Posts tagged The First Draft
How to Craft Compelling Character Backstories

Part of crafting characters involves exploring their history. 

Just as your lived experiences have shaped the person you are today, a character’s backstory has the power to provide depth and understanding to their characterization. It can even lend context to the conflicts taking place in your present story. Without that history, your character’s attitudes and actions have little foundation on which to stand.

But crafting a rich and compelling character backstory is far from simple. What elements should you consider when weaving your character’s history? Better yet, how do you translate that history onto the page without bogging down your story? Let’s answer both of these questions and more in today’s article…

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How to Write Effective Flashback Scenes

Flashbacks are some of the most difficult scenes to write.

When effective, flashback scenes relay vital backstory that cuts straight to the emotional core of a narrative. They exist because they must, because there is no better way to reveal the information on which the story hinges. But like the infamous prologue, flashback scenes are all too easy to get wrong. 

An ineffective flashback will jar readers out of a story as quickly as a successful one will grip them by the heartstrings. How can you ensure your own flashbacks serve a powerful purpose within your stories? Let’s discuss…

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How To Structure Compelling Scenes

Every phenomenal story unfolds in a series of scenes. 

If each scene in a book is a link in a chain, one weak link can threaten the overall power of a story. By learning how to craft better, more compelling scenes — scenes that are irresistible in their interest and emotional pull — we learn how to craft better, more compelling stories. But what exactly makes for a spellbinding, well-structured scene?

To answer that question, we must first ask another...

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How to Overcome Shiny New Idea Syndrome & Find Writing Focus

Are you easily distracted by new story ideas?

There’s a reason it took me over two years to finish a draft of my first novel, and that reason is Shiny New Idea Syndrome. Every several thousand words into my book, I’d conjure up a new way to tell the same story and scrap everything I’d written to start fresh, convinced that my new idea was better than the last. Sound familiar, writer?

If you frequently find yourself tempted by new story ideas (and have often failed to finish a draft because of this), today is the day to break the vicious cycle. Let’s talk about how we can filter pesky plot bunnies to better find focus in our writing lives today.

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How to Balance “Show, Don’t Tell” in Your Writing


“Show, Don’t Tell” is far and away one of the most common pieces of writing advice. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most misunderstood.

This popular writing mantra claims to be the key to rich and immersive storytelling, but what does “Show, Don’t Tell” actually mean? Is it a technique you should truly pay mind as you work to improve your skills? And if so, how can you employ this popular piece of advice in a way that doesn’t feel contrived? Let’s discuss everything you need to know in today’s article, writers.

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How to Weave Threads of Tension Through Your Story

Every story is a carefully woven tapestry of tensions.

And while narrative tensions can vary in both nature and magnitude, every form of tension has the power to create dissonance that’s vital to a story’s success. It’s this dissonance, the divide between a character and an object of their desire, that will keep readers turning pages, eager to see how tensions will resolve.

But not all threads of tension are created equal — and some are far too easy to snap. How can you ensure a deft hand as you weave a little necessary tension through the pages of your book? Let’s discuss a few key techniques today, writer!

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Eight Reasons to Participate In NaNoWriMo


If you’ve been around the online writing community for long, you’ve probably heard of NaNoWriMo.

Short for National Novel Writing Month, this epic event encourages writers to pen 50,000 words in the month of November. And when I say “epic,” I mean it. Every year, hundreds of thousands of writers worldwide take part in this online and in-person event — and that number is growing every year.

So what makes NaNoWriMo such a popular event? In today’s article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about the event itself and how taking part may just revolutionize your writing life as it did mine!

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How to Craft Immersive Setting Descriptions

Writer, it’s time to give life to your story! 

One of the most powerful ways to breath life into the pages of your book is to immerse readers in your story world, specifically through crafting lush, evocative descriptions of your story’s settings. But that’s easier said than done, isn’t it?

In today’s article, we’re going to cover how to choose the most impactful settings for each of your story’s scenes, as well as my top tips for bringing those settings to life via immersive descriptive writing. Sound good? Let’s dive in!

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Asking Yourself These 5 Question Can Help You Write Better First Drafts


When I speak of writing amazing first drafts, I don’t mean to imply that you’ll ever write a first draft that isn’t in need of revision. That’s not at all how they’re meant to work.

You see, first drafts are famously shitty — all of them — and they're meant to be. They're called rough drafts for a reason after all. That's why I like to think of writing first drafts as a mining process. I dig deep into the dark caverns of my mind to dredge up the gems of a story that will later be cleaned, cut, refined, and set into something truly beautiful.

