Story Structure | Filling the “Plot-holes”

by Marylee MacDonald, March 4, 2017 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 […]

What Makes A Good First Line?

A good first line is one that draws the reader into the world of the story. Kick off your story with a sentence that makes the reader want to read the next one, and so on, until the end. A good first line can entice the reader by doing one or more of the following: […]

How To Set Up A Critique Group | 5 Cardinal Rules

All writers get butterflies when they submit works-in-progress to a critique group. No matter how experienced or professional we might pretend to be, we writers have thin skins. A critique group can do a lot of good. It can help a writer identify one-dimensional characters and boring plots. But, writing groups can also do a […]

Does A Plot Outline Stifle Creativity Or Enhance It?

A plot outline can either stifle creativity or bring a novel’s plot into sharper focus. I don’t outline before I begin a novel, but when I am revising, an outline helps me make decisions about which scenes to keep and which to throw out. Scene Outline of Draft 1 When I began The Vermillion Sea […]

Story Arc | A Simple Way to Understand Plot

A story arc is the chain on which the pearls of your novel are strung. You can think of story arc as the things that happen—the scenes or episodes—from the beginning of the novel to its conclusion. The story arc—also called a narrative arc—is the same thing as plot. Some writers are naturals when it […]

What Are Half-Scenes?

Half-scenes are a great way to cover a lot of ground in a short time. Consider using half-scenes when you want to get to your next big scene, when you need to trim the story’s word count, or when you’re taking a walk down Memory Lane. In my post explaining the difference between scene and […]