Writing Prompt: The Holiday Writing Challenge

Writing Prompt: The Holiday Writing Challenge

It can be difficult to find the motivation to write during the holidays. With family around us and added responsibilities, the last thing we can think about is the story we are working on. Sometimes, all we need to give ourselves a motivational boost is a change of...
Writing Deadlines: The Unlikely Secret to Creative Freedom

Writing Deadlines: The Unlikely Secret to Creative Freedom

I’m a firm believer in deadlines.

Some will argue that creativity has no end point and that they can’t be inspired if there’s a timeline. If that mindset results in powerful writing and stories that resonate with readers as regularly as you’d like, then go forth and continue with the process that is working for you!

If, however, you can’t seem to finish in the time and manner you desire, a little deadline practice might be just the thing you need to propel your writing forward.

How to Conduct Research for a Book

How to Conduct Research for a Book

You might think you don’t need to do much research because you’re writing fiction. (Isn’t fiction just making stuff up?!) You’d be wrong.

Your readers expect to be transported to your setting and to understand your characters so fully, they seem like real people. Little things like using the wrong jargon or having your main character wear the wrong type of bodice can jar your reader out of the story and cause them to lose respect for you as a writer. If they can’t trust you to get the facts right, why should they trust you to guide them through a story?

Like it or not, research is a writer’s best friend. (Next to caffeine, anyway.) So let’s talk about how to conduct research for a book.

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

Cliffhangers: 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.

3 Writing Challenges That Will Make You a Better Writer

3 Writing Challenges That Will Make You a Better Writer

If you’re a writer, you’ve probably heard this question: “What’s your genre?” Or you’ve been asked, “What do you write?”

As writers, we tend to find a creative “happy place” and stay inside of three boxes: medium, form, and genre. This allows us to find a consistent voice and target our work toward a very specific reader.

But staying inside these boxes without any deviation can have major drawbacks that will threaten the quality of your writing, and the joy of writing itself. Here are three ways to challenge yourself beyond your typical writing bounds.

6 Things to Expect From Writing Sprints Like NaNoWriMo

6 Things to Expect From Writing Sprints Like NaNoWriMo

Expectations are important. If you are craving yogurt and you walk into a bakery, you are likely to be disappointed. If you go into your boss’s office thinking you are going to get a raise but all you receive is a pat on the back, you will probably be frustrated. If you think your date is taking you to see a ballet and you end up at a monster truck rally instead, you are likely to be confused, irritated, and overdressed.

Having appropriate expectations when it comes to writing sprints like NaNoWriMo are equally important. Sprints can be wonderful teachers; but it’s important to understand what we should expect from them.

How to Break the Rules for the Best NaNoWriMo Ever

How to Break the Rules for the Best NaNoWriMo Ever

Across the world this week, writers began spinning stories and obsessively checking their word counts, all in pursuit of that magic number: 50,000 words. Every year, I tell myself I don’t have time to do NaNoWriMo, and every year, I end up participating anyway.

But a couple years ago, I decided to break the rules and I had the best NaNoWriMo month ever. Maybe you need to break some rules yourself to redefine your writing this month.

How to Write a Manifesto: The Struggling Writer’s Guide

How to Write a Manifesto: The Struggling Writer’s Guide

Write a manifesto, a statement of what you believe, to help others, or yourself. Are you wondering how to write a manifesto? You have come to the right place.

The word “manifesto” is from the Latin word “manifesto,” “make public,” which comes from the Latin word “manifestus,” or “obvious.”

Write a manifesto about something that is obvious to you, or that you would like to be obvious to you. Write your manifesto to make it public to everyone, so that it will become obvious, natural, even when it is hard for you to believe it yourself.

How to Write a Scary Story: 3 Strategies for Terrifying Scenes

How to Write a Scary Story: 3 Strategies for Terrifying Scenes

For many of you, Halloween is a time to dream up frightening stories with scenes that thrill and startle your readers. It’s the perfect moment to practice how to write a scary story.

Yet writing a scary scene is easier said than done. To truly scare your readers, you need to be one step ahead of them. If they can predict what’s coming, or if the story doesn’t feel scary, then your writing won’t work.

Here’s how to write a truly scary scene that your readers will love!

3 Inspiring Writing Prompts to Find Your Character’s Voice

3 Inspiring Writing Prompts to Find Your Character’s Voice

Great characters feel real. They talk, act, and respond to stress in ways we recognize, with their own personal character voice. We can relate to them because they seem human.

To write a character that leaps off the page, we need to know her deeply. We need to understand her thoughts and feelings. If our audience is going to empathize with her, we have to first.

Is it Toward or Towards? Upwards or Upward?

Is it Toward or Towards? Upwards or Upward?

English is full of words that seem the same, but have subtle differences in their spelling and usage. These tricky words seem designed specifically to trip you up. Recently, we tackled ensure vs. insure. Today, let’s take on another vocabulary conundrum: upwards or upward? Toward or towards?

Or does it even matter?

How to Actually Focus on Your Writing

How to Actually Focus on Your Writing

Many writers I know are overwhelmed and struggle to focus on writing anything. Do I research? Get a draft down? Should I be blogging? Do I need to get a business license? What about social media? What’s for dinner? (Sorry, my kids added that one).

A few years ago, I learned a technique that helped me get a handle on my to do list, and freed me to prioritize my writing. Along with sneaking time to write, learning to write in batches has changed the way I work.

4 Speedy Strategies to Boost Your NaNoWriMo Word Count

4 Speedy Strategies to Boost Your NaNoWriMo Word Count

Happy prep-tober! If you’re as excited for NaNoWriMo as I am, October is probably pretty busy for you. Now is the time to start printing your novel worksheets, introducing yourself on the NaNo forums, and scheduling time to write.

But NaNoWriMo isn’t always stress-free. Attempting to write 50k in a month is hard work. Luckily, I’m here with four tips to boost your word count.

How to Choose a Color for Your Book Cover Design

How to Choose a Color for Your Book Cover Design

No matter how much the adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is trotted out, we all do it. It’s in our nature to make quick assumptions about things, especially when we have literally millions of books to choose from. It’s easy to make quick judgements based on book cover design.

Think about walking through your local bookstore or perusing your library’s shelves. You’re looking at spines, and only spines, most of the time. Then one book stands out. You pull it from the shelf and give the cover a read.

Why did you choose that book, in particular? Most likely, the color stood out to you.

When to Use Ensure vs. Insure

When to Use Ensure vs. Insure

Here’s a problem I’ve encountered a lot: the confusion of ensure vs. insure. But wait, those two words are the same, right? Well . . . kind of, but not exactly.

Let’s un-muddle them, shall we?

Every time I hear the word “ensure,” I think of the high-protein flavored beverage that I will never drink. But we’re going to use this ingestible product to help you remember how to use ensure. Win-win (kind of).

Point of View Magic: How to Cast a Spell on Your Readers

Point of View Magic: How to Cast a Spell on Your Readers

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.