Word by Word

Practical insights for writers from Jessica P Morrell

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Just say no

Most of us could not hack the lives of fictional protagonists because everything they do and everywhere they turn, events are designed to shriek denials, thwart desire, and erect roadblocks. Plots and scenes are built on forces and characters that stand in their way, blocking something they desperately wants or needs, delaying gratification. The results […]

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Writing a Story No one has Read Before

I listen to a range of podcasts, but keep coming back to two fiction series from The New Yorker. These podcasts feature readings of short stories and include conversations with the fiction editor, Deborah Treisman. In one podcast an author, but not the author of the story, chooses and reads a story from their archives […]

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Take care with minor characters

If you’re going to have a character appear in a story long enough to sell a newspaper, he’d better be real enough that you can smell his breath. ~ Ford Maddox Ford Minor characters are too often faceless walk-ons in fiction. But that means the writer has missed a chance to  create reality and complexity. […]

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Always noticing

“I would tell aspiring writers to observe. They already know it’s vital to read and write whenever possible, but often people forget to watch what is going on every day in their surroundings. That is where your ideas come from. Keep one eye on your computer screen and your other eye on the world around […]

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Bitter Truth: Writing cannot save you from yourself.

Sure it can heal some old wounds and that vast emptiness inside you that was once your marriage or your best friend who dumped you for no good reason. It can make you proud and even make your never-lavish-with-praise mother proud. It can fill you with joy and feel like the best kind of fever […]

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2016 Beckons us Forward: Notes to Writers

Around here the sun has made a welcome appearance and 2015 zipped past at a blazing pace. If I was the pinching-myself type, I’d have been pinching myself these past few months.  Where did all the hours and days and weeks fly away to? Some mornings I woke feeling robbed by time’s velocity, but then […]

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NaNoWriMo Hacks & a Bit of Tough Love

Thirty days has November and for thousands of writers around the globe, that means NaNoWriMo or National Writing Month, a giddy, exhausting yet exhilarating, marathon and  communal activity where writers jam on the page, producing a 50,000-word novel in a month. It teaches writers discipline, commitment, and how to survive on not much sleep. A […]

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What do your dreams say about writing?

writing sorts through the gnawing grief, the pains of being human.

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NaNoWriMo tip: Find your voice

Last week I taught an all day workshop on voice and as I was talking to my friend about it he mentioned that the workshop was just what people who are taking part in NaNoWriMo needed. You see, writing, especially writing fast and furious during November for NaNoWriMo, comes much easier when you find your […]

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Tribal: Advice for Writers

It’s a chalky-sky morning here in the Pacific Northwest. It started raining last Thursday and there have been deluges and downpours and drizzles. This is a pause before more rain returns tonight. I’m still practically swooning in gratitude. Because rain washes away pollen. Let me set the table here: Over the years I’ve become allergic […]

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