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Saturday, November 28

WIP Diagnostic: Is This Working? A Closer Look at a Short Story Opening

Critique By Maria D'Marco

WIP Diagnostics is a weekly column that studies a snippet of a work in progress for specific issues. Readers are encouraged to send in work with questions, and we diagnose it on the site. It’s part critique, part example, and designed to help the submitter as well as anyone else having a similar problem.

If you're interested in submitting to WIP Diagnostics, please check out these guidelines. 

Submissions currently in the queue: Zero

Please Note: As of today, critique slots are open.

This week’s questions:

1. Does this work as an opening?

2. Would you want to read the rest of the story?

3. Does the dialogue seem appropriate to the scene?

Market/Genre: Fantasy Short Story

On to the diagnosis…

Thursday, November 26

Firearms In Fiction: What Authors Need to Know

By Dave Chesson, @DaveChesson

Part of The Indie Authors Series 


JH: Not every writer is an expert on firearms, but if you're using them in your novel, make sure you get the details right. Dave Chesson shares tips and info on what writers need to know about firearms.


Dave Chesson is the founder of Kindlepreneur.com and creator of Publisher Rocket, a software that helps authors market their books more effectively.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Take it away Dave…

Wednesday, November 25

Broken, but Still Good: 3 Ways to Create Character Flaws

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Choose the right flaws and weaknesses to round out your characters.

There's an old saying: "I'm not looking for the perfect man, just one with faults I like." No clue where I heard this, but it always stuck with me, because it’s so true. Everyone has faults, and some are more palatable than others.

This is true for our characters, too. Their flaws and weaknesses make them three-dimensional people readers can relate to and root for. They also allow our characters to make the mistakes and bad choices that lead to compelling plots.

But picking any old flaw isn't going to cut it. Who cares if the protagonist can't cook if cooking never matters to the story? So what if they can’t commit if they’re never asked to? It's important to choose flaws and weaknesses that add to the overall novel.

Tuesday, November 24

An Exercise in Layering & Depth: 25 Questions to Ask Your Characters

By Bonnie Randall

Part of The How They Do It Series 


JH: I don't think I know a single writer who isn't interested in better ways to develop characters (grin). Bonnie Randall shares 25 questions to help you figure out just who that character is. 

Some of the most telling moments of character definition—for both real people, and the fictional ones we craft—is when they are
  • made vulnerable
  • forced to choose
  • made to reveal their morals or their values

The following battery of questions, when asked of your MC (or secondary) offer an opportunity into insight as to who they really are…and also illuminates who they envision becoming. 

Monday, November 23

How to Tell if You Should You Give Up On Your Novel and Write Something New

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Not all novels need to be written. Is yours one of them?

Right after my third novel was published (2011), I hit a bad patch of writing. My muse went on vacation, every sentence I typed was a battle, and writing became a chore I dreaded. Although it felt like giving up, I shifted my writing focus to nonfiction until telling stories became fun again. Eventually it did, but it took years.

I wrote a lot of so-so novels during that time. Every single one was based on an idea I loved, but they needed a lot of revising and overhauling to make them work, and I wasn’t sure if revising them yet again was a good idea or not.

Idea #1 frustrated me for two and a half years of revisions. Idea #2 took another two years of my life that went nowhere. Idea #3 was a NaNo project that actually made writing fun again, but then languished when I wasn't sure what to do with it next. It was outside my regular genre and market, and trying to sell that one felt like I was starting over again as a writer.

Saturday, November 21

WIP Diagnostic: Is This Working? A Closer Look at Character Engagement and Backstory

Critique By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

WIP Diagnostics is a weekly column that studies a snippet of a work in progress for specific issues. Readers are encouraged to send in work with questions, and we diagnose it on the site. It’s part critique, part example, and designed to help the submitter as well as anyone else having a similar problem. 

If you're interested in submitting to WIP Diagnostics, please check out these guidelines.  

Submissions currently in the queue: Zero

Please Note: As of today, critique slots are open. 

This week’s questions:

1. Do you like or feel connected to Bess, the main character? It’s difficult to create sympathetic characters without being able to come out and dump all their “tragic backstory” on the page.

2. Am I giving too much away/not giving enough?

Market/Genre: Paranormal

On to the diagnosis…

Thursday, November 19

5 Dos and Don’ts of a Good Sidekick

By Bethany Henry

Part of The How They Do It Series


JH: A great sidekick can add a lot to a novel. Bethany Henry shares tips on how to craft a sidekick that enhances your story without stealing the show.


Bethany Henry writes fantasy novels and blogs about writing and wellness at bethany-henry.com. When not writing, she can often be found on the frisbee field, drinking tea, or reading picture books with her two little girls. Sign up for her email list for weekly posts on writing craft- along with fun extras like quotes and freebies.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Pinterest | Email List

Take it away Bethany...

Wednesday, November 18

5 Ways to Find the Backstory Readers Want to Know

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Readers don’t mind backstory—as long as it’s something they want to hear about.

My first novel was fantasy, so naturally, I had a lot of backstory. Every character had huge histories and shady pasts, and I couldn’t wait to share every last detail with my readers.

And it turned out about how you’d imagine.

Boring pages, no action, flashbacks that nobody but me cared about. It was a mess.

A person’s past is part of life, and everybody has one—especially fictional characters. But that past isn't always relevant, even if it is interesting. Stopping to explain a character's history tends to bog a novel down.

Tuesday, November 17

Behind the Block: Overcoming Fear to Write

By Rochelle Melander, @WriteNowCoach

Part of The Writer's Life Series


JH: Fear can hold you back, but you don't have to let it. Rochelle Melander shares thoughts and tips on overcoming the fear that's keeping you from writing.

Rochelle Melander is a speaker, professional certified coach and the author of 11 books for adults, including Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (and Live to Tell About It) and Level Up: Quests to Master Mindset, Overcome Procrastination and Increase Productivity.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Take it away Rochelle…

Monday, November 16

Why You Should Have Judgmental Characters

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

For a strong point of view, let your characters have strong opinions.

In real life, being judgmental might cause a few problems, but in fiction, it's something every character should aspire to. How characters—especially the point of view characters—judge the world around them shows readers what that world is like and how it works (and even non-genre writers need to world build, it's just a little different in the details).

Our characters see something, they judge it as it pertains to their personal views. If we write a scene where a girl walks a dog down the street, how our characters judge that will determine how we'll describe it and even how they'll react to it.

Someone afraid of dogs will see details that support that: large size, straining on a leash to bite them, big teeth. The judgment is "dogs are bad" and the reaction will reflect that.