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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

Psychic Wounds Drive Characters to Make Misjudgments and That’s Good for the Plot

by Marylee MacDonald in Characters, For Writers Doing Revisions

Characters with psychic wounds engage our sympathies. In this post I’m going to talk about the benefits of loading your characters down with problems, including attitudes toward life caused by childhood psychic wounds. My purpose is not to play amateur psychologist. Save that for the self-help books. Instead, I’m going to show how psychic wounds […]

Should You Hire a Developmental Editor or a Copy Editor?

by Elizabeth Nunes in For Writers Doing Revisions

You’ve just finished your manuscript, the one you’ve been working on diligently for what feels like forever. You know that before you submit it, you should get it looked at by an editor, but whom do you pick? Are they all the same? The first thing you need to do is to figure out what […]

Heighten Tension by Raising the Stakes

by Marylee MacDonald in For Writers Doing Revisions

If you heighten tension, you can transform a good book into a book readers can’t put down. That’s because we’re hardwired for danger. We register a threat when we see a shadow on a sidewalk. If a dog lunges toward a fence, we jump back. If our spouse tells us he’s having an affair, we […]

Writing Models: How Close Study of Top-Notch Writers Can Up Your Game

Writing models can help you turn a so-so draft into a work of art. In the old days, before bookcases filled with how-to books that made the act of writing seem simpler than it ever is, aspiring writers learned the craft by closely studying the work of other writers. In 1971, after the death of […]

Syntax and Sentences: How to Make Your Story Sing

by Marylee MacDonald in For Writers Doing Revisions

Syntax is the arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences. The cumulative goal of sentences in fiction should be to please the reader’s inner ear. If you can improve your ability to shape sentences, your writing will be give readers greater pleasure. Why is that? Because readers “read” with an inner ear. The voice […]