So what qualifies a first draft as amazing if you are, in actuality, getting your hands dirty as you write? And what in the world do you need to ask yourself if you want to write amazing first drafts of your own? Let's dig into today's article, writer!

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How to Frame Scenes Like a Filmmaker


Have you ever thought about writing fiction with filmmaking in mind?

This certainly isn’t a concept I originated. Rather, I recently rediscovered it after reading Diana Gabaldon’s I Give You My Body, her guide to writing intimate scenes, in which she discusses framing the scenes in her books as though she were shooting a film. 

Having taken a few communications classes in my day—all of which involved a good bit of camera work—the idea of framing scenes with filmmaking in mind is advice that I not only find interesting, but believe may be vastly helpful to many writers looking to improve their craft. Sound like something you’d enjoy? Let’s kick off today’s discussion!

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Food in Fiction: Why You Should Write About Food in Your Stories (a #StorySocial recap)

Hello, friends! Time for another #StorySocial recap. In case you're new here (or if you've just yet to hear about our chats), allow me to cue you in: #StorySocial is the weekly Twitter chat that I host every Wednesday at 9pm Eastern.

Each week we get together for about an hour to chat about a fun writerly topic. This past Wednesday, we talked about food in fiction and why it can serve as a powerful storytelling tool.

Did you miss out? Couldn't make it? Forgot all about it? No worries! I'm sharing a recap of this week's chat below. Check it out!

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How can we write effective prologues? (a #StorySocial recap)

Hello, friends! Time for another #StorySocial recap. In case you're new here (or if you've just yet to hear about our chats), allow me to cue you in: #StorySocial is the weekly Twitter chat that I host every Wednesday at 9pm Eastern.

Each week we get together for about an hour to chat about a fun writerly topic. This past Wednesday, we explored how to craft epic anti-heroes.

Did you miss out? Couldn't make it? Forgot all about it? No worries! I'm sharing a recap of this week's chat below. Check it out!

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How to Write Epic Story Conflict (a #StorySocial recap)


Hello, friends! Time for another #StorySocial recap. In case you're new here (or if you've just yet to hear about our chats), allow me to cue you in: #StorySocial is the weekly Twitter chat that I host every Wednesday at 9pm Eastern.

Each week we get together for about an hour to chat about a fun writerly topic. This past Wednesday, we explored how to write epic story conflict!

Did you miss out? Couldn't make it? Forgot all about it? No worries! I'm sharing a recap of this week's chat below. Check it out!

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Should You Fast-Draft Your Novel?

Do you follow me on Facebook or Twitter?

If so, you likely saw my recents polls in which I asked if you prefer longer or shorter content on She's Novel or a combination of both. Your answer? Both!

This was super exciting for me because I've only ever done long, in-depth content here on the blog but I've been accumulating quite a few shorter post ideas I've wanted to write up. Starting with–DRUMROLL PLEASE–fast-drafting!

This topic was actually suggested to me by my friend Jenn from The Paper Scientist and I thought it was especially apt because I'm currently fast-drafting my latest WIP, The Eaves of Fall.

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Three Ways to Integrate Scene Cards Into Your Writing Process


Do you prefer working with tangible notes as you write?

Admittedly, I’m not a fan of hand-writing my work in the slightest. I complete nearly all of my brainstorming, outlining, drafting, revising, and editing in Scrivener. That said, I recently had the opportunity to try out printed scene cards courtesy of my friend and fellow author Jennifer Bull, and I had a blast playing around with all of their possibilities.

How did I use the scene cards Jenn designed as I worked? Let’s discuss three ways to integrate them into your writing process today!

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19 Ways to Write Better Dialogue

For years, I struggled deeply with dialogue. 

As a new writer, it was the bane of my existence. I hadn’t a clue how to delve into my characters’ voices, to write conversations that felt natural and true-to-character while also moving my story forward. To avoid staring my own weakness in the face, I often wrote the fiction equivalent of silent films. (But even those had dialogue, didn't they? Bah!)

Finally, one day, I realized I didn’t want my weaknesses as a writer to hold my stories back a moment longer. I wanted to improve my craft, and that meant improving my dialogue, too. Soon, I began studying every resource I could find, examining how skilled authors crafted incredible conversations. Today, writer, I’m sharing everything I’ve learned with you!

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