Tag Archive | how to write

March 19

Today is the birthday of: Irving Wallace, Philip Roth

Tip: Don’t start all the character names with the same letter. Keeping John, Joan, Jeff, Jane becomes too confusing for the reader. Vary your names and their attributes. Make them real.

Thought: “You have to keep writing, keep submitting, and keep praying to the god of whimsy that some editor will respond favorably.” – Peter Benchley

Teaser: You have been cursed by a witch. You will never write another word—including mundane things like emails and grocery lists—unless you…. What? Do you do it?

March 18

Today is the birthday of: William Cosmo Monkhouse, Richard Condon, John Updike

Tip: Unless you’re under a deadline, put your finished work away for at least a week. More would be better. Then you can edit with a fresh eye.

Thought: “Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.” – Jules Renard

Teaser: You have the ability to go back in time only once and only for one day. When/where would you go and what would you do? Why?

March 17 – Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Today is the birthday of: Kate Greenaway, James Morrow, Michael Kelly

Tip: Is your villain morally corrupt and not just a brat? Those with bad morals are more interesting and have more to lose or gain. Brats are like flies—irritating, but not deadly. Be sure to give your bad guy some good features as well. Don’t make them flat and boring.

Thought: There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are. ― W. Somerset Maugham

Teaser: You just bought an old desk. While cleaning it, you find a faded photograph of a soldier from WWI. There is a name written on the back. Searching further, you find a letter to go with the picture. It was never sent. Why? Do you search for the family? What does the letter say?

March 16

Today is the birthday of: Margaret Weis, Harding Lemay

Tip: Don’t start your story with an info dump. If there’s background information the reader needs, give it out in small bites, not one big feast.

Thought: “I never had any doubts about my abilities. I knew I could write. I just had to figure out how to eat while doing this.” – Cormac McCarthy

Teaser: Identify your characters by showing not only what they own, but how they treat their possessions. Given an expensive, but ugly, gift, how would they treat it? What would they do with it? Write a short scene from two different character perspectives.

March 15 – Beware the Ides of March!

Today is the birthday of: Paul Heyse, Lawrence Sanders

Tip: Do you have a compelling opening sentence? One that draws the reader in and sets up the following action.

Thought: “Leave out the parts readers skip.” – Elmore Leonard.

Teaser: March 15, the Ides of March, is famous for being the day Julius Caesar was killed. Though it has been written about often, most famously by Shakespeare, write the assassination scene from Brutus’ point of view. Why did he do what he did? How does he feel about it?

March 14 – Pi day!

Today is the birthday of: Hank Ketcham, Pam Ayres, Kevin Williamson

Tip: Do you have compelling hooks at the ends of your chapters? Things that make your reader want to keep reading? Or do you put your characters to sleep—and thus your readers.

Thought: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Teaser: Today is “Pi” day (3.14 – a mathematical term but also today’s date.) What kind of pie would your character like to eat? Does s/he bake it from scratch? Or buy one and pass it off as his/her own?

Daily writing:

March 13

Today is the birthday of: L. Ron Hubbard, Giorgos Seferis, Robert Lanham

Tip: What is the action that sets off the rest of the action in your book? In a murder mystery, this would be the discovery of the body.

Thought: “Fiction writers are strange beasts. They are…observers first and foremost. Everything that happens around them is potential material for a story.” – Terry Brooks.

Teaser: You glance out your window late at night and see your neighbor digging a deep hole. You’ve always thought he was a strange character. Do you go out for a sneaky but closer look? Or do you do it overtly? What is he digging the hole for?

March 12

Today is the birthday of: Jack Kerouac, Edward Albee, Gabriele D’Annunzio

Tip: Make sure your characters have goals. They need something to strive for. What do they want? Why do they want it? Why can’t they have it? How do they get it? That’s your story.

Thought: “Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness, but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.” – Ernest Hemingway

Teaser: There is a ghost haunting you. Why? What have you done that brings this spirit to you? Is it a vengeful spirit? Or protective? Or impish?

March 11

Today is the birthday of: Douglas Adams, Jerry Zucker

Tip: Who are the main characters in your book? There should only be one or two—three at the very most. The other characters are secondary. Make sure your mains have the majority of the scenes.

Thought: “Desire is creation, is the magical element in that process. If there were an instrument by which to measure desire, one could foretell achievement.” – Willa Cather

Teaser: A “Tom Swiftie” is a pun-like adverbial tag and should be eliminated. i.e.: “We need a new lightbulb,” he said darkly. Write a short scene where you use as many Swiftie’s as possible.

March 10

Today is the birthday of: James Herriot, Johanna Lindsey

Tip: Sometimes it helps to have something in the ending reflect to the beginning of the story. You can do this with an object or situation that mirrors something in the beginning. For instance, if there’s a blackout at the beginning and the heroine has trouble finding candles or a flashlight, at the end, you could have another blackout, but this time, she has light handy.

Thought: “Creative ideas do not spring from groups. They spring from individuals. The divine spark leaps from the finger of God to the finger of Adam.” – A Whitney Griswold

Teaser: You’ve moved into a new home. While doing some cleaning, you find a loose board in a closet. You pry the board up and find….