#AtoZChallenge : Productivity + Theme Reveal

Category: Time Management & Deadlines

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The April Blogging From A to Z Challenge is upon us, and for the third consecutive year, the Write On Sisters are doing it! In 2014 we didn’t have a theme; it was kind of a free-for-all about writing between four bloggers. In 2015 Robin and I focused our efforts on writing craft with the “3, 2, 1 BLASTOFF to Stellar Writing” theme in which each post had 3 quick tips on an aspect of writing, 2 examples of good technique, and 1 resource for more in-depth help. And our 2016 theme is…

Actually, hold the curtains! I’ll reveal this year’s theme by the end of this post (promise), but first, because of the demands of the A to Z Challenge, we should share some tips on writer productivity…

Click here to read the full post on Writeonsisters.com


A Screenwriter Gets Schooled in Novel Writing

Category: Writing Craft, Screenwriter Tips for Novelists

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Today I’m guest posting on fellow writer Sara Letourneau’s blog about the similarities and differences between screenwriting and novel writing…

I started my writing career as a television screenwriter, but my first love has always been books. So, after screenwriting for what seemed like an eternity to my young self (though I’d only been making a living at it for five years), I decided it was time to write a novel. Being a “seasoned professional,” I estimated I could develop a book idea and write a first draft in one year. After all, I already knew how to craft great stories. Novels simply used more words to tell those stories, right?

Oh, the naiveté of inexperience. I soon learned that more differentiates novels and screenplays than the number of words.

But let’s start with the similarities. I wasn’t totally wrong; many screenwriting skills do transfer to the process of writing novels…

Click here to read the full post on Sara’s blog.


1 Key Question for Worldbuilding (+ A Handy Checklist)

Category: Writing Craft

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I’m a newbie to hardcore worldbuilding. Up until recently, I’d only developed stories that took place in the real world. I may have put fantastical creatures in the stories, but the setting was Earth as we know it. Now I’m writing a novel that takes place 100 years in the future, still on Earth, but it won’t be an Earth we recognize because, you know, it’s post-apocalyptic! That means I get to make up all kinds of stuff. Fun! It also means I need to figure out what Earth could be like in the future after a major disaster. Daunting!

I had some ideas, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything obvious during my first worldbuilding attempt, so I turned to the Internet and searched for worldbuilding checklists. I found a few blogs that were helpful, but for the most part the information I uncovered was either super general or intimidatingly detailed (really? 500 questions to answer! That seems excessive). So I created my own checklist and in the process discovered there is really just one question to rule them all! Ahem. We’ll get to that. But first…

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com


Character Development: The Reaction Chart

Category: Characters, Writing Craft

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Creating characters to populate your novel or screenplay is a lot of fun. You get to devise different backgrounds and opinions and alliances and secrets and all kinds of interesting stuff that brings the cast to life. But you can have the most detailed character sketches and richly drawn cast ever, and your story could still fall flat. How? It all comes down to how your characters react

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com


The Influence of Books on YAs

Category: Writing YA

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Have you heard of The Unslut Project? It began with Emily Linden sharing her middle school diaries online in a Tumblr page. It’s now a memoir and a documentary. Unslut is the all-too-common story of a preteen girl who was slut shamed and bullied. Lindin shared her story to reassure other girls suffering from sexual bullying that they’re not alone and this time will pass and their lives will get better. Definitely a message that needs to be heard.

The experiences in UNSLUT: A DIARY AND A MEMOIR are familiar to me, probably because like most women I experienced sexual bullying myself and witnessed it happen to my friends as well. But I was particularly struck by a sentence in a footnote on page 61 in regards to Lindin’s eleven-year-old self wanting to commit suicide: “So many different factors go into a child’s decision to end her own life, but one common thread is that, as children, we lack the understanding that life can get better.”

I stopped and read that sentence over, puzzled. Do children not understand life can get better?

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com


Writers: Should You Quit Your Day Job?

