Just Write

Scene Checklist

Every scene should be told through a character’s point of view. You can have more than one pov character in a book, (but no more than you need). One reason for this type of focusing is so that we feel the character struggle with a scene goal. The struggle takes place through action and dialogue with little internalization/exposition. A scene is a dramatic unit that includes scene goal, conflict (through action and dialogue) and resolution. What does your protagonist want in the story? This is the external plot. The external plot could be as simple as: Will Jane find the killer?? It is not something like: Will Jane find true happiness? This is internal conflict and may even be a subplot. What does your pov character want in this scene (scene goal)? Without a clear scene goal, you will not have a scene; you will have an event. What’s at…

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Transport readers

“Your main job as a writer is to transport the reader to a fictional world, as in a dream. ” — “The Geyser Approach to Revision,” James Scott Bell, July/August 2011 Writer’s Digest Magazine You probably know this, but perhaps you’re stuck with knowing how to achieve that. A big part is the revision process. The following steps for revision are based on the Writer’s Digest article. Write Hot. Revise cool. Wait two weeks after writing to begin the revision process. Then, read fast as if you were a first-time reader. Take notes about what needs fixing. Capture original emotions you felt when writing. Listen to music that evokes the mood of your story. “Music reaches a part of your mind that you usually have inactive when analyzing. Wake it up and put it to work with tunes.” Create a collage to capture a visual representation of your work to…

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Telling Your Truth

“Telling your truths—the difficult ones and the joyful ones and all the ones between—is a big part of what makes for good writing. It is also what brings you pleasure in the process of writing. Most people who create and tend a garden don’t spend time on their knees pulling weeds just for the perfect end result—the gorgeous display of flowers that others will exclaim over. They pore over gardening books, order bulbs, water a sickly shrub, arrange the flagstones to make a pleasing path, all because they enjoy the doing of it. So, too, it should be with your writing. You want to see your writing grow, to find your daily work absorbing, to discover you can do better on the page than you could three years ago. None of this will happen if you shy away from the truth. The rewards that you seek are the rewards that…

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Strategies For Stress Reduction

By now, many of us know the drill to stay safe during the 2020 pandemic: Wash hands, wear a mask, and social distancing. But what about our mind, body, and spirit? “My lab’s study found the best recipe for dealing with everyday stressors is to try to simultaneously plan ahead about what you can control and stay in the moment mindfully.” —Shevan D. Neupert, Ph.D, “How to Soothe Your Soul,” August 2020 Consumer Reports The activities listed to soothe your soul in this article are the same as the restorative activities in the resource section of The Write Spot: Writing as a Path to Healing. ~ Prepare and plan. “Tasks that distract you now but also benefit you in the future are wonderful.” — Joyce A. Corsica, Ph.D, “How to Soothe Your Soul,” August 2020 Consumer Reports If you are working on a writing project, plan for the result. If…

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Writing Advice

I’m going through old writing magazines and finding gems, like this one, “Top Five Fiction Mistakes.” — by Moira Allen, The Writer, September 2002. “Ask most fiction editors how to avoid rejection, and you’ll hear the same thing: Read the guidelines. Review the publication. Don’t send a science fiction story to a literary magazine. Don’t send a 10,000-word manuscript to a magazine that never publishes anything longer than 5,000 words. Spell-check. Proofread. Check your grammar.” “The one piece of advice nearly every editor had to offer was: Read, read, read. Read widely. Read the authors who have won awards in your genre to find out what has already been done, so that you don’t end up offering old, trite plots without even realizing it. Then, ‘Write!’ says Max Keele of Fiction Inferno. And keep writing. And write some more. When you’re finished, ‘’Let the story sit for a few days…

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Memoirs As Textbooks

Use a published memoir as a textbook to write your memoir. Read the memoir. Read it again to examine structure. Notice where author used narration vs. dialogue to tell the story. Notice the balance between fast-paced action scenes and slower, contemplative scenes. Note when and how backstory is used. Let’s use Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt as our textbook. McCourt’s ability to write as if experiencing events as they unfold, pacing, and his strong writing voice made Angela’s Ashes a New York Times beloved best seller. Angela’s Ashes takes the reader on an emotional journey. There is so much vulnerability in this book. McCourt reaches into our compassionate hearts as he tells his story, moving from childhood to adulthood. He weaves details into a story, similar to the Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. McCourt taps into universal messages and themes. Understanding your theme will help to write your memoir. Possible…

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When the final product satisfies.

Whether you write fiction, non-fiction, poetry, songs, or whatever you write, this might help understand why the final product isn’t working. Excerpted from “Rough it Up,” by Elizabeth Sims, Writer’s Digest Magazine, February 2009, Get messy with your first draft to get to the good stuff.  As Ernest Hemingway famously said, “The first draft of anything is sh*t.” For years, I didn’t understand. When I started writing fiction seriously, I kept trying to get it right the first time. Over time, as I got rougher with my first drafts, my finished work got better and better. Why does a coherent first draft give birth to a stilted finished product? Because it means you haven’t let it flow. You haven’t given yourself permission to make mistakes because you haven’t forgiven yourself for past ones. Admit it: Unless your throttle’s wide open, you’re not giving it everything you’ve got. Creativity in writing…

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NaNoWriMo-Is it for you?

Have you heard of NaNoWriMo? National Novel Writing Month. “NaNoWriMo believes in the transformational power of creativity. We provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds—on and off the page.” —NaNoWriMo website “A month of NaNoWriMo can lead to a lifetime of better writing.” Grant Faulkner, founder and creator of NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo National Novel Writing Month began in 1999 as a daunting but straightforward challenge: to write 50,000 words of a novel during the thirty days of November. Each year on November 1, hundreds of thousands of people around the world begin to write, determined to end the month with 50,000 words of a brand-new novel — but that’s not all that NaNoWriMo is! NaNoWriMo is a nonprofit organization that supports writing fluency and education. It’s a teaching tool, it’s a curriculum, and its programs run year-round. Whatever you…