Writing Exercises: Why do we use them, and do we need them?

There are some great stories of writing exercises out there that have changed writers’ lives, styles, even dreams. Some are simply interesting, and a few make you wonder why we do these at all. In my final writing course, our...

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Worldbuilding for Realistic Fiction

I am proud to admit I write in many genres. I've been known to write light-hearted fantasy, speculative/science fiction, lite horror, a little supernatural, period realistic fiction, and contemporary fiction. People seem surprised when I say I use worldbuilding...

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Skipping Time in Your Story

Some stories take a lifetime to tell. Well, they would if we didn’t use narrative pacing to make sure we hit the best parts while not leaving out important details. Consider trying to tell the story of a person. Biographies...

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Sure Growth and the Psychology of Practice

How to Become a Great Writer (no, seriously, this is how) This post is directly inspired by a recent Freakonomics podcast titled How to Become Great at Just About Anything. Tantalizing premise, isn’t it? Most of us have heard of...

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Object Lessons: Learning from Literary Short Fiction

I’ve recently picked up Object Lessons: The Paris Review Presents the Art of the Short Story and the first few stories got me thinking. This isn’t just any anthology. It’s geared toward writing instruction, marketed to aspiring writers looking...

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Podcast Alert! Writing Excuses

This is a busy time of year! As you know, I’m an advocate of writers having day jobs if the situation fits for them, and I follow that path myself. At this point, it’s not a choice so much as a...

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Creative Writing Tools: Maps

Maps support a story. This doesn’t necessarily mean providing readers with a map of your world will make it better, but maps are a powerful tool for consistency and inspiration during the writing and revision process. Fantasy writers often aspire...

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Feed Inspiration with Sources for Random Knowledge

Reading is wonderful. Writing wouldn’t be an industry without people for whom reading is a large part of their mental input. Fabulous as reading is, a well-rounded diet of information is critical for creativity and developing healthy intelligence. Stories, facts, history,...

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5 Questions for Tackling Big Issues

"Write about something you feel strongly about." "Write about what disturbs you." "Don't shy away from writing something difficult." This common piece of advice appears phrased dozens of ways. The first time I heard it was from a middle school English teacher in...

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Plot Twists: Expanding Your World

Story structures require control of perception and the element of surprise. Plotting is all about retaining and releasing information to create dramatic and purposeful connections between the elements of the story. Plot twists (here simply defined as revelatory moments that...

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