Track Your Work, Grow Your Words

Writing, as a hobby, art, and profession, tends to wear dysfunction like a badge of honor. I don’t think it should. And neither should reading, come to think of it. Writers looking to improve productivity are a favorite target for...

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What Started Everything “Once Upon A Time”? Working with Inciting Incidents

Refining your inciting incident is really a portion of revision, though meticulous planners can always put this in with their preparations. I’ll be showing my love of science here, though in a very simple and albeit vocabulary-centered way. If a...

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Exploring the Biodome Trope… since we really built one.

Alright sci-fi fans… I hate to burst bubbles here. We’re a long way from self-sustaining bases in space, and especially far from them on other planets. Thankfully we have fiction! In our little fun worlds, we can accept that...

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“Can I write about this?” – Yes, on one condition.

People love classifying other people. Our minds are happily oriented around patterns, but when it comes to making sense of others, especially those who are different than us, we get into trouble. Writers who want to tell a story...

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Writing Fan Fiction

The writing community has some wide-ranging opinions about fan fiction, and many people who write it themselves have conflicted feelings. “Is this stealing?” some ask. Others grapple with how much time they spend on it wondering, “Is this a...

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No Excuses. A year long writing course for free.

This will sound like a commercial. It sort of is, but it’s a recommendation made out of respect, gratitude, and a deep love for the Writing Excuses podcast. For the last three years, this crew of well-esteemed and staggeringly talented...

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Setting Up an In-person Writing Group

I'm a member of the American Night Writers Association (ANWA). It’s a writing organization I dearly love. I've grown so much since joining. It's relatively small, and I’m a bit in the minority as far as my genre goes,...

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Keep Your Focus on Character for High Stakes Dialogue

I’m currently reading a book recommended in a professional training course. This book, and I do recommend it, is called Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High. While reading, I just can’t help but look at the theories...

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Learning from Writing Groups: Down Memory Lane

When shopping around for the right in-person writing group for you, I hope you can learn from my experience. I'm no expert, but (after some reflection) I've been in a variety of them. Here are the four types I've experienced,...

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Grammar is Not Dead

A Parade reader sent in a question to the Ask Marilyn column, disillusioned with the importance of learning grammar in this modern age. Her response was wonderful, especially this line: “Less-than-excellent grammar dooms one to a life of being misunderstood.” I’m...

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