• For Writers

    How to Add Layers to Your Dialogue

    How do you flesh out dialogue??

    When I’m freewriting, I tend to write way more dialogue than action. My first drafts often read like screenplays. Sometimes, I won’t even put tags that explain who is talking, and I’ll have to scroll back through the scene weeks later desperately trying to remember who was who. 

    Take this chunk of dialogue:

    “I said no one was supposed to go in there.”

    “I thought you meant, you know, other people. I didn’t think you meant me.”

    “I always mean you. I don’t care what other people do. I care—”

    “About me?”

    “Just — don’t do it again, okay? It’s dangerous.”

    “Duly noted.”

    It’s not bad, is it? But we have no idea who is speaking, where they are, or what’s going on. So let’s see if we can beef it up a little bit…

  • For Writers

    Lay It Flat, Then Iron It

    You don’t throw a shirt down on the ironing board all wadded up and just press your hot iron overtop it.

    I mean, maybe you do, if your intention is to make some kind of shirt sandwich and pressing the wrinkles deeper into the fabric locks in the flavor or whatever.

    But usually, you lay the shirt flat. You make sure the collar isn’t folded up, and you smooth down the sleeves. Then you get to ironing. Giving yourself that minute to prepare the canvas, so to speak, makes the work easier and promises you a better outcome.

    It’s the same with writing.

    No, really.

  • For Writers

    The Zero Draft: How to Take Your Jumbled Scraps of Bookish Ideas and Make Them Story-Shaped

    Hello, hello, Happy Writers! Today, we’re talking about Zero Drafts. Now, we’ve all heard of First Drafts: the very first incarnations of the stories we tell. They’re messy, they’re earnest, and they very, very often go unfinished, as they’re very often abandoned. Now, why is that? Sometimes, admittedly, stories just don’t work, and the writer loses their motivation to keep clacking away at the keyboard. But, oftentimes, the writer is simply overwhelmed — lost and frustrated and not sure what the story is that they’re telling.

    Often, this is because the writer needed a Zero Draft. A Zero Draft is the percolation stage. It’s the answer to the question: how do I get all of the ideas in my head into something story-shaped? A Zero Draft is and should be the first step to writing a novel. 

    So, this post basically answers two questions: What is a Zero Draft? which, in turn, answers the question:

    I have a story for a novel in my head and I’m not sure how to write it down. What do I do??

  • For Writers

    Break Your Writing Into Bite-Sized Chunks | How I Got In the Habit of Writing Everyday

    Since I started keeping tabs of my daily #amwriting in Scrivener, I’m pleased to say I’ve written 20,000 words in the last two weeks! Making yourself sit down for a few minutes every day and write SOMETHING has its benefits! ✨— Christina ✍🏻 (@chuffwrites) September 26, 2018

    So, I’ve been having a time writing this year. Or, these past two years. There’s something about waking up in the morning, rolling over, opening Twitter, and seeing with every subsequent scroll of your thumb the Raging Dumpster Fire your country has become that kills your creative drive. Also, I’m in a weird position where I’m drowning in edits for Book 1 of my fantasy series, but I also have all of these fun, attractive, distracting ideas for stand-alone novels bouncing about my brain that I often get hit with a kind of creative paralysis

    What is Creative Paralysis?

    creative paralysis: a sister to writer’s block, when you just have so much you want to write, you somehow manage to end up … not writing anything at all. 

    Basically, I was pin-balling between so many projects, I just could never seem to sit down to work that substantially on any. And I never felt like I was making any kind of substantial progress in anything.

    So. A new system has been implemented!

  • Notebook and pencil with the words Writing The First Chapter
    For Writers

    5 Tips for Writing the First Chapter #WritingAdvice

    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.

  • For Writers

    Advice For Writers: Make Realistic Writing Goals

    Hello, Happy Writers, long time, no see! I didn’t mean to go on such an extended hiatus — Hurricane Irma scattered our lives for several weeks, then October flew by, and now NaNoWriMo is chewing up my life! EEK. But! I have returned to issue you your weekly writerly goodness. 🙂

    So, we’re deep in the thick of it for NaNoWriMo (Become my Buddy!) and, by now, we’re all probably feeling a tad overwhelmed by the task we have set for ourselves. You might be feeling you’ve bit off more than you can chew with NaNoWrimo — or, in fact, with any of the writerly goals you’ve set yourself this month.

    What is the answer? How can we set goals for ourselves, shoot hit, but not get overwhelmed at the same time? I’m constantly gripped with guilt over the amount of writing I haven’t done — and very rarely do I remember to feel proud for the work I have put down. Before you beat yourself up for not reaching whatever goals you have set for yourself, consider — it might be your goals, not your writing, that are the problem.

  • For Writers

    5 Things Harry Potter Taught Me About Writing

    We all have those books that make us write better. The books we turn to when our creativity tank is running on fumes. The books that make us want to write. The books that made us feel like writing was possible.

    I wanted to share five writing lessons I’ve learned from one of my favorite book series, Harry Potter. JKR’s fantasy series is lusciously liberal with description and teeming over with amazing characters; it’s no wonder that this is a book series that readers return to time and time again. Can writers learn something from JKR’s crafting of the Wizarding World? What are some of the elements of Harry Potter that make it so inherently, and insatiably, readable?

  • 5 Features Good Novel Chapters Have
    For Writers

    5 Features Every Chapter in Your Novel Should Have

    5 Features Good Novel Chapters Have

    In case you’re wondering, yes, I’m still nostril-deep in revisions for my WIP. As I’m revising, I find myself taking the story on chapter by chapter, and really examining the ways in which I can make each individual chapter satisfying, exciting, and, most importantly, contribute in a vital way to the plot overall.

    So, what does make for a good chapter? I can think of five key attributes successful, satisfying chapters have in common. If you’re writing or revising your novel, here are some things to look for:

  • novel writing midpoint mirror moment
    For Writers

    What is the Midpoint Mirror Moment? (And Why Is It So Important for Plotting Your Novel?)

    novel writing midpoint mirror moment

    Today, I want to talk about the Midpoint Mirror Moment, a facet of novel plotting that TOTALLY changed the way I outline. Now, in this post, I reference the elements of plot structure from my previous post, Plotting In a Pinch: A Quick Guide to Plotting Your Novel. It might be helpful to read that blog first, if you’re unfamiliar!

    When editing your novel, there is nothing so helpful as getting a good, firm grip on the central story you’re telling, the character’s emotional arc, the thruline this book is meant to be about. You want a book with a satisfying connection between the beginning, middle, and end. But how do you go about achieving that?

    I bring you: The Midpoint Mirror Moment.

  • Laptop Finding Story Ideas for Novel Writing
    For Writers

    Finding Story Ideas

    Laptop Finding Story Ideas for Novel Writing

    I doubt any writer enjoys answering the question, “Where do all your ideas come from?” Because the answer for most of us is very boring, unhelpful, and hard to understand:

    “Nowhere. They just pop in my head.”

    It’s the truth, though, or at least it’s the truth for me. Story ideas just sort of spring to mind more or less fully formed, aching to break out of my skull like Athena sprouting fully grown from Zeus’s noggin. The problem, though, stems from deciding which story to write, and how exactly to focus that frantically hopping plot bunny.

    If you’re having trouble whittling down your teeming pile of story ideas to The One You Should Work On, I have some tips to share…