Category: Time Management & Deadlines, Writing Life, Money

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This question has been on my mind a lot considering that over the past year I’ve gone from no day job to two concurrent part-time jobs. How much to work while pursuing a creative dream is a common dilemma. There’s no easy answer and the approach you take depends on your writing habits and where you’re at in your life and your career. However, if you’re considering quitting your day job, or reducing your hours to part-time, or even going back to work full-time, maybe I can help by sharing what I’ve learned over the last decade pursuing my dream while working part-time, full-time, overtime, and not at all…

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com


Resolutions & Goals: 5 Tips to Make Them Stick

Category: Writing Life

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Writers are notorious for setting ambitious new year’s resolutions and goals, then beating themselves up for not achieving them. At least that’s what I’ve done the last few years. The result? Around this calendar milestone I always feel like a failure, despite the things I managed to accomplish. But no more! I’ve come up with 5 tips to make my 2016 resolutions and goals stick, so that by year end I feel like a success…

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com

Happy New Year!


Accidental Outdated Slang in YA

Category: Writing YA

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When it comes to writing for teenagers, the general rule regarding language is this:

Don’t use slang in your YA novel.

I abide by this rule, yet it’s come to my attention that I may be using slang accidentally! WTF?

Read the post on WriteOnSisters.com to find out what happened.


How To Handle Feedback: 6 Do’s & Don’ts

Category: Writing Life, Feedback & Critique

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It’s another Archive Revive because I just got a new writing gig and am super busy! Currently, I’m sifting through feedback from the clients, so this re-post is appropriate…

Over the last 15 years, I’ve had lots of opportunities to learn how to deal with script notes, whether from friends, teachers, screenwriters, broadcasters, producers or directors. In TV, it often feels like everyone, even the office dog, critiques your script. So, without further ado, here are 6 tips on handling feedback…

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com


Results of a Slow Writer’s First NaNoWriMo

Category: Writing Life

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This year was my first participating in the legendary National Novel Writing Month. I’m a slow writer and never felt up for the challenge, but 2015 is apparently “The Year Heather Faces Intimidating Challenges,” so I gave it a go. I even made a plan: A Slow Writer’s Scheme to Win NaNoWriMo. So how’d I fare? And why am I writing about it like it’s in the past tense even though it’s still November? Read on and I’ll tell you…

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com


Mushy Middle Writing Tips For NaNoWriMo

Category: Writing Craft, Story Structure

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Hey NaNaWriMo writers! How’s it going? It’s mid-November and that means you’re deep in Act II and might be encountering some mushy middle difficulties. So here are some tips to get you through…

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com


Character Development: The Interaction Chart

Category: Characters, Writing Craft

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Last week I shared Ten Questions To Ask Your Characters to make sure the supporting cast is as well-rounded as the protagonist. But that’s just step one to developing a novel’s cast. Now that we know who everyone is, what they want, and what their role is in the story, it’s time to figure out how they interact with each other…

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com.


Top Ten Things Writers Should Ask Their Characters

Category: Characters, Writing Craft

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A week before NaNoWriMo began, I realized I didn’t know my supporting characters. Whoops! I had spent so much time figuring out my plot based on my heroine’s goal that I had neglected all the other characters, of which there are many because I’m writing a horror and a body count is required! But I didn’t have time to do full character sketches for all of them. So I came up with ten questions to ask my characters that cuts to the essence of their very souls — in ten minutes or less.

