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

Wednesday, October 16

Do You Suffer From NWS?: Living With Nice Writer Syndrome

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Due to conference brain from traveling and presenting over the weekend, I'm dipping into the archives today for one of my favorites, with a little update as well. How to tell if you're too nice to your characters. Enjoy!

Do you love your characters?

Do you wish nothing bad would ever happen to them?

Then you might suffer from Nice Writer Syndrome.

This is a common malady. We spend hours and hours creating our characters, interviewing them, filling out complicated character sheets, determining which personality they are on the Myers-Briggs Scale. They become like family, and we can't bear the thought of doing anything bad to them.

Monday, October 14

There's Still Time to Attend the Romance Writers Summit (And it's Not Just for Romance Writers)

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

If you haven't heard about the Romance Writers Summit yet, you still have time to sneak in under the wire (and see my session on Great Opening Scenes).

The summit is like attending an amazing writer’s conference without ever leaving your house. Kris Kennedy has brought together quite the collection of authors, editors, screenwriters, and even game writers, and sat down with every one of them to ask questions writers want answers to.

It might say “Romance Summit” on the door, but these sessions offer writers of all genres advice they can use.

Over twenty speakers will share their knowledge and expertise with interviews and sessions filled with helpful advice.

The Summit begins today and runs through Friday October 18. Every day, a set of videos goes live at midnight (Eastern) for 24 hours. Log in anytime during the next 24 hours to watch that day's videos. Next day, a different set of Expert Interviews goes live. Repeat, through Friday. Once registered, you'll receive email reminders each day.

Sunday, October 13

Sunday Writing Tip: Make Your Characters Vulnerable

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Each week, I’ll offer a tip you can take and apply to your WIP to help improve it. They’ll be easy to do and shouldn’t take long, so they’ll be tips you can do without taking up your Sunday. Though I do reserve the right to offer a good tip now and then that will take longer—but only because it would apply to the entire manuscript.

This week, make your characters vulnerable. 


For compassionate people, seeing someone’s vulnerability tugs at our heartstrings and makes us connect, and even care. But in our haste to make our protagonist “heroic,” we sometimes forget to make them vulnerable, too.

Look for moments in your story where a character can exhibit vulnerability. Pay particular attention to highly emotional scenes, or scenes where you want to surprise readers.

Saturday, October 12

Real Life Diagnostics: Is This Idea Worth Pursuing?

Critique By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

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: One

Please Note: As of today, RLD slots are booked through October 19.

This week’s question:

Is this idea worth pursuing?

Market/Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

On to the diagnosis…

Friday, October 11

NaNoWriMo Prep: Planning Your Novel’s Beginning

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

It's NaNo prep time again, and I always like to pull out these tips on plotting your novel's beginning, middle, and ending to help those going for 50K words come November (or if you're just about to start a new novel on your own).


For many, the beginning of a novel is the hardest part. Getting the right opening scene, finding the right inciting event, even figuring out the perfect first sentence can keep you from getting anywhere at all. But don't worry.  Beginnings aren't are scary and they appear.

In many ways, they're the easier part, since you probably already know the most critical aspects of your story--the protagonist, the goals, the conflict, and the setting.

If you're not yet sure on what to put in your novel's beginning, let's take a closer peek at what goes into a beginning.

Thursday, October 10

What’s Killing Your Query Pitch?

By L. Diane Wolfe 

Part of the How They Do It Series 


JH: The query letter is often the first thing an agent or editor sees from you. And first impressions count for a lot. L. Diane Wolfe, visits the lecture hall today to share tips on getting your query letter in tip top shape. 

Known as “Spunk On A Stick,” L. Diane Wolfe is a member of the National Speakers Association. She conducts seminars on book publishing, promoting, leadership, and goal-setting, and she offers book formatting and author consultation. Wolfe is the owner and senior editor at Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C. and contributes to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C | Spunk On A Stick | Spunk On A Stick’s Tips | Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Take it away Diane…

Wednesday, October 9

Lessons Learned from a Decade in Publishing

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Looking back on ten years as an author—and what I’d have done differently if I could have.

This week marks the tenth anniversary of the release of my debut novel, The Shifter. The cliche is to say, “Wow, I can’t believe it’s been ten whole years!”, but I have no trouble at all believing that. A lot has happened since I published my first novel.

Although no two writers have exactly the same experience, we do have experiences in common. This gives both a unique perspective and a shared common ground about being an author and a writer.

If I had the opportunity to do it all over again, here are some things I’d do differently.

And yes, I know some of these contradict each other, but that’s just life. Being an author is difficult at times, and part of the challenge is identifying when we need to do X instead of Y and not let Z distract us. Also knowing when we need to ignore that and do Y anyway. Or maybe Z.

Tuesday, October 8

The Secret to Writing Fascinating Villains

By Laurence MacNaughton, @LMacNaughton

Part of the How They Do It Series

JH: Bad guys have always been my favorite, and there's something delicious about a great villain. Laurence MacNaughton takes his monthly spot at the podium today to share the secret to writing great villains.

What makes a villain fascinating?

It's not just about scaring the pants off the reader. The most terrifying thing a villain can do in a story isn't killing the hero or blowing up the world -- it's making their twisted viewpoint seem morally right, and making the hero seem wrong.

Because if the villain’s outlook starts to make sense, and the hero seems to have things backwards, then for just a moment, the reader has to wonder: Have I been rooting for the wrong side all along?

Monday, October 7

How to Ground (and Hook) Readers in Your Opening Scene

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

If readers get lost in your first scene, they’ll never get to the second.

The opening scene of my novel, The Shifter, features a girl getting caught stealing eggs out from under a sleeping chicken. It’s a fun scene, I enjoyed writing it, and most of all—it helped sell the novel.

Somewhere along the lines, my critique partners and I started referring to strong opening scenes as “chicken scenes.”

As in:

“I’m still working on my chicken scene.”

“I thought of the perfect chicken scene yesterday.”

“I can’t get this book written until I find my chicken scene.”

Sunday, October 6

Writing Prompt: The Chain Story: This Old House

This is what my office looks like right now.
By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

It's the first Sunday of the month, and you know what that means. Writing prompts!

The chain story seems to be everyone's favorite, so I can't help doing one again. I’ll give you the first line, and someone else comments and builds off that line. Next commenter will build off that line, and so on.

In the event of two commenters posting at the same time and sending the story in different directions, just pick the line you like best, or try to incorporate both if you can.

Don’t ever remodel your house. Just…don’t.


Let the fun begin.

PS: Actually, that's what it looked like a week ago. It's much messier now since that's the staging area for the upstairs woodwork. Sawdust. So. Much. Sawdust.