My Story as a Playlist

~ By Melina Kantor When I tell people that I always, always, always create a soundtrack for my WIP, the response is often, “Oh. Well I can’t write to music.” You know what? I honestly can’t either. I get too distracted and too lost, especially by songs I feel connected to. Music can turn my brain into a sort of popcorn popper, causing all kinds of disorganized ideas to zing around my head. Which, actually is the point. Building and listening to a story soundtrack (a trick I learned from Lani Diane Rich) helps me discover my stories and create...

And then came Annie’s Karma

~ Chelle Cordero Writing a sequel wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve done. I had written series books before: Bartlett’s Rule & Courage of the Heart (Survivor Series); His Lucky Charm & Within the Law (Cousins Series); Final Sin & Hyphema (EMS Series) — but this was the first time I wrote an actual sequel. What’s the difference? In two of my series I did have recurring characters, but it was always another couple who was the main focus of the book. I created Annie and Dave in Karma Visited and the story could have ended there, but it didn’t. You...

Awesome. . . Really?

~ Nan Reinhardt My friend and fellow writer, Liz Flaherty did an article about words not long ago. Her consideration of the word “ordinary” made me go right into Editor Nan mode and start thinking about words, how we use them, and how we misuse them. I confess I am a word nerd. It’s all my mom’s fault—she was word geek too. When my siblings and I were kids, she insisted we learn new words and use them correctly. I also confess to being kinda proud of my vocabulary, which although not extraordinary, does probably qualify as extensive by any...

World Bending

~ By Molly Jameson I had a reputation for exaggerating as a kid. I liked to think of it as creative license. I don’t object to reality necessarily, so much as I’d like to rearrange some things to make it entertaining. So it makes sense for me as an author to bend the living world to my will, to make it fit the story I want to tell. My thought process was fairly straightforward. I like to look at gorgeous international destinations, designer clothes and shoes, and many of my dream holiday spots are museums and old buildings rather...

What I Screw Up

~ By Laura Trentham  All right folks, we are about to get down and dirty with sentence mechanics here… If you’ve gone through the editing process with a good editor, this post might not apply, but if you haven’t, then read on. I’m going to talk about two bad habits I am still learning to shake—Autonomous body parts (Abp’s) and Simultaneous actions (SA). I’ve learned these abbreviations by heart because I saw them so much from my editor☺. I still struggle with this in my first drafts, but at least now I can recognize and fix them before shipping them...

Backstory vs. Exposition

~ By Mellanie Szereto A lot of agents and editors comment about submissions they’ve rejected because the author either opened with page after page of backstory and no action or had a great opening action scene followed by pages of backstory. Some of the contest entries I’ve judged have had similar issues. How much Backstory is too much? And what is Exposition? You’ve thought of a fantastic idea for a story, so you start getting to know your characters. If you’re a Plotter, you might create a character bio, listing physical characteristics of your hero/heroine and finding the perfect celebrity...

GMC, Wonder Woman, and Unlocking Your NaNoWriMo Story

Wow, okay. So NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) begins exactly a week from today. Have you figured out your plot? Eh, don’t worry, neither have I. Besides, as they say, “no plot, no problem.” Right? NaNo is the time to write with “literary abandon,” forget the rules, and just write. Right? Well. . . The Problem Personally, I can’t do that. I can not handle not knowing what I’m going to write, and even though I’ve been successfully NaNo’ing since 2007, I have yet to learn how to let loose and “just write.” And if try to do so without...

Seven Rules for Powerful Sentences

~ By Lyn Cote (First published in “Writer’s Forum,” a publication for students, faculty, and friends of Writer’s Digest School, Fall 1998 as “Dramatic Sentences in Seven Steps.”) When I completed my first manuscript, I thought a national day of celebration should be proclaimed.  Imagine my chagrin when I discovered contest judges, agents, and editors weren’t impressed by my 700 neat pages.  They expected not only that each chapter, page, and paragraph be effective, but they also demanded that exacting standard apply to each sentence and even each word.  Didn’t they know that perfectionism of this level put them...

Contest Entries, Part 2: Understanding POV

~ By Laura Trentham  This is Part 2 of my observations from judging lots of RWA contests for unpublished manuscripts. I really love judging, not only to give back to a process that gave me my start in publishing, but by critiquing someone else’s writing, I discover weakness in my own. Part 1 focused on the actual beginning of your story and the delicate balance of backstory in the first three chapters. Now, I’m going to discuss a craft item that affects not just your first chapters, but you entire book. Deep POV. First, let me say, this is...

Diving Back Into My World

~ By Melina Kantor Note: This post was written in August, 2016.  Confession: A few days ago, I opened my WIP for the first time in. . . Well, I don’t know how long it had been. But let’s just say it had been long enough that when the document opened, I swear I heard a creak. Like all of us, I’ve been busy with a lot of regular life stuff (new rescue puppy, busy schedule, etc). But busy I can handle. What’s hard is that I now write for my day job, and after work I just can’t...

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