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Monday, October 24, 2016

Generic Dialogue—Staaaahp

Sometimes when I'm editing manuscripts, and usually this happens in very good manuscripts, I run into generic dialogue. Often it comes from a villain, or a hero in a heroic moment, but really, any intense emotional moment can be prone to it.

Generic dialogue isn't bad dialogue, per se. It's just "blah" dialogue. Sometimes it sounds showy or theatrical, but doesn't feel that way because we've heard it in dozens of other stories. Things like the hero saying, "Pick on someone your own size," or "You're going to regret you ever did that!" and the villain saying things like, "Don't let them escape!" or "You'll wish you had never been born."

They're generic.They're stock. And they don't really do anything for the story.

Monday, October 17, 2016

A Really Cool Announcement

Hey guys, I have some great news! As some of you who follow my writings tips know, I'm a huge fan of The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. I'm not exaggerating when I say I refer to it almost every week when writing, and if I'm not referring to that, I'm referring to one of their other awesome thesauri. And overall, they just have a really great website for writers: Writers Helping Writers.

Earlier this month my blog got listed as a top writing tip blog on their website, next to other amazing writing blogs that I've gone to and learn from, like K.M. Weiland's. But that's not even the really cool announcement.

Back in September, Angela and Becca contacted me out of the blue about a new program they are doing on their site, where their followers can learn from other writing coaches. And guess what? I'm so excited to say that I'm one of those writing coaches! And all of the other writing coaches are freaking amazing! (Honestly, way more amazing than me.) You can see the super cool line-up here. No really, you want to see everyone else involved. James Scott Bell is a #1 bestselling writer who has published numerous books, both writing craft books and thrillers, and he's taught writing in the U.S., Canada, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand. Michael Hauge has worked in the writing industry for 30 years and consulted on scripts such as I am Legend, Suicide Squad, Hancock, Concussion, The Karate Kid, and others. Roz Morris is a fantastic writer, and as a ghost writer, she has sold more than 4 million books. She's been working in the industry for more than 20 years.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Crafting a Killer Undercurrent for Your Story

Sometimes I imagine the plot of a story like a cross stitch, with the front of the stitch being what the reader actually sees; it's the surface of the story. Everything is nice and neat and clear and nearly perfect. But then there's the back of it, where you can see the real work beneath the surface. I like to call that stuff the "undercurrent"--which I guess implies that I also see the plot of a novel like a body of water. There's the surface. And there's the undercurrent.

The undercurrent can be big or small, but it should always be there. In your story, the true plot should be bigger, with more knots and underworkings, than what we see on the surface, otherwise it will feel flat, get boring, and worst of all, leave a reader feeling uninvested in the book.

I see this happen in unpublished stories from time to time. There is no undercurrent. It's a tiny, tiny surface stream of a story. Everything is just as it seems. Everything is straightforward. Everything is visible the first time through. Sometimes with stories like this, readers can't tell exactly what's wrong, but they just know they don't want to read more. They aren't interested. They don't care what happens next.

Every great story has some size of an undercurrent--the backside of the cross stitch, the bottom of the iceberg--or whatever metaphor you prefer. But there is a whole spectrum of sizes.

Monday, October 3, 2016

7 Fantastic Beasts We Need to See in the Films

"A Wizarding World movie comes out next month" is something we can say now. And I'm getting super excited for Newt Scamander. ^_^ And of course, to see some magical beasts! I wrote this post weeks ago, but it's so timely that a new trailer came out last week that showed us a BUNCH of magical beasts. Here are seven of them I need to see.

Swooping Evil

When the plot for the first movie was released, I wasn't the only one making connections to the Pokemon franchise--and the Swooping Evil just cements that.

The Swooping Evil is a new beast added to the Wizarding World. It's some kind of butterfly creature that comes out of a cocoon or small object. You can see it come out of said object in Newt's hand above. How cool is that? It seems like a friendly beast, one that would be useful in the movie. . . . In much the same way Pokemon that come out of pokeballs are useful to their trainers.

Lethifold (a.k.a. Living Shroud)(a.k.a. Your Worst Nightmare)

If you don't want to have nightmares tonight, I suggest you skip this creature. But personally, I love having the dark, evil, and terrifying things make an appearance in stories, and I know the Lethifold is set to make its appearance.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Privilege of Picking Your Problems

My dad has a mantra of sorts when it comes to life: "It's never as bad as you think it's gonna be, and it's never as good as you think it's gonna be." And while you will find exceptions to this rule, it's actually pretty accurate.

A few months ago, I was reading a book that pointed out there isn't a golden threshold where you've "made it" and everything is near-perfect in your creative career. Instead, the reality is, you just exchange one set of problems for another set of problems.