Questions about Plot

Rejection is never fun. I know, I’ve been there. With the thousands of manuscripts out in the mail and the hundreds more sitting piled on an editor’s desk, your submission must stand out immediately above the gargantuan slush-pile in order to be considered. While a fine-tuned query letter is just the first step to catching […]

A Lesson on Tense

Alright, I’m going to take a moment here and go back to high school English, and spell out a quick lesson on the difference between different tenses and the importance of sticking to just one throughout your book. Why? Because it’s annoying when a writer starts out talking about what a character did, and then suddenly […]

The Real Hero

One important thing to remember when creating your main character–which in most cases (though not all) turns out to be the hero–is that they need to be real. What I mean is creating a character that is believable, despite all of the amazing–if not fictional–acts and accomplishments they achieve over the course of the novel. […]

Dialogue as Setting 

On paper, dialogue is the most important part of the filmmaking. Listening to characters talking—to each other, to themselves, to their pet rooster—is the easiest way to convey information, plot development, and humor. You can pull off all of the above without fancy camerawork, CGI, or the need for stunt doubles. Dialogue—along with sound effects […]

Active vs. Passive Voice 

One thing editors frequently get after writers about is the use of active vs. passive voice. Everyone faces this critique at times: “Make this sentence more active, will you? It should be snappier,” or “Passive voice bogs down the narrative.” But what exactly is passive voice, and how should you avoid it? First, let’s clear […]

Performance Anxiety 

The Ins and Outs of Sex Scenes Ah, the sex scene. Is any other aspect of writing so adored and reviled? There’s entire contests devoted to good and bad sex in fiction. Writers eternally hope their own scenes wind up in the former and not the latter. Sex scenes are tricky on their best days. […]

When to Research vs. Wing It 

One of the pitfalls of writing fiction is that moment where you wonder if you actually know what you’re talking about. Maybe you’re working on a piece that involves a rare disease, or your main character needs to be promoted to a higher rank in his Roman legion. Do you stop and look up the […]