Scene and Summary | What’s the Difference?

by Marylee MacDonald, August 11, 2019 in For Beginning Writers

Scene and summary are the key building blocks of any novel. Some novelists devote more of their page count to scenes. Other writers use fewer scenes and more summary. Sometimes, publishers want writers to cut a book’s length, and writers are forced to compress moments in the tale when they might have wanted to let […]

Could ARCs Help You Get More Amazon Reviews?

by Marylee MacDonald, July 28, 2019 in Book promotion, For Writers Ready to Publish

Ever wondered how authors get tons of reviews the first week of their launch while you’re writing groveling emails to your family and friends, asking them to please, please, please read your book and write a review? The answer is that authors who get reviews provide free ARCs (Advanced Review Copies) to avid readers. Avid […]

A Protagonist Must Have a Goal

by Marylee MacDonald in For Writers Doing Revisions

Every protagonist must have a goal. Your protagonist (Frodo Baggins) wants to throw the Ring in the fires of Mt. Doom or, in the case of Harry Potter, defeat the evil Lord Voldemort. These are the protagonists’ “big picture” goals. A big picture goal describes the entire arc of the novel, from the instant a […]

What Stories Should You Write?

by Marylee MacDonald in For Beginning Writers

Most writers begin writing because they know they have one story to tell. Their goal is to “write a book.” But, most of us have more than one book we could write, and we have a wealth of material to draw on. We also have different themes that occur in our lives. Possibly, we have […]

Free Yourself from Writing Autobiographically

by Marylee MacDonald in For Beginning Writers

If you can free yourself from writing autobiographically, the whole world opens before you. But how can you do this? So often the stories that spring naturally to mind arise from personal experience. This is only natural. Our deepest emotional impressions occur in childhood. Thus, childhood provides a rich source of emotionally-laden story material. Often, […]

Revising Fiction – Going Through the Door

by Marylee MacDonald 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 […]