Writer’s Corner

6 05, 2024

Kill the Darlings – Drama on every page

By |2024-04-30T07:32:04-05:00May 6th, 2024|Writer's Corner, Writing Craft|0 Comments

We all dislike negative, unhappy things happening in our lives.

Who wants to suffer and be unhappy? I sure don’t.

Reality is drama, disaster, and tragedy are what life is all about.

I don’t like drama in my life. I don’t like it when other people suffer and are unhappy. Unfortunately in fiction writing no drama makes for a dull, uninteresting plot.

A story without tension is flat and quickly put aside. That’s not what any author wants to happen to their books.

The BONI Intensive Seminars taught me how important suffering and drama are for fictional characters … if a writer wants to fully engage readers.

Tension on every page” to quote Donald Maass.

“Throw another bear in the canoe,” JoAnn Ross advises.

Drama is an integral part of real life and a critical part of a fictional character’s story. Readers want to become emotionally involved with our characters. Drama builds suspense, anticipation, and uncertainty by creating conflict, and it’s that conflict that keeps readers turning the pages.

When drama and suffering are absent, readers do not connect with our characters and story. They don’t read our books. I’ve had to learn to “kill my darlings”  and it hasn’t been easy.

If you need a nudge to add drama to your writing, let me suggest:

  1. The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maass
  2. Breakout Novel Intensive Seminar
  3. One Stop for Writers where you’ll find loads of resources for adding conflict.

And keep an eye out for the 2nd edition of The Emotion Amplifier Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Stress and Volatility by Becca Puglisi, releasing on May 13th.

Writers, what suggestions would you add to my list?

5 06, 2023

What’s a Meet-Cute?

By |2023-06-04T11:26:41-05:00June 5th, 2023|writer, Writer's Corner, Writing Craft|2 Comments

You may recognize the phrase meet cute from reviews for movies, television shows, and books.

Romance readers know it as a major part of the Rom-Com subcategory.

Recently the word was the Merriam-Webster word of the day.

That surprised me. I think of meet-cute as a specific vocabulary term limited to use by romance and scriptwriters or reviewers of those books and films.

Turns out it’s been around since 1952 when the two words, meet and cute, were paired in a The New York Times Book Review to describe the story of a ghost-writer who falls in love with a ghost. Today the linked words are used frequently to reference books, movies, and television.

Officially, the definition is “a cute, charming, or amusing first encounter between romantic partners. A meet-cute can be such an encounter as shown in a movie or television show, or one that happens in real life.”

Meet Cute is a popular fiction writing troupe. FYI: Troupe is another writer’s vocabulary word meaning a plot device for crafting a story. Read more about troupes here.

Romance authors use meet-cutes by creating situations where characters clash in personality, set up an embarrassing situation where two eventual romantic partners meet, or have a misunderstanding between characters that may or may not lead to reconciliation in the end.

Meet cute isn’t often found in everyday usage, but people do share their first meet-cutes in conversation and many married couples return to the location where they first met to take pictures on the anniversary of their first encounter.

If you’re a romance rom-com writer or reader, it’s a vocabulary must. If you’re not, now you know the meaning.

1 03, 2021

Should a Writer Blog?

By |2021-02-05T15:50:42-06:00March 1st, 2021|Writer's Corner, Writing Craft|3 Comments

First, let me say, writing a regular blog isn’t for everyone, whether you’re a career writer or not. It is a lot of work.

I’ve blogged for over nine years. I know firsthand how much.

Here are my takeaways for all the effort.

  • Improved Writing Skills

Writing, in my opinion, can be learned. Same as a knitter learns to knit. Yes, creativity and talent help. But practice makes perfect.

Weekly blogging means practice not only with writing, but also editing, another very important writer skill.

  • Opportunities to experiment

I get to change how I write and what I write. Some of my blog topics are informational, some are personal accounts, some are thought-provoking.

Blogging not only improves my skills. It keeps me learning.

  • Discipline, Motivation & Deadlines

Blogging provides lessons in all three. Readers look for that email in their inbox every week. Not living up to their expectation is super strong motivation.

In turn, motivation provokes discipline. I must get my butt in the chair and my fingers on the keys to meet the deadlines blogs demand, weekly and for the guest blogs I frequently do. That builds discipline.

  • Discoverability

The magic reward for all the effort is discoverability.

While my follower numbers aren’t huge by most scales, when I send a View from the Front Porch post out every Monday, Wednesday, Friday morning at 0600 Central Time precisely, I get 175 faithful readers clicking through.

If I did a book signing or book talk and that many people showed up, I’d be ecstatic. Blogging is my virtual book signing table that is open 24/7/365—internationally.

So, for this writer, the answer to the question is a resounding YES.

Blogging on a regular basis being the key. If you do that, blogging can be a powerful way to network with readers and have new readers find you.

14 08, 2017

Are you writing tight?

By |2017-08-13T16:00:06-05:00August 14th, 2017|Writer's Corner, writing, Writing Craft|1 Comment

These days we live in a fast-paced world. People can be impatient, especially about reading long-winded posts, emails, and texts. I’ve noticed that even fiction books seem to be shorter.

Our written communication should be clear and concise. Still, extra verbiage can slip in and most often, eliminating those words will not change the meaning.

How do we eliminate words that are simply filler that don’t add to the susbtance?

