Historical Fiction’s Biggest Pitfalls

by Marylee MacDonald in For Writers Doing Revisions

If you’re writing historical fiction, don’t fall into the info-dumping trap. You love all those bits and pieces of info you’ve discovered, but your reader will have a hard time keeping an eye on the story if you can’t restrain yourself. Limit yourself to one or two protagonists–one, preferably. Let that person experience life as […]

Characters and Making Them Real

by Marylee MacDonald in For Beginning Writers

Photo Source All fiction revolves around characters, such as Mr. Peggotty in Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield. Characters must engage us emotionally, or they become like wallpaper, flattened figures we don’t really care about. Alternately, they can appear cartoonish, as in the illustration above. Have you heard the phrase “well drawn” used about certain characters? That’s […]

The ABCs of Your Novel’s Core Conflict

by Marylee MacDonald in For Writers Doing Revisions

Photo Source You could plot a novel around this picture. A man, a woman. Love, followed by its opposite. Who will take home the money? How will each on handle the hurt and sense of failure? Before we start thinking about plot, let’s see if we can “sum up” the core conflict of this story. […]

Details, Details, Details!

Details offer readers a chance to live vicariously in a world far different from their own. How much detail do you, the writer, need to provide? A lot. And you must keep on feeding the reader’s “minds eye” as the scene progresses. Why? Because without meaningful details, readers experience a visual “white-out,” like the white-out […]

The Establishing Shot

An Establishing Shot Orients the Reader An establishing shot is a technique used in film, but many novels benefit from having a strong opening scene that gives the reader a quick overview. Photo Source The camera zooms over the mountains and moves in for a closeup of a solitary woman, walking along a beach. Right […]

Agents and Where to Find Them

by Marylee MacDonald in For Writers Ready to Publish

Where can you find agents willing to represent your book? And, why should you try to find an agent when, these days, it’s easy to put your book up on Amazon? Photo Source Here are six reasons: The only way to have a major New York publisher “bring out” your book is to have an […]

Independent Publishers: The Good, the Bad, and the Sleazy

by Marylee MacDonald in General

Independent publishers could hold the key to you getting your book into print. Let’s face it. No matter how good a book is, writers have a tough time finding an agent. That’s just the reality of publishing. Photo Source Agents only sell to New York publishers. If they can’t make a deal with them, they’ll […]

Should You Write What You Know?

by Marylee MacDonald in Characters, For Beginning Writers

Photo Source Write what you know. That’s the most common piece of advice given to beginning writers. But, should authors stick to the mundane world of their ordinary lives, or is it okay to explore imaginary worlds? I’m not suggesting writers all rush to the side of the ship where fantasy, romance, zombie, thriller, and […]

Writing Practice: Do Yourself a Favor and Make Writing A Habit

by Marylee MacDonald in For Beginning Writers

What is a writing practice and why do writers need to think about having one? Writing practice is like piano practice, only your mom’s not standing over you, making you sit at the keyboard. If you’re a writer who has gone through an MFA program, you will have heard the words “writing practice” bandied about […]

Irish Writers: Why They’re Worth Reading

by Marylee MacDonald in For Readers

Photo Source When I first read James Joyce, I walked the streets of Dublin. In college I met “Crazy Jane,” a woman accountable only to herself. I have not yet walked the cliffs of Ireland, except in the pages of books. For many Americans of Irish descent, Ireland is the Ur-land, the epicenter of a […]