Tag Archives: plot

Short Saturday: Why I Stopped Reading Your Book

Like author Chuck Wendig, I’ve gotten a whole lot pickier about what I read and how much time I give it before I stop. “For one,” he says, “it’s time.” Work and time and personal responsibilities all intrude. But also, he says, “I’m like a stage magician where it’s harder to fool me with your […]

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Study This: The Summer Before the War

It’s nearly 500 pages long—and I flew through Helen Simonson’s second novel set in an English village. I never wanted to put it down. Also, it made me angry (on behalf of a character I loved), and it made me cry a couple times. This is a sign that I was fully invested—in the characters, […]

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Little Did She Know About Foreshadowing

Some months ago I read a manuscript that actually used this line: Little did I know I would come to regret those words. No kidding. Me too. I know, I know: you’re just trying to create a little mystery, a little portent. But when I see a line like this— I had no idea how […]

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Short Saturday: Plotting and Pacing

I’ve written a lot about plot, trying over and over again to explain it in a way that will give you an a-ha moment. This excerpt—at Jane Friedman’s blog—from Paula Munier’s Writing with Quiet Hands gave me one of those moments. Narrative thrust is the taut building of story, beat by beat, scene by scene, […]

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Where Do You Get Your Story Ideas?
(Part 9)

The photo you see below stopped me in my tracks when I saw it on Facebook about a year ago. It spoke to me.   Some of you may know these friends of mine—twins, their mother, and their aunt—but if you don’t, and if you’re willing to let your imagination roam, you might see a […]

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Where Do You Get Your Story Ideas? (Part 8)

I wrote some fan fiction once. When I was twelve. It was a story about a young girl—she was pretty and smart and clever—who meets the Beatles. (Don’t laugh, now. They were hot—actually, cool—back in the day.) You can imagine who my protagonist was modeled after. :) Of course, back then they didn’t call it […]

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“The Moment the Reader Lost Interest”

Recently one of my author friends said something on Facebook that I thought we should all think about: Cleaned out an entire bookcase and donated never-going-to-read-again books. Discovered a disturbing array of bookmarks … and a renewed writing purpose: Aim to create stories that will never be discarded with place-holders marking the moment a reader […]

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Short Saturday: Milieu, Idea, Character, Event

I think about these elements all the time, of course—milieu, idea, character, event—but this article from science fiction author Orson Scott Card made me think of them differently. He says one of the four determines the structure of the novel. Thus a milieu story is begun by an arrival and ended by a departure (or […]

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Study This: At the Movies

I read recently that John Harrington, in his book Film And/Is Art, estimated that a third of all movies ever made have been adapted from novels; another writer claims that 51 percent of the top 2,000 films of the last 20 years were adaptations (from novels, short stories, or stage plays). And the most common […]

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Short Saturday: Readers Advising Writers

I read this short article—“A reader’s advice to writers”—a while back and thought it was an interesting twist: a reader advises writers of fiction on what makes a good book. Here one I like a lot: 2. Make your main character do something. For the reasons stated above, many writers gravitate toward characters to whom […]

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