5 Strategies to Seamlessly Tie in Back Story

[originally published May 2015; updated Dec. 2021] This week, I was talking to some members of the Let’s Write Club who were struggling to introduce new characters. They wanted to include all the details about the character but realized that was bogging their story down which brings us to the question at hand, how do…

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Some Easy Strategies for Creating your Story's Setting

One of the loveliest elements of a great novel is to be carried away to a new place, to really live that place and time.  That’s one of the reasons we all read.  However, writers don’t place their stories in a mere setting, they create entire worlds. It’s actually one of the truly fun parts…

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Why should you develop your characters’ backstories?

[originally published in 2016; updated and revised, 2021] Have you ever read the last few chapters of a book extra slowly because you weren’t yet ready to say goodbye to the characters? Can you list favorite characters that you have fallen deeply and irrevocably in love with? I’m willing to bet that if you’re a…

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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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Using HONY to Create a Character

“HONY? What the heck is that?” You might be asking. HONY stands for Humans of New York, and it is (in my mind) one of the greatest blogs EVER. This past week, a student wrote a great poem about how we, as humans, often base our judgments of others on appearances. The poem reminded me…

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What is a Character Arc?

Is a character arc a giant boat for characters that Noah built? Or perhaps it’s a lovely arched rainbow for our characters to walk through? Nope, it’s none of those. A character arc refers to how a character changes through a story. Your characters, especially the main characters, should experience some sort of change throughout…

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Should you outline your stories?

If you don’t consider yourself a planner, and you are writing a single scene short story, go ahead and start writing. These are much easier to revise since you don’t have multiple characters, sub-plots, and plot layers. However, if you’re writing a longer piece, like a novel, you should plan WAY more than you think.…

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Character Basics: Character Archetypes

When you’re creating a character, the most important step is to figure out what they are like: their purpose, personality, quirks, and voice. The list can go on and on. So, where do you start? I like to start with character archetypes because they give characters their purpose in the story, and they are also…

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