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Monday, April 25, 2016

To the Unpublished Writer: You're Doing Okay.

I see a lot of unpublished work. A lot. In some stories, I can tell that the writer needs to work on mastering a few elements: voice, or arcs, or style, or viewpoint. Others I can tell still have a very long road ahead of them. Once in a while, when I come across a story that shows that the writer still has a lot of growing to do, I think about the kind of harsh, even cruel, criticism they could potentially get from others. Once in a while, I might imagine the kind of damage that might do to that writer. They may feel emotionally wounded, even betrayed. They have poured their heart into their work, only to have it get shredded. They may quit writing altogether, thinking they don't have what it takes. Maybe it will paralyze them so that they feel mentally blocked every time they sit down and try to write. Maybe it will make them bitter.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Exactly How to Create and Control Tone

I'm going to be honest, tone is something I struggle with in my writing. In some scenes, it can be a huge stumbling block for me. I get how it works, but sometimes I just can't find it. Those days are over (hopefully) because now I have a post (this one) written out that explains it to myself, which will be better and more accurate than trying to pull it from my head when I'm already confused. So if you've had trouble with tone, no worries, this article nails it all down.

I'm going to cover what tone is, how to create it, how to keep control of it, what to do if your tone goes sour, and how to actually change or juggle tones in a scene. I'll also talk about how the right tone will let you get away with just about anything.

Maybe you are like how I use to be: thinking that tone isn't really something you need to worry yourself over. It'll just happen, you think. You'll just write your story and whatever the tone is, is whatever the tone is. It's what came naturally.

It's not that this attitude is wrong--I've seen plenty of published writing where the author couldn't have paid tone any mind--it's that you are cutting yourself and your writing short by ignoring tone. Maybe you already have great writing skills. Cool. But you can make them better by paying attention and mastering the element of tone.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Real Reason You NEED to Give Positive Feedback!

A few weeks ago, I got in contact with a writer who's novel is getting published. I had the pleasure of editing the manuscript last year. It didn't need much help--it was already really good and really polished by the time it got to me. But recently she thanked me for my feedback, and ensured it had been extremely helpful to her. One of the things she said was that she appreciated that I gave positive feedback.

Some people are under the misconception that positive feedback is only there to stroke the writer's self-esteem and ego. That's completely wrong. I admit that in some situations it's appropriate to only focus on what needs to be fixed--in my opinion, this is only when the story is literally being edited so it can be published or when the writer has already gotten positive feedback as to what is working. But for other parts of the process, positive feedback should not be skipped!

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Oft Forgotten Conflict and How to Make it Work: Man Vs. God

As I've mentioned in other posts, in storytelling, there are five kinds of conflicts:

Man vs. Man
Man vs. Self
Man vs. Society
Man vs. Nature
Man vs. God

(Okay, some sources say there are six, and include Man vs. Machine, but I usually don't see that on in the list)

Often when I hear these types of conflict brought up, I hear people say that Man vs. God isn't really used in storytelling anymore, and they kind of shrug their shoulder about it.