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The Café Writers Workshop Writing Contests Book Ideas Writing Contests
Joslyn Chase: Becoming Writer, Editor, Author
Member since July 11, 2016

Any day where she can send readers to the edge of their seats, prickling with suspense and chewing their fingernails to the nub, is a good day for Joslyn. Pick up her latest thriller, Steadman's Blind, an explosive read that will keep you turning pages to the end. No Rest: 14 Tales of Chilling Suspense, Joslyn's latest collection of short suspense, is available for free at


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The Cliffhanger: How to Write a Story Your Readers Can’t Put Down

When you put your writing out there for others to read, what do you hope will happen? If you’re like most writers, you want readers to get pulled into your story and keep turning pages to the end. You want your story to be un-put-downable.

It’s no secret that the time-tested method of using cliffhangers at the end of your chapters or scenes is a sure-fire way to make that happen. But what a lot of writers don’t realize is that the cliffhanger ending is only half the equation.

The cliffhanger is the hook that makes the reader turn the page, but if you don’t have a solid line supporting them across the gap and a sinker that pulls them deep into the next scene or chapter, your fish is likely to wriggle off and swim away.

Elements of Story: How Genre Impacts the Importance of Five Story Elements

Have you ever wondered how the elements of story impact your book’s genre? Do some elements of story have greater importance in a book because of the book’s genre? 

I can think of several times when I’ve gone to a restaurant and taking the time to slowly chew my food, so I can experience how each of my senses is impacted by the food: from taste to smell to sight.

The level of importance the elements of story have on genre isn’t so different. We all have certain tastes—factors that appeal to us in different ways on our taste buds—and it’s the same with our reading preferences. I came to understand this in a profound way when I worked for our local library system, which I’d like to share with you today.

Readers crave certain “flavors” and genre helps them define what they like and discover more of it.

How the five elements of story vary in level of importance because of the genre may impact your perspective—and in a good way, for writers trying to satisfy their target readers! 

How to Maximize the Power of Cause and Effect in Your Stories

Ever had days when life feels like a broken-down Rube Goldberg machine? Cobbled together from bits of cast-off junk, limping along, and missing the connections that bring a satisfying result? If you have, you share something with the bulk of humanity. Most of us feel that way at some point.

A person’s life consists of an enormous jumbled mass of cause and effect events, on a scale so huge that connections are rarely obvious or traceable. By contrast, a character’s story is a relevant subset of such events in which the causal relationships are evident. Sometimes overt, and sometimes subtle, but always present if you want to create a story that resonates with readers.

How to Start a Story: 10 Ways to Get Your Story Off to a Great Start

Perhaps you’ve heard the old publishing proverb: The first page sells the book; the last page sells the next book. I’m convinced there’s a mammoth grain of truth in that. The beginning and the end of any story are critical elements that you really want to nail.

Today, we’re going to focus on how to start a story—in other words, how you can craft a spectacular beginning that will hold readers spellbound and get them to turn that first all-important page.

Book Genre: Why Figuring Out Your Genre Will Help Your Story Succeed

You’ve worked long and hard on that book, and it’s finally finished! Now what?

It’s time to identify your book genre (if you haven’t already) so you can better place and market your story.

Understanding genre is one of the most important details you need to market and identify your book. Here are some key ideas needed to figure it out.

9 Key Strategies for How to Research a Novel
by Joslyn Chase in 9 Key Strategies for How to Research a Novel
12:58 pm on November 23, 2020

Have you ever started a story, gotten halfway through, and realized you don’t know key facts about your story’s world? Have you ever wondered how to find out the size of spoons in Medieval England for your fantasy adventure story? Is that even relevant to your plot, or could you skip that fact? Here’s how to do research for your story.

3 Powerful Ways to Hook Your Reader With Emotion

In college, I majored in communication, and the first thing I learned is that communication is a two-way street—it needs a sender and a receiver. As writers, we are senders, and our readers are receivers. But what are we communicating?

Stories, at their core, are a medium for communicating many things, but chief among them is emotion. That means one of the best ways to hook your reader is through emotion.

In this post, you will learn how to hook your reader with emotion, how people experience emotion through reading and three tips to cultivate that emotion through your writing. Then, we’ll end with a creative writing exercise you can use to apply these lessons right away.

How to Write an Underdog Story Readers Will Cheer For

Everyone loves a good underdog story. In some ways, we can all relate to the downtrodden character who rises against insurmountable odds. And the requisite feel-good ending is as sweet and satisfying as a warm cup of cocoa at the end of a cold and bitter day.

