Wednesday, May 25

Keeping Your Characters Compelling Beyond the First Draft

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Before I dive in...I had lunch with reader Carol Baldwin and did a little Q&A. That interview is up on her blog now for those interested.  Come on over and say hello when you're done here.

We’ve got a bit of a theme week going, looking at a few “beyond the first draft” issues writers run into. Today, it’s keeping a character as interesting and compelling as we thought they were when we first created them.

Characters often evolve as we write them, and it’s not uncommon to have a character we loved while we were planning a novel or writing that first draft feels a little, well, meh when we go back to revise. Now that we’ve seen them in action, we wonder why anyone would care about this person at all.

Tuesday, May 24

Is Your Story Stuck? 5 Questions You Need to Ask

By Laurence MacNaughton, @LMacNaughton

Part of the How They Do It Series


Anything that helps with plotting is welcomed with open arms in most writing circles. There are so many moving pieces to getting a novel right, it can be hard keeping track of them. Luckily, Laurence MacNaughton has a handy way to make sure our novels have all the key elements they need for a solid plot. Please help me welcome him to the lecture hall today.

Laurence grew up in a creaky old colonial house in Connecticut that he's pretty sure was haunted. He's been a bookseller, printer, copywriter and (somewhat randomly) a prototype vehicle test driver. When he's not writing, he bikes and hikes the Rocky Mountains, explores ghost towns and wrenches on old cars. Laurence is the author of It Happened One Doomsday, The Spider Thief, and Conspiracy of Angels. Try them free at www.laurencemacnaughton.com.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Indie Bound

Take it away Laurence...

Monday, May 23

Getting Beyond the First Draft

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Everyone’s writing process is different, but there are similarities—which is why writers are able to help each other even though we approach our writing in various ways. For some, first drafts are easy, and the hard part comes from knowing where to go from there.

Sometimes the issue is simply not knowing how to start a revision, but sometimes a writer will find they’re just too close to the work and can’t see what’s on the page versus what they know about the story.

Sunday, May 22

Writing Prompt: The Skill Builder: Leave ‘em Wanting More

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week’s prompt focuses on an exercise designed to work on a particular skill or technique, such as a POV exercise or character builder. Today’s skill: Scene and chapter endings.

A great scene ending makes the reader want to turn the page and keep reading. It leaves them hanging, eager to know what comes next. Without that carrot to lead them on, a story could lose momentum and a reader could lose interest.

Craft the last few lines (or paragraphs) of a scene or chapter using the following situations.


1. Someone discovers a nasty surprise.

2. Someone learns a secret.

3. Someone has to do something they don’t want to do.

4. Someone says or does something funny.

5. Someone has to wait to act.

Aim for providing enough information to tease readers into reading on, and to give the scene that “dum-dum-DUM!!!” excitement. You want people to need to know what happens next.

And readers…chime in on those who post today and say if you’d read on or not, and why.

Practical application: If you’re working on a draft right now, look at all your scene and chapter endings. Are they as strong as they could be? Are there any that could benefit from a little zing to tease readers into reading on?

Saturday, May 21

Real Life Diagnostics: Does This Show or Tell?

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 I 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: Six

Please Note: As of today, RLD slots are booked through July 2.

This week’s question:

I've finished the first draft and am reading through trying to find where I've been Telling rather than Showing. I'm not convinced that I've found all the instances even in the first chapter, let alone further in. Any suggestions would be welcome.

Market/Genre: Paranormal Romance

On to the diagnosis…

Friday, May 20

Finding Your Audience Part 1 – Pre-Launch Steps

By Angela Quarles, @AngelaQuarles

Part of the Indie Author Series

This is a question many writers face at one point or another, because it's at the core of what we do--we want our stories read by someone who will enjoy it. But it's the finding that can pose challenges. I'm going to touch upon certain aspects that could help you position yourself better. With a HUGE caveat--I'm still working on this myself :)

This post will be broken out into different elements so you can determine your weak areas. Knowing this will empower you with the information you need to search for indie articles that can give you corresponding advice. Also, I will be breaking this up into several posts, because the post-launch tips are meaty enough to deserve its own space.

Tuesday, May 17

Dealing With Reviews Both Bueno and No Bueno

By James R. Tuck, @JamesTuckwriter

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


So this past week I got two new reviews, one on a book that is coming out in July and one on me as a writer (yes some would say it's the same thing, but I choose to not for sanity's sake).

The one on the upcoming book was one of the most brutal reviews I have ever received. They savaged my book like a pack of starving wolves on a side of raw meat. The term “. . .underwhelming, sloppy novel,” was one of the nicest things in the whole review.

Monday, May 16

One, Two Three, Notice Me: The Rule of Three (And How it Helps Our Writing)

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

I've had a house full of people the last few weeks, so I'm a bit behind and dipping into the archives again today. Here's an updated look at a great writing technique. Enjoy!

Things happen in threes. It’s part of our culture and so ingrained in our subconscious that we notice (if not seek out) patterns that fit this rule. Using it in our writing lets us tap into this understood principle and helps pique reader interest as they look for these patterns.

People also remember things in threes better. (Really, they’ve done studies) Think of famous speeches (Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness), or clichéd ad copy (location location location). Even our stories are broken down into three acts. Three makes people pay attention, and we can use that to make them pay attention in our stories.

Sunday, May 15

Writing Prompt: The Photo Prompt: Is it a Happy Birthday?

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 14

Real Life Diagnostics: Does This Opening Scene Work?

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 I 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: Four

Please Note: As of today, RLD slots are booked through June 11.

This week’s question:

Does this works well as a first scene?

Market/Genre: Christian Fiction

On to the diagnosis…