She Hesitated, He Paused

Hey all, here’s a quick tip about showing the passage of short amounts of time in a scene. I see a lot of beats like this: She hesitated He paused A few seconds later There was a long silence He waited for her to answer She didn’t respond Instead of telling us there’s a brief … read more

When Your Story Gets a Lackluster Response from Readers

Today’s post comes from a subscriber’s question: “When I published the first chapters of my story online, everyone loved it. But since updating a chapter containing delicate matters, I feel like I lost my readers even though the story moved forward. I’m worried that I’ve messed up irremediably. What should I do? Thanks!” This is … read more

How to Get Over a Writing Slump

Stop me if this sounds familiar: After months of enjoying writing, you wake up one day and just… don’t care. The characters who once excited you seem uninspiring. The ideas that used to flow freely have hit a dead end. You hope things will feel differently tomorrow. But, alas, the next day you feel the … read more

How to Avoid Overusing “I” in a First Person Story

Hello intrepid writers! Does your first person novel or short story sound like a broken record of I-I-I-I? Even the most inventive fiction writers have a difficult time varying their sentence structures to avoid overusing “I” in a first person story, often winding up with such strange, convoluted sentences that the writing only draws more … read more

Naming Your Fictional Characters

A lot of writers have a hard time finding the right name for their characters when they’re writing a novel or short story. Personally, I often change names a few times before settling on a final one, and sometimes go through whole drafts with XNAME as a placeholder. Here are seven tips to help you … read more

5 Tips for Writing Great Descriptions

This month’s post comes from a question I got from one of my email subscribers: “How do you write description in your novels? Not a character one, surrounding ones. How do you describe the background of the novel?” Here’s my answer: I talk at length about writing description in my book The Complete Guide to … read more

Dealing With Procrastination

Hello writers! This week I’m answering a question from one of my subscribers about procrastination: “Do you have any advice about dealing with procrastination while writing? I get these amazing story ideas but I end up not writing at all and surfing the net instead.” Here’s my answer: First impression: You need to block yourself … read more

How to Spot an Info Dump

I got a great question from one of my email subscribers recently: “How do I know if I’m info-dumping?” Here’s my response! Wait… What is an info-dump? For those who don’t know, an info-dump refers to areas of a story where a fiction writer gives a long expository description, either in narrative or in dialogue, … read more

How to Control Your Pacing

I’ve been thinking a lot about pacing lately, as I’m in the process of editing a few of my own stories, which tend to be too slow in the beginning and too fast in the end. Fortunately I have a ton of experience speeding up or slowing down pacing when I edit my clients’ manuscripts. … read more

How to Write During a Pandemic

Normally I keep this blog focused on writing advice and steer away from politics, but with the COVID-19 pandemic raging and all the accompanying uncertainty about our future post-climate change, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a writer on a rapidly changing planet. What’s our responsibility in a time like … read more