How to keep a blog fresh

How to keep a blog fresh

Today’s post is by guest blogger and writer, Pamela Merritt. Pamela is a cat whisperer who shares her insight and advice on a blog and in her new book, The Way of Cats. She’s blogged for years and has advice on how to keep finding new content. You can also check her out for advice on how to train, care for, and live with cats. Take it away, Pamela! The challenge of keeping a blog full of fresh new content…

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Problematic Plot Elements

Problematic Plot Elements

Judging by drafts I’ve critiqued lately, two commonly used plot elements automatically come with problems because they tend to be low tension. These are meetings and travel. Meetings It can be tempting to deliver exposition by staging a meeting between characters. The meeting can be formally held around a table or casually placed at a campsite. It mostly doesn’t matter. A meeting is a meeting. How riveting do you find meetings in everyday life? Not very? Then why write them…

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Confessions of a Plotter

Confessions of a Plotter

One of the never-ending discussions about how to write is whether it’s better to be a plotter (who plans the plot ahead of time) or a “pantser,” one who writes by the seat of their pants. I have to admit it always sounds wild and creative to be a pantser, and I envy them their daring. But I am irrevocably a plotter, sometimes going as far as using index cards to lay out my story. I comfort myself by remembering…

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Opening Styles That May Turn Your Writing World Around

Opening Styles That May Turn Your Writing World Around

Today’s post on writing beginnings is from E. J. Runyon. E.J. is a novelist and short story writer, with two literary fiction novels, one novella, and a short story collection. In non-fiction, she has two writing guides: Tell Me (How to Write) a Story and Five Ways of Thinking to Turn Your Writing World Around. Another novel and writing guide are due out in 2020.She runs the writer’s website, Bridge to Story, and coaches writers, from around the globe, online….

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Books about Writing

Books about Writing

There are a ton of books about writing out there, and I own a whole lot of them. Some I read once, but some I wind up rereading, learning new things each time, probably because I’m ready to learn them. Here are some of the books I’ve found most helpful. Writing the Breakout Novel (and its accompanying workbook) The Fire in Fiction By Donald Maass Maass is a successful literary agent. In these two books, he draws on what he’s…

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Tricky grammar: dangling modifiers, lie/lay, I/me

Tricky grammar: dangling modifiers, lie/lay, I/me

In a previous part of my life, I was an English professor. In that role, I wound up repeatedly explaining bits of grammar that writers tripped over again and again. Three of these were the dangling modifier, the difference between “lie” and “lay,” and the use of “I” and “me” in compound constructions. I also spent time explaining what passive voice, but I’ve already talked about that in a previous post. Dangling modifier Here’s an example of a dangling modifier:…

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What Do YA Writers Owe Their Readers?

What Do YA Writers Owe Their Readers?

Occasionally, I hear someone suggest that a YA book should embody a good message for teens. That feels wrong to me, but it’s hard to articulate why. No Sending a Message! First, I don’t believe a good novel of any kind sets out to “send a message” in a bald way, and if a book does, it probably cripples the writing. I do believe that a story embodies the writer’s world view and that inevitably includes pretty much everything: politics,…

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Yikes! I don’t have enough words!

Yikes! I don’t have enough words!

Every writer is going to be different, but I tend to write first drafts that are very bare bones. I find a first draft painful to write so I try to get it down quickly, planning to revise. As a consequence, my first drafts are often short of the 60,000 words that are usually the minimum for a young adult novel. I know that some of that brevity is due to things I have to work in later. One is…

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