About Writing

Writing Tip: Make It Plain

Writing Tip: Make It Plain

No one wants to read anything that looks like the terms of use for the average computer software. Why do we insist on writing like that? For example, here is an excerpt of the Terms of Use for the Waze app.* All words in this entire blog entry that are in boldface are...

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The Cahoon Chronicles. Memoir and Story

The Cahoon Chronicles. Memoir and Story

Memoir Writing Tips Memoirs are deceptive. It seems like such an easy thing to tell people about your life. Just start at the beginning, right? No, don’t. Haven’t you ever been trapped in That conversation before? The one with the coworker or in-law or uncle? Or...

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How to Write Great Erotica

How to Write Great Erotica

On a subject close to the heart (Light of My Life, or Fire of My Loins?) I explored the important distinction between erotic romance and erotica. Romance is a vast category and publishers of all shapes and sizes have whetstoned its various elements to fit within...

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What is a premise (and why is it important)?

What is a premise (and why is it important)?

Your story will stand or fall on the strength of its premise. It doesn't matter how well it's written on a line-by-line level. If your premise is weak, the rest of the story will crumble. But what is a premise, and how can you ensure yours is solid? I like to think of...

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Use Short Fiction to Build Your Writer’s Platform

Use Short Fiction to Build Your Writer’s Platform

Recently, I’ve been working with an author who has written a fantastic sci-fi novel but who has no writer’s platform to speak of. The only other things she’s had published are technical manuals, and she has no profile to speak of on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or any...

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What Is Character Development?

What Is Character Development?

Character development is the driving force of any good story, and yet, this is one of the most misunderstood elements of fiction writing. We’ve all heard of “flat” or “two-dimensional” characters. But how do we avoid this fatal flaw?

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Writing Your Memoirs

Writing Your Memoirs

Why Your Memoirs Are Important Memoirs have been created for millennia, even before humans knew how to write. After all, humans are tribal animals. In fact, experts in subjects ranging from dating behavior to corporate management look to evolutionary psychology - a...

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Fiction Structure and Style – Time and Place

Marie Valentine Time and place are key pillars of your story structure. Without them, tales fall into fragments. Neglect setting at your own risk. Readers who don’t know where they are get frustrated, fast. You need to put the players someplace, otherwise the story will float out of control into the ether, as will your […]

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Can You Believe It? Does Your Storyline Need To Connect With Reality?

Despite readers’ presumed desires to suspend disbelief, try to keep some rational sense of reality cohering your storyline. “Not true! No way that could happen. Sorry, I’m not buying it.” If these phrases cannot be squelched in your mind when revising your manuscript, take note. Readers might forgive an author if something incredulous happens only […]

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On Pacing: Superspecific Settings Are Not Needed

Place your characters in an environment and let them be. Sometimes writers are pace driven and have a story they simply need to get out. Often their characters are floating in space, meeting midair without a notion of physical dimension. Time and place have been forgotten. To these writers, I suggest bumping up the setting. […]

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