Word by Word

Practical insights for writers from Jessica P Morrell

Archive for the 'Writing advice' Category

Quick Take: Treasure Nothing

Treasure nothing, be willing to throw out anything. The story you just wrote that you are proud of should not be coddled and worshipped. You can do it again. If your house burned down with all your work inside it, you would still be the writer you are, and you would continue to be worth […]

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Writing = noticing

“You know what I believe? I remember in college I was taking this math class, this really great math class taught by this tiny old woman. She was talking about fast Fourier transforms and she stopped midsentence and said, ‘Sometimes it seems the universe wants to be noticed.’ That’s what I believe. I believe the […]

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Slightly Crazy: Map Your Course to Survive NaNoWriMo

I’ve heard NaNoWriMo referred to as the writers’ version of running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain; a tequila hangover, a 30-day migraine, and an icy plunge into Lake Michigan in January, except you can’t escape from the water. Then again some writers relish this annual mad dash. It teaches you to show up. it […]

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Matthew Quick on Writing

”  The most difficult part of the writing process was and is sending my words into the world. Writing is a very personal, therapeutic, and maybe even spiritual process for me. And the emotions I feel when I am sitting alone writing are very intense and often not what I show people face-to-face. But writing […]

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Advice from Don Delillo

First you look for discipline and control. You want to exercise your will, bend the language your way, bend the world your way. You want to control the flow of impulses, images, words, faces, ideas. But there’s a higher place, a secret aspiration. You want to let go. You want to lose yourself in language, […]

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Avoiding the Perils of Expositional Dialogue

     There comes a time in many stories when a character must deliver needed information via dialogue. It’s called expositional dialogue—a conversation with a whole lot of facts or explaining going on. It provides the back story and details necessary to understand for the story. Trouble is, after not too long these dialogue exchanges […]

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Inner Logic

Does this happen to you? You’re reading along in a novel written by one of your favorite authors and you feel yourself somehow slipping out of the story. Or, you’re stopped, puzzled or bothered by an action or dialogue exchange that just doesn’t feel right. As if it doesn’t belong in a story or the […]

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Quick Take:

Writing is like marriage or a healthy partnership. It needs nurturing, surprises, tender attention. Honesty is required and you cannot take your beloved for granted. And you cannot hold grudges for things that went wrong in the past. Keep writing, keep dreaming, have heart

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Quick Take: Emotions are the lifeblood of stories

Emotions are the lifeblood of characters and stories. Without characters feeling and exhibiting emotions, you’re just writing events, but you’re not drawing readers into your story. As you become more intimately acquainted with your characters, understand their emotional bandwidth, their highest highs and lowest lows. And, of course, how they react to them. Remember too […]

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Quick Note:

If you have not received the latest issue of The Writing Life newsletter, please contact me. My fall schedule will be available on September 3, and registration is now open for the Claim Your Story Conference in Ashland, Oregon on October 4. Fabulous line up of workshops! Keynote speaker is Melissa Hart talking about writing […]

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