Tag Archives: writing tips

Make Characters Unique with Layering – by Jami Gold…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Somewhere along our learning curve as writers, we’re likely to come across the skill of layering. But what does that mean?

Often that skill refers to how we layer in different elements of our story, weaving in our plot, characters, settings, emotions, etc. In fact, some writers even start with just one element—such as writing their whole story just as dialogue—and then layer in everything else once they have the shape of the story.

But today, I want to talk more about layering that focuses on characters. Specifically, I want to dig into how layering can help us create unique characters, no matter how stereotypical or tropey they might be on the surface.

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Four Ways to Build Suspense in Your Novel

Douglas W. T. Smith

For many writers and readers, the suspense is a genre. However, it is also a key element in all stories—if you want your readers to keep reading, that is.

Tools for creating suspense belong in every writer’s toolkit because they help arouse expectation or uncertainty about what’s going to happen.

And that worry pulls readers deeper into your story, whether it’s fantasy, thriller, science-fiction, literary fiction or any other genre.

Below are four ways to help add suspense to your novel, no matter where you’re at in the writing process, from drafting to the fourth round of editing (like me).

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Writer Flexibility: Trying New Things – by Jami Gold…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Even though I’ve studied story structure enough to teach workshops and offer beat sheets, I still love learning new perspectives. I still read blog posts, check out Twitter threads, and pick up books about beats, plots, and story structure, hoping to take away at least one new thing.

Once we’ve written more than one story, we often learn a “writer truth”:

The processes and techniques that worked on our last story might not work on our next one.

So I figure I should fill my brain with all the options. I want to have more choices in my toolbox should my usual processes for writing and editing a story fail. The more tools at our fingertips, the better our chances of finding something that will work.

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How to Connect With Your Readers

A Writer's Path

by Meg Dowell

The writer-reader connection is delicate.

Possibly one of the biggest challenges new writers face is figuring out how to create a bond between themselves and people they may never meet face-to-face.

How do you connect with someone in such a way that they feel you’re speaking only to them?

How do you make a stranger feel like someone, finally, GETS IT?

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Author Inspiration and Last Week’s Writing Links

Staci Troilo

Ciao, amici! This is Thanksgiving week here in the United States, and as you’re reading this, I’m either preparing or lying in bed thinking about everything I have to do. Or maybe I’m finally sleeping, exhausted with all that’s going on.

But I don’t mind at all. My family will all be together for the holiday, and I’m feeling blessed.

I won’t be around much this week (see the above mentioned busyness), but I wanted to provide one last quote and series of links before I take the week off. I’m drawing on one of my favorite authors, Charles Dickens, and his wise words:

Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty;
not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.

I love that quote. And not just for this time of year, but for everyday.

Whether you are in the US and celebrating or…

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Stupid Writing Rules: Why to Avoid One-Size-Fits-All Writing Advice – by Anne R. Allen…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Ruth Harris and I have both written about how there are no rigid rules for writing good fiction, only guidelines.

Even guidelines don’t apply to everybody. Every genre has its own conventions. What is de rigeur for a romance can be deadly in a thriller. And what readers expect in a cozy mystery would be embarrassing in a gritty crime novel.

Then there’s literary fiction: successful literary fiction often breaks all rules and guidelines with reckless abandon. I’ve been reading a collection of George Saunders’ short stories that would probably crash any editing program because there are so many grammatical “errors.” But Mr. Saunders won the Man Booker Prize in 2017.

The problem is, we need to get a handle on the basics of writing before we go off and imitate George Saunders. Our grammar and storytelling skills need to be solid before we experiment. It’s the old saw of…

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A Dangling Modifier Is Simple To Fix If You Know How – by Derek Haines…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

on Just Publishing Advice:

You are probably asking, what is a dangling modifier?

Of all the grammatical terms, this one is my favourite. It is just plain funny.

Dangling conjures up the vision of someone hanging from a tall building by a long rope tied around one ankle and swinging uneasily from side to side.

But in a grammatical sense, it implies that certain words or phrases in a sentence are in the wrong place.

A modifier is a word or a participial phrase that is intended to modify a noun or a verb. In other words, to add a description to something or someone or an action.

However, it is very common for the modifying word or phrase to be in the wrong place, which causes confusion for a reader.

There are two main types of errors that occur that cause uncertainty about what a word or phrase is supposed to modify.

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