? Dichotomy. If we expect our characters to jump off the page into three-dimensional living color, we have to give them multi-faceted personalities. […]

Punch Your Readers in the Gut!

Want to Take Your Story to the Next Level? Punch Readers in the Gut!

Writing is not only an intellectual endeavor for me, it’s also very much a physical one. When I’m on to the right story, the right location, the right situation, the right theme, my body tells me. I feel a surge of excitement in my solar plexus that literally sends the message Yes yes yes! to […]

Should You Outline Backwards?

Should You Outline Your Book Backwards?

When you think of outlines, you generally think organization, right? The whole point of outlining, versus the seat-of-the-pants method, is to give the writer a road map, a set of guidelines, a plan. It only makes sense that an outline should be simple, streamlined, and linear. An outline should put things in order. So you’re […]

Why You Should Be Writing Scared

Why You Should Be Writing Scared

It’s my belief that writers should be writing scared pretty much all the time. In fact, a constant state of terror would be optimal. When you sit down at your desk and extend your hands to your keyboard, a little tremble should shake your fingers. Your heart should be pounding just hard enough that you […]

Find Out This Overlooked Ingredient in Successfully Marketing Your Book

Find Out This Overlooked Ingredient in Successfully Marketing Your Book

There’s a key to marketing, which, once we understand it, unlocks the entire frustrating, overwhelming mystery. What is this key? Likability. What we sometimes miss in the ubiquitous phrase “self-promotion” is that because we’re promoting ourselves, we have to be just as appealing—and sometimes more so—than our products. In a rather interesting exercise, I made […]

Good Writers Are So Lazy, They Make Readers Do All the Work!

This is a guest post by Jason Black. Read any half-dozen writing blogs, and they’ll be full of advice on how to craft dramatic scenes, how to write realistic dialogue, how to create vivid settings, and all that jazz. Add in the need for a compelling hook, character arcs, rising tension and stakes, and it […]

What If: The Two Most Powerful Words in a Writer’s Repertoire

Almost all writers are familiar with the power of the “what if” question. Every novel, story, and article is inspired by those words, even when the question isn’t articulated. Many of us, however (myself included up until a few years ago) fail to tap the question’s full potential. Why? Simply because we don’t make a conscious effort to answer it. […]