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    Trouble with Transition Scenes | #Writing Advice


    When you think of your story, you think of the Big Scenes, right? The important plot points, the vital Moments that challenge your characters and move your book along. But what about the transition scenes, connecting all those story events together? Transitional scenes can be incredibly difficult to get right. They’re a spot in your novel that’s rife for info-dumping, and a poorly written transition scene can drag like dead weight. But sometimes cutting it off entirely can mess up your story’s pacing!

    A good transition scene is seamless. You don’t notice it’s a transition, because you’re engaged in what you’re reading and the information you’re being given is naturally setting up for the next Story Event. The transition gives you something — a funny moment, a beautiful description, a thrilling bit of mystery, an enlightening character detail, a hint at the conflict or tension to come — that makes it move along smoothly.

    To start things off, what is a transition scene?

    A transition scene is the thread connecting disparate parts of your novel. Take some of these examples from Harry Potter and the Halfblood Prince

    It might be a scene of time passing, such as snow falling over the Hogwarts grounds as the seasons change:

    Snow was swirling against the icy windows once more; Christmas was approaching fast. Hagrid had already single-handedly delivered the usual twelve Christmas trees for the Great Hall; garlands of holly and tinsel had been twisted around the banisters of the stairs; everlasting candles glowed from inside the helmets of suits of armor and great bunches of mistletoe had been hung at intervals along the corridors. Large groups of girls tended to converge underneath the mistletoe bunches every time Harry went past, which caused blockages in the corridors; fortunately, however, Harry’s frequent nighttime wanderings had given him an unusually good knowledge of the castle’s secret passageways, so that he was able, without too much difficulty, to navigate mistletoe-free routes between classes.

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    For Writers

    Am I Writing This Right? | A pep talk for writers struggling to be themselves

    Open Book with Text Am I Writing This Right?

    Writing can be a difficult and intimately personal undertaking. We all have different approaches, different voices, and different methods for the way in which we weave words. There are lots of ways to write a book, and a problem I’m seeing a lot in writing classes, blogs, and instructional books is the expectation of imparting the One True Way to write.

    As writers, we all develop our own voices, our own styles, and it can be discouraging — demoralizing, even — to be told that your style is “wrong”. That the only sentences worth writing are ones that Work Like This. (This crops up a lot when your writing class is bent towards literary fiction, but you want to write for speculative fiction, like fantasy or science fiction. Sometimes those books just work differently, don’t they?)

    It’s like being told the only way to walk down a street is by carrying yourself in a very specific posture. Yes, maybe it’s effective to throw your shoulders back and walk an even stride, but what if you want to run? What if your leg hurts, and you have to limp? What if you’re so happy, you want to skip? You still get yourself down that street, don’t you?

    Think of the books you’ve read.

    Some were mostly dialogue, and read like screenplays.

    Some were densely detailed, with evocative, lyrical prose.

    Some focused entirely on the character’s internal journey through an intense emotional change.

    Some were all plot, with twists and turns that blew your mind and characters that were mostly just vehicles for the reader to hop into and enjoy the ride.

    Some writers used clipped, sparse writing. Short sentences with which to convey their worlds.

    Others use sentences that twist and turn in their own right, snaking down the page like a coiling of ribbon.

    Some books are works of art.

    Some books are popcorn.

    Some stories stick with you your whole life.

    Some entertain you for an afternoon.

    No story, no book, and no writer’s style is inherently more valid than another’s.

    So when people heap rules on you, that This is the way your sentences should work, This is the kind of writing that is worthwhile, This is how to tell a story, and This, and This, and This makes you a good writer, while This, and This, and This does not–don’t worry. Don’t panic. And don’t quit.

    Every story is going to tell itself differently.

    No two writers are going to wield their pen in the same way.

    There are lots of ways to write a book.

    And there are lots of books left to write.

    Don’t worry so much about whether you’re doing it correctly. Don’t worry so much if your writing is “right”. Every book is different. Write yours however you want.


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    For Writers

    There And Back Again (Wait, Where Did We Go???): Juggling Lots of Locations In Your Fantasy Novel

    One of the writing classes I’m taking had a forum discussion where writers posted some of their most prominent worries when it comes to their novels, and one of the questions posted really struck me: the writer felt like their fantasy story was whisking from one location to the next too quickly. The reader, they worried, would get whiplash zooming around their fantasy map, seeing too many locations without any one of them leaving a deep impression.

    Cue me quietly sweating onto my keyboard, because this is the realest concern, for any fantasy writer.

    When you’re writing speculative fiction — or, really, any story that has a big, big world for the character to explore — there’s an instinct to show off that world. To move your character around a lot. Usually, it’s because the story requires it — characters have quests to go on, wars to fight, journeys to undertake, sacred mountains to hike up, haunted forests to fight through, scaly slobbery monsters in vast acid-filled lakes to bring fabled jeweled tea cups to — you get the idea.

