Writing

Foreshadowing vs. Telegraphing

Today I thought I’d talk about an aspect of novel-crafting that I don’t see addressed very often, even though I deal with it all the time when editing novels. It’s the technique of foreshadowing and its black-sheep cousin, telegraphing. Foreshadowing is when you purposely drop tiny hints about what’s going to happen later in the…
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Writing a First Draft

National Novel Writing Month started yesterday, so those of you who are participating… what are you doing reading this blog??? For those who don’t know what this is, you can go to the NaNoWriMo site here and learn all about it. The point is to write a 50,000 word novel between Nov. 1 and Nov.…
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Back to Basics

One of the questions writers ask me is “How do you know in the first couple of pages whether you’re interested in a writer?” Sometimes I stumble when trying to answer because there’s no pat answer. It’s a combination of strong writing, a topic or setting that interests me, a character (or two) that I…
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The Exclamation Point!!!

(And Other Annoying Devices) When I was an editor, I found myself the heartless eliminator of exclamation points!!! Seriously, I developed a hatred for them! People tend to WAY overuse them! Not to mention italics and bold, and that oh-so-effective use of ALL CAPS!!!!!!! Here’s a hint to avoid coming across as amateur: Use the…
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Is Your MC Proactive or Reactive?

This week I’ve been writing on topics that were brought to the forefront of my mind when I was at the ACFW conference and spoke with dozens of writers about their books. Today I want to talk about your protagonist, or MC (main character). I’ll make this brief: Your MC must be proactive and make…
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Tell Me the STORY

One thing I’ve noticed lately in fiction pitches – verbal pitches or queries – is that some writers want to tell all about the theme or the emotional journey of the story, but they have a hard time conveying the actual story. Every novel has a theme. There’s a character arc, in which a character…
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School of Write

Mary Bailey wrote: “What discourages me is the huge emphasis on continuing education, joining writer’s groups, attending conferences, etc. This really puts a crunch in the budget!” Good point, Mary. Believe me, I understand about having a tight budget. But this is one of those times when I will encourage you to make a paradigm…
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Tighten Up Your Manuscript!

There comes a time in every writer’s life when an editor requires them to reduce their word count. Ack! Not my precious words! Even if an editor hasn’t asked you to do this, most writers would benefit from tightening up their manuscripts before submission. (I, for one, would appreciate it. ) But how do you…
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Write Another Book!

Yesterday I talked about the importance of working on your writing as opposed to spending time on social networking. This is crucial if you’re an unpublished fiction writer. It seems I’ve been having this conversation with so many people lately… both authors and editors. It’s come up several times in my conversations with editors at…
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Word Counts: My Aha Moment

Lately I’ve been incorporating interval training into my workouts. When I’m at the gym, I use the interval setting on the treadmill. When I’m outside jogging with Reagan and my iPod, I alternate a faster and slower pace. Since it’s annoying to look at my watch, I use music to time my intervals. I might…
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Ask the Agent: Writing in Multiple Genres

One of the most common questions I receive is: Can I write books in more than one genre? Well, sure, write whatever you want! Can I write books in multiple genres and expect to build a successful publishing career? No. A lot of people have asked me this question, and they don’t understand my answer.…
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The Passion of the Writer

I have just come from a superbowl party after watching that AMAZING game. Apologies to all you sports haters, but I am going to use a football metaphor in today’s post. You know I love pop culture – and the superbowl is about as pop as it gets. And wasn’t that an EXCITING last few…
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10 Exercises To Make You a Better Writer

or Get You Out of a Rut* 1. Read a chapter of your WIP aloud to someone other than your spouse, your children, or your cat. Invite feedback, if you’re brave. But mostly, just listen as you read. Do the words flow easily, roll nicely off the tongue? Do you stumble anywhere? Anything sound awkward?…
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The Telling Detail

Since we’ve been on this topic of Showing vs. Telling, I wanted to highlight an important tool at your disposal when you’re working on “showing.” Ironically, it’s called the Telling Detail. The Telling Detail is a word, phrase, or image that helps the reader “see” what you’re describing. It must be precise and illuminating, and…
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