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Showing posts from May, 2015

Starting My Summer Reading List...

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Writing Craft: GREAT OPENINGS

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I've been thinking a lot recently about the cliche, "To be a good writer, you have to be a good reader." I teach a workshop about writing cliches and have found this one particularly annoying because there is a LONG journey between identifying and enjoying good books and writing one of your own. In trying to break this down, one thing I have realized is that, as a reader and writer, I have maintained a personal bibliography of novels that do certain things well (such as great openings, great development of secondary characters, great happy (or sad) endings) and I turn to these works when I feel my own manuscript comes up short in one of these areas. I also use these books when I teach about various elements of writing craft. Here's a short list of novels I've recently cited in workshops about honing the opening pages of your novel: JUST LISTEN by Sarah Dessen LEGEND by Marie Lu ALCATRAZ VERSUS THE EVIL LIBRARIANS by Brandon Sanderson I AM THE MESSENGER by M

Writing Craft: WHAT YOUR CHARACTER DOES, WHAT YOUR CHARACTER WANTS

It's been awhile since I've written a post about writing craft which is funny because I've been teaching quite a few live writing classes and mentoring online at the awesome First Five Pages Workshop .  Ironically, as I opine on craft to others, my current WIP is stumbling. So, I decided to take some of the proverbial medicine I often prescribe to students. I designed a writing exercise to examine the interplay between CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT & PLOT. I began with Blake Snyder's SAVE THE CAT BEAT SHEET (Google it), a three-act plot breakdown schema that moves from OPENING IMAGE through establishment of THEME, plot SET-UP, CATALYST (INCITING INCIDENT), all the way to resolution and final images. I blended this with Tom Pawlick's tips on   THE 9 INGREDIENTS OF CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT , particularly #5: AMBITION ("What goal is she trying to accomplish throughout your story?"). Since I have several narrators in this WIP, I create chart, character nam

It's Children's Book Week!

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Children's Book Week has been celebrating literacy and book love for nearly a century with amazing programs, book awards and live events held nationwide. And, every year I look forward to the gorgeous posters designed by amazing picture book artists. This year's beauty is by Grace Lee. Learn more here!
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