5 Tips to Turn Slow Writers into Fast Drafters

Category: Time Management & Deadlines

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Can writers train themselves to write faster? This question is much debated. Many people say that yes, writers can learn to write fast, but (at least in my opinion) those people are short on actionable ways to make that happen. The common advice seems to be: 1) time yourself, 2) create self-imposed deadlines, and 3) give yourself permission to write a sh*t first draft.

I especially hate that last one. Of course a first draft doesn’t have to be perfect (not at all!), but it has to be readable enough to edit. You cannot edit total sh*t. So all that time you spent writing fast is wasted because you now have to flush that crap down the toilet and start again. There must be a better way! So I set out to find one. Or rather, a couple clients forced me to find one…

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com

Writer Struggles: Isolation & Loneliness

Category: Writing Life

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For me, one of the hardest things about transitioning from a screenwriter to a novelist is the isolation. Screenwriters always work with other people, especially in the television industry. You’re either in a writing room breaking stories with other writers, or on set talking to the director and crew, or in the office pitching producers and broadcasters. Even freelance screenwriters who mainly work on their own (vs staff writers) routinely talk to other people to pitch story ideas and get feedback on their script assignments. But novelists, especially those not yet published, most often work alone.

Early in this novel writing venture, I noticed I was lonely. I missed the camaraderie of screenwriting. I still attended television industry social events, but since I no longer worked full-time in the biz, I felt like an outsider, and soon I stopped going. I searched for novel writer meet-ups and found a few, but for one reason or another I didn’t stick with them regularly. Then as the years passed and I still hadn’t finished a book, I began avoiding all but my closest friends because I didn’t want to explain that yes, I was still writing that damn novel. I told myself to just buckle down, embrace the solitude, and write. Once the book was done, I could be social again. Until then, this was fine.

I might still be wallowing in my own denial if I hadn’t taken the opportunity to get some life coaching…

What happened?! Full explanation and plan over at WriteOnSisters.com

GAME WRITING: Adventures in Interactive Fiction

Category: Game Writing

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Confession: before this week, I didn’t know much about video games or their history. Shameful for someone who now has “game writer” on her resume. So I decided to fix this before anybody found out, and started reading a book called GAME ON! And what I began learning led me down a rabbit hole of writer discoveries…

Click here to read the full post on the newly updated WriteOnSisters.com site!

Writing Gender-Inclusive Romance

Category: Writing Craft, Game Writing, Writing YA

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For more than a year I’ve been writing and story editing a dating adventure game called LongStory. At the start of the game, players select their avatar and gender, choosing whether they want to be referred to as “she”, “he” or “they”. We don’t write different dialogue or storylines for different player genders. LongStory is written to be gender-inclusive.

What does that mean? Well, gender-inclusive or gender-neutral means using language that avoids bias towards a particular gender. This might seem daunting considering this is a dating game that includes romantic storylines, but it’s not if you follow these three tips…

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com

How to Straighten Your Story’s Spine

Category: Writing Craft, Revising, Screenwriter Tips for Novelists

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Sometimes I write a story where lots of exciting stuff happens, my protagonist is proactive and has a goal, and I’m hitting all the right beats (if you don’t know what those are, check out this post on the 15 Story Beats), yet the story still feels flat. What’s wrong? What am I missing?

The truth of the matter is often I’m not missing anything. I spend a lot of time developing my stories and I know all the story parts that I need to make a story sing, but effectively implementing those parts into a manuscript is a whole other challenge. In a manuscript, those parts can get out of whack or lost or muddy. So how do you fix it?

By doing something we screenwriters often call “tracking the story’s spine.” A story’s spine is the character arc woven into the plot; the two should always go together just like your vertebrae and your spinal cord. Tracking a story’s spine means making sure the protagonist’s transformation (arc) is addressed in EVERY SCENE of the journey (plot). Because after all, as I’ve said before (specifically in this post about character journeys), every story is about change.

