Fixing a Protagonist

Stacey Kite

Stacey Kite

It really stinks to get way into a big project and then discover a major flaw. I’ve had that happen before and don’t really want to repeat the exercise with my novel’s manuscript. Of course, I know there will be problems with the first draft. That’s why writers do multiple revisions—to fix all those mistakes they made the first time around. But since I haven’t actually made it to the revision stage yet, Continue reading

Practical Prompt 5/25/16: Dialogue Part 1

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.

Pick a scene from your story with a lot of dialogue. Copy and paste it into a new document and remove all the dialogue tags. Can you distinguish one character from the next? Does each character have a unique voice, or do they all sound like the same person?

If your characters sound too similar, stop and consider how each character’s story–where they’re from, how old they are, what their level of education is–might influence their speech. Then go back to the book you read for this month’s challenge and see how the author gave those characters their distinctive voices. Can you use similar techniques in your story?

Organizing the Headache: Tips for Writing a Multi-POV Novel

Naomi Hawkins-Rowe

Naomi Hawkins-Rowe

When I first began my novel, I wrote scenes and jotted down notes as they came to me, no rhyme or reason as I’ve noted before. And while this freestyle writing habit birthed some very creative ideas, I often found contradictions in plot lines and would have to spend time fixing and readjusting the whole story. This stole time from plowing ahead on my first draft.

After Stacey raved about John Truby’s book, The Anatomy of Story, I took a step back and did what “normal” writers probably do: I organized and planned. Continue reading

Learn to Write by Reading: Dialogue

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, read a book that incorporates authentic dialogue, whether it’s age-appropriate speech, spot-on dialects, or conversations that keep you turning the page. 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: The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

Laura: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, or anything by John Green

Megan: A Curtain of Green and Other Stories by Eudora Welty

Flow Like a Pro

Megan Norris Jones

Megan Norris Jones

Have you ever sat down to write and had one of those miraculous work sessions when the words flow from your fingertips? When you recognize problems in your story and how to fix them? When you didn’t check your email, get up to make a cup of tea, or decide to pursue a little online “research”? There’s a word for that kind of work. It’s called flow, and it happens as a result of focused concentration on a single, challenging task. It’s the most effective, efficient and enjoyable way to work. It’s also darned hard to do. Continue reading