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com


Reading for Writers 101: Resolving a Disconnect Between Show & Tell

Category: Writing Craft, Reading for Writers 101

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Sometimes when I’m reading a book, a scene takes me right out of the story because I don’t “buy” it. It’s not that what is taking place is completely implausible, it’s that the writer has not convinced me of its truth. I have faith that a skilled writer can make a reader believe anything. The catch? There must be solid reasons the characters do what they do (aka character motivation), and I blogged about that in this post Reading for Writers 101: Character Motivation. However, the issue I encountered in the book I recently read is not so much a lack of character motivation, but rather a lack of factual actions to back up that motivation…

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com


A Slow Writer’s Scheme to Win NaNoWriMo

Category: Writing Life, Outlining

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I’ve just signed up for NaNoWriMo for the first time EVER. As a hardcore plotter, I’ve never felt ready to participate. I can’t even fathom writing 50,000 words of prose without a solid outline. Plus, I’m not a fast writer. My inner editor and I are a team, not enemies, and I like it that way. She (my inner editor) gives damn good advice and prevents my story from going off the rails. I appreciate that.

I know, I’ve just confessed to doing the two big no-no’s of NaNo: 1) write slowly, and 2) listen to your inner editor. I bet you’re thinking I will totally fail this challenge!

Not so fast. I have a plan. I said so in the title. Let me tell you what it is and then you can determine if I stand a chance…

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com


The Inciting Incident: Problem vs Opportunity

Category: Writing Craft, Story Structure

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I confess I’m having trouble with my Act I. This is unusual for me. Typically I find setting up the story the easy part compared to Act II & III. So what’s wrong? After picking my first half dozen scenes apart and rewriting them multiple times, the problem finally became clear:

The Inciting Incident lacks a certain “oomph!”

Right, Heather, because “oomph” is such a clearly defined thing! Touché. But at least I have zeroed in on the issue. Now to examine the parts and what I could be missing…

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com


What Gymnastics Taught Me About Writing

Category: Writing Life

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It’s Archive Revive Day! I’m swamped with gymnastics coach training this month, so this re-post is appropriate…

I had two childhood dreams – be a novelist and be a gymnast. I was a strange juxtaposition of sedentary nerd kid lying on the couch reading for hours, and spastic athletic kid jumping around the backyard practicing cartwheels and roundoffs and walking the wooden fence like it was a beam. In my 30s, I finally pursued my crazy dreams and discovered that though these disciplines seem like opposites, both require certain characteristics that, unfortunately, I didn’t yet possess…

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com


Watching For Writers 101: Flash Forwards

Category: Writing Craft, Story Structure, Reading for Writers 101

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I began the “Reading For Writers 101” blog series (for a full summary of posts, click here) because I believe writers can learn so much from reading books. Well, the same goes for watching television shows or films. Hence, this new series: Watching For Writers 101. Welcome! Today we’re going to learn how to effectively use flash forwards.

A flash forward is a scene from later in the story that the writer moves up front, often as the opening scene, to hook the reader/audience. It’s used in movies (Fight Club, Limitless) and TV shows (Alias, Damages, How To Get Away With Murder) where the story opens with the hero in a perilous situation and then rewinds back to the beginning and doesn’t return to that scene until almost the end of the show/episode/film.

Writers use flash forwards because they are exciting and immediately hook the audience with the question: “How did the hero get into this crazy situation?” But flash forwards are often criticized for three reasons…


#WeekendCoffeeShare – The Month of New Beginnings

Category: Writing Life

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If we were having coffee, I might actually be drinking coffee instead of tea because I need the extra boost after a hectic week! You sip your hot beverage of choice and look at me quizzically. What happened? You thought I was pretty much done the video game script and I’d be focusing on my novel this month. Why am I so busy? Well, it all started with my yearly beginning-of-September panic…

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com


Deadlines: Helpful or Harmful?

Category: Time Management & Deadlines, Writing Life

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September is always a time for self-reflection. In a way, the start of the school year makes it feel like the end of the year, though not quite. I find myself thinking of the goals and deadlines I set for 2015. Back in January I wrote a post called The 7 Deadly Do’s and Don’ts of Deadlines, and I created a calendar of writing deadlines for myself.

Now nine months later, how is that going? Was setting self-imposed deadlines harmful or helpful to my writing process?

Click here to find out what my fate was on WriteOnSisters.com