Coincidences in Fiction: What You’re Doing Wrong

Coincidences in Fiction: What You’re Doing Wrong

Coincidences are awesome. In real life. But coincidences in fiction? Unfortunately, the same rules don’t apply. In fact, a poor use of coincidences in your story can make or break your readers’ ability to suspend their disbelief and enjoy your plot. In real life, coincidences are (usually) cool. They’re inexplicable, seeming freaks of destiny that […]

How Much Realism Does Your Novel Really Need

How Much Realism Does Your Novel REALLY Need?

Ever had a critique partner or editor tell you, “This isn’t realistic”? It’s a valid complaint. Novels are facsimiles of real life. They must mimic that life with enough realism to allow readers to suspend their disbelief and invest themselves in characters and plot scenarios that far exceed their own personal experiences. In order to connect […]

foreshadowing's number one job

Foreshadowing’s #1 Job in Your Story

This week’s video reveals a simple but often overlooked function of foreshadowing that all writers should be aware of. Video Transcript: As you may have noticed (or maybe not) I’ve taken almost a six-month break from the video posts. So starting this week, I’m pleased to say that I plan to return to my old […]

how authors kill suspension of disbelief by drawing attention to themselves

How Authors Kill Suspension of Disbelief by Calling Attention to Themselves

This week’s video discusses the pros and cons of in-jokes and how to avoid using them to kill suspension of disbelief. Video Transcript: I’m totally a fan of in-jokes, the little nods to shared knowledge or experiences that make those in the know feel just a little extra awesome for being able to pick up […]

Are You Benefiting From the Intimacy of Pronouns?

Are You Benefiting From the Intimacy of Pronouns?

Here’s another peek at the archives while I’m away on family business. Pronouns are those clever little inventions that allow us to replace nouns and avoid clunky repetition. How awkward would it be if we had to mention our character Col. Daniel Fitzgerald the Elephant Trainer by name five times in one paragraph? Thanks to […]

How to Use Foreshadowing

How to Use Foreshadowing

Foreshadowing is a necessary part of any well-executed story. And yet, despite all its prevalence and importance, it’s actually a concept that many authors have a hard time getting their minds around. If we sift foreshadowing down to its simplest form, we could say that it prepares readers for what will happen later in the story. […]

Why the Reader Is Your Co-Writer

Why the Reader Is Your Co-Writer

No story is created by one person. Written by one person, yes. But if the only imagination involved is the writer’s, the story will never be anything more than black marks on the page. A book is just a doorstop until readers lift the cover, recognize and process the words, and then use those words to bring the story […]

5 Ways You’re Preventing Readers From Suspending Disbelief

Unlike non-fiction or memoir, the whole point of fiction is that it isn’t true. Or rather, that’s half the point. The other half is that this untruth is constructed in the pattern of truth, in order to shine a light on the reality of our lives. As Pablo Picasso said, “Art is the lie that tells the truth.” Readers […]

Deus Ex Machina: Latin for “Don’t Do This in Your Story”

By the time you reach the end of your book, you’re sometimes out of steam, sometimes out of ideas, sometimes sick of your story, and sometimes just plain wrong about how to end it. As a result, you might find yourself walking through yellow caution tape into the pothole of deus ex machina before you […]

Most Common Writing Mistakes: Poor Cause and Effect

As creators of story worlds, authors are privileged with a certain amount of inside information. We almost always know what’s going to happen to the characters before an event actually occurs. We understand cause and effect intuitively. The readers and the main character might not have seen that left hook coming from the antagonist, but […]