Lesson # 88: Describing a Scene

The dog rested on the couch, curled into a tight ball, snoot hanging over the edge surrounded by a pile of sheet music and research articles. Wind howled outside the window blowing snow from here to Montana in a single gust as frigid air seeped into the room—goosebumps erupted on my arms. The carpet in […]

Lesson #79: What’s in a Setting?

In one of my college courses (I’m an English Literature major), I read a novel titled “Waiting for the Barbarians” by J. M. Coetzee. It’s an intriguing book for several reasons, but especially because of how the novel was written: it has very little defined setting. Let me explain.  The book is intentionally written to […]

Lesson #77: Writing the Show-Down

Every story has an ending. Smash-bang stories, however, will have smash-bang endings. By smash-bang, I don’t mean action-packed, surprising, or emotional. (Though a smash-bang ending can be this way). When I say “smash-bang ending,” what I really mean is that the ending is influential and changes the reader, makes the reader contemplative, and/or leaves the […]

Lesson #65: Strengthening Characters

In this lesson, we’ll discuss how to strengthen an already-existing character. Check out Lessons #62, #63, and #64 to learn more about strengthening plot, voice, and setting. Questions to Ask Are you editing an old manuscript? Have you transferred a character from one story to another? Are you editing your current manuscript and noticing some […]

Lesson #63: Strengthening Your Voice

  There are two “types” of voices in a story. The author’s voice and the narrator’s voice. In this lesson, we’ll give you some tips on how to strengthen BOTH types of voices. First, let’s define “voice.” (After all, it’s essential to understand voice before you can strengthen it!) I have a best friend. Let’s […]