Spring is almost here, which means it’s almost time to spring clean. Spring cleaning isn’t only good for cluttered houses, but for cluttered minds, as well. As writers, it’s important to learn new skills so long as it’s not at the expense of polishing old ones. Spring is the perfect time to do take a look at your writing and do some review. Here are five things you can do to avoid falling into bad habits.
What if there was one thing you could change about your writing that could almost instantly make it better?
There is! There is a storytelling element that I’ve seen as an entrant and judge of multiple fiction contests that makes stories work and win, standing out above the rest.
And that single, difference-making element is a Powerful Choice.
Writing sequels is difficult. The Marvel Cinematic Universe currently consists of nineteen feature films, four network television weekly TV shows, and eight online streaming shows. Writing sequels to a genre-stretching side story that exists in a massive universe beloved by fans must be near impossible.
This weekend Jessica Jones season two dropped on Netflix. Whether you enjoy the show or not, there is a lot it can teach us about storytelling.
When I was a kid, I loved reading Choose-Your-Own-Adventure novels that had alternate paths written into the story. If you aren’t familiar with them, they were elementary or middle grade chapter books that begin a story and at key moments, offer the reader a choice: “To go through the portal, turn to page 37. To run away, turn to page 45.”
I loved seeing the story change with the choices, and I reread the books making different choices each time to experience a new story. I’ve channeled my inner adventurer to put together a fun prompt.
If you’re following along with our short story publication series, by now you should have a second draft. Now it’s time to get feedback and make that manuscript shine!
If you’re a writer, you’re also a reader. Reading amazing stories is the inspiration you need to write your own. And the stories you write are your gifts to other readers. This week, we’re giving away something that will be a boon to both your reading and writing. Enter now to win!
A couple of weeks ago, I saw the Marvel blockbuster Black Panther. I’m not a big superhero movie person, but I hear that that they generally involve a hero who saves the world. So imagine my surprise when I left the theater still thinking about Erik Killmonger — the villain.
I was sad for the villain. I was moved by the villain. I wasn’t rooting for him, but could understand why someone might want to. It got me thinking — what made Killmonger such a good villain, and how can that be translated to writing?
Don’t you love a great twist?
Often appearing in the middle or at the end of a story, a twist can completely transform the reading experience into a wild ride where anything can happen. But executing a twist isn’t easy, and if done improperly, can leave your reader feeling deeply disappointed.
And that’s just what many writers unsuspectingly do.
Let’s start with the obvious: You don’t know how to write a book. I’ve written seven books, and I don’t really know how to write a book either. I have a process that works, sure, but with writing, as with many things in life, it’s always when you think you know what you’re doing that you get into trouble.
So let’s just admit right now, you don’t know how to write a book, and definitely not in 100 days, and that’s okay. There, don’t you feel better?
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.
If you’re following along with our short story publication series, by now, you should have a publication in mind and have the answers to a couple basic questions. Maybe you brainstormed or did a full outline. Bonus points if you’ve got a draft! (But don’t worry if you don’t.)
Now pick up the pen and write the thing!
Occasionally, we grammar enthusiasts need to take a step back and lighten up a little bit. While there are some grammar rules that are hard and fast (I’m looking at you, comma splice), sometimes there is wiggle room (like the controversial claim that you can split infinitives). Today, we’re tackling another wiggly rule: is ending a sentence with a preposition okay?
Well, guess what? I’m here to liberate your pens and tell you that it’s okay for your protagonist to ask her cheating boyfriend who he was just with.
It’s President’s Day! I have the day off and will be celebrating by going to brunch and the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, which has the only complete collection of presidential portraits outside of the White House. I am also celebrating by drafting some President’s Day-inspired writing prompts.
Foreshadowing is a task writers have to approach with the same careful precision they use when threading a needle. It’s not always easy, but when done right, you’re in business. Hinting at a future revelation is necessary for authors of mystery novels, for example, but it’s useful for all writers looking to include a killer twist—no pun intended.
There is a book inside you. There has to be. Why else are you reading a post about writing a book?
Getting that book out, of course, is the extremely difficult part. The words don’t come out as we imagine. The time to write shrinks as life gets busier. And so many questions vex us — so many lies that we tell ourselves to avoid the challenge ahead.
But you have to write your book. It’s one of the greatest driving forces in your life. Here are the lies that might be holding you back, and the truths you need to overcome them.
Pretend you are an interviewer for a newspaper, a secret agent, or a novelist, and you are interviewing, or interrogating, a character for your story. Imagine the character is sitting in front of you, you have a new fifty sheet yellow writing pad and your favorite pencil your cat chewed, and you are about to ask them a list of questions.
Create a character by conducting an interview. Interview your character before you start writing so you can immerse yourself completely in who they are and what they stand for. Interview them and find out who they are.
We think of authors as loners. Locked in dark caves with nothing but their type-writers and a candles, they painstakingly pound out one word after another, bleeding on the page to create a story they hope the world will accept. This image couldn’t be further from the truth.
As John Donne wrote, “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” One way you can feel more like part of the main is by utilizing the tool of crowdsourcing.
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?
A lot of you have just finished participating in The Write Practice’s 7 Day Creative Writing Challenge. You’re pumped, inspired, enthused. You feel good about establishing a writing habit. Now what?
Now you write a short story and submit it.
This post is the first in a four-part series that will walk you through the process of planning, writing, and submitting a short story. At the end of the series, you’ll have a short story ready for submittal!
Here’s a secret: I’ve never been explicitly taught not to split infinitives (or to not split infinitives?). Surprise!
If that statement’s a shocking pronouncement, or if it makes no sense at all, never fear. Let’s take a step back and look at the long, illustrious history of split infinitives.