So let’s get started…

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com

Writer Career Brainstorming

Category: Writing Life

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Happy New Year! I took a break from blogging for the last couple months of 2016, but I’m back with a plan for 2017. When not freaking out about world politics, I spent 2016 questioning my career path and investigating my options. I began on a high note, with a new freelance gig writing an educational game, a part-time job as a freshly certified gymnastics coach, and a hopeful grant application. But a few months in things were looking bad…

How bad? And what am doing to get better? To find out read the whole post at WriteOnSisters.com

15 Story Beats to Keep Your Novel On Track

Category: Writing Craft, Story Structure

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Regardless of whether you’re a plotter or pantser, you might come to a place mid-way through where your story feels like it’s gone off the rails. During NaNoWriMo, the mantra is just plow through! Keep writing! It’ll work itself out! But I think better advice is to check in with your basic story beats. It doesn’t matter if you plan them ahead of time or figure them out partway through writing. The important thing to know is that these beats are an extremely useful tool to avoid writer’s block, mushy middle syndrome and general NaNoWriMo fatigue.

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com

Plotters vs Pantsers: Are We Really That Different?

Category: Writing Life

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Ever since I learned the terms “pantser and plotter”, I identified as a plotter (someone who outlines a story before writing a manuscript). To me, sitting down to write a whole book without an outline (i.e. the pantser method) is impossible. And now it’s time for a confession: pantsers make me feel stupid. Why can’t I just sit down at my laptop and start writing a novel? Why do I have to plan first? How is it possible that people can construct complicated long-form narratives without a story map? Is it because they’re geniuses and I am not? Should I just give up now?

Then I discovered something that made me realize that pantsers and plotters are more alike than we think.

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com

The Princess Bride Gender-Swapped!

Category: What I'm Reading

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Confession: I saw The Princess Bride for the first time last weekend. I know, I know, my childhood was lacking. There was only one movie theatre with one tiny screen in my town, and my parents said we were too poor to see movies in a theatre. So yeah. Fast forward 29 years later, and I have Netflix which has The Princess Bride. Now all is right with the world.

So what’d I think? Click here to find out…

The Hero’s Emotional MidPoint

Category: Characters, Writing Craft, Story Structure

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This week I’m honing the middle of my WIP, so it’s time to dust off the Archives and refresh my knowledge on The Hero’s Emotional MidPoint. What’s that? Click here to find out.

Pitching 101: The Elevator Pitch

Category: Writing Life

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Today in Pitching 101, I’m going to give some tips on making your elevator pitch succinct, appealing and not scary – for you or the listener.

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com

3 Reasons to Write a Pitch Before Finishing Your Novel

Category: Writing Craft, Loglines

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This month at WriteOnSisters we’re talking about pitching! A pitch comes in many forms – query, synopsis, one-liner, or book blurb. Anything that “sells” your book to anyone else is a pitch. Usually pitches are written after a novel is complete, because that’s when a writer needs to “sell” their novel to an agent or a publisher or directly to the masses via self-publishing. However, I’m going to encourage you to use pitches differently…

As story development tools.

Yes, I’m suggesting we write those dreaded pitches before and during the novel writing process. I’ll give you three reasons why…

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com

6 Questions to Make Sure Your Story Has Stakes

Category: Writing Craft

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Once upon a time I was working on a revamped novel idea – a fun, scary, action-packed revenge story. It was going to be great. I was feeling especially confident after reading this blog: “Why Revenge is Such a Brilliant Plot for Beginner Writers.” I pictured myself pounding out this simple revenge story while my other novel, a more complicated mystery-thriller, percolated. What a swell plan, and then I noticed something was missing…

STAKES. Holy moly! There were no stakes! And I don’t mean that my vampire hunter heroes forgot their wooden stakes. No, the problem was if my vengeful hero didn’t get her revenge… oh well. Shrug. No biggie. She’d survive. Though all the other points made by the above blog are spot on, like having a proactive hero with a goal, an absence of story stakes can be a writer’s downfall.

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com

Camp NaNo & My Escape From The Outlining Outhouse!

Category: Writing Craft

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Last November I attempted my first NaNoWriMo… but despite all my preplanning, my story simply wasn’t ready to be churned out in one go. I hit roadblock after roadblock because I hadn’t developed something crucial regarding the story or the characters, and had to go back to change things, and try again. Which, I suppose, is what writing is all about. But I’d rather develop those things before I get into the messy process of writing. So what was I missing?

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com and find out.

