Revising Fiction – Going Through the Door

by Marylee MacDonald, February 27, 2019 in For Writers Doing Revisions

Revising fiction–deep revision–may require authors to expand scenes or add new ones. But how can any author know which scenes those are? We’re so close to our stories, it’s hard to have any perspective. And yet, we must provide our readers with a clear and accurate picture of our characters’ inner and outer journeys.  We […]

Revising Fiction : It’s Not Just About Dusting the Commas

by Marylee MacDonald in For Writers Doing Revisions

The rough draft of my first novel needed resuscitation. If EMTs could have shocked it with a defibrillator, that might have brought it to life. Revision gave me a chance to do just that. The sad truth is that I knew how to write, but I did not know how to revise. That is to […]

Self-Doubt and Overconfidence: How They Undermine a Writer

by Marylee MacDonald in Learn How to Write

Self-doubt sneaks into our creative lives when we least expect it. Even if you think you’ve conquered this demon of creative destruction, self-doubt can wriggle away and take another form. In this post I’m going to talk about why writers and other artists experience self-doubt, and then I’ll suggest strategies to manage the stress it […]

Putting Feelings into Words

by Marylee MacDonald in For Writers Doing Revisions

Finding the right words to express our characters’ emotions is one of the biggest challenges writers face. It’s all too easy to “tell”, rather than “show”. Telling is easy. As people living ordinary lives, we all know what it means when someone feels angry, depressed, or sad. However, when we write fiction or creative nonfiction, […]

The Poetry of Fiction: Michael Byers and Percival’s Planet

by Marylee MacDonald in General

Two things set good writing apart from mediocre or just plain boring writing. One is the writer’s ability to sharply observe the world and render those observations in language that’s free of clichés. The other is the author’s knowledge, and mastery, of English grammar. A few years ago I offered a novel workshop to my […]

Discoverability and New Authors: How to Find Readers for Your Books

by Marylee MacDonald in General

“Discoverability” was a new term to me, but I heard it at the Digital Book World conference, and now I can’t stop thinking about it. “Discoverability” perfectly sums up what authors feel when they finally get their book finished, edited, and uploaded to Amazon. “I wrote my book! Yeah, me! But, uh oh, now what?” […]

Genuine Heroes and Heroines : Part 3

by Marylee MacDonald in Characters

What makes us care about a heroine or hero? Why do readers make the emotional investment in one protagonist and not another? In previous posts I’ve talked about flawed or dark main characters and protagonists who are average Joes or Janes. In this post, I’m going to talk about heroes and heroines whose heroic qualities […]

Brooding and Tormented Main Characters | Part 2

by Marylee MacDonald in Characters

Characters who have tortured interior lives are dark characters. Dark protagonists are suffering and in pain. Often, they’re nonhuman: fallen angels, vampires, haunted detectives, or recovering addicts. The writer’s big challenge is to make these protagonists sufficiently likable that readers will stick with them until the end. And, from the author’s perspective, an additional challenge […]

Is Your Protagonist an Average Joe or Jane? Give Them a Shot at Greatness: Part 1

by Marylee MacDonald in Characters

Do you want readers to love your protagonist? Then you must make that protagonist a hero or heroine. This is the first of three posts that will discuss what it means to be heroic. This post talks about heroic characters who are average Joes and Janes, but who perform extraordinary actions. In my next post […]

Revising for Tension

by Marylee MacDonald in For Writers Doing Revisions

Are you putting pressure on your characters so that they’re forced to change? Do quiet characters have moments when they’re about to explode? Adding tension to a novel often means that you must deepen the characters’ intensity of emotion. Sometimes, you must even write new scenes to replace those that are just marking time. I’ll […]