How to Straighten Your Story’s Spine

Sometimes I write a story where lots of exciting stuff happens, my protagonist is proactive and has a goal, and I’m hitting all the right beats (if you don’t know what those are, check out this post on the 15 Story Beats), yet the story still feels flat. What’s wrong? What am I missing? The …
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6 Ways to End a Book in a Series

It’s not surprising that many writers want to create a book series. A series will often sell more books, and they can be faster and easier to write. Writing a series is such a big deal it’s not uncommon to hear aspiring novelists, many of them still working on the first draft of their first …
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12 Tips to avoid Overwriting

Overwriting is a common problem for new writers. Even experienced writers can fall victim to the issue. It’s something, as a reader, that drives me nuts. It’s also something I’m guilty of needing friendly reminders about in my own early drafts. Overwriting is defined as: a tendency to write too much, or too ornately. A …
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5 Reasons to Track Questions & Answers in Your Novel

This week while flushing out my novel’s outline, I decided to track where I raised and answered questions in the story. Why? Because questions are crucial to a good story; they ensure it has enough intrigue and suspense to keep readers reading. Have you ever set down a book and not been compelled to pick …
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Solutions for Common Writing Mistakes: Runaway Word Counts

Recently I read a post in the Guardian. They interviewed some of the top editors in children’s fiction to discover the most common mistakes made by new writers. {I’ve included a few of the Guardian quotes here, but I recommended reading the full piece.} The article is illuminating, and it turns out almost every single …
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Test That Scene – Cut or Revise?

A month ago I wrote a post called Test That Scene – Is It Essential or Filler? The basics of it are this: No Filler Test Question #1 – If deleted, will the reader still be able to follow the story? If yes, you’ve got filler! Question #2 – What is different by the end …
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Writing Tips for 1st Person POV

First person POV has its advantages and its drawbacks. If you love it, and many writers do, you know one of the biggest issues is the overuse of personal pronouns. If you’re not paying attention, you can end up with long passages where every other sentence starts with the same word. In those rare instances …
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X is for X-Ray

What does “x-ray” have to do with writing craft? I didn’t choose it just because I needed an “X” word for the #AtoZChallenge, or because I already used “x-rated” for last year’s post (X-Rated: Should YA Books Have a Rating System?), but because all writers need to be able to check the spine of their …
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Tired Sentences? Put Your Prose To The Test

Every writer wants to create prose packed with energy and vitality. They know dull, lifeless writing disappoints the reader. Tired sentences are often the cornerstone of bad prose. They disrupt the flow and bore the reader. Take these tests and find out if your sentences pass, or if you’re writing tired sentences. Same Sentence Starts: …
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Self-Editing Redux: Spot Checking

I’m in the final stages of polishing my latest manuscript and going through my checklist for those tiny little nits that always manage to slip through. Rather than doing a complete read-through for like the millionth time (which at some point becomes counter-productive because you know it too well), I pick random passages and scrutinize …
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