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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Writing Eccentric Characters

Who doesn’t love an eccentric? Of course, there’s a line between “eccentric” characters and “messed up” ones, just like people. I’ve been wanting to explore the subject of eccentric characters for a while, but watching Hello, Dolly! over Labor Day weekend...

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The Plot Skeleton

It was my turn this month to do a “lesson” in my writing group. Always fun! I’ve been writing the Art of Stories blog for two years, so I never lack for material. I was especially excited this time...

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No New Ideas? Part Two: Blame the Producers

(reposted from Art of Stories, 16 April 2015) There are two sides to every argument, but in the case of “Are there no new ideas?” the debate has more to its answer than a simple yes or no. Wondering, philosophically,...

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No New Ideas? Part One: Blame The Artists

(reposted from Art of Stories, 13 April 2015) Many debate over the nature of creative writing, especially when major trends become obvious, and popularity causes a market flood of a particular genre or topic. The culture associated with writing and...

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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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Note Card Plotting: Unwrapped

One of the more recognizable plotting methods out there is Note card Plotting. The idea of physically carrying and rearranging ideas appeals especially well to hands-on or visual writers, though the specifics of the method vary. Note Card Plotting General Method:...

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Planning a Novel: Types and Tools

Planning a story can be a minefield of distraction. Large works, like novels and series, often benefit from setting structures for the story. Even small works, short stories and poems, show improvement when preparation is done for the content,...

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