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Tuesday, May 22

Battered But Not Beaten? Pushing Your Character Past The Breaking Point

By Bonnie Randall

Part of the How They Do It Series (Monthly Contributor)

In the old days, it was called ‘a nervous breakdown;' the point where the strain and the stress and the experiences outweighed a person’s ability to cope.

Every story has its moment of profound despair—the end of Act II when our protagonist is beaten and their spirit is broken. In my real life, I have been in a personal ‘Act II’ for the past seven months, and I am here to tell you: it is misery. Violence, a death, then the burden of unanticipated responsibilities, duties, burdens and financial hits (what do you mean my hot water heater and my washing machine needed to be replaced in the midst of all this?!) have rendered me ‘inoperable’.

Monday, May 21

How to Edit a Novel Without Feeling Overwhelmed

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Finishing a draft is a huge accomplishment, and one every writer should be proud of, no matter what stage in their career they’re at. But after the draft is done, it’s time to edit (or revise), and sometimes, that can be a bit overwhelming.

I know both new and established writers who struggle with this, so this isn’t a matter of skill or talent. There’s nothing wrong with you if you get the shakes or dread having to face a manuscript that needs editing.

I love the editing process, so a lot of writer friends (and readers) have come to me over the years seeking a little editing advice (so much so I even went and wrote a whole book on it). Here are some tips on how to making the editing and revision process a little easier to manage:

Sunday, May 20

Writing Prompt: The Photo Prompt: A Sketchy Subject

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, May 19

Real Life Diagnostics: Is This YA Opening Strong Enough to Hold Your Interest?

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: Three

Please Note: As of today, RLD slots are booked through June 9.

This week’s questions:

Is the opening strong enough to hold readers’ interest (especially that of prospective publishers)?

Have I successfully woven background information into internalization?

Is it enough to have internalization as a response/reaction or should a physical/visceral/ physiological effect precede it?

Is the voice reflective of a well read, intelligent, yet insecure, 15-year-old?

Market/Genre: Young Adult / Coming of Age / Literary

On to the diagnosis…

Friday, May 18

When Less is More: Taking Away Elements to Fix a Problem Scene

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week's Refresher Friday takes an updated look at how killing off characters (or taking things away from them) can fix a scene that's not working. Enjoy!

Sometimes the best thing you can do for your story is to knock someone off. I once talked about killing off characters, and that earned me this delightful tweet from @rlbelliston:
@Janice_Hardy Haha. I have a writing friend who, every time I get stuck on a scene, tells me to just kill someone off.
A funny off-the-cuff statement? Maybe, but there's truth in these words as well. Because sometimes looking at who you can get rid of is the perfect way to fix a scene that's not working.

Thursday, May 17

Five Tips for Increasing Sales Through Social Media (NSFW)

By John G. Hartness, @johnhartness

Part of the Indie Author Series

I put NSFW in the title, so I can swear all I want, right? Yeah, that’s what we’re going to refer to as “click-bait,” or “lying.” Don’t get me wrong, I swear plenty. You can read my Facebook feed or most of my books and find that out for yourself.

But that’s not really what I’m about here. Fiction University isn’t a place for me to be all purple-headed, pro-wrestling loving, life of the party Hartness. It’s a place for me to be…well, still purple-headed, because that stuff doesn’t just wash out in one shot, but I do try to be a little less bombastic and reserved here. Because this is a different audience than for my rough-and-tumble dark urban fantasy, or for the Authors & Dragons podcast, where I play an idiotic bard in a game of D&D with five other writers. Some of you might not want to hear a bunch of fart jokes (or you won’t admit that you want to hear them), so we’ll stick to the stated purpose of the article – making your social media activity work for you more effectively, in a few easy steps.

Wednesday, May 16

Do You Have Any Writing or Publishing Questions?

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

It's been a while since I opened the site up to questions, and we're due. So, what's been on your mind about writing and publishing? Do you have a frustration issue you can't quite work out? Is a technique eluding you? Are you unsure what path to take to tell your story?

Ask away!

Tuesday, May 15

5 Reasons Your First Draft Hates You

By Florence Gonsalves, @florencefornow

Part of the How They Do It Series

JH: Many writers have a love/hate relationship with their first drafts, and often, that relationship depends on how well the draft is going at the time. Please help me welcome Florence Gonsalves to the lecture hall today to share five (fun) reasons why your first draft hates you.

Florence graduated from Dartmouth College in 2015 with a major in philosophy. Upon getting her diploma, she promptly abandoned Kant and after numerous jobs and internships pursued her lifelong dream of becoming a novelist. Her debut novel, Love and Other Carnivorous Plants, releases today.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram |

Take it away Florence...

Monday, May 14

8 Signs You Might Be Over Plotting Your Novel

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Plotting a novel can be a strange thing sometimes. We might have one idea we develop without trouble, or we might struggle with every goal and scene. And then there are the novels where the plot ideas hit us so fast we barely have time to write them all down.

But sometimes, what looks like a great idea is just an extra idea, and before we know it, our novels are so over plotted we don’t even know what it’s about anymore. Trouble is, we don’t always recognize an over-plotted novel when we write one.

They can be sneaky, making every plotline seem necessary, because they’re usually connected to characters and ideas we don’t want to cut. They’re shiny, often fun, and once they’re in the story, they fight stay there.

Sunday, May 13

Writing Prompt: The Free Write: I Didn’t Mean It

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week’s prompt is a free write, so take the seed below and run with it. It doesn’t have to turn into anything (unless you want it to, of course), just let the words flow and see where they go.

Write down this opening sentence and follow it wherever it goes:

It wasn’t as if I’d meant to do it.

Write as much or as little as you’d like.