A few months ago, without telling anyone, I entered a short story into a writing contest. Well, not just any writing contest. It was the Winter Writing Contest that The Write Practice hosted in partnership with Short Fiction Break literary magazine. In other words, it was my writing contest.
By the end of this post you will be using an excel spreadsheet.
Don’t make that face—I know you’re a writer and not a data analyst. Or if you are a data analyst—I understand that you’re on this blog to get away from you day job. I get it. But guess what? At the suggestion of Randy Ingermason—the creator of the Snowflake Method— I listed all of the scenes in my novel in a nice little Google spreadsheet. It changed my novel-writing life, and doing the same will change yours too.
For most of my creative writing life, I’ve tried to write novels. Novels are the pinnacle of fiction writing in the same way oil painting is the pinacle of art. I thought that if I were going to be a writer it meant I didn’t have a choice but to write novels.
However, recently, my thoughts have changed. In fact, for a few years I locked my novel away in my desk drawer to focus all my attention on short stories.
Here are four reasons why you should consider writing short stories instead of novels.
Inspirational quotes from writers are plastered all over my Pinterest boards. I have quotes that sit on my desk right where I can see it if I glance away from my computer. If I’m in a slump or a rut, scrolling through the “Advice To Writers” Twitter account can pick me right back up.
In honor of Black History Month, I want to share five quotes from black authors that are sure to give you the push you need to write something fantastic.
One of my greatest excuses on days that I don’t write is I just don’t have time. Have you ever said or thought that? Well, in fact, the opposite is true. Here’s the thing about writing: If you don’t write when you don’t have time, you won’t write when you do have time.
No, it’s not easy to write on the days when you feel like you just don’t have time. But it is possible. The secret to finding time and maintaining successful writing habitsis to set an intention.
You desperately want to write a story. You carry a pad of paper with you in case you get an idea. You can’t decide if your main character should have short hair or long hair. But for now, put aside what your character looks like and think about what they want.
In this post, we’re going to look at how to write a story by focusing on one of the most important elements of any story: conflict.
There’s a painful tension between getting and giving in writing. Sure, when you’re writing, you’d like to get attention, or to get followers, or to get money, or to get reviews.
But when those things are your focus, your work is much less satisfying and enjoyable than when you’re writing to give back to your readers.
Mark Twain is one of my favorite writers. When I read his essays last year, I came across a bit of revising gold in a 1906 essay titled “William Dean Howells.” Most of the essay praises Howells’s prose in general, but the final paragraphs address what Twain calls “stage directions.”
In a play, stage directions are only visible to the audience through the movement and actor’s inflection during the performance. In a novel, we rely on description to set scenes, give context, and deepen characterization. When done well, stage directions don’t distract from the character or action.
When done poorly, however, Twain has something to say about them.
When you’ve finished a book, you feel like a hero. The work may have some warts, but it’s yours, and it’s done! The next step is to test it out on some readers and see how well the book works. This is called Beta Testing (or just “beta-ing”) your book.
Reader feedback can teach you a lot, but it can also be hard to filter the signal from the noise. The key is learning how to process that feedback so you can make productive edits. Today I’ll teach you how I learned to do this.
How many of you have been writing for a while? This article is for you—though if you’re brand-new, this will eventually apply to you, too. Ahem. There will come a day when it’s time to start that story over from scratch.