Are You Using Too Much Stage Direction?

Fiction writers: Are you using too much stage direction? Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, we don’t need to know that someone crossed the room, reached for the coffee cup, turned sideways, took a step forward, or glanced to the left. Visual writers have an especially hard time with this (fiction writers who “see” their … read more

Why Nobody Cares About Your Plot

A harsh truth today from fiction-land: Readers don’t care about your plot. They care about how your plot affects your characters. You can have as many betrayals, breakups, fights, CIA conspiracies, evil war lords, double-crossings, sudden bouts of amnesia, comas, and flaming meteors racing directly toward Manhattan as you want. But if readers don’t understand … read more

How to Use Adverbs Like a Pro

Contrary to popular fiction writing wisdom, adverbs are not always the devil. Like anything, they quickly become problematic when poorly used or overused. However when used well and sparingly, they can be a great asset to your writing. Case in point: Here are some examples of well-chosen, well-used adverbs penned by published fiction writers… “They … read more

How to Activate Your Passive Characters, One Verb at a Time

Here’s a quick tip: Active, dynamic verbs make for active, dynamic characters. (And conversely, weak, passive verbs make for weak, passive characters!) Instead of writing characters who have strong motivations, and who actively go out and try to get what they want, beginning fiction writers often create characters who are passive. In other words, the … read more

3 Easy Ways to Transform Boring Descriptions

We’ve all been warned about the dangers of using too much description. Readers don’t want to read three paragraphs about a sunset, we’re told. Description slows down a story; it’s boring and self-indulgent. You should keep your description as short and simple as possible. For those who take a more scientific approach to writing fiction, … read more

3 Ways to Increase Conflict in Your Dialogue

One of the biggest problems I see in fiction writers’ dialogue is a lack of conflict. (Come to think of it, one of the biggest problems I see in general is a lack of conflict, but that’s another blog post.) Good dialogue, like a good story, should be rich with conflict. There are exceptions – … read more

How to Know What Kind of Editing You Need

Looking to get your novel or short story edited? This post will help you learn the difference between the different kinds of fiction editing so you can make the right choice when you hire an editor. If you’re a fiction writer on the hunt for an editor, you’ve probably realized that there are tons of … read more

10 Best Books About Fiction Writing

Some fiction writing teachers try to steer their students clear of books about writing. While it’s true that there’s a lot of bad or dubious writing advice out there, my philosophy is that more information is always better. Over the years, I’ve read voraciously about fiction writing–upwards of 70 books about the writing life, plot, … read more