Story Planning

For the time being, I have given up pantsing. It’s only been successful for me with a handful of short stories (around the 5K mark). With longer books, I end up with first drafts that either go unfinished and languish in a drawer somewhere, or first drafts that are a pile of mush, plot-wise, and […]

Read More

How to write a compelling first line, paragraph, or page

It’s no secret. Writing the opening sentences, paragraphs, and pages of a book is hard. I read a lot of book beginnings, not just because I read a lot of books but because, as a Kindle user with a seemingly endless number of books available at the press of a button, I read a lot […]

Read More

Sprinkling in Details in Our Writing: How much to share—and when

Some of the best writing advice I’ve ever received didn’t come out of a creative writing workshop. No, I learned it at the copy desk of my college newspaper, where I spent each Saturday hunched over pages with a colored pen, making news article polished and shiny and ready for the world. (UPDATE: I’m not […]

Read More

5 traits of compelling characters

As writers, we know we have to create characters our readers will love—even if that means creating characters our readers will love to hate. I think Dolores Umbridge in J.K. Rowling’s “The Order of the Phoenix” is a great character. That doesn’t mean I want to have tea with her (afraid she’ll slip me some […]

Read More

Writing Exercise: Imagining our readers to find our writing voices

Recently, while researching the concept of voice in writing, I came across this blog post on The Adventurous Writer. One piece of advice the post offered was to “picture one specific reader and write to him or her.” The author suggests that as we write we imagine “one specific reader—one that [we’re] not trying to […]

Read More

5 Lessons All Writers Can Learn from Romantic Suspense Authors

When I was working on revising and tightening the plot of my first paranormal romance novel, MADE OF SHADOWS, I read a lot of romantic suspense. Though most of the books I read didn’t have paranormal elements (but some did), I learned plenty from reading tightly written books that packed heat and romantic tension in […]

Read More

Rules for English Majors: What to do with an English degree

One of the favorite questions to ask a college student is, “So, what’s your major?” This is usually followed by, “What are your plans after you graduate?” With today’s talk about student-loan debt bubbles, high unemployment or under-employment rates for recent graduates, and the rising cost of a college education, the value of a college […]

Read More

Researching Setting for Fiction Writers

I remember when, in the midst of finishing up my thesis (a labor of love), someone said that doing a creative thesis must be easy because it didn’t require any research. What? I was floored. I’d done a lot of research for that manuscript, and I continue to. Even writing a fantasy novel requires research. […]

Read More