Word by Word

Practical insights for writers from Jessica P Morrell

Archive for the 'Jessica Page Morrell' Category

Historical Accuracy and other Peeves: Skip the hugs and kisses.

With apologies–an early draft to this article was mistakenly published before it was completed. Updated November 17. Obviously I’m not alone in declaring this a humbling, angst-filled, anxiety-inducing year. Did I mention fattening?  Like many millions around the world, I’m following the COVID numbers with growing horror and paranoia. I’ve been wearing a mask and […]

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November

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From an editor’s desk: Accuracy and how not to screw up sight lines, fisticuffs, and body blows

I taught virtual workshops last month and before teaching one on editing, I was asked to comment on typical mistakes, red flags, and screw-ups that are easily noticed in manuscripts. I’m going to list them here, starting with something that drives me kind of batty. File it under A for Accuracy. Forget Hollywood, John Wick, […]

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October

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Mood meets dark night of the soul

There are still fires burning in beautiful Oregon and 5 million acres in the West have been incinerated. My house is no longer in an evacuation zone for which I’m grateful. However, the air is still hazardous and I’d really just like to step outside. Hoping it’s sometime soon. One technique that  all writers need […]

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More tips on introducing secondary characters

A bit cooler today I’m happy to report, but more blistering temperatures on the way. Awhile ago I posted this example of introducing an unforgettable  secondary character from the great Leif Enger’s novel Virgil Wander. You can find my column here in case you missed it. I’m going to talk about it during my virtual […]

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The magic of characters–including co-stars

Long after the intricacies of a fictional plot fade from a reader’s memory, the characters linger with an almost physical presence, a twinkle of personality, unforgettable actions, and their happy or sad fates. Fictional characters whisper their secrets, allow us to witness their most intimate moments and sorrows, and trust us with their messy emotions, […]

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SEPTEMBER

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Quick tip for fiction writers: threat and more threat

Fiction is action, conflict, threat, repercussions from conflict, and more threat. Since fiction is based on threat–something bad might happen to the protagonist and other characters– the tension this causes keeps your stories sizzling, makes that element real. Along with suspense, it makes readers turn pages. The beauty of writing fiction is that the real […]

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Join me in September for Virtual Workshops

How are you doing out there in Writing Land? Can you believe it’s August? We’re in the midst of another heat wave in Oregon today (insert profuse sweat and gnashing of teeth) which is beyond unwelcome since we need rain and forest fire season is upon us. I rose early to water, so ended up […]

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