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Jacqui Murray

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Top 10 Tips for Writers in 2016. Every week (well, most weeks), I share a tip with writers, a trick that makes a big difference in the rhythm and feel of a novel.

Top 10 Tips for Writers in 2016

Some, you can make use of immediately. Others, file away for that cranky day when your writing limps along and you don’t know why. Here are the Top Ten Writer’s Tips, according to readers: Here are the Top Ten Tech Tips for Writers, according to my readers: If you were asked to give a new writer one tip, what would that be? Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman. Plotting a Story–with a Spreadsheet. I wrote a post a while back about how I plot my story using Excel.

Plotting a Story–with a Spreadsheet

I use the columns to keep track of days, locations, characters and action and the rows to move the story forward, keep track of plot lines that need to be followed through and collect pictures to help me visualize my scenes. I shared my secret to plotting with a writer I respect at a conference and she was aghast that I would use such a rigid approach to a creative endeavor like writing. One of my loyal readers, Christian Payne, commented that JK Rowling uses the same approach and sent me her plotting spreadsheet. 35 Weird Traits Your Characters May Have. Descriptors. How to Describe Nature. I like to collect descriptions other people have of life.

How to Describe Nature

I keep them on a big spreadsheet that I’m constantly updating. I read a lot and I pay attention to how my fellow authors get their ideas across, how they create pictures of scenery from their words. I’m in awe of people like Peter Matthiessen with his nature descriptions and Margaret Meade with her emotion-invoking portraits of people. Writers Tip #71: How to Write a Novel. Writers Tips #94: 9 Writing Tips From James Frey. Writers Tip #93: 16 Query Tips From Agents. 44 Ways to Show the Passage of Time. Time is a big deal in writing.

44 Ways to Show the Passage of Time

How to Describe a Character’s Neighborhood. A character’s neighborhood provides the opportunity to tell us about him/her without narrative.

How to Describe a Character’s Neighborhood

People live where they’re comfortable, so how you describe the protagonist or antagonist’s home town will reflect his values, beliefs, passions. When your character is out and about, take the opportunity to describe his neighbors, what he notices around him, the traffic–vehicles and foot, the flora and fauna, the rhythm of his world. Does he live amidst spreading estates or in a cluttered old apartment complex? Are homes stately and old or nouveau riche? 29 Ways to Describe a Headache. Because I suffer from chronic, unrelenting headaches, I have characters in my stories who do.

29 Ways to Describe a Headache

And, I like to see how other authors describe this sort of pervasive, life-altering pain. How do they effectively communicate a misery truly only understood by other people who get them? For example, I had a neurologist once tell me that he worked with headaches so I could too. Clearly, the unrelenting monster in his skull had chewed through his bedside manner. Writers tips.

For the next few months, weekly writing tips will revolve around word choice.

writers tips

That includes: colorful and original descriptions pithy words and phrases picture nouns and action verbs writing that draws a reader in and addicts them to your voice I keep a collection of descriptions that have pulled me into the books. I’m fascinated … Continue reading Martha Alderson’s Blockbuster Plots: Pure and Simple (Illusion Press 2004) presents step-by-step strategies to build your story, maximize the impact of scenes and provide depth to the plot. She focuses not on the ordinary plot, but the one that will push you to the top of the pile, make your book a must-read among all … Continue reading. WordDreams... This is the next in the occasional “How to Write Descriptions” series.

WordDreams...

WordDreams... Martha Alderson’s Blockbuster Plots: Pure and Simple (Illusion Press 2004) presents step-by-step strategies to build your story, maximize the impact of scenes and provide depth to the plot.

WordDreams...

She focuses not on the ordinary plot, but the one that will push you to the top of the pile, make your book a must-read among all … Continue reading When you read your story, does it sound off, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know you’ve done something wrong? Sometimes–maybe even lots of times–there are simple fixes. These writer’s tips will come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make … Continue reading This post is for Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group (click the link for details on what that means and how to join. This is updated from the last posting on this topic on 7/15/11. WordDreams... WordDreams... When you read your story, does it sound off, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know you’ve done something wrong?

WordDreams...

Sometimes–maybe even lots of times–there are simple fixes. These writer’s tips will come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make … Continue reading Any writer who has come of age in the era of social media knows authors do a lot more than write books. We have three big jobs: writing–includes our WIP, blog posts, articles, freelance work–anything that gets our name out there as a writer and lets us practice our art.

WordDreams... Descriptors. Here’s my list of what non-clinical depression looks like. Think of these as indicative of sadness. A note: These are for inspiration only. They can’t be copied because they’ve been pulled directly from an author’s copyrighted manuscript (intellectual property is immediately copyrighted when published). Depressed Her high cheekbones were sunken. Her eyes were dark circles … Continue reading Ever since William Shakespeare said: “The Eyes are the window to your soul” … people have been trying to decode ever glitter, wrinkle, squint, and gaze that passes from those orbs. People have lots of different ways to talk. Over half of our communication is done with body language, not words. Characters. Over half of our communication is done with body language, not words. I study it so I can characterize the people in my books–their actions, hand gestures, facial expressions–and it has taught me a lot about reading people’s interior monologue–those ideas they don’t want to share, but inadvertently do.

Even the best speakers have a … Continue reading This is the next in the occasional “How to Write Descriptions” series. If you’re a writer, you know what I mean. You can’t just say, The dog laid down at my feet and fell asleep.