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.
Dialogue is an essential part of storytelling. We all know our characters speak to express themselves, and effective dialogue says a lot more than just the information conveyed—it also shows your character’s personality, range of knowledge, and their current state in the story.
But do you find that your characters sometimes drone on and on without getting to a point? Or that it seems to take a lot of words to get to the single idea you’re trying to get to? Or maybe you sometimes lose control of the exchange and find you don’t know which way to direct the conversation.
The problem is usually that your dialogue has too much “fluff.” Fluffy dialogue tends to slow down the story and bore the reader. But fear not; there are a few simple ways to remedy this.
Whether I’ve blown it at work or reacted poorly at home (hypothetically of course), I often need a fresh start. Why? Because I’m human and I have a tendency to get in a rut. Sometimes my ruts are grounded in bad habits or faulty beliefs.
It’s not great for me as a human being, but it’s terrific for fiction. The first step to making a fresh start for me or my characters? Figuring out our default settings.
Life happens. There are new jobs, new babies, new houses. There’s an increased workload at work, a major house project, a mental block. There are a ton of things that might get you out of your writing groove. It happens to the best of us.
If this has happened to you, no matter how long you haven’t written, here are some tips to help you start writing again.
You just want to tell a story in the best way you know how. You work hard to express yourself, observing the rules of grammar you’ve been taught. But what if those rules aren’t really rules?
here is far more to description than comparison and adjectives. Have you ever felt your writing is flat, despite how many beautiful words you use? Do you feel that you’ve described everything to death, and yet the scene doesn’t feel alive?
The trouble is often an overuse of adjectives and adverbs. Luckily, there is an easy fix—use verbs instead.
When you’re a part of a writing community filled with great critique partners, you’ll be the happy recipient of lots of feedback on your writing. Sometimes it’s obvious how and when you should address the issues the feedback brings up.
But not all feedback is created equal, and often it can be overwhelming to know what feedback items you should address first or last, or whether you should address certain ones at all. Should you address every nitpick and complaint? Could your readers possibly be incorrect?
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.
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.
I’m talking about subtext.
If you are planning on writing a story, there is something you need to consider besides basic plot structure. You need to determine your Inciting Incident.
What incident will compel your protagonist to act, prompting them to move through a meaningful story?
Let’s take a look at what an inciting incident is and how to write one.
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!
As an editor, point of view problems are among the top mistakes I see inexperienced writers make, and they instantly erode credibility and reader trust.
However, point of view is simple to master if you use common sense.
This post will define point of view, go over each of the major POVs, explain a few of the POV rules, and then point out the major pitfalls writers make when dealing with that point of view.
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.