Writing for Life


10 Steps to Nail Your Story

woman pointing

Today’s guest post is by best-selling author DiAnn Mills:

I’m all about ways to ensure stories delight our readers. That’s why we writers write. The process of shuffling through blogs, how-to books, and conference workshops for the most effective way to create reader appeal is an ongoing process.

Someone is always trying to hammer a new method into our brains.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen writers get so caught up with all the dos and don’ts that their creativity becomes paralyzed. They become stuck and spend their time constantly revising their stories without making them better. Some writers spend years perfecting a manuscript and never submitting. Instead of overthinking story, the writer could have written more books to improve her craft while entertaining readers. Continue Reading…

The Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing


Check Your “Underwriting”—10 Key Questions to Ask of Your Story


We’ve been looking at the many ways writers tend to underwrite in their fiction. Choppy narrative that “magically” moves characters around. Dialog that seems to be missing something. Action that has characters behaving in confusing ways. Characters lacking the natural process of emotional response to things that happen to them.

These issues are especially endemic to first novels, and when pointed out to authors, they then seem so obvious. Writers will say, “Why didn’t I notice these problems?” I’ll tell you what I think is the main reason most writers can’t see the obvious flaws in their scenes.

Because of lack of adequate writing experience, helpful critical feedback, and sufficient skill development and training, writers don’t realize they aren’t showing enough—and especially in a scene’s opening paragraphs—to help readers picture where a character is and when the scene is taking place in the story.  Writers can imagine all the action taking place, the details of the setting, the sounds and smells their characters are experiencing. But they forget that readers aren’t mind readers. Continue Reading…

Grammar, Punctuation & Confusables


Don’t Get Hung Up on Hang

Say What new

It’s fine if you’ve hung a picture or a sweater on a hook. But if you sent a man to the gallows, that person wasn’t hung. He was hanged.

You can have a hung jury: a jury unable to reach a verdict. They are “hung up” on a decision.

You hang up on someone, and you can get hung up on a project.

But criminals found guilty of capital offenses are hanged (in some places in the world). We all know what that entails. Yet even though we say “his wife hanged herself,” not every instance of being suspended in air with a rope around the neck is a “hanging.” Continue Reading…

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