From Fiction University: Enabling third party cookies on your browser could help if you have trouble leaving a comment.

Wednesday, September 19

4 Ways to Keep Your Sentences From All Sounding the Same

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

A varied sentence structure can help keep your writing from sounding stale and flat.


After eight years of diagnosing pages here, and a few decades of critique experience, I’m quite familiar with issues writers face—from those just starting to write, to those on the brink of selling their novels, and even those with multiple published novels. Some aspects of writing are difficult for almost everyone, and each stage of the author’s journey has its own set of challenges.

One of those challenges is writing sentences that don’t all sound the same.

Tuesday, September 18

Tips for Managing Writing and Chronic Illness

By Alyssa Hollingsworth, @alyssa__holly

Part of the How They Do It Series

JH: Being a writer can be tough under the best of circumstances, but it's even more difficult when you're dealing with an illness you can't simply ignore. Please help me welcome Alyssa Hollingsworth to the lecture hall today, to share tips and advice on writing while managing a chronic illness.


Alyssa was born in small-town Milton, Florida, but life as a roving military kid soon mellowed her (unintelligibly strong) Southern accent. Wanderlust is in her blood, and she's always waiting for the wind to change. Stories remain her constant.

She got her BA in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing from Berry College and my MA with honors in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University. She’ll happily talk your ear off about either of these programs — they both rocked!

The Eleventh Trade is her debut novel with Roaring Brook/Macmillan (U.S.) and Piccadilly Press (U.K.), as well as a handful of other foreign publishers. This will be followed by a separate book in Fall 2019.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram

Take it away Alyssa...

Monday, September 17

Formatting Dialogue in Fiction: He Said, She Said

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Dialogue is more than just writing down what your characters say--it's also using the correct punctuation and structure so readers understand who's speaking and how. 


I once had a debate with someone over the proper structure of a dialogue tag. She felt that you should always write "said Bob," because you wouldn't say "Ran Bob up a hill." I felt it could go either way. "Get thee to a nunnery" sound fine, right?

So, which is correct: "Bob said," or "said Bob?"

I checked with my linguist expert, and she says there's nothing grammatically wrong with "Bob said." Which verb-noun pairs you use determines how odd it sounds to you.

Sunday, September 16

Writing Prompt: The Photo Prompt: Into the Woods?

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week’s prompt is a photo prompt. Write whatever comes to mind, be it a description, a story, or even a poem.

Write something inspired by this photo. 


Saturday, September 15

Real Life Diagnostics: Does This Opening Bore or Interest You to Read More?


Critique By Maria D'Marco

Real Life 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 Real Life Diagnostics, please check out these guidelines.

Submissions currently in the queue: Zero

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

This week’s question:

1. Does this opening bore or interest you to read more?

Market/Genre: Women's Fiction

This is a resubmit. If you're curious to see how the author revised, here's the previous version.

On to the diagnosis…

Friday, September 14

Christopher Robin Says No to Adulting: Personification and a Silly 'Ol Bear

By Natalie Odisho

Let’s Get Lit: Spotlight on Allegory


Why the new adventure of Christopher Robin brings life in and out of the Hundred Acre Wood. 


Did you know that Winnie-the-Pooh started as one adult’s solution to sleepless nights? Christopher Robin was named after English author A.A. Milne’s son, Christopher Robin Milne, who needed bedtime stories to fall asleep.What originally began as a childhood story has grown to become a pastime for the world to enjoy. Today, Winnie-the-Pooh is one of the most successful, celebrated children’s stories in history.

Now a major motion picture, Christopher Robin retells a childhood classic through the eyes of an adult. As storytellers, A.A. Milne and Disney sprinkle the magic of childhood through personified stuffed animals with language, clothing and temperament.

Wednesday, September 12

Are You Making This Character Flaw Mistake?

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

“Give your characters flaws” is one of the more common pieces of writing advice out there. It’s good advice, as flaws make characters more human and relatable, and the fatal flaw is a critical part of any character arc, but many writers make an easy mistake when creating them.

They think flaws have to be negative traits.

In many stories, the flaw is a negative trait that must be overcome, but it’s not always the case. And when it isn’t, the belief that all flaws are “bad” can cause a lot of frustration for a writer trying to find a plausible reason why the protagonist has a negative flaw that fits the plot, story, and character arc.

A good example here is the flaw in my current WIP—my protagonist cares about people too much.

Wait…what? Did you say she cares? How could that possibly be a flaw?

Tuesday, September 11

5 Tips for Writing Group Success

By Laurence MacNaughton, @LMacNaughton  

Part of the How They Do It Series (Contributing Author)

Thinking about joining a writing group, or starting your own? A supportive and insightful group can help you become a better writer and put you on the path to getting published. But a disorganized group can squelch your enthusiasm to write and leave you feeling confused. To stop the writing group headaches before they began, follow these crucial tips.

1. Choose (or start) a group that specializes in your genre.


One of the biggest mistakes most writing groups make is embracing every form of writing you can think of: essays, screenplays, nonfiction, poetry, romance novels, you name it.

Monday, September 10

The WRITE-PUBLISH-PROFIT SUPER STACK Bundle is Back (But only for a few days)


By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

A while back, I came across a great compilation of resources for writers and self-publishers. It included over $3,000 worth of premium resources, from ebooks and courses, to huge discounts on writer services, and more, all for under $50.

The deal only lasted 7 days and then it was gone, but due to overwhelming demand, the deal is back and its live right now! Even better, this time, I've added one of my own books, and you can get Fixing Your Character and Point of View Problems as part of this bundle.

Click here to check it out!

Besides my book, you'll also find premium resources and tools from 35 + highly successful writers, publishers and thought leaders.

Here’s a quick list of just some of the info that’s included:

The Indie Publisher’s Toolbox – Part 1

By Ray Flynt

(Part of the Indie Author Series)


Due to a bit of a scheduling mishap last week, here's an extra Indie Author article on the tools you'll need to be successful to get your week started. Though this advice is good for any author no matter which publishing path they take.


Previously we examined the topic of “writer as entrepreneur.” Although this is called the Indie Author Series it’s really about being an Indie Publisher. You’ll find lots of tools and helpful hints here at Fiction University about being a better writer from how to make your stories more compelling to techniques for proofreading. You’ve written a great book. It’s time to make the world beat a path to your door.

If you were building (let’s think modestly) a dog house, you’d have a pretty good idea of the tools you’d need to accomplish the job: plywood, nails and/or screws, a saw, a hammer, a square, and an appropriate cover for the roof. Throw in a blanket and set a water bowl out front and voila -a dog house.