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...

An Amused Muse

~ By Becke (Martin) Davis I’m an obsessive reader and a longtime fan of romance, particularly contemporary romances. As a reader, I love contemporary romances liberally laced with snappy dialogue, quirky plots and even, occasionally, slapstick. As a writer, I flounder in my attempts to be funny. When I try to write a humorous scene, I often go off the deep end and find myself—and my characters—shipwrecked on a rocky sea of overwrought emotions. I’ll try to lighten up a heavy scene with a laugh and before I know it, the Keystone Kops have hijacked the dark moment. It’s frustrating...

Family

~ By Samanthya Wyatt Our stories cover a wide range of time periods, but the one thing profoundly rooted in each is family—whether it is a large family or no family members at all. The heart of our stories come from deep emotion concerning family ties. This can be the loss of a family member, a substance abusive mother or father, even caring for a sibling. Some sort of tragedy or desertion of a family member shapes the characters in our books. A family is defined as a social unit consisting of parents and the children they raise. On parent,...

The Lies Characters Tell

~ By Melissa Blue I’m happy with my life. I wasn’t that hurt by my ex. My parents did the best the could and I don’t hold any grudges against them. I just want to have a sexual relationship with the heroine/hero. Lies. Every single last one them. Except most writers fall for those statements. Here’s how it usually happens for me. I’m writing like the wind. It’s all banter and conflict and charm. The beginning is solid and great. Sometime around chapter 4 there’s a clap of thunder. I can barely hear it over typing so hard and...

Them’s the Rules

~ By Samantha Tonge Note: This post was originally posted here. There are many so-called rules to do with writing which I diligently stuck to as an aspiring writer. However, when I started mixing on-line with experienced authors, their view was to learn the rules, yes – but not so that you necessarily stick to them, but so you can break them with confidence. And now, years later, I couldn’t agree more. Here are a few of the more common rules writers talk about, and my view on them – other authors, of course, might disagree! This is simply...

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