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Wednesday, October 23

Five Ways to Create Likable Characters

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

We've been looking at plot a lot this month for NaNo, so let's shift over and focus on creating likable characters.

Unless you're creating a character you want your readers to hate, odds are you want readers to like the people in your novel. You  probably want characters who inspire, who readers love or want to be, who can sweep the story up and whisk readers away in wonder.

And sometimes, this need to make them awesome can also make them too perfect to be real, because you want them to be the perfect people you see in your imagination. We've all read (and likely written, if we're honest) those Mary Sue/Gary Stu characters who do everything right and have no flaws at all. It's hard to like a character like that. They're just not someone readers can relate to.

Tuesday, October 22

Scaredy-Pants! 4 Breeches-er- BREACHES That Elicit Fear in Your Characters

By Bonnie Randall

Part of the How They Do It Series


JH: Fear is a powerful tool for writers and helps us create stronger stories. Bonnie Randall takes her month place at the podium today to share tips on how to scare the pants off our characters. And if you're in the mood for some good old fashion scares for Halloween...checkout her short story No Vacancy. It's creepy and scary in all the right ways.

Take it away Bonnie...

When something happens that shouldn’t happen OR when something that should happen doesn’t, the results range from feeling mildly jarred to all-out terrified. Breaches to different cognitive constructs are the underpinnings of fear.

Here are four that may resonate if you’re crafting (or watching) frightening fiction this spooky season:

Monday, October 21

NaNoWriMo Prep: Planning Your Novel’s Ending

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

We now come to the final installment of the annual NaNo prep articles. Hope everyone going for the 50,000 words in November are just about ready to go!


Getting to “The End” of a novel is pretty satisfying, both as a reader and a writer, but there’s a lot more pressure to get there for the writer. There are many things that need to happen--plots and subplots to wrap up, and those pesky character arcs to fulfill. And then there’s the whole “satisfying resolution” to worry about.

The ending is the last 25% of the novel, so for the NaNo folks, to meet your 50,000-word goal, that's another 12,500 words. At least one of those final chapters is going to be your wrap up, though that can be a much smaller chapter. There’s a good chance that you won’t know all the specifics about your ending in the planning stage, so don’t worry. Ideas and situations will develop over the course of the novel that will help you flesh the ending out. Even if you do know exactly how the ending will unfold, you might find deeper meanings or ways to make it resonate more once that first draft is written.

Sunday, October 20

Sunday Writing Tip: Show What Your Characters Are Afraid Of

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, think about what scares your characters, and where they worry in your scenes, and make sure readers can see that, too.


Fear is a great motivator, and often our characters are acting out of fear, or because they worry about terrible consequences.

It’s also a useful way to show the stakes in a scene, as characters typically worry about the things they might lose. And when characters worry, so do readers.

For more on adding fear (and this stakes and even tension) in your novel, try these articles:

Saturday, October 19

Real Life Diagnostics: Is This Rewrite Working?

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: Zero

Please Note: As of today, RLD slots are open.

This week’s question:

1. Is this rewrite working?

Market/Genre: Middle Grade Science Fiction

On to the diagnosis…

Friday, October 18

How to Hurdle Your Writer’s Block

By Nick Wisseman, @NickWisseman

Part of The Writer’s Life Series


JH: Getting stuck happens to us all, and sometimes we need a little help in shaking our muse free. Nick Wisseman takes the podium today to share tips n how he gets over his writer's block.


Nick Wisseman lives in the woods of Michigan with his wife and daughter, ten dogs, sixty cats, and forty horses. (The true number of pets is an order of magnitude smaller, but most days it feels like more.) He's not quite sure why he loves writing twisted fiction, but there's no stopping the weirdness once he's in front of a computer. You can find the complete list of oddities on his website.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter

Take it away Nick…

Thursday, October 17

NaNoWriMo Prep: Planning Your Novel’s Middle

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Continuing with the annual NaNo prep posts...we dive into the turning points and problems of writing your novel's middle.


Middles might be the most common tough spot for writers, and with good reason. The middle makes up half the novel, and it’s where all the heavy plot workings happen. We usually have a decent idea of how our stories start, and roughly how they end, but that middle? What do we put in there? That often eludes us.

This is when a lot of novels start to bog down, so there’s a good chance many NaNo writers will stumble here. But don’t worry, because I know a great trick to overcome middle woes. The Mid-Point Reversal!

This is a major event that happens in the middle of your novel that helps bridge the gap between the end of the beginning and the beginning of the end (act one and act three for those using the Three Act Structure). It effectively breaks your three acts into four acts, making each section a little easier to manage.

An Introvert’s Guide to Writer’s Conferences

By Sarah McGuire, @fireplusalgebra

Part of The Writer's Life Series 


JH: Conferences are an amazing and fun way to learn and network, but they aren't always easy for introverted or shy writers. Sarah McGuire is back this month with tips on how shy writers can make the most of a conference without stressing themselves out. 


Sarah McGuire is a nomadic math teacher who sailed around the world aboard a floating college campus. She writes fairy tales and would be just fine if one day she opened a wardrobe and stumbled into another world. Coffee and chocolate are her rocket fuel. She wishes Florida had mountains, but she lives there anyways with her husband (who wrote this bio in less than three minutes!) and their family.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter |

Take it away Sarah…

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.