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Writing

Pacing Is Like A Stepping Stone Path

Writing, Writing Tips March 17, 2017

Pacing is difficult for a lot of authors to get just right. Even when they do get it just right (for the reader) they often still worry about it. They worry whether their pacing in a given story or scene is too fast or too slow. They worry that if they show the thoughts and feelings of the characters they will slow the pace and the story will drag. There is some legitimacy to these concerns. One can have a story in which the pace drags or a story in which things happen quickly and yet the reader isn’t really vested in the outcome.

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It’s Time To Register For September 2017 Yellow Highlighter Class

Writing, Writing Workshop, Yellow Highlighter Class March 12, 2017

Yellow Highlighter Classes are month-long classes which meet online in a private blog space three days a week (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.) The classes are completely hands on with participants posting excerpts from their works in progress and me going over them, marking them up, offering corrections and suggestions in the same way that I mark up manuscripts I edit for publication. The feedback isn’t specific to just one area, like emotion, sexual tension or plot points. Instead, the markup offered on a single day of the class might highlight weaknesses of many types and might offer suggestions for strengthening a variety of problem areas. A single markup on a single day of the class might address a point of view problem, the need for a beat of silence to break up a line of dialogue, or the news that a given scene really slows the pace and needs to be trimmed, moved or discarded.

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How Often Should You Remind The Reader Of The Character’s Conflict?

Writing, Writing Tips March 10, 2017

You shouldn’t have to “remind” your reader of your character’s conflict at all. A conflict which is strong enough to support the story should be there in the character’s psyche, in his world coloring most everything he thinks, says, and does to some degree. It’s not like the character can ever really forget about the conflict. It’s there in the background weighing on him even when he’s trying to focus on other things.

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Using Deep Point Of View To Clarify Your Writing

Writing, Writing Tips, Writing Workshop January 15, 2017

The things we wrote in the book planning binder defines a character who has certain parameters. But when you put her in motion…make her take actions, and then put other people in the scene and make her react to the actions that they take you begin to learn more about her. She’s still mousy haired. She still prefers cats to people. She still doesn’t feel worthy of participating in society, of having friends. But now you move one step deeper. How does someone who prefers cats to people, who doesn’t feel worthy of participating in society, of having friends, react when she is face to face with someone who needs her help? What motivates that action? What thought? What feeling? What belief? Showing this on the page, by showing her specific mental or emotional experience allows the full essence of who she is at the deepest level to come through and be fully visible and fully understandable to the reader.

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Handling Memories In Fictional Writing

Writing, Writing Tips December 1, 2016

I’ve been teaching a class for OIRW about deep point of view during November. We’re now nearing the end of the class and I’m going over excerpts from participants’ works in progress as part of the class. One of the things that has come up in going over the excerpts is how to best handle memories in fictional writing, so I thought I’d talk a little bit about that for this blog post.

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Let’s Talk About Backstory

Writing, Writing Tips September 30, 2016

Those of us who have been writing for any length of time have been warned of the folly of including too much backstory at the opening of the story…and indeed this is good advice. But in this particular Yellow Highlighter Class my suggestions regarding backstory were mostly advising participants to include more backstory or more detail to explain the character’s current situation. What’s with this? It seems totally at odds with the “Thou Shalt Not Backstory Dump” that we’ve all been taught and internalized…. So…let’s take a step back and talk about backstory and see if we can make some sense of it.

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It’s That Time Again! Time To Register For The March Yellow Highlighter Class

Everything, Writing, Writing Workshop, Yellow Highlighter Class September 4, 2016

Rather than being focused around a given topic (like emotion, plotting, sexual tension, and so on) the classes are focused on giving feedback on actual works in progress that participants post. The feedback isn’t specific to just one area, like emotion, sexual tension or plot points. Instead, the markup highlights weaknesses of many types and offers suggestions for strengthening problem areas. A single markup may address a point of view problem–the need for a beat of silence to break up a line of dialogue–suggestions to strengthen emotional and sexual tension–suggestions to strengthen character motivation–an order problem–miscellaneous verb tense issues–and sentence structuring changes to make the sentence stronger or the flow smoother.

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