Learn to Write By Reading: Scene Structure

WriteOwls

WriteOwls

Successful writers say it all the time: To be a good writer, you need to be a good reader. So we challenge you to read more and to read outside of your comfort zone.

This month, find the underlying scene structure in the current book you’re reading. Good writers keep readers turning the pages by crafting one scene that builds on the next in an inevitable, but surprising way. As you read this month, make note of patterns you see from scene to scene so you can identify what keeps you interested in the story and what makes you want to skip ahead. Below are some books we recommend, but feel free to chime in and offer other options to our readers. Then stay tuned for some practical prompts based on our Reading Challenge that you can apply to your own writing.

Alicia: Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Laura: The disreputable history of Frankie Landau-banks by E. Lockhart

Megan: Arcadia by Lain Pears

Naomi: Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

Stacey: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Finding a Path between Pantsing and Plotting

Stacey Kite

Stacey Kite

I am, by nature, a pantser. (For those of you who might not be familiar with the therm, pantsing is the writing equivalent of winging it.) For me, pantsing is as fun as daydreaming, and I am a world class daydreamer. (Seriously, it’s the closest thing I have to a superpower.) The problem is that I’ve tried writing novels by pantsing it and they always fizzle. The manuscripts start out good, with engaging, clever characters that—at least according to my writing friends—grab them as readers. Then a quarter to a third of the way into the novel, the story turns into a disconnected jumble that I can’t force into any kind of believable plot. Continue reading

Practical Prompt 6/22/16: Dialogue Part 5

WriteOwls

WriteOwls

For our May “Learn to Write by Reading” challenge, we invited you to examine books that had great dialogue. Now, apply what you learned to your own manuscript.

In television and movies, the writers often use dialogue to convey information. But in a book, because novelists have more options for conveying information, using dialogue for info dumps is a telltale sign of an amateur. If two characters already know something, they won’t stop to tell each other about it. Read through your own dialogue and highlight any instances of info dumping you find. Now decide if the information is actually necessary to the story. If it is, pick another way to convey it, such as through action, thought, or description.

Creating Habits with Habitica

Naomi Hawkins-Rowe

Naomi Hawkins-Rowe

Time is precious. Especially now that I am preparing for a conference in the mist of summer travel, playdates, preparing for the upcoming school year and finally organizing overflowing closets. Every second of my day needs to be used wisely in order to met my summer writing goals.

Honestly, most days I feel so overwhelmed with all I need to get done, that I think I’ve wasted more time Continue reading

Practical Prompt 6/15/16: Dialogue Part 4

WriteOwls

WriteOwls

For our May “Learn to Write by Reading” challenge, we invited you to examine books that had great dialogue. Now, apply what you learned to your own manuscript.

Dialogue is a chance for characters to reveal themselves in their own words. Good dialogue often says more about the character speaking than the characters or events being discussed. Go back and re-read a dialogue scene from the book you read for this month’s challenge. Practice identifying ways the author used dialogue for characterization. Pick one technique to apply to a scene in your own story.