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 […]

20 Mistakes New Authors Should Avoid

Dallas literary agent Jim Donovan told an audience of aspiring, Arizona writers that he sees new authors make the same mistakes over and over. Donovan, a literary agent and author of A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Bighorn | The Last Great Battle of the American West, reduced his experience in the publishing industry […]

Pitching to Agent Michael Carr

Pitching a novel to agent Michael Carr couldn’t be easier, especially if you know what to avoid. “The Number 1 thing is don’t brag and say ‘I can make you millions,’” said Carr, an agent with Veritas Literary Agency. Carr doesn’t care if you’re a rookie. Can you tell a story? “If I can’t put […]

Ten Honest Review Sites for New Authors

Books flood into review sites, and the sheer numbers overwhelm book review editors. They must make choices: the big New York publishers or the little guys? Publicists are Tweeting the editors and importuning them with e-mails. “Well, are you going to review my guy or gal or not?” Probably not. There’s just not time. And […]