How to Write Your Characters' Actions with Clarity

How to Write Your Characters’ Actions with Clarity

Have you ever tried to watch an old film? Not a digitally remastered edition or a corrected copy, but a genuinely old film, silent and sepia-toned. Some frames are misplaced or backwards. Some aren’t there at all. You can follow the action well enough, filling in the gaps where they appear—but that doesn’t mean you […]

7 Questions You Have About Scenes vs. Chapters

7 Questions You Have About Scenes vs. Chapters

A chapter is a chapter and a scene is a scene. Or are they? What’s the differences between scenes vs. chapters? Are they ever the same thing? Must a chapter always be a complete scene? Or must a scene always be a chapter? What about scene breaks and chapter breaks? Is there a difference? These […]

How to Write Can’t-Look-Away Chapter Breaks (What I Learned Writing Storming)

How to Write Can’t-Look-Away Chapter Breaks (What I Learned Writing Storming)

Chapter breaks in novels are like the Becher’s Brook jump in National Velvet. That’s where the bodies pile up. Many a book has been declared dead to its reader and cast aside never to be remembered–and all because the reader reached a chapter break and didn’t care enough to keep reading. That’s the bad news. The […]

The Lazy Technique That Can Cripple Any Suspenseful Chapter Ending

The Lazy Technique That Can Cripple Suspenseful Chapter Endings

This week’s video offers an example of what might seem to be a great technique for chapter endings, and then shows you why it’s lazy and how to make it fantastic instead.   Video Transcript: Do you know what’s the most dangerous part of your book? Try chapter endings. These are subliminal signals to your […]

Scene Breaks: Why Your Story May Not Have Enough of Them

Scene Breaks: Why Your Story May Not Have Enough of Them

This week’s video discusses two of the little-considered abilities of scene breaks—and how you can put them to work in your story. Video Transcript: Scene breaks are your friends. Better than that, they’re like your super-secret, totally-ready-and-willing-to-go-the-extra-mile worker elves. They’re this tiny little technique that can be used in all kinds of ways to subtly […]

how to make the right decisions for your book

How to Make the Right Decisions for Your Book

Today, I’m guest posting over on Write to Done, with the post  How to Make the Right Decisions for Your Book. Here’s an excerpt: How can authors know which choices are right for their novels? When you first sit down at your desk and start typing words into the delicious white blank of your computer […]

Are Your Scene Breaks Rude?

Are Your Scene Breaks Rude?

After finishing the first draft of Jane Eyre: The Classic Annotated for Readers and Writers, I’m rewarding my tattered brain cells with a week off. Instead of new posts this week, I hope you’ll enjoy revisiting an old video on an important topic. This week’s video points out how a simple failure on the author’s part can […]

How to Cut the Filler and Tighten Your Book

This guest post is by Laura Carlson. Have you ever read a book that was underwhelming, but you just couldn’t put your finger on what was wrong? The characters were okay, but the book just never went anywhere? That might be because the author had too much filler and not enough plot-driven scenes. I was […]

Is Your Scene Break a Lying, Cheating Fraud?

The scene break is dangerous ground. Any time you give readers an inkling of an excuse to set down your story, you’re in peril of losing them altogether. Who knows what fascinating stuff they may find to keep them from returning? Chocolate pudding? That latest rerun of I Love Lucy? A good ol’ snooze? Whatever […]

6 Ways to Pull Off Dual Timelines in Your Novel

Some stories are so complicated they require not just one, but dual timelines to tell everything. Often, this is the result of an intricate and integral backstory, such as we might find in Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood or Ann Brashares’s My Name Is Memory, which switch back and forth from a “present-day” […]