How to Write Chapter 1: Include the 4 C's and a Q

[originally published 11/2014; updated 5/2021] Starting a new project is often the most exciting stage. As creative writers, we get to put our imaginations to work dreaming up witty and fun characters, fantastic settings, conflicts that would destroy anyone but our stalwart protagonist, and plot twists that readers never see coming. We get it all…

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Some Useful Plot Structure Definitions

When I first found my way back to writing after putting it aside for far too long (during my entire twenties and thirties), I discovered a whole world of “writing terms” that I’d never heard when I wrote as a young girl and teen. As a reader (and a woman with two degrees in English…

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Three Story Plotting Strategies

Last week my writing group had an interesting discussion. One of the members just sold her most recent novel to a publisher who wants a sequel within six months. My writing buddy has been busily plotting and planning the story. She swears by her plotting method which involves lengthy spreadsheets filled with character and scene notes.…

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Fast=Slow and Slow=Fast

This past summer at the Ventana Sierra Writer’s Conference, Lorin Oberwerger, a book editor, shared a great tip: fast = slow and slow= fast When she first shared this, I thought “what the heck does that mean?” But then she explained, and it’s a useful guideline once you understand it. It has to do with…

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Pile on the Tragedy

Writers who write timeless, compelling fiction tend to be somewhat sadistic when it comes to their main characters. Horrible trauma follows horrible trauma, and as readers, we can’t get enough. We must find out what happens. Think about classics like Romeo and Juliet. Poor Juliet has fallen in love only to have her parents hate…

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