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Vote for the Winner of the Summer Writing Contest

Vote for the Winner of the Summer Writing Contest

Last week, hundreds of writers submitted their stories to the Summer Writing Contest. Right now, our panel of judges is reading through each story, looking for the ones that will make it to the winners’ circle. And while they’re hard at work, I have an invitation for you, too.

I’m inviting you to step over to the judges’ side of the submission table. I’m inviting you to try reading like an editor and decide which story you would choose as the winner of the Summer Writing Contest.

How to Research Your Genre to Write Better Stories

How to Research Your Genre to Write Better Stories

The first time I wrote a novel, I didn’t think about genre until the first draft was done, and I began trying to untangle my mess in revision. After two painful years (mostly comprised of avoidance, procrastination, and general despair), I hired a developmental editor who began our first phone call by asking, “What kind of book is this?” and “Who is your ideal reader?”

“It’s for everyone,” I said. I could hear the rise and fall of my breathing in the silence.

“No, it isn’t,” she said in a kind, but firm voice. Within minutes, I realized I had skipped a clarifying question that would guide every step of the book process from the plot and characters to cover design and marketing.

How Characters Change in Stories (And How to Write Believable Change)

How Characters Change in Stories (And How to Write Believable Change)

You’ve probably heard this one before: Your character must change throughout the course of your story.

I see a lot of confusion over this concept. Writers can normally nail the change (weak to strong; bad to good; cynical to optimistic) but it often comes from a weird place that doesn’t sit quite right with what we know about the protagonist. Or it’s too big of a change (or too much of a “fairy tale ending”) to be believable.

Let’s take a look at how writers should deal with character change.

2 Ways to Use the Semicolon

2 Ways to Use the Semicolon

If the semicolon was just a little less top-heavy, then it would be a comma, and rightfully used and appreciated. Sadly, many writers have a confused relationship with the semicolon, not really sure how or when to use semicolons in their lovely sentences.

Don’t worry, little semicolon. Your virtues will not be lost on this audience as long as I have a say in it.

Rejected Book: 3 Reasons Editors Reject Manuscripts

Rejected Book: 3 Reasons Editors Reject Manuscripts

Has this happened to you? You finish a story and polish it to a shine, compose your cover letter, send the package off to an editor, and wait through an agonizing time period, only to get that form letter saying thanks, but we’ll pass. Your book was rejected.

It’s happened to me. More times than I care to think about. One thing writers who want to publish learn right off is the pain of rejection, and my best piece of advice is to get used to it. There is life after rejection, and you’ve got to be willing to jump up and go at it again. And again.

Character Personality: How to Discover Who Your Character Really Is

Character Personality: How to Discover Who Your Character Really Is

Have you ever written a scene that didn’t feel authentic or sit right with you? One very possible reason for such a scene is that your character did not act in accordance with their nature. As writers, we sometimes hit a fallback position where we have our character do what we would do rather than acting … in character. We have to remember to write from the character’s personality rather than our own.

I am not a proponent of detailed character sketches—believing, instead, that the character reveals herself to the writer as the story unfolds. However, as we get to know the character we’re writing, it’s important to understand the essentials of her personality. By doing so, we make it easier to understand and portray the shifts that make up the character arc.

Can Constrained Writing Make You a Better Writer?

Can Constrained Writing Make You a Better Writer?

Before we talk about the concept of constrained writing and tell you how it works, let me ask you this: Have you ever opened a new blank document to write, stared at it for far too long, and then realized you have no ideas, that your mind is as blank as the page you’re trying to write on? What if you could double or triple the number of ideas you have, not by doing something extra but by taking something away?

That’s what constrained writing is about: taking away options so that you can actually be more creative.

10 Critical Mistakes Writers Make in Writing Contests

10 Critical Mistakes Writers Make in Writing Contests

You work hard to write your best story—and if you’re honest, you’re pretty sure it’s amazing. You share it with other writers to get their feedback, and they agree. You work up your courage and hit the “Submit” button, sending it off to a mysterious panel of writing contest judges.

And then . . . you wait. What will the judges think? Will they agree your story deserves to win it all? Did you write the kind of story that will catch the judges’ eye? What kind of story is that, anyway?

I’m going to take you behind the scenes and reveal exactly what judges are looking for when they choose the winners of writing contests.

7 Writing Lessons I Learned From The Write Practice

7 Writing Lessons I Learned From The Write Practice

It’s with a bittersweet tone that I write this post, because it will be the last one I write for The Write Practice for a long time as I get ready for my first year of college. I’ll call this a “soft goodbye” since this is technically my last post, but it definitely will not be the last time I “hang around” The Write Practice. I’ve learned so much in the seven years I’ve contributed to this fabulous website and I still have so much to learn. I thought I’d share seven of those writing lessons with you now.

How to Write to Market and Still Write What You Love

How to Write to Market and Still Write What You Love

When new writers ask, “How do I succeed as an author?” the advice they most often receive is, “Write to market.”Popularized by Chris Fox’s 2016 book, Write to Market: Deliver a Book that Sells, the strategy requires authors to pick a genre to write in, study the tropes of that genre of books that are currently selling, and then write a book in that genre that fits all the existing tropes. While many authors struggle to embrace this concept, by changing our perspective on it, we will find it empowering rather than limiting.

How to Write Action Scenes That Thrill Your Readers

How to Write Action Scenes That Thrill Your Readers

Almost any genre you might write in will include some kind of action scene, so it makes sense to learn how to do action well. Action does not always mean a car chase or a shootout, though these are time-honored examples. An action scene can simply be a place in the story where the pacing increases and the movement is external, rather than internal.

How to Overcome Your Fear of Writing and Finally Finish

How to Overcome Your Fear of Writing and Finally Finish

If you’re not finishing your writing, it’s because of fear. Fear is far more influential than we like to think. We like to believe that we’re not succumbing to fears because we are good at goal-setting, or perhaps we stick to a writing schedule of some kind.

Yet fear is insidious. It is subtle. It speaks with voices you can’t hear, and unless you weed those voices from your psyche, they will forever impede your writing dreams.

Here’s how to overcome your fears and finish your writing with confidence!

How to Write a Speech Your Audience Remembers

How to Write a Speech Your Audience Remembers

I’ve had some additional duties this year that have required me to add speech writing to my list of skills. I didn’t realize how much it would improve my writing in general. Even if you run in fear of public speaking (you’re in good company—95% of adults say it’s their number one fear), try these techniques and see if speech writing helps your writing too!

M MacKinnon on How to Write Paranormal Fiction

M MacKinnon on How to Write Paranormal Fiction

Writing fiction with paranormal elements can be tricky, especially in a modern setting. You want your readers to suspend their disbelief and just go with the story. You don’t want them to roll their eyes because the concept of your paranormal world is too far-fetched. Today we’re talking with paranormal romance writer M MacKinnon to get her take on writing paranormal fiction.

Setting of a Story: 3 Ways Going Outside Can Improve Your Writing

Setting of a Story: 3 Ways Going Outside Can Improve Your Writing

Our job as writers is to transport our readers into our stories. A high-octane plot and three-dimensional characters are obviously necessary to accomplish this goal, but so is an immersive setting.

Setting is often overlooked when describing a scene. We all want to move on to the next plot twist and wasting important space on what trees look like will just bore the readers, right?

Wrong.

To draw readers fully into a scene, we need setting. We want them to forget they’re reading and make them experience everything our characters are experiencing.

Sometimes, you can get away with building your setting straight from your imagination. Sometimes, you can’t.

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