What Should Your Characters Talk About?

Dialogue is the best part of stories. (Yes, even better than Dickensian narratorial diatribes about crooked politics.) But it’s tough to write scintillating dialogue when you find yourself asking that fundamental question: “What should your characters talk about?” As writers, we’re familiar with the rant about “show, don’t tell.” We’re supposed to bring our stories […]

6 Ways to Set Up Your Story in the First Chapter

Your Ultimate First Chapter Checklist, Pt. 3: Introducing the Story

The reason the first chapter of a story is so complex is because it bears a triple load of responsibility. First, it must hook readers. Then it must offer a compelling and interesting scene of its own. And finally, it must set up the entire story to come. Today, let’s dive into our third and […]

5 Special Tips for Writing Your First Scene

Your Ultimate First Chapter Checklist, Pt. 2: Writing the Opening Scene

First chapters are complicated, which is why writers everywhere need a first chapter checklist. But even the checklists are complicated! Which is why I’ve broken down our exploration of excellent first chapters into three parts. Last week, we talked about what is, arguably, your first chapter’s most important job: hooking readers. But if you’re going […]

should you upgrade the new scrivener 3

The New Scrivener 3.0 – Should You Upgrade?

Did you know Literature and Latte released version 3 of their acclaimed writing software Scrivener? Scrivener is famous for its rich functionality, but also its steep learning curve. If you’ve taken the time to learn an existing version of Scrivener, or are a newcomer looking to try it out yourself, making the move to version […]

Your Ultimate First Chapter Checklist

Your Ultimate First Chapter Checklist, Pt. 1: Hooking Readers

Your story’s first chapter is one of the most important pieces of your story. Not only does it provide the foundation for a solid storyform to come, it is also your first and only chance to pique readers’ curiosity and suck them in. For better or worse, the first chapter is also one of the […]

How to Decide Between Plain Prose and Beautiful Prose

How to Decide Between Plain Prose and Beautiful Prose

Truth is beauty. Beauty is truth. This is perhaps nowhere more evident than in art, which deliberately and consciously explores both. Words, in particular, are the explicit context in which humanity presents, investigates, and shares its truth. Perhaps more than any other art form, writing gives us a blatant venue for exploring the truth side […]

7 Frequently Asked Writing Questions

7 Frequently Asked Writing Questions

The amazing thing about being a writer is that you get to be part of a writing community. Especially now, in the Internet age, you have access not just to the writings of the great minds who have gone before, but also to the shared wisdom, common sense, commiseration, and encouragement of all your contemporaries. If […]

Learn 5 Ways to Take Risks With Your Writing

Learn 5 Ways to Take Risks With Your Writing

We writers are really kind of a whiny bunch. Our Facebook and Twitter streams, our blogs, sometimes even our books are full of discussions about how hard it is to to be writers. There’s a lot of (mostly) good-natured woe-is-me-ing; sharing of commiserative quotes from our patrons, St. Hemingway and St. Plath; and so, so much […]

How to Spot and Avoid Self-Indulgent Writing:

How to Spot and Avoid Self-Indulgent Writing

As writers, we have the opportunity to live lives of creativity, in which we get to craft whole worlds that conform to our every whim. Whether you’re writing your first book or your thirtieth, it’s always going to be a heady experience. But this comes with certain inherent pitfalls. Sometimes all this power can go […]

4 Fun Things to Read (and Listen to) This Week

I’m not doing a regular blog post today, since I’m spending this week visiting my adorable niece and nephew. Just so you don’t miss me too much while I’m gone, here are some goodies to keep you busy! 1. One of My Favorite Posts From the Archives This post from two years ago examines seven important questions […]