Tension: Two Easy Ways to Pack Tension in a Scene

by Marylee MacDonald in For Beginning Writers

Tension is a sensation in the body. Fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals are hardwired to be on the alert. Possums play possum. An elk herd circles the calves. Octopi retreat into grottoes. Gorillas pound their chests. And, as for humans, what signs of danger raise our hackles? When we see movement out of the corner […]

Writing Models: How Close Study of Top-Notch Writers Can Up Your Game

Writing models can help you turn a so-so draft into a work of art. In the old days, before bookcases filled with how-to books that made the act of writing seem simpler than it ever is, aspiring writers learned the craft by closely studying the work of other writers. In 1971, after the death of […]

Journalism vs. Fiction: What’s the Difference?

What’s the difference between journalism and fiction, and why should you care? Well, if you’re a writer in this day and age, you’re likely to do more than one kind of writing. Long-form journalism often pays. Fiction rarely does. Or, at least, it can take time for people to find you and buy your books. […]

Do Women Writers Face an Uphill Battle? How Women’s Writing Communities Can Help

by Marylee MacDonald in Online communities

You’d think that in this day and age, women writers would have it made. After all, women buy more books than men. At writing conferences I’ve attended, women far outnumber men. Whether we’ve devoted our lives to our careers or families, I sense in women writers a pent up desire to explore their creativity. But, […]

Publishing Myths I Wish I’d Known | 10 Misconceptions About Writing and Selling Books

Which publishing myths cloud your vision? By “publishing myths” I mean misconceptions about the world of publishing today. To succeed as a writer, you must write a great book. To succeed as an author (meaning you intend to have a career writing more books) you must educate yourself about the marketplace of books. Publishing is an […]

Syntax and Sentences: How to Make Your Story Sing

by Marylee MacDonald in For Writers Doing Revisions

Syntax is the arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences. The cumulative goal of sentences in fiction should be to please the reader’s inner ear. If you can improve your ability to shape sentences, your writing will be give readers greater pleasure. Why is that? Because readers “read” with an inner ear. The voice […]

Fine-Tune Your Storytelling Voice and Make Your Book Stand Out from the Crowd

by Marylee MacDonald in For Writers Doing Revisions

Finding the right storytelling voice has launched the career of many a novelist. In this post I’m going to talk about how to discover where your voice is strongest and how you can build from there. In a previous post, I provided a word cloud so that you could begin thinking about voice. Even with that […]

Voice-Driven Fiction | Why You Can’t Afford to Ignore Voice

by Marylee MacDonald in General

Voice is like the juice in an apple. If there’s no juice, the apple tastes dry, and the reader won’t take another bite. And, readers aren’t the only ones who’ll take a pass. Unfortunately, apart from the issue of “likeable characters,” the single biggest reason agents send you a “bong” letter is that your manuscript […]

Music vs. Silence: Does Listening to Music Get in the Way of Writing?

by Marylee MacDonald in For Beginning Writers, Learn How to Write

Does music help you write, or does it get in the way? Music has the power to stop the chatter in our heads, and it can shift our mood. Because music opens us to feelings, listening to it can help us get into that zone of deep concentration from which inspired work arises. But, music can […]

Are You Puzzled By How Goodreads Wants You to Post Reviews?

by Marylee MacDonald in For Readers, For Writers Who Need Readers

Most people can figure out how to post reviews on Amazon, but if you’re an author, you also want your readers to post reviews to Goodreads. When I’ve asked folks to do that, I’ve been surprised by the number who said they couldn’t figure out where to click or how to save. Here’s a link […]

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