Sentences and the Senses: Where Rick Bass Discovers Stories

by Marylee MacDonald in For Readers, For Writers Doing Revisions

Sentences are where stories begin, according to Rick Bass, winner of the prestigious Story Prize. “What I’m hungering for as a reader is the visuals, the reminders that the world is a beautiful place, and I’m just trying to bring, you know, almost a painterly illumination on sentences, on objects, on subjects. And so there […]

Summary Passages Must Show and Tell

Summary passages keep stories moving forward to the next “big scene.” A “scene” means the action that’s happening in pseudo-real-time. There’s conflict between people or between a person and a force of nature, and the author knows that readers want to see those moments dramatized. The protagonist confronts his or her nemesis or reaches a […]

“Show, Don’t Tell” | Still Sound Advice, or Lame Idea?

“Show, don’t tell.” What does it mean, and should writers pay attention to this time-worn advice? In this post I’m going to look at three writers who use narrative exposition–old-fashioned storytelling–and see what they’re doing on the “show, don’t tell” front. Let’s start with a bit of background. Wikipedia cites a passage in a Chekhov letter […]

How Do I Know When My Novel Is Done?

by Marylee MacDonald in For Writers Doing Revisions

Sending out your novel is easy. You can upload it to CreateSpace or fire off an e-mail to an agent. Whew! you think. Now my novel is done. It’s out of my hands. At one extreme are writers who send out work soon after they’ve finished a first or second draft. At the other extreme […]

Setting And Its Impact on Character : Insights On The Human Condition

by Marylee MacDonald in For Writers Doing Revisions, Setting

The setting of your novel plays an important role in how characters behave. Here’s a simple trick that will help you use setting as a lever to get characters out of their heads and into action. To add tension to a scene, make a character too hot or too cold. If you fiddle with a […]

Story Structure | Filling the “Plot-holes”

by Marylee MacDonald in For Writers Doing Revisions, Plot

Story structure is something I’ve worked long and hard to learn. If I wrote detective fiction or romance novels, I’d have a readymade scaffolding onto which I could hang my plot hooks and turning points. Those genres have conventions no writer of genre fiction can afford to ignore. With literary fiction, however, story structure isn’t […]

New Categories for YA Authors | How to Rank on Amazon

by Marylee MacDonald in Apps & Software, For Writers Doing Revisions

What are categories and how does your book’s metadata determine them? Well, if you’re going to write one book and put it online yourself, categories and metadata may not matter very much. But if you plan on publishing several books and you want to have a career as an author, those terms matter a great […]

Hiring An Editor | Should You Spend The Money?

You’ve slaved over your novel, and now you’re ready to send it out into the world. Should you consider hiring an editor, and if so, what kind? If your novel needs help with plot and characterization, hire a developmental editor. If you’re shaky on facts and need someone to check your dates, proper names, timeline, […]

Writing Dialogue | A Writer’s Cheat Sheet

Writing dialogue comes naturally to many writers. Others avoid it entirely. If you are going to use dialogue, make sure you work hard to capture readers’ interest. Here’s a cheat sheet with pointers I’ve picked up over the years. Must-Dos When Writing Dialogue Dialogue must do three things. It must: sound realistic advance the plot […]

Dialogue and Tension | Bringing Scenes To Life

by Marylee MacDonald in For Writers Doing Revisions

Dialogue and tension go hand-in-hand. If the dialogue sounds fake or flat, you will not grab readers and compel them to read your book. In this post I’m going to give you four ways to revise dialogue and increase tension. I want to shine a spotlight on dramatic scenes. Scenes are where the reader forms […]