Being a writer isn’t just about putting words down on paper. It’s about continually mastering writing techniques necessary to perfect your craft. Once you learn the basic “rules,” you can break them for effect rather than by accident.
Writing is also about courage. You need to persevere even when writing becomes challenging, and then push onward until you reach the finish line. It’s about boosting your creativity, staying motivated even when you hit a wall and facing writer’s block head-on.
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Five Promises You Make to Your Reader For every novel you write, you set up expectations for your readers. You promise them a character they can root for, a conflict that the character must face, a voice for establishing the story’s mood and a chain of events. Finally, you promise them the world – whatever world that may be is up to you.
The Role of Voice in Writing There’s no clear definition of voice. Rather, voice tends to operate on multiple levels: the narrator tells the story, while the characters show their voice through dialogue. In some cases, certain voices can be eliminated or scaled down. In this article, we give you the lowdown on these exceptions.
Make Your Character Come to Life Exceptional protagonists have the potential to be the opposite of what they appear. They are given the chance to change by overcoming challenges. They’re your Harry Potters, Frodo Bagginses and Dorothys. As a writer, you need to focus on who the character could be, not necessarily who the character is.
5 Archetypes for Supporting Characters These characters come in many forms, including the nemesis, the BFF/Sidekick, the love interest, the mentor and the fool. While supporting characters are often multifaceted, their sole purpose is to add depth to the protagonist. They exist because what they do in the story affect the protagonist, and thus allow us to better understand that main character.
The Last Point of View Cheat Sheet You’ll Ever Need You may already know about first, second and third person points of view, but what’s the difference between third person limited and third person omniscient? Use our free cheat sheet to help you determine what point of view would be most effective for your story.
5 Ways to Liven Up a Description While it’s important to be specific, over-describing a scene with unnecessary details can keep readers from turning the page. Use strong imagery, emotion and and vibrant language to make your descriptions serve as a supplement to the story, not a hindrance. Some details are just better left to the imagination.
Plot Archetypes and Power Plays: Where Does Your Story Fit? When it comes down to it, most story plots are about power. The protagonist confronts a person (or entity) of equal or more power – or the protagonist confronts him or herself. These kinds of power struggles create conflict and drive the story forward. Check out some of our examples, then decide where the power struggle lies in your story.
Mapping Out Your Story In this article, we show you how to plan and draw your story out like it’s a subway or road map. With this outlining technique, you’ll be able to tease apart the different plot threads, or story arcs, and sketch out all of the scenes in a way that makes sense to you.
What Makes Ideas Unique? The truth is that all writing is influenced by what has come before and exists within a context. At the end of the day, the idea itself doesn’t matter. It’s how you express the idea through words that makes your writing unique.
Collecting a Stash of Characters You can find potential characters practically anywhere – in pictures, in vaguely made-up situations, in snippets of dialogue (perfect if you’re a skilled eavesdropper living in the city) and even in real life. Once these individuals emerge and start to form, you can build a collection of imaginary people all with minds of their own, just waiting for you to write a story about them.
Use a Mood Board to Boost Your Writing With a mood board, you can post images that capture the emotional core of your writing project and help you figure out how your audience will connect to it. Think about the culture or time period in which your story is set, and use a mood board to capture that feeling.
Get Creative on Demand Sometimes, you just don’t have the time to brainstorm. Most of us have other responsibilities in our lives that interfere with our writing time; in that case, you have to be able to turn on your creativity like it’s a faucet. We show you how.
The Magic of Names: Finding Names That Capture Your Characters What’s in a name? Depth. Names, when chosen wisely, often reflect the personality of your characters and help them stand out. You might choose a name that ultimately defines who the character is, or a name that’s reflects a certain theme in the story.
What’s Your Creative Process? No two writers are the same. Some write by hand, while others thrive in front of a computer screen. Editing techniques vary, too – some writers perfect sentences in their minds before jotting them down, while others write on a whim and reshape those sentences later. What do you do when you need to come up with killer ideas, or when you want a new take on an old writing piece? Pinpoint your personal writing quirks, then use them to maximize your creative process.
Making the Most of Failure As J.K. Rowling said, “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.” What’s important is how you bounce back from failure and use the lessons you learned through the process to become a better writer.
How to Build Your Own Writing Habit You are the driving force behind your own DIY MFA experience. All the creativity, effort and success starts with you. Having that much power over your own writing can seem daunting; that’s where writing habits come in to add some structure to your writing life. Just remember to take baby steps and enjoy yourself.
5 Stages of Writer’s Block We’ve all been there: Deadlines are looming, and there’s nothing but a white blank page staring at you – waiting for something to happen. But like the five stages of grief, writer’s block eventually passes. The trick is to keep writing even when you’re stuck. Real writers keep chugging those words out even when it’s hard.
Writing Workshop: How to Tell When You Need That Boost Writing isn’t a solo venture, or at least it shouldn’t be. At some point, everyone needs to hear a second, third, even fourth opinion on their writing projects. Everyone needs structure and motivation. Writing workshops can give you all of these, plus support. The question is, does attending a workshop fit with where you are on your writing journey?
Measuring Success Tracking progress can be difficult, especially when you’re already in the revision stage. At that point, word counts and page numbers aren’t the best measures of success. The key is to add meaning and context to the metrics that you use, whatever they may be.
Idea-Stealing: How Not to Let Your Fear Stifle Your Creativity This writing fear is one of the worst, as it can paralyze you into silence – you don’t share any of your work, or worse, you never write. But there are ways you can avoid idea-stealing. Document your writing, think before posting your work online and let ideas hibernate before you use them. The more ideas you have, the better. Above all, the best you can do is write your heart out and remember that without fear there is no courage.
Get More Writing Done: 5 Pockets Of Time You Never Knew You Had Always carry a notebook and pen with you, because you never know when you’ll have 10 or 15 minutes to spare for some writing time. In this article, we reveal five pockets of writing time, from long lines and waiting rooms to public transportation and early morning sessions. Make every minute count.