Contests

Contest Winners! (And Other Friday Fun)

I’ll bet you’re here to find out who won the “First and Last” contest, right? Well, I’ll get to that in a minute. First, I wanted to say “thanks” to all who entered, 20 of you, as it turned out, though I received 21 entries because I never said you couldn’t submit more than one and one intrepid writer happily sent two entries with my blessing. These were lots of fun to read – so fun, in fact, that I’m planning on posting the rest of the entries throughout next week. You’ll enjoy reading them just as I did. Okay,…

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Self-editing Tips, Writing tips

Talking About Talking [Updated]

I promised a post about writing good dialogue. So here it is. (Because you don’t want yours to end up looking like this.) Before I share a few book excerpts, consider these general tips. Keep in mind, these are principles, not hard-and-fast rules. Avoid repetition of attributions. While you need the occasional “he said” and “she said,” you don’t need one for every line of dialogue. If it’s a conversation between two people, establish the characters at the beginning, then allow for the natural ebb and flow to reveal who’s saying what. Now, if you’ve got a long stretch of…

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My Thoughts, Self-editing Tips, The Publishing Process, The Writer's Life

Let It Die

Is it time let your novel die? That’s a question every writer faces at least once in his or her writing life. The decision to pull life support is difficult at best, debilitatingly impossible at worst. You’ve worked on this novel for, what, months? years? How many hours have you invested? Even a poorly-written novel takes a long time to write. Then there’s the emotional cost. Whether you love your characters or hate them, they’ve most likely become real to you. (I’m 99 percent certain I’ve seen some of mine hanging out at the local Starbucks.) Giving up on their…

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Beyond Categorization, My Thoughts, Original Fiction

A Few Words of My Own

A couple years ago, on a blog far, far away, I invited readers to send me a word or phrase that I could use as the basis for a short story. Readers sent me words like “cheesecake” and “dragonfly” and “rick-rack.” I wrote a story for each. But there was this one reader who thought it would be funny to send me more than one word. Here was her list: pus-oozing scabs maggot-infested corpses lightning bugs Hello Kitty band-aids Silver Queen corn a kite-flying windy day in March chocolate cake tiramisu sargassum tea Hershey’s Kisses flying monkeys a white tiger…

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Ideas, My Thoughts, Self-editing Tips

Your Novel Doesn’t Stink Enough

Scent. The forgotten sense. Take a look at your work in progress. How often do you invite the reader’s nose into the story? My guess? Not as often as you should. Consider real life for a moment. (In case you’ve forgotten, this is the life where you have to do laundry and feed the dog and occasionally acknowledge the existence of your spouse and/or children.) Breathe in each the following. Be sure to pause long enough for the brain to write the scene that goes with the scent. Diesel fuel. Chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven. The sidewalk after…

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Contests, General

Put Down Your Red Stapler and Go Home. It’s Friday.

Three things. Uno – The “First and Last” contest is coming to a close tonight at midnight… but if you ask really nicely, I might let you finish your story over the weekend. Here’s a link to the contest info. And thanks to all who have already entered. So far, nearly 20 of you have taken on the challenge. I suspect a few more are waiting until the last minute to submit your brilliant work. Looking forward to reading each entry. Two – I invited you to send suggestions for first and last lines that I might choose from to…

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General, Other Writer's Words

Thursday

Just a reminder about tomorrow’s contest deadline. Yup. That’s all I’m giving you today. Well, that and this link to an MSNBC article on why we get lost in a good book. Feel free to use the comments section to tell me what you think. Tomorrow I’ll have a typical Friday grab-bag of random tidbits. Then next week, it’s back to regular blogposts packed with clever wisdom and snarky humor.