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The Scar’s the Thing: Tropes in Advanced Craft

Tropes, characters, and story What do you think of when you hear the word trope? Do you think of a story building block? Or an overused concept? These days, we hear about tropes often, but the meaning is less specific. Some writers love them, while others loathe them. One constant is that tropes are a storytelling staple stemming from fairy and folk tales. Tropes are valuable storytelling build…

Starting Can be the Hardest Part: Writing the Opening of Your Novel

I recently finished writing my 18th book. To some that makes me a baby writer, but to others it’s seasoned writer territory. Wherever you fall on that scale, I think we can all agree that by book 18 you’ve probably figured out the basic structure of a book and reader expectations for your genre. That doesn’t mean you won’t run into issues while writing. My issue with book 18 was that I could no…

Red Herrings & Plot Details: How to Keep Track of Them & Not Leave Them Hanging

In fiction, the term “red herring” is a technique designed to distract the reader by introducing misleading information. It’s a false clue, meant to deceive, before the truth is revealed. Take a look at your latest story. Have all your plot twists been resolved? Do you have any red herring plot threads that you overlooked? There’s nothing more frustrating than finishing your book, tweaking ever…

Using Names to Develop Characters

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, By any other word would smell as sweet.” —Juliet The naming of our characters runs the gamut. Our characters are “ours” and character names provide opportunities for authors to expand the emotion, impact, and resonance of their stories. Or as Elizabeth Ann West, author of 25 books and a digital publishing professional for over a decade said, “A name…

Using Core Values to Strengthen Characterisation

As a writer you will know that the key to memorable, engaging fiction is believable characters that readers can relate to. But how can you dig deep into your characters to make sure that they are as real to your reader as they are to you? In this article I will take you through why developing an understanding of core values can help strengthen your characterisation and improve motivation and co…

Selecting a Plot Structure that Works for You

Plot structures are not new. Everything from Greek tragedies to Shakespearean plays have been written in three- or four-act structures and their timing measured in beats. There are a ton of books and videos on the topic. Vonnegut shared his now famous “Shape of Stories” lecture. Bradbury, Harlan, Orson Scott Card, Kevin J. Anderson, and many others willingly share their own favorites and advice…