The beginning has two roles: a structural one and a functional one. Here, I present a way of thinking about the first act’s plot points that may help you reconcile the need to hook the reader with the need to portray the so-called “normal world” of the story.
Can’t make it to any writing retreats, conferences, or residencies? Then make your own. Here are the four steps for making a DIY writing retreat.
Guides for voice usually focus on diction and syntax as the main avenues to achieving voice, and it’s certainly true that messing with diction and syntax will get you some unique voice. But the true source of strong voice comes from a different source.
Do you take us to a point of conflict and then, rather than allow us to see it play out and get all worried about the outcome, you summarize it or just resolve it quickly? Stretching tension means you lengthen the scene but also make it more gripping. Don’t push the action off-stage or rush through it. Linger on the most tense moments of the story to maximize engagement.
How to approach revision when you dread it. Knowing the different levels of revision will help you know how to receive critiques, how to prioritize and plan your revision, and how to re-energize the process with enthusiasm and creativity.
Causality governs story events. You want your story to feel authentic, believable, and seamless. You don’t want any of the events or reactions within the story to draw attention to themselves. They must be earned. This article examines common failures to earn story developments.
To avoid flat dialogue scenes, learn to triangulate the characters’ interaction with a lower-order goal.
“Escalating complications” is my preferred term for what’s commonly known as “rising action.” What is rising action? And how can you use it to maintain reader engagement in the middles of your scenes and stories? We take a lesson from iguanas and snakes here.
Is it better to format character thoughts with quote marks or italics? I say neither. No special formatting is necessary to signify character thinking. You just need some solid narration.
Should you use synonyms for “said”? Some writing advice claims “said is dead”; others look disparagingly upon “saidisms,” the fancier cousins of “said.” Here’s the rule of thumb.