Tag Archive - Rachel Starr Thomson

Telling the Whole Story: Fiction and the Problem of Underwriting

This month our editors are going to tackle Fatal Flaw #9—Underwriting. We looked at the perils of overwriting early in the year, but “underwriting” is another problematic area for novelists. Too often necessary information is left out of a scene, leaving readers scratching their heads. This may pertain to narrative, dialog, setting—every and any component found in fiction. Today editor Rachel Scott Thomson kicks off our look at underwriting by exploring the problems with sketchy writing.

Modern writers have been heavily influenced by the movies. On the one hand this is good—the best of visual media will teach us pacing, plotting, great dialog, and hopefully the mechanics of a good setting.

But books are not movies, they are not TV, and getting our training from them can sometimes lead us to forget something:

Our stories are invisible. Continue Reading…

Dialog Writing 101: Conversational Mechanics

This month our editors are taking a hard and tough look at Fatal Flaw # 8: Flawed Dialog Construction. Dialog is a tricky component to master in fiction, and it’s easy to fall into numerous traps that will make dialog sound forced or phony, or come across jarring due to bad structure. So we’ll dispel all the mysteries surrounding crafting great dialog, starting with editor Rachel Starr Thomson’s post on Dialog Mechanics.

Dialog is special to me as a writer. Maybe it’s because we live in society saturated with sound—from music to movies, radio, and podcasts. Maybe it’s because I keep up a running conversation in my head at nearly all times of the day, discussing whatever I’m thinking about with invisible conversation partners (before you worry about me, I’m not any crazier than your average creative—I’m just usually hashing things out with God, some author I’ve just been reading, or a friend I hope to talk to soon).

For whatever reason, when a story begins to come to me, I hear it first. To be more specific, I hear dialog first. Before I picture settings, craft worlds, or brainstorm plots, I hear conversations.  Continue Reading…

How Fiction Writers Can Ramp Up Tension and Pacing

This month our editors are going to tackle Fatal Flaw #7—Lack of Pacing and Tension. Rarely are fiction writers taught how to pace a story or how to create tension. These two important components are essential considerations, and it’s often easy to spot when a story or a novel’s scene lacks them. But not so easy to know how to fix the problems. So Rachel Scott Thomson begins our practical look at fixing this fatal flaw.

Pacing. It’s important. You know how sometimes you can’t put a book down—how the pages turn all by themselves as your heart rate speeds up and your eyes get wider and the book gets closer and closer to your nose?

Yeah, pacing does that. Books that use pacing really well—thriller novels and their kin—leave us feeling like we need a nap. Or therapy. Continue Reading…

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