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Wednesday, August 15

Do You Have a Story with a Twist, or a Twist That Thinks it's a Story?

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Stories with a great twist are stories readers remember, but make sure your story is more a single punchline.

I ran into a problem when writing my adult urban fantasy novel, Blood Ties. There's a twist, and one of the things that kept changing in the original outline was where that twist was revealed. Did I reveal it early on so the reader got to the "cool part" of the idea first? Did I use it as my midpoint reversal? Or was it an end-of-book shocker?

Then it hit me.

I wasn't writing a story that had a twist, I was setting up a 400-page joke with the twist as the punchline. The novel was all about the reveal, not the story. Which was a major problem.

A twist can't be the whole book. The story has to hold up even if readers know the twist.

Tuesday, August 14

Writers: Just Say YES When Opportunity Knocks

By Jonathan Rosen, @houseofrosen

Part of the How They Do It Series

JH: Opportunities are all around us--if we're willing to take advantage of them. Please help me welcome Jonathan Rosen to the lecture hall today, to share some thoughts and advice on why writers should say "yes."

Jonathan Rosen is a transplanted New Yorker, who now lives with his family in sunny, South Florida. He spends his “free” time chauffeuring around his three kids. Some of Jonathan’s fondest childhood memories are of discovering a really good book to dive into, in particular the Choose Your Own Adventure Series, and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Jonathan is proud to be of Mexican-American descent, although neither country has been really willing to accept responsibility. He is the author of Night of the Living Cuddle Bunnies, which is out now, and the sequel, From Sunset Till Sunrise, coming August 21. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook, FromtheMixedUpFiles.Com, The Tuesday Writers and his own website,

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter |

Take it away Jonathan...

Monday, August 13

Wait For It: Hook Lines and the Dramatic Pause

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

All novels need those "Dum--Dum--DUM!" moments to keep readers hooked and turning the pages.  

There are a lot of ways to control the pacing on your stories, and one of my favorites is the dramatic pause. Not only does it draw attention to what’s usually a great line, it gives readers a moment to fully appreciate whatever it is you just said. They’re the lines that give readers goosebumps and think, “man, this is gonna be good.”

The dramatic pause is frequently found in hook lines--those one-line phrases that add punch to a scene. Their job is to hook you and keep you reading. What makes them work so well is that they’re often (though not always) set apart in their own paragraph, a moment of silence that catches the eye and makes you pay a little more attention to them. They carry meaning, hint at what’s to come, and often pinpoint some critical aspect of the story in some way.

Thursday, August 9

Path to Success: Writer as Entrepreneur

By Ray Flynt

(Part of the Indie Author Series)

If you’re reading this Indie Author Series, you’ve probably already made the decision to become an “indie author.” Congratulations!

Or maybe you’re just beginning your journey in the world of publishing and trying to learn more. Good for you. Knowledge increases your chances for success.

I’ve signed on to contribute a monthly column on the business of writing, but I’d like to spark conversations, prompt questions, compel debate, and explore alternative ideas through your comments.

Chime in. Sound off. We’ll learn together.

Wednesday, August 8

How Dramatic Irony Can Heighten Tensions and Strengthen Plots

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Dramatic irony is a fun way to create tension in a story while building a strong plot.

Dramatic irony is a wonderful tool to create mystery and tension in a novel. Not only does it allow you to convey vital information, it lets readers in "on the secret' and makes them feel like they're part of the story. 

For those unfamiliar with the term, dramatic irony is when the reader knows information but the characters don’t, and some of the story's tension comes from wondering what will happen when those characters finally meet or realize the truth.

(Here's more on dramatic irony)

There’s a lot of fun for readers to imagine how things would be different if only the characters knew what they knew (this works especially well in the romance department). It's also fun to play one character off another, which can add a nice layer of mystery since the reader might not be sure which character is telling (or knows) the truth and which one is wrong.

Tuesday, August 7

One Simple Trick to Write Everything Better

write faster, CODE
By Laurence MacNaughton, @LMacNaughton  

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

What if there was one single trick that could help you write better, faster, and easier than ever before? What if that trick could help you organize your thoughts, get started sooner, and finish every writing project, from a blog post to a novel?

There is such a trick. And as a full-time writer, I use it every day.

The trick is deceptively simple. It's a single word: CODE.

That's an acronym for Collect, Organize, Draft, and Edit. Those are the four separate steps in the writing process.

As writers, we tend to try to do several of those steps at the same time, and that's when we often run into problems. Our thoughts get jumbled. We backtrack. Make false starts. Get frustrated.

Monday, August 6

Is That You? Developing Voices for Different Point of View Characters

creating voices for different POV characters
By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Unique, stand out characters have unique, stand out voices, so it's important to consider how every character in your book sounds. 

Voice is important in a novel, and there’s more than just your author’s voice. Characters have voices too, and making those voices distinct in multiple point of view stories helps readers keep track of who’s who.

It’s also a good way to develop those characters into solid personalities, as knowing what they sound like can help you determine who they are (and vice versa). 

The Sound of…Someone 

Crafting character voices for a multiple POV story isn’t that different from creating the voice for a single POV tale. Everyone has their own speech patterns, favorite turns of phrase, physical reactions or gestures while speaking. But what really shows off a character's voice is their internalization.

Sunday, August 5

Writing Prompt: The Free Write: Where Did Everybody Go?

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.

Take this situation and see where it goes:

The protagonist wakes up and everyone is gone—except for a strange girl who wasn’t there before.

The details are up to you. Write as much or as little as you’d like.

Saturday, August 4

Real Life Diagnostics: Does This Opening (and Narrator) Work?

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 August 25.

This week’s questions:

1. Does this opening work?

2. Is the narrator, the voice appealing?

Market/Genre: Commercial fiction

On to the diagnosis…

Friday, August 3

Stephen King’s Ten Tips for Horrific Writing

By Natalie Odisho

Let’s Get Lit: Spotlight on Allegory

JH: I'm introducing a new treat today--a recurring column that will tackle a literary device each month, and show how bestselling authors are using that device in their work. Please help me welcome Natalie Odisho to the Fiction University team! 

Natalie Odisho is an Assyrian-American artist who lives in Dubai. After graduating with a BS from Florida State University, she followed the music to Las Vegas where she worked in editorial and public relations. Now her focus is on acupuncture and telling you to eat only before 7pm.

Website| Instagram

Take it away Natalie...