Category Archives: Tools

Keep Readers by Using Variable Rewards

The big thing in entertainment today is addiction. The products we use – especially computer programs, games, and apps – are designed to hook users into habitual use, then encourage repeated purchases to fuel our investment of time. Before we get too upset at these product designers, writing to sell our work means we have the same interests as them. I’m only addressing one approach of many today, that of variable rewards. The last marketing book I read was Hooked: How

Writing Exercises: Why do we use them, and do we need them?

There are some great stories of writing exercises out there that have changed writers’ lives, styles, even dreams. Some are simply interesting, and a few make you wonder why we do these at all. In my final writing course, our professor brought out a bag of clementine oranges, dumped them in a basket, and told us each to take one and describe it so well that we would be able to pick it back out of the basket at the

Worldbuilding for Realistic Fiction

I am proud to admit I write in many genres. I’ve been known to write light-hearted fantasy, speculative/science fiction, lite horror, a little supernatural, period realistic fiction, and contemporary fiction. People seem surprised when I say I use worldbuilding techniques on ALL of these genres. The last two are the ones that get raised eyebrows. Yes, I worldbuild for realistic fiction. No, it is not “doing research” exclusively. Every fictional world operates on core structures, and these are psychological constructs

Skipping Time in Your Story

Some stories take a lifetime to tell. Well, they would if we didn’t use narrative pacing to make sure we hit the best parts while not leaving out important details. Consider trying to tell the story of a person. Biographies would never be able to chronicle every moment of a person’s life. Often, they don’t even address every year. Fiction can span centuries. In order to successfully cover this much time, narratives often skip over some things. No matter how

Sure Growth and the Psychology of Practice

How to Become a Great Writer (no, seriously, this is how) This post is directly inspired by a recent Freakonomics podcast titled How to Become Great at Just About Anything. Tantalizing premise, isn’t it? Most of us have heard of the 10,000 hour rule; it takes 10,000 hours doing something to become excellent at it. (This is paraphrased.) Well, there’s more to it than just doing what you want to be good at, and the podcast spent a great deal

« Older Entries