Psychology and writing go hand-in-hand. Both are about understanding how people think and act, and why. But you don’t need a psychology degree to write a good story—just a curiosity about the people around you.
Joslyn Chase's most recent book, The Tower, is a story of nail-biting suspense and the triumph of love in the aftermath of World War II. What Leads A Man To Murder, her collection of short suspense, is available for free at joslynchase.com. Joslyn loves traveling, teaching, and playing the piano.
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To my knowledge, no one has ever claimed that the life of a writer is easy. Not without a heavy dose of sarcasm. Any process that involves the production of creativity on demand will mess with your head.
As writers, we deal with Resistance on a regular basis. And just when you think you’ve got it beat and you settle down for a long winter’s nap, the devious imp sneaks in and twirls a feather under your nose. He whispers nasty things in your kerchief-covered ears until you fly to the window and throw up the sash (too much sash is notoriously bad for the digestion).
Two of the most vital skills you should focus on as a writer are how to tell a story that works and how to develop compelling characters. But once you’ve got that figured out, aren’t there other writing techniques, more subtle perhaps, that draw readers in and make stories shine?
There are. And one of those writing techniques is called euphonics. Rayne Hall, author of the Writer’s Craft series, defines euphonics as “the use of sound devices for prose writing.”
Have you ever read a story that just falls flat for you and you don’t know why? Chances are it was missing one of the archetypical elements our brains are hardwired to seek out in a story. When you sit down at the keyboard, the last thing you want to do is write a story that fails to grab and hold a reader.
So how do you satisfy those hardwired expectations?
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.
Surprise! Okay, that probably wasn’t very surprising. How do you surprise your readers? And how do you create the slow burn of suspense, keeping them on the edge of their seats as they tear through your story? Let’s talk about how to make a story suspenseful.
What does it take to immerse your readers in your story so deeply that they forget they’re reading? Maybe, for a few hours, they’ll even believe your imaginary world is real.
One of the strongest tools in your arsenal is point of view. Here’s how to capture its magic so your readers get lost in your books.
Your point of view is one of the first and most important choices you’ll make in any story. Done well, your story’s point of view can draw your readers in to experience your story alongside your characters, and even make them forget they’re reading fiction.
You invest a lot of yourself in your writing, and putting your creative work in front of others is scary. Your mind floods with questions like, What if they don’t like it? What if they think I’m dumb? What if I’m no good at this?
No doubt about it, folks. Publishing is a courageous act. When you send out submissions, you set yourself up for rejection from publishers. When you share your story in a writers’ group, you open yourself to peer feedback that may be negative.
Makes you want to don a suit of armor, doesn’t it? But what if, instead of avoiding the criticism, you could actually put it to work for you? Make it friend, rather than foe?
Nearly every story you care to name has bits and pieces or elements from other stories. It’s unavoidable, since we’ve been telling stories from the dawn of human existence. Most of your story ideas are going to resemble existing stories in some way.
So, how do you take the seed of a story that feels too much like it’s already been done, and make it your own?
Hooray! You finished writing your book! Take a moment to revel in the satisfaction, but as you slide down from cloud nine, you’ll notice a
Whether you’re self publishing or you have a traditional publisher, it’s up to you to sell your books. Email marketing is the number one way to sell books. But in order to use email marketing effectively, you first have to gather a list of email addresses, a group of readers who want to hear from you.
Struggling to build your list? Try this.
According to James Scott Bell, the fastest way to improve any manuscript is by learning to write dazzling dialogue. Nothing grabs and holds reader attention like well-written dialogue, but how do you do it?
There are a lot of pitfalls to watch out for when it comes to using dialogue in your writing. Whether you’ve given this a lot of thought, or none at all, the subject bears exploring. Let’s take a look at six hazards to be wary of, and what you can do about them to make your dialogue more engaging.
So, you’ve got a great idea for a book. You have a clear picture of the opening scenes and the climactic scene, and maybe some scenes in between, so you jump in and start writing.
But once you’ve knocked out the scenes in your head, the well runs dry, or you find yourself galloping down a series of dead-end roads.
If you’ve ever gotten stuck during the writing process, you might feel like you don’t know where to turn. How do you connect the beginning to the end? Is your epic novel idea nothing more than a character sketch, a piece of world-building, or a loosely related set of scenes?
The secret: making a book outline.
A thriller is not just a rollercoaster ride, but like a whole day at a theme park with head-of-the-line privileges. Ride after wild ride with maybe just enough down time to eat a corndog and take a bathroom break. The necessary ingredients for a thriller include conflict, tension, and suspense, all tied up in a nice, twisty package.
So you want to know how to write a suspense novel. I could tease you with this, play out the line, dangle the carrot tantalizingly in front of you. But I won’t.
I’ll just tell you outright that suspense is my baby, my favorite of all the genres. If you’ve ever experienced those delicious moments as a reader, when your heart is slamming around in your chest, your palms are sweaty, and you can’t turn the pages fast enough, you’ll know what I mean by suspense.
So you want to know how to write a mystery novel. I’m delighted to hear it. I’ve been a mystery lover since I hid behind the Lincoln Logs in Mrs. Jenkins third grade classroom so I could finish my first Nancy Drew, undisturbed. Mystery hooked me that day, and has been leading me around by the nose ever since.
Coming up with a story idea isn’t hard. Coming up with a story idea that hits it out of the park, fires on all cylinders, and has never been done before is. In fact, it’s the equivalent of winning the lottery—an unlikely event that can burn up your resources if you’re not careful.
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.