Understanding a Character’s Need

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Needs are under the surface. They are often hard to distinguish for ourselves. The same is true for your characters. Protagonists don’t start off the story knowing what they want and how to get it. Instead, they consciously go after their wants. And that ordeal usually satisfies their needs, though it doesn’t have to.  It’s easy to distinguish what the character wants. They are the goals characters actively pursue. In Jurassic Park, the characters want to survive. The sisters in Pride […]

What Your Character Wants

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You have to figure out what you want in life, what you’re going after.  Think about it. If you don’t have a clear picture of what you want, how can you take action to get it? Half the battle of becoming the person you want to be is believing and convincing yourself that it’s possible. We are our own worst enemies after all.  That said, it’s just as important to figure out what your character wants.  Their external wants direct […]


Posted Leave a commentPosted in Just Write

How do you stick to the process once you’ve decided to be a professional writer? Remember, the only difference between a pro and an amateur is that the pro makes the habit of writing (whatever their schedule allows). They go back to the work. They make something of it. They don’t give up even when the work is complete crap and everything seems to be telling them they aren’t good enough.  What keeps you going? Where do you get your […]

Turn Pro

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What’s the difference between a writer and a professional writer? One shows up every day to do the work, no matter how hard. No matter how much they don’t want to. Or feel like they can’t. Or think their work is crap.  A professional has set goals. They know what they want to accomplish, why they get up in the morning. They make the commitment to show up every day. To prove to the muse that they’re willing to put […]

How to tell your story

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Not only should you consider who is telling your story, but also how to tell your story. Or, what’s the narrative device? Is the narrator using letters as in The Screwtape Letters? Are they writing a story within a story? Is your narrator unreliable? Are the thoughts of every character displayed on the page for the whole world to see as in The Knife of Never Letting Go? Does the timeline play out in the order events occur? Considering the […]

Who is telling your story?

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When you think about point of view, you have a few choices about who is telling your story and how. At what level is your narrator speaking? What character(s) does the story follow? Why are they telling it?  Whichever choices you make, the only thing that matters is that you have a reason for doing so.  For example, you could write 3rd person and follow one main character as in Harry Potter. Or, you could write 3rd person and cover […]

Innovating Your Writing

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If you want to write a thriller, you must have a hero at the mercy of the villain scene. Without it, your story will alienate your readers. They will not be satisfied. They might even avoid your work from then on. A love story must have a proof of love scene or it isn’t a love story. Mysteries have to have an inciting crime, something to solve. Performance stories must include a performance. Rocky wouldn’t be Rocky without the fight.  […]

The Importance of Genre

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Why does genre matter? Once it leaves the hands of the writer (after a long, sometimes slow process), a book becomes the reader’s. And genre tells those readers what to expect when they choose to read a novel. It informs cover design, marketing, and where the book sits on the shelves in a bookstore. While these are all important aspects of a story’s life, many writers think genre is stifling to creativity. They find it formulaic. Constricting. Let the publishers […]

Decide to Write

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Truthfully, there is no magic potion to get the words on the page. You cannot write a novel if you don’t sit down at your desk and take the time to put words on the page. That means you decide to do so. No matter how many times you hear that, though, it won’t stick until you start doing it yourself. More importantly, writing is more than the actual act of putting words on the page that will go in […]

How Do You Write a Book?

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There are many ways to write a book. You’ll find any number of books (including mine), accountability partners, writing retreats/conventions/workshops, website articles galore, and anything else you could possibly want. They’ll tell you what works, what doesn’t, when to start, how long it should take, how to keep motivated, etc.  Resources cover all the bases. Should you try and write it in a month? Write every day? Get software that converts your voice to text? Hire a coach? Set a […]