4 Revision Goals: Conflict, Emotion, Surprise, Enrich

4 Revision Goals: from Darcy Pattison's Fiction Notes blog at darcypattison.com

For the next month, my writing goals for my work-in-progress novel trilogy are clear: conflict, emotion, surprise, enrich. The trilogy is tentatively called, The Blue Planets, and is an early-teen or YA science fiction. Book 1, The Blue Marble, has a complete draft; for Books 2 and 3, I have complete outlines. I’m happy with […]

Beta Readers: Facts, Grammar, Plot, Character and More

IMG_9538

Thanks to the computer industry, we no longer have first readers, we have beta readers. Early versions of software that engineers expect to be riddled with problems were called beta versions. Beta is the second letter in the Greek alphabet, so presumably, the alpha versions were kept all in-house. Betas were the first public versions […]

Continuity Goofs: Avengers, Hunger Games and Your Novel

Oliver-leftie001

When my picturebook, The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman was first published, I lied to my mother-in-law. When she saw this image of Tameka writing a letter to her Uncle Ray, my MIL noticed that Tameka was left-handed. I told her that I asked the illustrator, Joe Cepeda especially to make her left handed like […]

Fight, Chase, Shoot, Battle! Action Scene Checklist

castles-healy

Darcy’s Note: In my quest to understand action scenes better, I came across Ian’s book and was blown away by how practical it is. To make it even more practical I created an Action Scenes Checklist. To understand it and fully exploit it, you should buy his book and read it cover to cover. Yes, […]

My UnEasy Relationship with Metaphors

1000Days-Hale

There’s an apocryphal story about a writer who worked hard all day. In the morning, he inserted a semi-colon; in the afternoon, he removed a semi-colon. This morning, I inserted a metaphor; this afternoon, I removed the metaphor. Metaphors continue to be a thorn in my side. I appreciate when I’m reading a story or […]

Advice to Academy Award Winners: Trust Your Art

S&B COVER3-CS.indd

As I watched the Academy Awards last week, I was struck by how little the winners trusted their works of art. The ceremony was peppered with political statements for one cause or another. (Don’t misread: I have sympathies for these causes, but not for taking over the ceremony to smash us over the head with […]

5 Amazingly Simple Ways to Transform Quiet Scenes into Exciting Scenes

EXCITEMENT

Today, I worked on a difficult scene. It wasn’t a big action-packed scene; those are easy. Instead, it was a transition scene that moved the story along a week and had the potential to lose the reader with it’s lack of tension. Donald Maass, in his Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook, repeats this signature mantra, […]

Pacing: Space out the Tense Moments

Puzzle

Tension on every page is the mantra for fiction writers. But what if your tension is spread unevenly throughout the story? That may be fine, because stories need a natural rhythm, an ebb and flow of action, thoughts, dialogue and reflection (inner dialogue). Some scenes may be crammed with small actions, while others pace steadily […]

I Want a Dog by Darcy Pattison

10BreedPoster500x500x150

Today launches two new books for me. How the Stories Started. For years, I’ve taught writing. I teach everything from kindergarteners to advanced novelist, gifted-and-talented kids to reluctant writers. I’ve developed techniques for helping people write stronger and they usually involve either revising or prewriting. In schools, it’s hard to get kids to revise; they […]

Outrage: A Negative Emotion that Works In Your Novel

ToSellisHuman

As 2014 events unfolded in Ferguson, Missouri and in New York City over race relations, I watched with a storyteller’s eye. That’s not to make light of the events–which have sparked massive debates and outrage. Rather, I put on my writer’s glasses and tried to evaluate the news reports AS A WRITER. Conflict on Every […]

Lessons from a Master: Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Jurassicpark

Opening a novel in an interesting way is crucial. I often see stories-in-progress with weak openings. This week, I happened to pick up a copy of the classic Jurassic Park, and I was stopped on the first page with the economy of language. In two brief paragraphs, Crichton sets a scene, introduces a character, puts […]

Christmas Eavesdropping

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dani_vazquez/10479425133

Notes from the Field During the holidays, it’s hard to concentrate on a story. But it’s not hard to BE a writer. As you go to gatherings of friends and families, one thing you can do is EAVESDROP! In your story, you want dialogue to sound natural. One way to study dialogue is to just […]