Posts Tagged With: Writing Tips

Why You Should Never Be Afraid to Write

Writers' Forum magazine (UK)

Writers’ Forum is the leading writing magazine in the UK. Check it out.

One day, almost exactly 10 years ago, I walked into a bookstore in Hawaii and discovered something fascinating.

It was an overly large magazine, with big glossy pages that flopped over in the humid air, and it was chock-full of articles on how to write. The magazine was called Writers’ Forum.

It was from the UK, a long way away.

At the time, I was an angsty aspiring writer, so of course I devoured that magazine cover to cover, hunting for advice I could use to become a real author. I decided that someday, I wanted to see my name published in that magazine.

But was my writing good enough? I suspected not. At least not yet.

Little did I know what was about to happen next. Continue reading

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7 Ways to Master “Show, Don’t Tell”

7 Ways to Master Show, Don_t Tell“Show, Don’t Tell” is probably the most often-repeated writing advice in the world.

It means that you shouldn’t dump a load of information in the middle of the page, because it will stop your story dead.

But it’s easy to fix that problem, if you know how.

Here are seven different ways that you can unobtrusively slip information (also known as exposition) into your story without raising any red flags.

Master these ninja exposition tricks, and you’ll never struggle with “Show, Don’t Tell” again.

 

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Want to Be a Better Writer? Read This.

Railroad tracks reading a book

Go ahead, read a book. Maybe not on railroad tracks, though. Just saying.

I’ve talked to hundreds of best-selling authors about their early years, before they were published.

By and large, they wrote about half a dozen unpublished manuscripts before they sold their “first” novel.

Aside from cranking out thousands of pages of prose, how do you learn the writing skills you need to improve over time?

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4 Mistakes to Avoid When Building Suspense in Your Novel

4 Mistakes to Avoid When Building Suspense in Your NovelHave you ever read a book that you just couldn’t put down?

The whole time you were turning pages, you were probably desperate to discover the answer to a burning question.

That’s the essence of suspense, and it makes readers devour your book.

So how do you build suspense in your novel?

Start by avoiding these four suspense-destroying mistakes.

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How to Write a Novel This Year: 10 Free How-To Articles

Writing Desk - how to write a novel

Do you have questions about writing a novel? Here are the answers.

Something like 92% of all New Year’s resolutions are doomed to failure. If one of your goals is to write a novel this year, don’t let yourself become a statistic. Find out the answers to your questions and learn how to write your book.

Since I joined the powerhouse faculty at Janice Hardy’s Fiction University, I’ve written a monthly how-to guide for writing fiction. If you’re looking for some writing inspiration or technique, you could do worse than checking out some of my favorite articles: Continue reading

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Create the Perfect Villain: a 6-Step Master Plan

Create the Perfect Villain: a 6-Step Master Plan

Mu-ha-ha-ha!

In my last article on Fiction University, I laid out 6 Ways to Make Readers Fall in Love With Your Characters.

If you’re writing a story or novel, pay attention. Because now I’m going to flip all of those techniques upside down.

I’ll show you how to use the opposite of those exact same methods to create a villain that your readers will love to hate.

How? Find out on Fiction University.

Want more free fiction writing tips, plus a chance to win free books? Sign up for my author newsletter. >

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6 Easy Steps to Writing Unforgettable Characters

Salem - A Kiss Before Doomsday

This is Salem, one of the most powerful sorcerers in the Dru Jasper series. Whatever you do, don’t make fun of his hat.

Every writer knows that creating interesting characters is one of the toughest parts of the job.

I don’t feel like an expert on characters by any means, but RT Book Reviews said this about my latest book: “MacNaughton has a real gift for developing quirky and crazy characters.”

Nice to hear, but I’ll tell you: it’s not really a gift. Nobody is born knowing how to write great characters. It’s a skill, and like any skill, it can be learned.

Want to know how I do it? I’ve laid out how to create your own characters, step-by-step.

You can read it here on Fiction University.

What elements of writing do you struggle with? Leave me a comment below.

Want more useful writing tips? Subscribe to my author newsletter. >

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The Simple Secret to Fixing Ugly Story Problems

how to write: retroactive continuity

When you’re in the middle of writing, don’t stop. Except for coffee.

It happens to every writer: you’re writing along when suddenly you need to go back and change some fact or detail.

Because if you don’t fix it, the story won’t make sense. Should you stop writing at that moment to go fix it?

Nope. That could kill your momentum.

Here’s a better idea. It’s called a retcon, and comic book writers have been using it for decades.

Retcon is short for “retroactive continuity” and it means that you’re stating a new fact that changes what’s come before.

In other words, you’re changing the past.

This is a term I first encountered in the massively entertaining and informative book Writing for Comics with Peter David. (Mr. David, by the way, has an impressive list of comic writing credits, including Spider-Man, Wolverine, Supergirl, Hulk, Star Trek, and tons of others. He knows what he’s talking about.)

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Should You Self-Publish Your Novel?

Ginormous Library

If you squint really hard, you can almost see my books … Oh wait, no, that’s James Patterson.

Which is better, self-publishing or a traditional publishing deal?

If you’re a hands-on, DIY type of person with an entrepreneurial mindset, then you might be better suited to self-publishing. If you’d rather focus on the writing and not deal with the rest of it, you might prefer traditional publishing.

I’ve done both. Here’s the truth: there are benefits and drawbacks to both self-publishing and traditional publishing.

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How to Plan and Write A Novel

non-English typewriter

Think Microsoft Word is a pain to use? Try cranking out 100K on this sucker.

I’m often asked what my writing process looks like.

How do I write a book? It’s pretty simple, actually.

(Not easy. But simple.)

First, I start with the basics:

  • Who are the good guys?
  • What are they trying to do?
  • And, especially, why?
  • Who are the bad guys?
  • Where does this take place?

Then I boil all of that down into a strong core idea. For example: a bookish crystal shop owner has to save the world from the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – who drive possessed muscle cars.

The idea has to work at the core level, it has to really grab me, before I start writing it. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Then I figure out how to make the whole book work, beginning to end, in a short synopsis. Maybe one page. That takes time. And even once I have that figured out, I don’t start writing it yet.

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