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Writers' Toolbox

The dreaded log-line and pitch!

No need to panic. Here is some great advice on writing log-lines that will hook readers (and agents) from Kristen Lamb  So what’s this log-line thingy? Basically, we should be able to tell someone (an agent) what our story is about in one sentence. That is called the “log-line.” In the world of screenwriting there is a tenet, “Give me the same, but different.” This axiom still holds true when it comes to novels. Our story cannot go so far off the deep end that readers cannot relate, but yet our story needs to be different enough that people don’t just think it’s a retread. We as writers have to negotiate this fine balance of same but different, and that is no easy task. So let’s look at components of a great log-line: Great log-lines are short and clear. I cannot tell you how many writers I ask, “So what’s […]

How to Write Unique Themes

Some tips from K M Weiland  The difference between a unique theme and a hackneyed theme actually has much less to do with the theme itself than it does with the execution. Creating freshness and vibrancy doesn’t mean you have to posit something radical. It does mean whatever you posit must be radically and honestly personal to you. Tell me good triumphs over evil (again), and I may close the book yawning. Tell me good triumphs over evil as if your life depends on it—and I’ll remember you. Three tips for refining your thematic ideas to find their unique cores.   Look for Your Character’s Theme Theme is always rooted in character. Your characters, specifically your protagonist, will tell you what your theme is about. Even if you try to tack on another theme, what your story is really about is whatever is at the heart of your character’s internal struggle. This means you can’t just dream up […]

Tips for Writing Great Plot Twists

Great advice from C S Lakin When it comes to stories, everyone LOVES a good twist. Whether this is in a movie, short story, or a novel audiences LOVE to be fooled. The greatest compliment any story can earn? I never saw that coming   How did I NOT see that coming? The challenge for the writer is to craft twists that are both unexpected and believable. Ah, there’s the rub. How can your twists be believable if they’re unexpected? Expect the Unexpected Often, the trick is to set up hints, or foreshadowing, in earlier scenes, so that when the truth of the twist is discovered, your reader won’t get mad because they feel cheated or tricked. Having a new character show up at the climax to save the day for the hero will do just that. No setup, no believability (and no satisfaction on the reader’s part). For Every Action There’s a Reaction Your twist needs […]

Self-Editing: 7 Tips to Tighten the Story & Cut Costs

With Thanks For This Post From KRISTEN LAMB A fallacy among many emerging writers is that authors only write the books. Then, once finished, agents will fall in LOVE and someone else will do ALL the editing. *clutches sides laughing.* Yeah…no. And woodland creatures don’t help with housework. Sorry to break the news. Bummed me out, too. The hard truth is the onus is on us (writers) to make certain our manuscript is properly edited before sending a query. Remember, agents are actively searching for reasons to STOP reading. Self-editing skills can mean the difference between a sweet deal or a spot in the slush pile. Even if the story is amazing, agents know editing is time-consuming and costly. This means they’re more likely to wait for another ‘amazing story’ that doesn’t cost as much as a Caribbean cruise to get bookstore ready. They’ll be far more likely to sign an author who possesses solid self-editing […]

Six Ways to Improve Your Novel

Here are some great tips from Kendra Elliot Character emotion: Write a character your reader will root for. Expose their vulnerabilities, show what is important to them, and show what makes them tick. Readers want to see a character grow and be challenged. You can write the most action-packed, suspenseful story in the world, but if your characters are perfect and have nothing to improve within themselves, your reader won’t be emotionally invested in the story. If your hero is a loner who refuses to rely on anyone, break him down and make him face his worst fear and overcome it by asking for help. It’s important to show the reader what was important to your main character and the challenges he/she faces to achieve that. Ticking clock: Nothing maintains the pace in a thriller like a ticking clock. Give the main characters a deadly deadline, a threat that hangs over their heads […]