Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Writing Tips’ Category

Which comes first, the character or the plot? For me, that’s an easy question to answer. There are so many characterscharacter sketch roaming around inside my head that I would have to admit characters are my first love in fiction writing. And from my characters, my plot evolves. All I need to do is put my characters in difficult situations and watch them work their way out and—voila!—instant plot.

Even so, many writers love their characters a little too much; a writing crime of which I’ve certainly been guilty. It’s painful to watch a character you’ve developed, someone you feel a genuine fondness for, suffer. Yet your characters have to run into some trouble if you’re going to tell a good story. And above all, they must be “human”—they’ve got to have flaws.

(more…)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Preying on the Weak (Verbs)

felt, looked, seemed…

They’re the most basic of verbs–the ones used to identify a state of being. We sometimes need them in our writing, and a story without them might well be florid and over-the-top. But an excess of weak verbs sucks the energy from a story. A good writer learns to stalk those weak verbs like prey and cull them from the literary herd.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

What’s it All About?

Originally published in Fiction Fix Newsletter, November, 2001


Do you know the difference between a story and an anecdote? Unless you plan on selling little “slice of life” vignettes toStorytelling magazines like Reader’s Digest and Woman’s Day for the rest of your writing career, you’d better. Merriam-Webster defines an anecdote as “a usually short narrative of an interesting, amusing, or biographical incident.” Sounds similar to a story, right? Stories are narratives, and they certainly should be interesting. They can be amusing or biographical. Sometimes they’re even about a single incident. In fact, you could wrap the word anecdote around just about any piece of fiction and tug at it until it fit. But as a fiction writer, you might be wise to consider the etymology of anecdote, which comes from the Greek anekdota, meaning “unpublished items.” (more…)

Read Full Post »

The following was originally published in Fiction Fix Newsletter in January, 2002.


We talk every day. We hold conversations wherever we go–at work, outConversation shopping, or at home with our families. You could say we’re all experts at casual chatter. Why, then, do many writers find dialog so difficult to write?I’ve always been a whiz at making characters converse. But when people ask me how I do it I find myself stumped. How can I explain something that comes naturally? It wasn’t as if I ever had to learn it; I just do it. So I started thinking about how I write dialog, trying to bring forth some of the techniques I subconsciously use, and rules I instinctively follow. This is what I came up with.
(more…)

Read Full Post »