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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What are the types of “voice” in writing?

Understanding the concept of “voice” in writing can be tough because voice itself can be hard to define. The best explanation of it is in the book True Stories by Rebecca Rule and Susan Wheeler. They wrote, “Voice…is like sex appeal in a person: You know it when you see it, but you probably can’t…

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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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Lose “Said” & Try Action Tags in Dialogue

Dialogue is one of the most fun parts of a story to write. We can really get in our characters heads while writing dialogue. It’s our opportunity to let our characters speak, to share who they are. We can also use dialogue to develop our characters not only through their words but also through their…

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The Beloved and Oft-Misused Semi-colon

I’m not sure why it is that teen writers love the semi-colon, but they do; however, despite their love for it, they often misuse the poor thing. I don’t think this is all their fault. For whatever reason, at least where I teach, students have a semi-colon “learning gap.” They seem to be either terrified of…

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Some Basics of Showing Writing

Great descriptive writing combines all of the senses: sight, touch, taste, smell, and sound. It transports your readers to a place where they can feel the place and see the characters. The key to doing this, and doing it well, is to combine a variety of sensory imagery in your writing. Generally, we’re pretty good…

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