• Repeating Prose Elements: Did I Hear an Echo?

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    HELLO! (Echo: Hello!) As I child, I lived near the Continental Divide in New Mexico and we often played, "Echo!" Throwing words at a mountain is a great children's game, but echoes can ruin your story. Repeating prose elements There are a couple major offending prose elements to be on your guard against as you write. The subject verbed. ...

  • Book Notes: The War that Saved My Life

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    Narrators come in different shapes and sizes, and levels of trust. Katherine Patterson said that the everything the narrator said in Jacob Have I Loved was "tinged with green." In other words, her unreliable narrator was jealous of her sister. Nothing she said could be taken as truth, especially when talking about her sister. The ...

  • Reader Confusion: Your Story Needs Clarity

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    Reader confusion is a common problem with first drafts. Prose is ambiguous, and scene details leave conflicting ideas of the time line or the physical location of the characters. Reader Confusion: Clarify Your Prose The problem of ambiguous prose lies in the writing itself. Let's look at some common problems and how to solve them. Fuzzy thinking. OK, ...

  • Complex Character Reactions

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    Character reactions to an event, comment or action are often complex. For instance, what if Jill slaps Jack. So what? The physical action alone isn't enough to determine meaning in the story. Instead, the writer must give the reader some kind of clues as to what is really happening and what Jack and Jill think ...

  • Book Notes: American Girls

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    This is a new feature where I highlight a book for some reason. It's just my opinion of a book I've been reading. American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Life of Girls is the tale of contemporary girls and their love/hate relationship with social media. Author Nancy Jo Sales is a journalist who took a ...

  • GoodReads Giveaway: Liberty

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    A Rousing Tale of Danger on the High Seas Why Did You Write This Story? Soon after 9/11, I was sitting at the table with my son, his friend, and my daughter. We talked about the 9/11 tragedy and then hoped for better times. I asked, "What should I write about next?" My son said, "Pigs at sea." That ...

  • GoodReads Giveaways: Rowdy

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    ROWDY: The Pirate Who Could Not Sleep comes out on June 1. One week away! To celebrate, we've set up a Goodreads Giveaway that will end - appropriately - on Father's Day. The giveaway ends on Father's Day. Rowdy: Father-Daughter Bedtime Story A rowdy heart doesn't know what it wants or needs! When a rowdy pirate captain ...

  • Shrunken Manuscript: Watch this webinar

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    One of the hardest things to find is a great critique of the overall structure of a novel. You'll get great feedback on a scene or line edits of paragraphs. But the overall structure of a novel is hard. Enter, the Shrunken Manuscript. I've taught the Novel Revison Retreat since 1999 and a mainstay has been ...

  • Novel Metamorphosis: Now an eBook!

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    In 1999, I started teaching the Novel Revision Retreat. In order to come to the retreat, you must have a completed draft of a novel. We spend the weekend talking about how to revise your novel. Many break-through or debut novels have resulted. The workbook that accompanies the retreat is Novel Metamorphosis: UnCommon Ways to ...