2 Parts of Character Need: Psychological + Moral

Category: Characters, Writing Craft

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I’ve been reading writing craft books for almost two decades, and it’s gotten to the point where most of them don’t tell me anything I don’t already know. But recently I had a creative crisis that prompted me to look hard for new information, and I came across THE ANATOMY OF STORY by John Truby. I highly recommend you check it out. I’m not going to regurgitate the book’s content; I’m simply going to highlight a small tidbit I found in Chapter 3 that has completely changed how I approach developing the hero’s character arc…

Click here to read the full article on WriteOnSisters.com

A Pre-Writing Checklist

Category: Writing Craft, Outlining

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(aka 4 Essential Story Elements to Develop Before You Write)

Starting a new project is always exciting. After I applied to a writers grant with my current WIP this February, I decided to start another novel, or rather resurrect an idea I’d developed a year earlier. I already had character sketches and a beat sheet complete, so I rushed right in to writing a scene-by-scene outline only to discover by Act II that I didn’t actually have a story…

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com

Masterplots Theater – Week 4 of the #AtoZChallenge

Category: Writing Craft

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It’s over! We did it! And we’re taking next week OFF!

Here are my final posts for Blogging A-Z 2016…

T is for Thriller

How do you tell the difference between a mystery and a thriller? I explain…

V is for Vengeance

For all those writers who are just dying to exorcise a past wrong through fiction, this is the masterplot for you! 

X is for X Meets Y (Genre Mashups)

All month we’ve been talking about writing individual masterplots, but what if you’re deliberately writing a story in two genres? What the heck is that? Well, I’d call that a “mashup”, or for the purposes of the A-Z Challenge, an “X Meets Y” masterplot.

Z is for Zoomorphic

For the final letter of the month, I get to break down the plot of my new favourite movie: ZOOTOPIA.

Masterplots Theater – Week 3 of the #AtoZChallenge

Category: Writing Craft

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It’s week 3 of the April A-Z Blogging Challenge. Here are my MASTERPLOTS THEATER contributions at WriteOnSisters.com

N is for Nemesis

Even if you’re not writing a full-fledged rivalry story, mastering the details of the Nemesis plot will strengthen any hero-villain relationship.

P is for Pursuit

Commonly called the Chase Plot, we examine how to base an entire story around the villain pursuing the hero.

R is for Rite of Passage

Many people think this is another term for “coming-of-age story.” Though youthful tales involving loss of innocence and puberty most definitely fit the mold, not all Rite of Passage stories are about teenagers because we humans can encounter “life problems” at any age.

Masterplots Theater – Week 2 of the #AtoZChallenge

Category: Writing Craft

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It’s week 2 of the April A-Z Blogging Challenge. Here are my MASTERPLOTS THEATER contributions at WriteOnSisters.com

H is for Happily-Ever-After

This masterplot isn’t necessarily a Love Story; it just means the ending is happy! Check out this post to see what I mean.

J is for Journal 

Think your teen diaries would make a great novel? See if they have these five qualifications.

L is for Love Story

And finally, I break down the Love Story masterplot, which doesn’t necessarily mean everything ends happily-ever-after, though some readers may disagree.

Masterplots Theater – Week 1 of the #AtoZChallenge

Category: Writing Craft

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Hi all! So I’m super busy over at WriteOnSisters.com writing three posts a week for the April A to Z Blogging Challenge. Here are my contributions thus far:

B is for Buddy Love

Perhaps you’ve been contemplating a story idea that has two compelling lead characters and can’t decide which is the true hero. Well, I have good news for you — maybe you don’t have to choose! Today we study a masterplot that has two heroes: Buddy Love. Click here to read the full post.

D is for Dystopia

Despite the cry of “dystopian stories are sooooo over!” new ones come out every month. It feels to me that dystopia is not just a trend; it’s a genre that’s here to stay, just like sci-fi or historical fiction, and frankly it’s been around much longer than The Hunger Games. So if you have an idea that’s set in a false utopia, never fear, there’s hope of publication after all! Click here to read more about this masterplot.

F is for Fool Triumphant

That last masterplot was pretty intense, so today we’re going to lighten things up! If you love comedy, you might have a Fool Triumphant story in your repertoire. Click here to read the full post.