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 …

Continue Reading

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 …

Continue Reading

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 …

Continue Reading

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 …

Continue Reading

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 …

Continue Reading

#NaNoWriMo2015–Get to the Heart of Your Story (writing tip #24)

Five days to go for 2015’s National Novel Writing Month! I was conversing with a writer today about what it means to finish a first draft. We went over the nuts and bolts of what happens after you write the last line of the first draft of your story. I told him I always put aside my manuscript for several weeks or more. When I am ready to pick up my manuscript and read from cover to cover over the course of a day or two or three, I know that my goal is to read like a reader. I …

Continue Reading

#NaNoWriMo2015–Get to the Heart of Your Story (writing tip #11)

How well do you know your significant other? Do you know where and when your best friend went to middle school? Do you know your sibling’s deepest secrets? Do you know if your mother had a first love before she met your father? Or if your older cousin  dropped out of sight and out of touch for several years? We are often attracted to people because they hold some mystery for us and we find that challenging, frustrating, and alluring.So, you ask, how does that apply to my novel? Don’t aim to or pretend to know everything about your main …

Continue Reading

#NaNoWriMo2015–Get to the Heart of Your Story (writing tip #8)

Hey, it’s NaNoWriMo day #8 so let everything go to hell! We’ve all had those days when things keep going wrong–and wrong–and more damn wrong! The events might be big (getting fired from your job) or small (someone cutting in front of you when it’s your turn to order your latte). At some point we feel so cornered we explode and let loose our rant! Maybe we’re alone and maybe we’re not. Maybe we’re ranting in someone’s face. Hopefully we’re not threatening anyone with bodily harm. Confession: I’ve pulled over in my car so I could rant without censoring myself …

Continue Reading

#NaNoWriMo2015–Get to the Heart of Your Story (writing tip #6)

Action is vital in fiction. But the action must fit the story. If you are writing a gentle love story you will probably not include car chases and IEDs. However you might include a hero who obsesses over a “potential” or “lost” love to the point of stalking. “Really, I was just picking up my dry-cleaning and can I help it if you work next door?” Details are also a vital part of bringing a fictional world and its inhabitants to life–however a wise writer chooses dynamic details, meaning those details that reveal something about the inner and outer life …

Continue Reading

#NaNoWriMo2015–Get to the Heart of Your Story (writing tip #5)

It’s National Novel Writing Month and many writers around the world are in gear and cranking out pages! Yesterday, my tip was about writing in drafts–and the quick (and shitty) first draft aligns with getting your novel done in 30 days (although even when I’m fast, I’m not that fast!). Today my tip is for those moments when you feel you might be veering off track, stumbling into deep water, and all the other cliches that basically mean you feel lost and disconnected from your story.  Don’t panic, this counts as a normal part of first-drafting. When you feel you …

Continue Reading