Dialogue and Scenes – Making Them Great – Quick Writing Tips

Great dialogue makes for great scenes In last week’s post, I focused on tips for writing great scenes–scenes and summary are the building blocks of fiction and memoir. A friend who blogs and writes essays read the post and reminded me that scenes and partial scenes also lend energy and veracity to nonfiction. So true! C’mon, make a scene! First of all, a vital reminder: a scene is a piece of story action, played out moment-by-moment on page, stage, or screen. Conflict drives every scene. No conflict, no scene. A scene moves, dynamically beginning in one place and ending in …

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Write Great Scenes to Build Great Stories – Quick Writing Tips

writing conflict

Action, Conflict, Scenes! Scenes and summary are building blocks of stories–both fiction and memoir. A scene is a piece of story action, rendered continuously moment-by-moment, without summary, but with action and, often, dialogue. A scene can be acted out on stage. She wants, he wants: Characters work in conflict. If they both want to go to the same party and they go, sorry, no conflict, no scene. In contrast, let’s say Joe and Suzy are on their third date and Joe wants to take Suzy to Dave’s party. Dave is Joe’s best friend. But Suzy absolutely doesn’t want to go to Dave’s party–Joe just pointed …

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Publish Your Novel to Success: 5 Must-Take-Action Steps!

publishing success

You’ve written one draft, two drafts, you love your novel, your retired 5th-grade teacher loves your novel, so you must be ready to publish, right!? Whoa back, wait up, hold on a sec, Pardner. Before you even think about sending your book out into the big (sometimes bad) world to publish, you must make sure you’re both ready! That means getting a professional copy edit, finding qualified beta readers, deciding between traditional and indie publishing options, and researching accordingly a) overall market b) agents or c) indie publishers. Of course, while you’ve been writing your book, you’ve been building your …

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Help Writing Your Novel—Yes You Can Revise with Ease!

help writing novel-revision

Want to start and finish your first, fifth, or tenth novel in 2017? Read on! In my previous post, I wrote about 1st drafts, and I shared my best suggestions for finishing draft 1 of your novel within 3 to 6 months (without losing your mind). Your 1st draft is the one Anne Lamott aptly dubs the “shitty first draft.” Give yourself permission to work quickly with forward momentum. When your 1st draft is complete: Set it aside for days, weeks, maybe even a month or more. Give yourself time to let it go and separate yourself. When you come back to the …

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How to Write, Revise & Finish Your Novel in 2017, Really: Part I

help writing fiction

It’s that time of year when many of us are looking forward to 2017, evaluating what matters to us, and making our resolutions. If writing and finishing your novel tops your list, here are some tips to help you write your best book. I use these steps to write my own fiction and I’ve just finished the 1st draft of my newest novel, working title, The Book of Riddles. Write your 1st draft quickly, ideally within 3 to 6 months. Key to this process of drafting is to refrain from editing your 1st draft! I know that makes some writers howl with …

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Story—The Journey from Darkness toward Light, from the Existential Scream to the Universal Sigh

help writing story

Here’s the thing, being human isn’t easy. We are human and we are animal—savage and tender, mindful and thoughtless, loving and cruel, base and divine—and then toss our heart and spirit into the mix and try telling our story. Wait, shhhh, hear that existential scream? Yup, understanding the complexities of human nature is an ongoing challenge. If you have any desire to try, and if you are a writer, painter, musician, actor, creative seeker of any stripe, you are a storyteller and you are on the journey toward transformation and this is a gift. When it comes to story, transformation …

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The Worth of Cringeworthy According to Louis C.K.

Comedian, writer, producer, actor, actor, Louis C.K. on Charlie Rose talking “cringeworthy.”   L C.K.: Cringeworthy…a cringe is a…it’s repelling away from something, “Ehh, I don’t want to think about that.” To me, it’s fun to take a deep breath, which is the opposite of a cringe…and walk in and see what’s in there. There’s all kinds of stuff in there.   CR: That’s exactly, that’s the essence of you.   L C.K.: I think so.    CR: It really is.   L C.K.: Look if you can take people, take a whole zone of their thinking that they’re scared …

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Jiggery-pokery and Elections and 2.0 US Fluid Ounce Pours

It’s been a dark week, a dark month, a dark year for news. Countless writers are covering current stories—some with intelligence and sensitivity, many without—and after I absorb what I can, my eyes wander and my mind leaps at the chance to follow. While perusing news-lite this morning I came across the word “rejiggering”—think it was in the Huff Post—and that made me think of jiggering, meaning a person or thing that jigs, and before you picture someone dancing wildly, remember that to jig means to manipulate or alter something in order to get things done (often illegally). I’m still not …

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Bring Your Story to Life

Gift your characters and their worlds and their journeys of dilemma, conflict, and transformation generously.

Emphasis on transformation.

Of course well-told stories have the power to simply entertain us. But the best stories also have the power to transform by offering new vision, new insight and awareness. They wake us up. And yes that is a tall order.

I watched two films at the Regal 14 with my ten-year-old daughter this summer. Both were major studio productions with big budgets.

The first, a very recent box office hit—a save-the-universe archetypal saga—featured a reluctant, off-beat hero and his vagabond “knights”, one of whom was female, with green skin and a fighting spirit. Make no mistake, she could kick ass with the best and the worst of the guys. The film was loud, action-packed, entertaining and the same ole’, same ole’ story. My daughter loved it! (more…)

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Break Through Writer’s Block

break through writer's block
Break through writer’s block using these helpful techniques:
1) Breathe!  Slowly, deeply, it’s all okay and normal and you will be fine, truly. (And repeat.)
2) Put the story structure info away—in a drawer, in a trash can, in a virtual trash can—and don’t look at it again. When it causes anxiety it is no longer useful. Shred any piece of paper that tells you that there are rules for writing a novel.
3) Know that finishing is difficult for your creative self (and mine and everyone’s!). Resistance can swell a bit when the end of a draft (or even “almost-draft”) nears.

(more…)

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