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Stuck on a Scene? Try This Trick. By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy Unless you’re very, very lucky, at some point in your writing you’re going to get stuck.

Stuck on a Scene? Try This Trick

You’ve written yourself into a corner, you can’t figure out how to get your protagonist where she needs to go, or maybe you just have no idea what the conflict is supposed to be. You sit at the keyboard and grow more and more frustrated by the minute. It’s not writer’s block—you can write, but the novel has stalled and you don’t know what to do to get it moving again. You’re simply stuck because you’ve run out of writing options (or any good writing options). Go back to the last time the character made a decision and have her choose something else. If the story has stopped, it could be caused by a choice that sent the protagonist down a plot dead end.

That decision point might be earlier in the scene, or several chapters back. Writing Contests: How to Write to Win. By Nancy Sakaduski, @localbeachreads Part of the Indie Authors Column JH: Please help me welcome Nancy Sakaduski to the lecture hall today, to share some tips, tricks, and insights on how indie authors (and anyone else for that matter), can use short story contests to gain credit, get visibility, and promote their work.

Writing Contests: How to Write to Win

Nancy Sakaduski is the award-winning writer and editor who owns Cat & Mouse Press and runs the Rehoboth Beach Short Story Contest. Do You Suffer From NWS?: Living With Nice Writer Syndrome. By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy Do you love your characters?

Do You Suffer From NWS?: Living With Nice Writer Syndrome

Do you wish nothing bad would ever happen to them? Then you might suffer from Nice Writer Syndrome. Revealing a Character's Past Without Falling Into Backstory. By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy This week's Refresher Friday takes another look at avoiding backstory, while still showing a character's history.

Revealing a Character's Past Without Falling Into Backstory

A character's past is important to her character arc, but it's an area that can easily turn into messy backstory or even infodump if we're not careful. Information is dropped in because it has to go somewhere, and getting it out of the way quickly lets us get to the story faster. Real Life Diagnostics: Diagnosing a Story Idea. Critique By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy Real Life Diagnostics is a weekly column that studies a snippet of a work in progress for specific issues.

Real Life Diagnostics: Diagnosing a Story Idea

Readers are encouraged to send in work with questions, and I diagnose it on the site. It’s part critique, part example, and designed to help the submitter as well as anyone else having a similar problem. If you're interested in submitting to Real Life Diagnostics, please check out these guidelines. 5 Ways to Fix Too-Perfect Characters. Real Life Diagnostics: Fixing Your Pacing and Narrative Flow. Critique By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy Real Life Diagnostics is a weekly column that studies a snippet of a work in progress for specific issues.

Real Life Diagnostics: Fixing Your Pacing and Narrative Flow

Readers are encouraged to send in work with questions, and I diagnose it on the site. It’s part critique, part example, and designed to help the submitter as well as anyone else having a similar problem. Writing Dialogue: 4 Ways to Avoid Floating Head Syndrome! Dialogue is wonderful, but it can be an area that readers can get lost in if not done well.

Writing Dialogue: 4 Ways to Avoid Floating Head Syndrome!

White rooms, talking heads, confusing speakers--and to help clear up those fuzzy, yet chatty, areas, Bryn Donovan takes the podium to share some tips on floating head syndrome. . She has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona, and she blogs at bryndonovan.com. How to Punch Up Your Action Scenes. By Alex Limberg, @RidethePen Part of the How They Do It Series I'm a huge fan of action, both in movies and in novels.

How to Punch Up Your Action Scenes

Set Up or Start Up? Making Critical Character Traits Part of Your Plot. By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy This week's Refresher Friday takes another look at how to show what's special about your protagonist without it feeling like an infodump.

Set Up or Start Up? Making Critical Character Traits Part of Your Plot

Every protagonist has something unique about them, otherwise we wouldn’t have picked them as our protagonist. This "thing" is often what gets them into trouble and makes the story happen. It’s central to who they are, which means there’s a pretty good chance it’ll be on the cover copy or in the query. Picking a Piece Apart & Plucking The Gems: Thoughts On The Killing—The Techniques That Make It Sensational (And How To Steal Them, Of Course!) By Bonnie Randall Special Guest Author I think all of us writers read books and watch films with a critical yet deeply appreciative eye.

