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Author. Word gatherer. Developmental editor. Speaker. Wayfinder. Encourager.

Archive for the 'fiction techniques' Category

Nail it

If I show you my character has great hair, you will not see her. If I tell you she has a tiny scar at the upper left corner of her lip from which protrudes one gray whisker–you will make up the rest of her face with absolute clarity. If I tell you my character is […]

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Character arc

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Quick Take:

Stories are about change. The more painful the better. These difficult changes are going to happen to your protagonist–he or she will always be the character most hurt and changed by the story events. The effect of all these changes? A character arc. Proof that your protagonist has come through the fire, has been somehow […]

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Details to heighten conflict

Our daily lives are filled with insipid details, background sounds, and habitual responses. There is both sameness and comfort in the dailiness of our routines, the furnishings and clutter in our homes, the alarm clock buzzing each weekday morning. And our storytelling needs bits of this day-to-day normality to establish an authentic and breathing world.  Within […]

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Villains: Color them Dark and Dastardly, part 1

A liver-eating, Chianti-drinking cannibal.Let the games begin!

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Fiction is about the most interesting events in your protagonist’s life

If your story is not the most dramatic, intense, and difficult circumstances in your protagonist’s life, why then are you writing it?

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Quick Take: Plan for Turbulence

Beginning fiction writers I’ll make this quick: In fiction characters do not get along most of the time. Tension comes from fractious relationships, power struggles, disagreements, love or hate or longing that cannot be expressed. Plan your stories for turbulence, not sweetness. Fiction is a world of unease. I told you I’d be quick.

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Brian Doyle on Voice & Truth

“I was learning a lot of times what people said was not at all what they meant….It was hard to learn all the languages spoken in our house. There was the loose limber American language that we all spoke, and then there was the riverine sinuous Irish language that the old people spoke when they […]

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Quick Take: Make your Crucible Hell-Hot

In fiction the cauldron or crucible is a setting or situation that forces characters to change or make difficult decisions; to face what they’d rather not face. I’ve written about cauldrons before and mentioned how they must be inescapable. Two powerful examples come to mind–the islands in Lord of the Rings and Jurassic Park. Let’s return […]

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Quick Take: Tough Choices

People are defined by their choices. This applies to poker players and politicians, world leaders and criminals, parents and coaches. Fictional characters are also defined by the choices they make. Choices start off a story because a character needs to respond to the inciting incident and first plot point. In Act two when the protagonist’s […]

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