The underdog plot is a sure-fire recipe for a story readers can care about, invest in, and cheer on towards a rewarding conclusion. Plus, it can be a lot of fun to write. Read on to learn more about how to craft an underdog story that will ring your reader’s happy bell.

How to Sell Short Stories for Money and Have More Fun Doing It

Writing is communication. It requires a giver and a receiver. A writer and a reader. While there’s a lot to be said for the value of private writing—diary and journal-keeping, therapeutic ventings on paper, and the like—writing, at its heart, is meant to be shared.

So you write, and then you send it forth.

8 Proven Strategies to Write More and Boost Your Productivity

People sometimes have an idea that pro writers spring fully formed from the head of Zeus and start pumping out content, but it takes years of practice and commitment to establish a career as a writer. And there are virtually no successful writers who didn’t start out with jobs, families, and an assortment of life challenges demanding their time and attention.

I want to be clear that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with writing as a hobby, just for fun and when you feel like it. It’s a fantastic pastime and very worthwhile. In this post, however, I’ll be addressing those who aim to embrace writing as a career.

It’s not easy, but if writing is your passion and you want to be a long-term professional, you can find a way to make it happen. This article will give you some effective strategies to employ on the journey.

How to Write a Transformation Story
by Joslyn Chase in How to Write a Transformation Story
01:31 pm on September 14, 2020

One of the foremost reasons people read is to experience a character’s arc of change, their transformation, in other words, and transformation stories are among the most powerful and popular in literature and film.

That’s because the human experience is all about change. Each of us is a work in progress—growing, changing our perceptions and how we think—shaping our character.

These stories involve the reader in the course of the character’s change, helping them explore their own potential and desire for transformation, along with the limitations, possibilities, and price attached.

7 Techniques for Using Subtext to Supercharge Your Scenes

When you think about the books and stories that you most enjoyed reading and that stick in your memory, inspiring thoughts and emotions, what comes to mind? Why are those particular stories so enduring?

Chances are, the story’s scenes were woven with something deeper than what appeared on the surface. As writers, we are always working, practicing, studying to make our stories the best they can be. That’s our job, and today we’re taking a look at an advanced technique we can use to add interest to a scene by giving it an underlying meaning implied by the surface action and dialogue.

I’m talking about subtext.

6 Rules of Improv for Writers: How to “Yes, And” Your Way to Better Scenes

Have you ever faced this kind of issue? You have a scene goal in mind, you know the characters involved, where they are and what they want, but HOW does the scene play out? What exactly happens to bring the characters from Point A to Point B in the story?

That’s when the power of improv might come in handy.

Why Is Dialogue Important? 7 Roles Dialogue Plays in a Story

If you’re looking for a surefire way to improve your story, you’ll be happy to know there’s a fast-acting method at your disposal. According to writing expert James Scott Bell, it’s “the fastest way to improve any manuscript.”

I’m talking about dialogue.

But here’s the thing—dialogue is more than just the words you put in your characters’ mouths. On screen and stage, it’s the actor’s job to take his lines and infuse them with meaning, expression, emotion, and so on. On the page, that’s your job.

How to Keep Score in Your Story With Scene Goals

Imagine attending a football game with no rules. I don’t know about you, but there’s a limit to how excited I could get about watching a bunch of men run around with no particular aim in mind. Really, except for the tight pants, it would be pointless.

What makes the game worth watching is knowing your team has a goal, and knowing there’s an opposing team aiming to stop them from achieving it. That’s what pulls you to the edge of your seat, screaming and pumping your fist in the air.

It’s the same when you read fiction. If the writer hasn’t told you how to keep score, you have no way of knowing whether the characters are drawing nearer or farther from accomplishing their goals, and little reason to care.

Situational Irony: 3 Steps to Surprise Your Readers With Ironic Twists

So, you’ve figured out how to write a story that works. You know you need a character, in a setting, with a problem. You know you need a series of try/fail cycles, followed by a climactic scene and the resolution. The structure is simple, but it’s not always easy.

In particular, it can be challenging to sustain and escalate the story’s momentum through those try/fail cycles. And it would be nice to have something that could give your story a delicious ribbon of flavor, instilling brilliance and meaning.

Here’s the good news—there is such a technique. It’s called situational irony, and in this article, we’re going to take a look at what it’s made of and how to construct it in your own work.

The Magic of Atmosphere: Literary Definition and Genre Examples

Atmosphere matters. People will pay a premium to eat at a restaurant with a certain ambience or buy a house in a setting that supports a particular feeling. In like manner, your reader won’t remember every word you wrote, but if you infuse the story with atmosphere, they will remember the way it made them feel. And readers read in order to feel something.

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