Picking a Piece Apart & Plucking The Gems: Thoughts On The Killing—The Techniques That Make It Sensational (And How To Steal Them, Of Course!)

Storming the Brain: Coming Up With Ideas. By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy This week's Refresher Friday takes another look (now with links!) At ways to get the muse working and find the story in your ideas. Enjoy! My husband and I play “what if?” What's Their Story? Discovering the Front Story of Your Non-Point of View Characters. By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy I've talked about how helpful it was to write the backstory for my characters. That exercise went so well, I decided to write the front story for them (totally my term here). Find out what they planned to do with all that history I had given them. The front story is basically that character's role in the book and what they're doing when the protagonist isn't around. What they want, what they're worried about, how they feel about the events that are happening in the novel, etc.

As I went through this exercise, I found some characters had short paragraphs if they didn't do much, while others had pages of information. Looking at the book from different character's perspective gave me some new perspectives as well. Second Fiddle, Sweeter Music—Using Secondary Characters To Give Your Novel A Bigger Feel. By Bonnie Randall Special Guest Author Two things I love as a writer and a reader: deep, emotionally wrought stories, and authentic, rich characters. I am a firm believer that a novel is only as deep as the characters who populate it and, having spent a lifetime reading, a fair chunk of it writing, and devoting a lot of time studying reflections of those who craft great prose, the following are my thoughts on employing secondary characters to give your book greater, richer depth. 1.

Understanding Your Hero’s Life BEFORE the Journey Begins. By Rachel Funk Heller, @RchelFunkHeller Part of the How They Do It Series Characters don't exist in a vacuum, and while we don't want to tell readers every single thing that ever happened to them, it's a good idea for us writers to know the life-shaping events of our characters' pasts. Rachel Funk Heller visits the lecture hall today to show why those early days of a character's life are so vital (and helpful) to your story and plot. Rachael began her career as a journalist and worked as an independent television writer/producer for over two decades. She is a former CNN producer who worked in both the Atlanta headquarters and the Washington D.C. bureau. Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble. Writing Basics: The Midpoint Reversal. By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy For a while now, we’ve looked at the basic of the major turning points in the Three Act Structure.

So far, we’ve discussed how the opening scene leads to the inciting event, which leads to the act one problem, and presents the protagonist with the act two choice. That choice throws the story into the middle of the novel, and will drive the protagonist to the midpoint reversal. The results of the midpoint reversal will drive the second half of the middle toward the end of act two and the beginning of the climax (see how this all builds upon each other? This is why structure works so well). Planning Your Plotting. By Chris Eboch, @Kris_Bock. The Difference Between Setup and Setup. Atmospheric Pressure: Employing The Four Seasons To Enhance Atmosphere. Under Development: Ways to Create Characters. How to Set Tone and Mood in Your Scenes. Why "Start With the Action" Messes Up So Many Writers. Questions for Your Beta Readers – and To Focus Your Own Revisions.

By Jodie Renner, editor & author; @JodieRennerEdPart of the Indie Author Series So you’ve completed the first draft of your novel? Congratulations! Real Life Diagnostics: Start With the Action, or the Characters? Form Fitting: Using Story Structure to Your Advantage. Create More Story Depth With Mini Arcs. Deciding What to Put in Your Query Letter. Make the Most of Accidental Foreshadowing. Description Tip: Making “Sense” of Your Characters. Is Your Description Helping Your Story or Holding it Back?

10 Traits of a Great Protagonist. The Inner Struggle: Guides for Using Inner Conflict That Make Sense. The First 250 Words of Your Manuscript. Cover Me, I'm Going Back: Tips on Writing Flashbacks. Study the Pros: Map Your Favorite Novel. Ten Reasons Why You Should Write Historical Fiction.

31 Days Preparing Draft

Writing Basics. Reader's Pet Peeves. NaNoWriMo Prep.