What is an Outline?

I’m more of a pantser than a plotter. I always try to plot out a story, but along the way things change—characters take over. When I started my writing career, I had to submit a synopsis and the first 3 chapters, so, I created a rough outline for myself and … Continue reading

How Do You Handle Conflicting Suggestions?

I belong to a fairly large critique group here in Florida, and I’m always amazed by how diverse the comments are about a piece of work. We usually critique two pieces during the meeting. We receive (via email downloads) the work a week before we meet, giving everyone a chance … Continue reading

Is it Important?

If you are writing a text book, or a travel brochure, or any type of non-fiction, it’s fine to go into detail about how something works or looks or the history of its origin, but if you are writing fiction, all that detail may hurt the story. Fiction is storytelling. … Continue reading

Sleep Revisited

Getting enough sleep is often difficult for a writer. During the Christmas season it can be even more difficult. In addition to visions of candy canes and sugar plums dancing in our heads, we have plot points, character development, or the fear of that dreaded word—writer’s block. Back on September … Continue reading

A Writer’s Life

Ah, to be a writer. If you write romances, it’s satin sheets and bonbons as you sit on your bed and type on your laptop (or dictate to your secretary). For others, it’s a private office, either in your mansion or New York apartment. Editors come to your home to … Continue reading

Freelance Writing

Have you tried doing freelance writing? I was at writers’ meeting last week and one of the members told us about the freelance writing she does. (She’s also working on a full length novel.) To earn money now (while waiting for royalty checks), she takes assignments from  TextBroker where she … Continue reading

Creating a New Story

Writers are often asked where they get their ideas. Most of us say we get them from everywhere: newspapers, TV, real events, family dynamics, travel, and so on. Some story ideas seem to come full-blown. Others need to be pulled out of our imaginations. The same is true of characters. … Continue reading

Designing (or redesigning) a Website

Recently a writer friend said her website was blah and asked if my daughter could help her, so this coming Saturday my daughter and I will make a “house” call to see what exactly is needed to give the writer’s website some sparkle. Meanwhile, I thought I’d check what others … Continue reading

Try Something New

I recently tried something new–a Viking cruise. (From Paris, France, to Luxembourg, to German towns along the Moselle River and the middle Rhine River, to, finally, Zurich, Switzerland) My head is filled with images, bits of conversation, smells, and sounds. I’ve seen cathedrals, cathedrals, and more cathedrals. Some I’ll remember, … Continue reading

Writing a Blurb

We’re told the most important selling tools for a book are the cover and the back blurb. With traditional publishers, the author usually doesn’t have control over either. Oh, we’re asked for suggestions, but the editor, or art department, or marketing department is usually the one who makes the final … Continue reading

Reading to Write

The other day my friend Joe Novara and I were sitting on my deck, looking out at the boats on the river, talking about what we were reading and why. Before Joe left, I asked him to write something about why he felt reading other authors’ books helped a writer. … Continue reading

Your Inner Editor

I’ve been blogging about the need for an editor and ways to find one. Most writers also have an inner editor. You know what I mean. It’s that little voice in our head that says… You can’t write That sucks No one will want this story Give up (This list … Continue reading

The Internet and Research

Yes, I know you can’t trust everything you read on the Internet, but I love being able to use it for research. When I first started writing (back in the dark ages), if I needed to research something, I had to drive at least 20 miles to reach the nearest … Continue reading

A Novel is not a Soapbox

I’ve heard, and believe, that a novel of fiction can get a message across better than a non-fiction book. Why? For one thing, many people won’t/don’t pick up non-fiction books that deal with topics that make them uncomfortable. As an example, consider Kathryn Stockett’s book The Help. The theme of … Continue reading

Is That Really Necessary?

I’ve been reading and critiquing some unpublished chapters lately, and I’ve come across two common errors that many new writers make. Telling too much The first mistake is when the writer includes a lot of information that isn’t really necessary to the story. Sometimes this is backstory (I want to … Continue reading