I often hear practicing writers ask, “What if I can’t think of anything to write about?” Sometimes they even have notebooks full of observations, but they feel like none of them are good enough for a story.
I’ve felt the same way, but there are more opportunities or seeds for ideas in our notebooks than we think. It might be an image, a snippet of a conversation we overheard at lunch, or a social issue that grates against us. Once we have the seeds, how do we take those seeds and develop them into stories?
You’ve spent a few agonizing weeks waiting on the feedback to roll in from your beta readers. You’ve probably worked your way into an anxiety attack with all the waiting. What if they don’t like it? What if you have to do a major rewrite? It’s scary!
In this post, I’ll walk you through exactly what to do with all that beta reader feedback. Take a deep breath—it’ll be great.
Fear, anticipation, and self-doubt are just a few emotions I felt during my first writing contest. Maybe you’re in the same place now. Wondering if you have a chance among the many entrants. Uncertain if it’s worth the time and effort.
Short answer—it is. And that holds true whether you win or lose.
But I also want to reveal five tips for improving your winning chances in a writing contest. See, I won the Short Fiction Break 2020 Summer Writing Contest with my story Dark Time. Here’s how.
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.
Stuck on the distinction between “in to” and “into”? You’re not alone! Don’t worry, though, I’ve got you covered. Here’s the quick version:
Use “into” to describe where something is: going inside something else. Use “in to” based on the verb that comes before it. It can have many meanings, but here’s a quick tip that covers some of them: if you can replace it with “in order to,” use “in to.”
Read on for the longer explanation, plus examples of into vs. in to.
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.
We think that we need talent in order to be successful writers—or musicians, or golfers. But the truth is, writing, like any other skill, is learned and improved through daily discipline. Are you maintaining the disciplines you need to become a successful writer?
What’s the most fun you can have with writing? It starts with brilliant inspiration for a story you love. Even better if you’re surrounded by other writers offering suggestions and cheering you on. Top it off with guaranteed publication just a few weeks after you pick up your pen, and you’re basically living the writer’s dream.
The best part? This isn’t just a dream. This is how we design every writing contest here at The Write Practice.
We want to pack the most fun possible into our writing contests, so you finish with a short story you love, a writing community that inspires you, a publication credit, and a reinvigorated passion for your writing.
And we’re about to do it all again this fall. That’s right: the Fall Writing Contest is now open!
Coincidence is rampant in real life, but readers hate it. In fiction, coincidence feels contrived and reveals the writer’s hand pulling the strings. When you need to introduce something into your story that feels dangerously close to coincidence, the way to do it is with foreshadowing.
It might seem like a monumental task to find a group of people willing to volunteer to read your manuscript and give you good feedback. Luckily, it’s actually not. Most people are more than willing to give you a little help. And when you follow a few simple steps, they’ll be able to give you invaluable feedback.
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.”
When I first started blogging, I set up a free account with Blogger. It was great. I didn’t have to understand any crazy computer code. I just had to worry about writing. Then, I read somewhere that I should install Google Analytics to see how many people were reading my blog. It took me an hour, but I figured out how to insert the hieroglyphic-looking code into my theme and opened up my analytics page.
I found out there were about seven people reading my blog. That’s it? I thought. That started me on a quest to figure out how to get more people to read my blog.
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.
In the movies, inspiration strikes the writer, and then a montage of the writer banging away on his or her chosen instrument flashes by, ending with a completed masterpiece that shares the writer’s soul with the world. Sadly, the reality is not like the movies. Sometimes the stories rip through your fingers like your hands are possessed; but more often, putting a story into words feels like yanking your teeth out of your head. It’s all too easy to get stuck in writer’s block.
When that happens, there’s nothing more we want to do than give up on the story and start over. But we can’t. We have to push through and finish it.
If you’ve ever had the middle of a manuscript sag and feel flabby, congrats. You’re a writer! One of the questions I ask when get stuck in the middle of a manuscript is this: “How can I make this worse for this character?” One of the key elements you might use is the very thing we try so hard to avoid on a daily basis: abrasive people.
How can an abrasive character push your character’s arc, keep the plot moving, and deepen the theme? Read on to find out.
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.