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Wednesday, June 3

Why You Should Tighten Your Novel's Narrative Focus

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

A loss of narrative focus can lead to a loss of reader interest. 

I read a novel once that started off strong, then wandered into the weeds. It was a shame, because the premise was great and I really wanted to know what happened, but the story grew more confusing and muddied the farther I read.

It completely lost its narrative focus, and in doing so, lost its reader.

If you're unfamiliar with the term, narrative focus is the common idea that ties a sentence, paragraph, scene, or chapter together. It’s what keeps the story flowing because everything lines up in lovely little story roads. It's similar to narrative drive, as it helps keep the pace moving as events and details build upon one another and make readers feel like the story is going somewhere they can clearly follow.

Basically, if you've ever had a four-year-old tell you a story, you've experienced what a lack of narrative focus sounds like. 

Tuesday, June 2

5 Ways to Put the Fun Back into Writing

By Jodi Turchin, @jlturchin

Part of The Writer's Life Series


JH: We can all use a little pick me up in our writing from time to fun. Jodi Turchin shares five of her favorite "writing toys" that put the fun back into writing.

Jodi Turchin is a Young Adult novelist represented by Dawn Frederick at Red Sofa Literary. She’s also a photographer, a high school English teacher, an adjunct college professor, and a former actress and director.

Website | Twitter

Take it away Jodi…

Monday, June 1

On the Road: Interview with J.T. Hardy (and a Giveaway)

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Just a little heads up that my alter-ego, J.T., (my pen name for my adult urban fantasy series) did a fun interview with I Love Vampire Novels today. I'm talking a bit about my Grace Harper series, and the paranormal genre. I'm also giving away a signed copy of the book.

Come on over and say hello!


Saturday, May 30

WIP Diagnostic: Is This Working? A Closer Look at Creating Compelling Openings

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: Three

Please Note: As of today, critique slots are booked through June 20.

This week’s questions:

1. Do you find the opening easy to understand? If not, why not?

2. Do you find it compelling? If so, why?

3. Can you easily access the story, setting and character?

4. Are you immediately engaged? If not, why not?

Market/Genre: Historical Fiction

On to the diagnosis…

Friday, May 29

When Two Writers are Better Than One: How to Collaborate on Your Next Novel

By Sarah Skilton, @Sarah_Skilton

Part of The Writer's Life Series

JH: Teaming up with a fellow writer can be a great way to share the writing burden and produce more books. Sarah Skilton shares thoughts and tips on things to consider when considering collaboration.

Tash Skilton is the pen name of Sarvenaz Tash (author of The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love and Virtually Yours) and Sarah Skilton (author of Fame Adjacent and Club Deception), who met on Twitter and parlayed their online friendship into an IRL one. Their Guidebook to Forever Friendship includes getting each other's '90s pop culture references, passionately discoursing their favorite TV shows/books/movies via email, and cheering each other on through the psychological matrix that is motherhood. They have a complicated relationship with the Internet, but will also always love it for facilitating their bicoastal friendship (and the writing of their books).

Their first book together, Ghosting: A Love Story (a multicultural, millennial spin on You’ve Got Mail), released May 26, 2020 from Kensington in paperback, e-book, and audiobook, and has sold foreign translation rights to five territories.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram

Take it away Sarah...

Thursday, May 28

When to Tell and Not Show

By Swati Teerdhala, @swatiteerdhala

Part of The How They Do It Series

JH: Showing and not telling is a core aspect of writing, but sometimes telling is actually better for the story. Swati Teerdhala shares thoughts on when it's okay--and preferable--to tell and not show. 

Swati Teerdhala is the author of the upcoming novel, The Tiger at Midnight, the first in a trilogy. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a B.S. in Finance and History, she tumbled into the marketing side of the technology industry. She’s passionate about many things, including how to make a proper cup of chai, the right ratio of curd-to-crust in a lemon tart, and diverse representation in the stories we tell. She currently lives in New York City and can be found wandering the streets with a pen or camera in hand.

Instagram | Website  Twitter

Take it away Swati…

Wednesday, May 27

A Handy Checklist to Strengthen the Narrative Drive in Your Scenes

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

A strong narrative drive is crucial to keeping readers hooked.

Like pretty much everyone these days, I have a lot going on in my life. I get distracted, and then I forget things, and that leads to unhappiness in a variety of ways. Making lists helps keep me focused and prevents me from forgetting things (as much, let’s be honest here).

This carries over into my writing.

It’s also a reason I love outlining.

Wait, hang on! Before you pantsers and anti-outliners click away, this isn’t about outlining (per se). It’s about a tool to help writers keep their stories moving forward. It’s about crafting a strong narrative drive, and it doesn’t have to happen in the first draft if that’s not your thing.

Tuesday, May 26

The Antithesis Method: A Simple Solution to Getting Unstuck in a Scene

By Bonnie Randall

Part of The How They Do It Series 


JH: Stuck in a scene? Maybe going forward isn't the right way to handle it. Bonnie Randall shares her method for fixing a troublesome scene. 

A challenge I have used when stuck on a scene that feels wooden, isn’t working, or just refuses to write itself is something I have nicknamed “The Antithesis Method,” and it’s as simple as this:
Just write the scene precisely opposite of how you had planned to write it. If they were going to be friends, make them fight. If they were robbing a bank, have them get robbed. If they were headed to a wedding, land them at a funeral.
Sound like a lot of work and a lot of dismantling? Trust me, it is—put it can be well worth it.

Saturday, May 23

WIP Diagnostic: Is This Working? A Closer Look at a Suspense Novel's Opening Page

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: Four

Please Note: As of today, critique slots are booked through June 20.

This week’s question:

Is this opening page working?

Market/Genre: Suspense

On to the diagnosis…

Thursday, May 21

Writing a Page-Turner: Turning Points: Three Act Structure for Novelists

By Kris Bock, @Kris_Bock

Part of the How They Do It Series

JH: Structure is a great tool to help writers develop and write their novels. Kris Bock shares thoughts on the value of turning points in a page turner. 

Chris Eboch is the author of over 60 books for children, including nonfiction and fiction, early reader through teen. Her writing craft books include You Can Write for Children: How to Write Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers, and Advanced Plotting.

Her novels for ages nine and up include The Eyes of Pharaoh, a mystery in ancient Egypt; The Well of Sacrifice, a Mayan adventure; The Genie’s Gift, a middle eastern fantasy; and the Haunted series, about kids who travel with a ghost hunter TV show, which starts with The Ghost on the Stairs.

Chris Eboch Website | Blog | Goodreads 

Chris also writes for adults as Kris Bock. Her Furrever Friends Sweet Romance series features the employees and customers at a cat café. Watch as they fall in love with each other and shelter cats. Get a free 10,000-word story set in the world of the Furrever Friends cat café when you sign up for the Kris Bock newsletter. You’ll also get a printable copy of the recipes mentioned in the cat café novels.

Kris also writes romantic suspense set in the Southwestern U.S. If you love Mary Stewart or Barbara Michaels, try Kris Bock’s stories of treasure hunting, archaeology, and intrigue in the Southwest.

Kris Bock Website | Blog | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Sign up for the Kris Bock newsletter 

Take it away Kris...