Tag Archives: novel writing

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

Creative Writing Tools: Maps

Maps support a story. This doesn’t necessarily mean providing readers with a map of your world will make it better, but maps are a powerful tool for consistency and inspiration during the writing and revision process. Fantasy writers often aspire to see their works in hard cover with a fold-out color map detailing the locations on the written page. That’s something wonderful to have, though that’s not what we’re addressing here. Maps are tools for orientation. They exist to allow

5 Questions for Tackling Big Issues

“Write about something you feel strongly about.” “Write about what disturbs you.” “Don’t shy away from writing something difficult.” This common piece of advice appears phrased dozens of ways. The first time I heard it was from a middle school English teacher in his instructions for a poetry writing assignment. I heard it a lot in college writing classes, especially for persuasive essays. When I heard it from my creative writing professor, it came from a writer who was also a

Plot Twists: Expanding Your World

Story structures require control of perception and the element of surprise. Plotting is all about retaining and releasing information to create dramatic and purposeful connections between the elements of the story. Plot twists (here simply defined as revelatory moments that drastically change the scope of the story) and their huge power to reshape a reader’s expectations, require calculated risk. “Playing it safe” can mean a flat scene and a completely outlandish shift could lose readers’ willingness to go along. A feel

Direct Readers’ Focus: The Golden Ratio

Minute details are a double-edged sword to the flow of a story. Outright descriptors – adjectives and adverbs, even forceful verbs – have the power to choke out ideas and action. Artful concepts, however, can accomplish incredible feats of sensory detail without heavy-handed descriptors. Smallness, minute detail in either perfection or chaos, holds worlds of fascination. The same way humans have built towers, telescopes, satellites and space stations, we’ve invested that time looking the other direction too. Magnifying glasses, magnifiers,

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