How to Create a Story Map

One of my favorite ways to outline or plan a story is to map it out like a subway or road map.  Here’s how this technique works. Each road or subway line represents a different story-thread or plot line.  The dots (exits on the highways or subway stops) represent different scenes or moments in the… Read more »

Plotter or Pantser: Where Do You Stand?

Plotter: n. (1) A writer who plots out his or her story in the greatest of detail before starting the draft; (2) a writer obsessed with outlines, index cards and writing apps; (3) a writer who spends most of his or her time organizing the novel then writes it in about ten minutes. Pantser: n…. Read more »

5 Archetypes for Supporting Characters

Before we get to the discussion of character archetypes, I’d like to make a request: please strike the term “secondary character” from your vocabulary.  Not only does it imply that somehow these characters are less important than the protagonist, but the term itself doesn’t tell us much about the role these characters play in the… Read more »

Villains vs. Antagonists

Every story needs a “bad guy,” someone or something that gets in the protagonist’s way and keeps making trouble for him or her.  For instance if my life were a novel, the “bad guy” would be an impossibly cute 3-year-old ginger cat, whose offenses include: “Decorating” the living room with shredded articles of mail Skulking… Read more »

Prompt: Collect Story Sparks

Today’s guest article comes from Julie Duffy, founder of the StoryADay Challenge. Want to learn more about Julie? Check out this video interview I did with her earlier this week. Interested in trying your hand at writing a story a day? Go to the StoryADay website for more information. Your prompt: Collect three ‘Story Sparks’… Read more »

Prompt: Write Every Day for One Week

This week’s prompt is simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.  In fact, it’s pretty tough to do.  For one week, commit to writing every day.  Notice that there are no stipulations as to quantity or quality of the writing.  You can write as little or as much as you like, for… Read more »

5 Pockets of Time You Never Knew You Had

Not everyone can find long blocks of time for writing because real life often gets in the way.  If you are one of those writers who can set aside large chunks of time for your writing, that’s fantastic!  Even if you’ve got tons of time on your hands (…and don’t tell us if you are… Read more »

Productivity Tools for Writers

I love hearing writers talk about process and learning about new tools that can help my writing.  I’m especially a fan of things that lend a festive and fun element to my writing.  (Because let’s face it, a lot of the time writing is HARD.  Might as well make it fun.)  In this post I… Read more »

5 Ways to Liven Up a Description

This week, we’re talking about description and detail.  On Monday we established that Description Equals Does Not Equal Exposition.  Today we’re going to discuss how to make those descriptive passages more powerful.  Here are five tips, plus a writing exercise at the end to help you put them into action. 1) Engage the Five Senses…. Read more »

Description vs. Exposition

Dialogue is easy to spot because it has those nifty little quotation marks, but not all text that isn’t dialogue can be lumped together.  The difference between description and exposition can be tricky to determine but it is most definitely there.  The key is to remember this equation: How can we distinguish between description and… Read more »