There are myriad essential elements in writing about how to write great dialogue. It is one of the foundations of good writing. Why? Because poorly written dialogue will make readers cringe. It is all too easy for characters to come across as flat, for verbal exchanges to be completely unrealistic.  Good dialogue, on the other hand, is appropriate and representative of a character. It rings true. It helps create well-rounded characters who are authentic and realistic. Good dialogue will lead to memorable characters and a book readers don’t want to put down. When Dialogue is No Good There have been plenty of times when I’ve started to read a book, only to stop because the dialogue didn’t ring true, because it felt contrived, or because it just didn’t sound like how real people talk. So…mastering dialogue is a crucial step in your writing journey. First, let’s define DIALOGUE. The formal definition is: the things that are said by the characters …

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Getting to know your fictional characters, inside and out, is crucial I’ve decided to change up the Writing Prompt process. I’m a goal-oriented person. Writing prompts are meant to get the creative juices flowing, however, they can also become a means to an end. When I first started writing, I used prompts to spark ideas. Before long I had a single character I tended to write about. Then she had a family. And a town. And on and on and on… So what we’re going to do is to create a character first. Then from there, you’ll use this character in each prompt posted. You can do things your own way Now, of course you do not have to do it this way. You can change the character you write about. It’s your writing. You can do whatever you want! The purpose of this approach, though, is to help you create actual scenes using your character.  Before long, you’ll have …

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A lot of people adhere to the idea that you MUST write every single day. If you don’t, you’re not committed enough! In the 17 years I’ve been writing professionally, I’ve heard that advice more than any other tidbit. Too many times to count, really. I used to believe it. I would write Every. Single. Day–No. Matter. What. I wrote even if I was dead tired. I wrote even if it meant I was more focused on the page instead of my daughter’s soccer game, or my son’s band performance. I wrote even if my well was dry and I had nothing to say. Because if I didn’t make time for writing, then I wasn’t fully dedicated to my writing path.  And doing things other than writing would only take away from my precious writing time. What I didn’t realize then—and what I still struggle with at times—is that giving myself time to do real life activities—and just unwinding—is crucial …

Writer’s Life: ‘Self-Care’ and Refilling the Creative Well Read more »

I love workbooks. They’re practical and hands-on and allow you to dig in and feel really productive. When I first created the 30 Days to Craft Your Novel, I hadn’t given any thought to putting all the downloadables (both infographics and handouts) into a workbook. But two of my students suggested that and, bam!, the seed was planted. I spent time compiling all the support material and the result is a beautiful workbook that supports the online course. I’m so crazy about this workbook. It’s full of information about novel-writing, as well as tons of hands-on, fill out the activities with information handouts that will help writers hone in on their: characters story structure writing techniques scenes and so much more! Whether or not you’re taking the 30 Days to Craft Your Novel course, check out the workbook and use it to help you on your writing journey. Happy writing!

When I first started writing, it was just for me. I met a friend on Monday nights twice a month. We used a book of writing prompts to tap into our creativity. We had no idea what we were doing.  We just wrote. Some of what I did with my writing in those early days was intuitive. That was good! Some things, however, were lacking from my writing because I didn’t understand specific writing techniques. I was in want of certain skills. I lacked finesse.  26 books later, I’m still learning. I always will be. But I’ve also got a pretty full toolbox holding a whole lot of information I didn’t know back then. I didn’t even realize how much I knew until I started creating my first online writing course. And then I was, like, WOW!, I know a lot!  When you know stuff, you take it for granted. You (wrongly) think that everyone has the same depth of knowledge …

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Funny story. I didn’t learn what an appositive was until I had to teach it, year after year, to classrooms full of 7th and 8th graders. I just used an appositive in the above sentence. Can you spot it? The answer: year after year (set off by commas) I like grammar, so I thought I’d give a mini lesson on appositives, because why not? An appositive is a noun, pronoun, or noun with modifiers directly next to another noun or pronoun, which gives more information. It’s easiest to understand by seeing. Let’s take the above sentence first: I didn’t learn what an appositive was until I had to teach it, year after year, to classrooms full of 7th and 8th graders. The noun the phrase ‘year after year’ is modifying is ‘it’ (referring to an appositive). Here are some other examples. The noun is bold-faced; the appositive is italicized. My sister Julie won the spelling bee! The teacher, a friendly …

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I was an English major in college, and I taught English/Language Arts for a lot of years. One thing I realized early on is that, although I had to take a linguistics class, I have absolutely no need to understand how to diagram a sentence.  Likewise, I have no need to understand interrogative adjectives, or demonstrative adjectives, or a distributive, quantitative, or possessive adjectives. Truly, none whatsoever. I appreciate grammar, and I cringe when it’s not used properly. I applaud those who love grammar. At the date of this post, I’ve written and published 26 books. And do you know what? I didn’t know what an appositive was until I had to teach it in my 7th grade Language Arts class.  There are many parts of grammar we just don’t need to know on a conscious level. But—because there is always a but—there are some that we do.  Understanding and using descriptive adjectives is something we, as writers, should understand. …

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