Writing Tips Every Author Needs

Writing tips can help you discover the one small change that will make a difference. Writing is as much about the habit of writing as about what you write. If you’re a morning person, write at dawn. Night-owls write after everyone goes to bed. The important thing is to honor your unique gifts. Find your […]

Getting Published Is Not As Difficult As You Think

by Marylee MacDonald in For Beginning Writers

Photo Source Ready to submit your work for publication, but not sure where to start? Getting published is not as difficult as you think. Many writers, me included, started by submitting stories to literary magazines. Though publishing in a lit mag will, most likely, not bring you any cash, publication brings other rewards. You can […]

Writing Notebooks: Are You Keeping One?

by Marylee MacDonald in For Beginning Writers

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Writing notebooks are an integral part of a writer’s daily practice. If you keep a writing notebook, you’ll have an infinite source of fresh material to generate stories or to help you recall details of a place you visited. Here’s a visual example of how I use my notebooks. I had scheduled a writing getaway […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Photographs and Letters: Mining the Past

by Marylee MacDonald in For Beginning Writers, For Readers

Who’s going to want all those photographs of our grandparents and great-grandparents? What will our children, raised in the Instagram age, make of the stiff postures and posed portraits, the sepia tones and formal attire? And yet we know these images are important. We know in our hearts that the lives buried in these studio […]