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How Plot and Narrative Strengthen Stories

How Plot and Narrative Strengthen Stories

As a young writer, I didn’t know the difference between plot and narrative — or how to make both work for the most compelling hook, arc, and story. Lucy Christopher at Bath Spa University was the first to sit down with me and really explain it.

You need both plot and narrative hints to hook a reader. It’ll take a lot of revisions to get the balance of this right, but hooks that instantly immerse you in the story have this in common: Plot and narrative are working together.

In the opening of Hugo, for instance, the action (plot) that changes everything is when our protagonist tries to steal a mechanical mouse…Continue Reading

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WriteOnCon is Back!

WriteOnCon is Back!

Things have been a little scarce here recently. Why? Among numerous other reasons (the topics of future posts!), I’ve also been helping plan, set up, and coordinate the fabulous online kidlit conference: WriteOnCon!

We’ve been doing an Indiegogo campaign to help cover website costs, etc., and there’s just about a week left. Of course, it’s only now that I remember I haven’t actually talked about it here at all. *facepalm* SO HERE WE GO.

(EDIT: The campaign is over, but you can still register here!) 

What is WriteOnCon?

WriteOnCon is a three-day online children’s book conference from February 2-February 4, 2017 for writers and illustrators of picture books, middle grade, young adult, and even new adult. It…Continue Reading

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Show vs. Tell: A Rewrite Analysis

Show vs. Tell: A Rewrite Analysis
show-vs-tell
Photography by Jason Koons

Show vs. tell is one of the most difficult things to learn as a young writer. One of my novel mentees came to me with some excerpts to examine for the dreaded telling pitfall. This lovely writer had spent hours scouring the internet for advice, but found herself becoming more and more confused.

My method of mentoring often involves examples — partially because I learn by doing the thing, so I have to try it before I can fully explain it. I took her paragraph and spent about 15 minutes rewriting it in my own…Continue Reading

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Story Graphics: How to Assemble Your Cast

Story Graphics: How to Assemble Your Cast

cast-graphics-2I was recently telling someone I’ve been novel-mentoring about creating graphics, and how it can be a great way to break writer’s block. She was like, “Huh?” And I was like, “Oh, I guess this isn’t the most obvious.”

So, we already talked about visualizing characters with photo collages. Today we’re going to talk about assembling our casts. This used to be something I just did for fun, but it’s become a necessary part of my drafting process. In fact, for Eleventh Trade I had to stop writing and take a day just to pull together my cast.

Making…Continue Reading

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How to Visualize Your Character (With Photoshop)

How to Visualize Your Character (With Photoshop)

Story graphics are one of my favorite parts of productive procrastinating, and one of my favorite types of story graphics is creating character concepts. I got this idea from my sister, Laura Hollingsworth, who uses it sometimes to brainstorm ideas for her webcomic, The Silver Eye.

Though I’ll be using Photoshop for this tutorial, you can really use any photo editing program that lets you adjust layers and occupancy. (GIMP is a good, free alternative to Photoshop!)

How to Make Character Concepts in Photoshop

Step 1: Find a Base Image

Find an image that basically looks like your character. This…Continue Reading

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20 Prompts to Uncover Characters’ Hearts

20 Prompts to Uncover Characters’ Hearts

Characters! Those cheeky fellas. I love seeking out my characters’ hearts. Finding the deep-down stuff that really makes them tick, and then bringing it out in the story. Normally I’ll spend a lot of time brainstorming this in the early side of my drafting, but I also like to revisit the basics when I hit a roadblock and stall out. Often when I’m stuck, it’s because I have stopped listening to my characters.

Here are some questions that can help you explore your characters and gain new insights. I’ve written them addressed to your character directly, and recommend answering them in…Continue Reading

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The Massive Story Doctor Giveaway: WINNERS!

The Massive Story Doctor Giveaway: WINNERS!

The blog’s first giveaway has ended! Thank you everyone who entered – there was a great turnout and I’m excited for more giveaways in the future!

I’m gonna keep this short and sweet, because 1) It’s Deadline Month and 2) We all know why you’re really here.

The Prizes Were…

1 Month of Writing Mentorship:

I’ll reach out to you via email and get to know a bit about your writing project and your goals for the month we’ll be working together. From there, my job is to hold you accountable to your targets with regular check-ins, help guide you through any hitches (whether you’re unsure of a plot move or unsure how to avoid “infodumping”), and give you a short…Continue Reading

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