Personally, I use a weasel word list – an editing help I learned in a Margie Lawson editing workshop. It’s simply a list of words I know creep into my writing. Words like just, that, very, really, etc. Then, when I’m editing, I eliminate or replace those words.

Below is a great infographic that can help you catch extraneous words in your writing.

30 Filler Words You Can Cut Out of Your Writing (Infographic)
Source: www.grammarcheck.net

27 03, 2017

Who’s Telling Your Story?

By |2017-03-22T14:53:27-05:00March 27th, 2017|Guest blogger, Writer's Corner, Writing Craft|0 Comments

A Guest Blog

Today I’d like to introduce a writer friend, who also happens to be a fabulous teacher and excellent editor—Alicia Rasley. She’s going to offer advice on how writers can decide which character’s POV to use.

All fiction books are written from a particular character’s perspective (POV). As readers, you probably aren’t aware of POV specifics, but we writers can struggle with it. That’s why I invited Alicia to help.

Thanks, Judythe, for inviting me to guest blog!

I know I’m not the only writer kind of obsessed with point of view, so I thought I’d talk about one aspect of POV — which character should narrate a particular scene.

Often this is an easy decision, but if you’re having trouble making the scene as dramatic or deep as you want, consider changing the point-of-view character.

Now there is no RIGHT answer to which character point-of-view to choose for any scene. It will vary depending on many factors, including the author’s own natural POV approach and of course the events of the scene.

But here are a few questions to help guide you in the choice. Each of these questions emphasizes a different approach to the scene. One might lead to a more action-oriented scene. Another might lead to an emotionally dramatic scene.

Let’s use as an example a hanging in some foreign land, a public execution of a man (call him Tom), with his wife there near the gallows (call her Sue). Very dramatic scene!

Whose head should we be in?

POV Choice Questions

Which character is there right now at the scene?

It’s often better to go with the eyewitness rather than the one who just hears about it later– the TV cameraman at the execution, not the anchorman back at the studio.

Which character has the most at stake externally?

The one in physical danger maybe? That would probably be Tom, the condemned man, about to be hanged, of course.

Which character has the most at stake internally?

Sue, who is watching the hanging despairingly from the crowd, knowing that her baby (due in three weeks) will never know its daddy?

Who has the most intriguing perspective, or will narrate the event in the most entertaining way?

Maybe the hangman? Or maybe Sue isn’t so despairing… maybe she’s furious at Tom and will be glad when he’s dead? <G>

Who will change the most because of this event?

Maybe the judge who condemned the man, as the hanging draws closer, comes to regret his vengeful decision, and decides that he’s got to save Tom. The judge might be a good POV character because we can participate in this great change.

Who is going to have to make a big decision or take a great action during this scene?

If Sue is going to storm the gallows, seize a sword, and cut Tom down, she might be the best POV character (then again, I’d love to be in Tom’s head as she comes charging up the steps and aiming that sword towards his neck… <G>).

Whose goal drives the scene?

Maybe Tom has decided to make a great emotional speech and rally the onlookers to riot and save him. He’s the one with the goal– good POV choice.

Whose got a secret and do you want the reader to know?

If Tom is actually an undercover superhero who can burn the noose rope with his x-ray eyes and fly away, but wants first to implicate the judge who condemned him, so he stands there patiently waiting for the hangman… it depends on whether I want the reader to know what he’s planning or his secret powers.

Yes, I want the reader to know, so I put the scene in his POV, and concentrate on how hard he has to work to keep the secret secret.

Or no, I don’t want the reader to know: I want the reader to gradually suspect, along with – or before– Sue and/or the judge, that there’s something a bit off about this guy and the way he keeps aiming his intense gaze up at the rope…. that might mean staying OUT of his POV.

Who is telling all already through dialogue and action?

If Sue is being completely open and upfront about what she’s thinking and how she’s feeling, why bother to go into her head? The judge or Tom might be a better candidate for our “mind-reading” then.

You can see that this is not a checklist– any one of these is sufficient to make a choice, and some are obviously mutually exclusive.

But you can also see how many different ways there are to analyze the choice, and it all boils down to:

What effect do you want to have on the reader in this scene?

And whose POV will best create that effect?


Bio: Alicia Rasley would rather write about writing than… well, write. Nonetheless, she has written many novels, including a best-selling family saga and a contemporary mystery novel.

She also wrote a handbook on the fictional element of point of view: The Power of Point of View. She teaches writing at a state university and in workshops around the country and online.

Her website has articles and posts about the craft of writing. Sign up for a writing newsletter and get 13 Prime Principles of Plot and other free plotting articles!

18 05, 2015

Sharing My Favorite Writing Blog Links

By |2015-05-18T06:00:04-05:00May 18th, 2015|Writer's Corner|0 Comments

writers-corner-mediumI recently read that Writer’s Digest named Jane Friedman’s blog one of the 101 best websites for writers. That’s quite an honor and well-deserved.

Ms. Friedman always has great advice for writers. I read her blog regularly.

Writer’s Digest magazine has been compiling a list of recommended websites and blogs for writers for seventeen years. That list is where I’ve found many of the writing sites I visit most often for advice about how to improve my craft or the nuances of the publishing business.

Today, as a break from my regular Make Me Think narrative blog, I thought I’d share links to the writing blogs I read frequently. Each is chocked full of good advice.

I’m sure there are other great blogs for writers out there. Do you have a link to a blog for writers you’d care to share?

Or any other blog links you’d like to share where you find great information…doesn’t have to be for writers only.

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