Word by Word

Practical insights for writers from Jessica P Morrell

Archive for the 'Jessica Page Morrell' Category

Nail your character’s essence

Fiction equals characters. Characters make us care, worry, empathize. And characters need to be knowable. When a character is introduced in a story he or she needs to make a strong impression. (Walk-on and minor characters are sometimes the exception.) This means when you create¬† characters, after you make decisions about physical appearance and their […]

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Quick take: make it hard on your protagonist

Common writing advice has been circulating for decades: pile on obstacles in your main character’s path. Here’s a reminder: those obstacles, causing tension and suspense, should also come from within the protagonist. Which brings us to character flaws. Characters are far from perfect, which is why we love them and relate to them and worry […]

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Writing advice from Paul Coelho

“If you overload your book with a lot of research, you are going to be very boring to yourself and your reader. Books are not there to show how intelligent you are. Books are there to show your soul. “

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Quick Take: Use Your Pain

After my first book Writing Out the Storm was published, I got a phone call from an executive at iVillage. It was a high-profile site and the biggest women’s web site in the world at the time. I was hired to be the writing expert and teach hundreds of writers. The gig included live online […]

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Add sizzle: Tips for potent dialogue

Dialogue electrifies and ignites fictions. It brings characters and conflicts into focus, especially when characters argue, coerce, and threaten. Here are a few reminders about how to keep dialogue sizzling: Skip the throat clearing, greetings and pleasantries. Don’t warm up; jump right in. Ditch the names. Write dialogue that creates consequences. If there are no […]

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Breathe life into your stories through the senses

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“Sometimes I get the impression that I write out of simple intense curiosity. It is that, in writing, I surrender to the most unexpected surprises. It is at the time of writing that many times I become aware of things, which, being unconscious, which before I didn’t know I knew.” ~Clarice Lispector

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If I could offer one piece of advice

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Remembering Mary Oliver

It’s Monday, a day off for many people as we honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior and it’s dawned gray and wet. Storms walloped through our region lately with high winds and battering downpours. We’re now in for a week of quieter weather and I’m thinking ahead to new plants and flowers […]

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Neil Gaiman on stories

Stories, like people and butterflies and songbirds’ eggs and human hearts and dreams, are also fragile things, made up of nothing stronger or more lasting than twenty-six letters and a handful of punctuation marks. Or they are words on the air, composed of sounds and ideas–abstract, invisible, gone once they’ve been spoken–and what could be […]

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