The Best Writing Advice I Ever Recieved

I once spent a year learning the art of chopping in China.

Why you ask? Why not! Actually it was a cultural misunderstanding as I was under the impression I’d be learning to make Chinese food. You can imagine my disappointment and horror when my teacher brought in a live duck and slit its throat it in front of us the first week of school. This was not what I signed up for.

Life experiences

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Fight Scenes: A Break in Action

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How long does a movie’s intense action scene last? It’s not just “Bang, pow; kick, punch, roll, jump,” without pause; movies throw in little “breathers” of comedy or surprise so that the audience can take a breath or laugh to relieve the build-up of tension. Then they go back to building it up again. This way the audience’s excitement doesn’t peak and then fall, but rather is built up in smaller increments, like an up-hill hike. You might want to run the whole distance, but you’d end up burning out without breaks. However, if you time your breaks strategically, you can build up your momentum and finish with a feeling of accomplishment, rather than collapsing in relief that you’re done. So how do you do this in fiction?

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How to Confidently Name Your Characters

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Names. They’re usually the first piece of personal information you learn about a person. And they have so much power. As parents, the names we give our children (real or hypothetical) shape an essential part of who they ultimately become. It could ruin their lives.

Is that a slightly dramatic assessment? Maybe. But I’m a writer. And a theater nerd. Being dramatic is part of my DNA. Continue reading

5 Ways to Write Killer Descriptions

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When crafted well, descriptions are a powerful way to draw the reader into your world by making it realistic, believable and lovable. When done poorly, readers skim over the paragraph or worse, close the book and doom it to that dark corner of the bookshelf. All your hard work, coffee, sweat and tears are gone in an instant.

Writers tend to fall into one of two camps. Overloading the senses with trivial information, or on the other hand, not adding enough realistic detail. According to Robert McKee in his book Story, “At one end of reality is pure fact; at the other end, pure imagination. Spanning these two poles is the infinitely varied spectrum of fiction.” Where do you find your own writing?

Here we will cover five ways to span this infinitely varied spectrum to help you develop your craft.

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Four Critical Tools for Editing Your Way to Success

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What comes to mind when you think about the editing process? If the mere word “Editing” makes you want to hide under your comforters, or find a boat and sail off the face of the earth, I understand. Or maybe you’re a super planner and love the editing process and have all sorts of handy excel charts mapping your progress.

No matter what your feelings are regarding the editing process, there are tools and tips that can help.
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Crafting Sensational Moods for a Scene

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It’s early morning and snow is falling fast and wet outside the warehouse windows. Apart from the whoosh of the occasional car and the steady hum of the ventilation, it is quiet as the green coffee beans wait in burlap sacks for the roaster. She arrives in a wet beanie, cursing cheerfully at Mondays and the weather, and the dusty smell of husks and paper is overtaken by something sweeter curling up through the stale air—the bloom of coffee roasting.* Continue reading

Advanced World Building Tips

world-building-101If you’re anything like me, then you’ll know that the closer you get to a story the harder it is to objectively question it. You’ve spent so much time there and it works so well in your brain that it’s hard to take that mental step back and look for problems.

I’ve already talked about the importance of stress testing a world (see my first article on world building) but we haven’t covered the best ways to start questioning your world and finding the breaking points. Continue reading