    * Is this … not … a normal plot point for any novel?

    But, sometimes, we writers can get carried away. It can be fun, and fruitful for your story, to take your characters on a dizzying roller coaster ride across your fantasy map. But how do you know when you’re taking your readers on too dizzying a ride? How do you keep that fantasy map from becoming one big, confusing, smeary blur in your readers’ heads?

    Keep your fantasy map from dizzying readers by giving each location emotional and story significance for your characters.  

    Your character, especially in a quest or journey-based fantasy novel, shouldn’t just be walking through a sideways scrolling sequence of set dressings. Every location you showcase in your story should be there for a reason

    As far as I can tell (and I am by no means an expert on this), the trick is to make sure the locations have emotional context for the characters, and to root your settings in your story’s plot. Make your locations matter, in other words, to both your characters and to the story at large.

    Let’s get a little deeper into what that means…

    Rooting Your Locations In Your Story’s Plot

    Let’s say your character is going on that epic journey where they hike up that sacred mountain to retrieve the mythical teacup, fight through that haunted forest to reach the acid lake, and then row across the poisonous waters to meet the sea creature whose ire can only be assuaged by the delivery of that bejeweled cup. You might have noticed something about each of those locations I listed…

    They all have a clear purpose related to the story. 

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    For Writers

    5 Tips for Writing the First Chapter #WritingAdvice

    Notebook and pencil with the words Writing The First Chapter

    There is a lot of pressure on a novelist to write a perfect first chapter. These words, these scenes, these ten or fifteen pages will be the first impression a prospective agent, editor, or reader will have of your novel, and you want to make them count.

    So, the question begs — what makes a good first chapter? What should the beginning of my story accomplish?

    The short answer: your first chapter needs to set the scene, introduce the main character, introduce the conflict, and lead to the trigger/inciting incident of your story

    What does all that entail? Let’s get into it.

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    For Writers

    The Writer’s Tag!

    The Writer's Tag

    I have been meaning to do the Writer’s Tag (plucked from PaperFury’s archive ages and ages ago) for a very long time, and now I am finally getting around to it! There just aren’t enough writing-related tags and surveys out there for us writing blogs, and this one has some great questions for getting to know each other. So, sharpen those pencils and crack open those blisteringly white empty Word documents and get to it!

    what genres styles topics do you write about?

    For genres, I’m definitely a fantasy nut, but I have several more modern and less fantastical WIPs on my docket for 2018, including a murder mystery and a zombie virus! I definitely tend towards speculative, whether it be fantasy, horror, or science fiction, though.

    For styles, I don’t think I’ve ever not written in Third Person POV (usually with a focal lens privy to the inner thoughts of one or another POV character). And it’s past tense all the way, baby! Usually my outlines are in the present tense, and I do like the immediacy that present tense provides, but I always find I skimp on the description and that my pacing is WAY too fast when I stay in present tense for very long.

    As for my writing style … I tend to get lyrical and long-winded when I don’t know exactly what I’m trying to say, whereas when I have a firmer handle on the plot, my sentences tend to be shorter, more to-the-point, and sometimes even a little sparse on the details. Navigating between the two extremes when revising is a … special challenge.

    Now, topicsthat’s an interesting question! I answered a question on Twitter about recurring themes and images not long ago:

    No, but seriously, I have three — count them, THREE — WIPs in which the characters have either met, crashed into, or otherwise found themselves lost in a forest by the second or third chapter. What’s up with that??

    Other topics that recur often in my writing: LGBT characters, self-deprecating humor (that often serves to lull the reader into a false sense of security before something AWFUL happens — is that mean?), fights against injustice, and characters that hate each other right until they become best friends for life.


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    For Writers

    How In The World Do You Write A Query? #WritingAdvice

    Happy Monday, happy writers! This week, we’re going to discuss one of the most dreaded topics for any writer day-dreaming about publication: the query.

    Is your stomach getting queasy just thinking about it? I know mine is…

    What is a query? A query is the sales pitch in which you try to condense 300 pages of delicious novel-ly goodness into two or three paragraphs that are polished and perfect and pithy enough to convince a complete stranger to read your work. It’s the letter you write to your potential literary agent, or editor, or publisher, to sell your story to them.

    I’m right there with ya, Sheldon.

    Is there anything more stressful in the world? I mean, probably dangling over a tank of snapping and slobbering sharks on a lengthening and fraying rope … but even then, I’d have to say, the experiences aren’t dissimilar.

    So, let’s go into it. How do you write a query that isn’t a total mess??

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