Do you have a fantastic idea for a setting or a character that you think would make an amazing story? Or maybe you want to write a story, but you’re not sure how to come up with an idea? Then this article is for you.
Quick note: If you prefer watching to reading, you can watch the video version of this post on my YouTube channel.
In his book Creating Short Fiction, award winning sci-fi writer Damon Knight observes,
“Even when you begin with an abstract idea, you must follow it to a character, a setting, a situation, and…
Many famous writers have stressed the importance of reading to become a better writer. Stephen King observed is his memoir On Writing,
“If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that. Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life.”
But how can you get the most out of the books you read?
Close reading is a form of literary analysis that helps you to dive into a passage of a book or a poem and identify the techniques that make the writing so powerful.
I’ve helped students…
When you think of unforgettable characters from books you’ve read, who comes to mind?
For me, I might think of Bilbo Baggins heading off on an adventure in Middle Earth or Ebenezer Scrooge being whisked away by the Christmas spirits or Jane Eyre trying to forge her own path in Victorian England.
What makes characters like these so unforgettable? What makes them feel as if they were real people rather than just creations of the author?
These characters come to life because they have complex personalities. They’re not stereotypes. Each one has dreams and desires, flaws and foibles. …
When you think of the word “copywriter”, you might picture advertising executives like those from the show Mad Men. Copy generally refers to the text in an advertisement: those words that persuade the customer to buy a product or service.
But in today’s Internet age we’re all writing copy even if we’re not selling a product for a company. We might be trying to persuade someone to click a link to read an article or leave a comment on a social media post or sign up to our email list or buy our book and write a review.
You’ve probably heard the writing rule “show, don’t tell” a thousand times. It’s especially important to follow when you’re trying to vividly describe the emotions of a character in a story or your own emotions in a blog post.
Don’t just tell your reader that you or your character was angry or sad or exhausted. Those words keep your reader at arm’s length and don’t allow them to become fully immersed in the story and truly understand what your characters are feeling.
Instead, you want to show your readers these emotions so your readers experience them as well, and you…
You’ve poured your heart and soul into creating something new to share with your audience. Maybe it’s a helpful blog post or an entertaining short story or even a product like an online course.
At last, you’re ready to send an email, publish a social media post, or write up a sales page to promote what you’ve created.
But your fingers hover over your keyboard as you struggle to figure out what to write. How can you grab your audience’s attention? How can you communicate the value of what you’ve created and make them eager to check it out?
When a reader says they love the way an author writes, they usually are talking about much more than the author’s style. For example, a fan of Ernest Hemingway might love Hemingway’s economy with words, but also the way he brings characters and places to life and how he views the world.
A distinct voice makes your writing resonate with readers. Even if you’re writing about a topic that has been discussed by others a hundred times before, your unique voice and perspective bring something new to the topic.
Readers who fall in love with your writing voice become your…
The “Ladder of Abstraction” is a writing tool that will help you to make your writing more emotionally impactful and meaningful to your readers no matter whether you’re working on nonfiction or fiction.
I first came across this writing tool while reading Jack Hart’s book Storycraft (that’s my affiliate link). Hart was a managing editor at the Oregonian, the pacific northwest’s largest newspaper. He also helped guide several Pulitzer prize-winning articles to publication.
In this book, he shares everything that he learned during his career as a journalist. While the book is aimed at people who are writing nonfiction, I…
Last year, I compiled two articles sharing writing exercises from famous authors. Writing exercises give you a fantastic way to strengthen specific skills through deliberate practice. They can also help you spark new ideas for stories or memoir essays or blog posts (very helpful if you’re struggling with writer’s block!).
In response to the articles, a reader asked if I had ever read Ursula K. Le Guin’s book Steering the Craft, saying it was filled with a powerful set of writing exercises too.
(That’s my Amazon affiliate link above — I’ll make a small comission if you buy a copy…
This past year, I finished writing a novel. Back when I was working on the first draft, a fox somehow got into the second chapter. I hadn’t planned it. He appeared for only a few fleeting paragraphs before darting off.
I wasn’t sure why he was in the story, but I decided to keep him. And I ended up writing him another appearance in the final act.
Fast forward many months later and many drafts later. I was debating whether I wanted to eventually self publish the novel or first try to get it traditionally published. …