“For your born writer, nothing is so healing as the realization that he has come upon the right word.”
—Catherine Drinker Bowen

How to Plot Your Storyline for NaNoWriMo

How to Plot Your Storyline for NaNoWriMo

The first time I took up the NaNoWriMo challenge, I lost my first two days staring at a blank scene. I’d write a paragraph and then delete it. I’d get a couple sentences into a chapter and then change my mind. My writing was a disappointing mess.

By the third day, I was already so far behind my goal, I realized I was never going to catch up. I stuck it out for two more weeks, but then, discouraged and frustrated, I quit.

The second time I tried the NaNoWriMo challenge, my experience was different.

One preparation secret made all the difference in helping me start off on the right foot and actually finish my book.

How to Use Political Debate to Write Dialogue That Sings

How to Use Political Debate to Write Dialogue That Sings

If you live in the United States, there is a good chance your television was tuned in to the Presidential debate on Sunday night.

Regardless of your politics, the conversation likely brought a cocktail of anxiety and frustration mixed with joy and elation. At one second you felt the warmth brought by the anticipation of victory and then, suddenly, the dull pain of possible defeat.

As writers, these are the emotions we want readers to experience when they engage in our stories. We want them to become as emotionally invested as they do with a political debate.

Today, rather than focusing on who won or lost the actual debate, let’s use what we watched as inspiration for our writing.

3 Tricks to Build Suspense and Engage Your Readers

3 Tricks to Build Suspense and Engage Readers

I am addicted to novels I can’t put down, to TV shows I can’t just watch one episode of, to short stories I have to finish, and to movies that keep me guessing until the very end.

I love stories that grip me and demand my attention. I am on an unending hunt for them and for the suspense they make me feel.

As a writer, these are the types of stories I hope to create—stories that pull the reader to the edge of his seat and keep him there until the last page.

Let’s take a look at three tools you can use in your stories to build suspense and keep your readers engaged.

3 Romantic Scenes for Romance Novels and More

3 Romantic Scenes for Romance Novels and More

Every year romance tops the list of the most widely read genres. From Edward and Bella to Harry and Sally to Romeo and Juliette, most of the greatest stories ever told have at their center two people discovering their feelings for one another.

We love tales of characters fighting to find a connection, but before we can flush out a fiery story filled with heat and tension, we need to understand what kind of spark our characters are experiencing.

I’ve experienced three different forms of romantic feeling: infatuation, lust, and love. Each is its own unique kind of fire. When we write romantic relationships between characters, it’s important we know which of these three types of burn they are experiencing.

4 Tips to Find Your Thoughtful Spot and Get Inspired

Inspiration: 4 Tips to Find Your Thoughtful Spot and Get Inspired

Ever sit and stare at the page, unsure what to write? It happens to me at least once a week. You sit down to write and draw a complete blank.

Panic sets in. You worry, “Will I ever think of anything worth writing again.” Your mind screams, “Has the well run dry? Is the journey over? Woe is me; the world is coming to an end!”

Then, I take a deep breath and go to my Thoughtful Spot.

How to Write Characters that Change

We know our characters must change. From the first word to the last, if our main character isn’t different, then we haven’t written a story people will connect with.

But writing believable character change can be hard. Change doesn’t just happen. It’s not enough to simply flip a switch and make our protagonists different from one scene to the next. Our characters need to evolve slowly.

In today’s post, I’m sharing a system of thinking that helps me build characters that experience believable and realistic change.

How to Build Memorable Monsters

Monster: How to Build Memorable Monsters

They lurk in dark corners of our houses when everyone else is asleep. We see their shadows at the other end of that abandoned alley where the street lamps are broken. They watch us in the woods, close enough to feel but still hidden by the gloom.

I’m talking about monsters. The kind that go bump in the night and leave a chill running up our spines.

When we build terrifying monsters into our stories, they will ingrain themselves in our readers’ minds, making our stories unforgettable.

6 Key Scenes to Write a Terrifying Villain

6 Key Scenes to Write Terrifying Villains

Without the White Witch, Aslan is just a recluse lion. Without Moriarty, Sherlock is just a know-it-all in a weird hat. Without the Joker, Batman is just a rich dude with anger issues and too much time on his hands.

Our villains make our heroes. Without them, our heroes can’t shine. That’s why it’s important to give our villains scenes where they can wow us with their quirks and scare us with their ferocity.

How to Write What You Know

Emotion: How to Write What You Know

When I first started writing, I was advised to “write what you know.” While the advice was well intended, it left me sad because I don’t know much, and what I do know isn’t exciting enough to build fiction with.

Then, one day, it started to click for me. While I may not be a dragon-slaying knight or a criminal-catching detective, the emotions I experience on a daily basis can be used to bring those worlds to life.

The Secret to Bringing Your Characters to Life

The Secret to Characterization: Bringing Characters to Life

It’s Atticus Finch giving advice to Scout that shows us he is a man of empathy and compassion. It’s Frank Underwood banging his class ring on the table that reminds us he is in command. It’s Holden Caulfield using phrases like “vomity” and “grow up” that helps us remember that he is an adolescent.

Using indirect characterization can make our heroes and villains leap from the page and come to life in our readers’ minds. Showing our readers who our characters are through indirect characterization allows our readers to draw their own conclusions about our characters, intensifying our readers’ engagement with our stories.