My Passion's Pen

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Archive for the category “Refining Your Story”

Novel Boot Camp – Lecture #1: The First Page Promise

Ellen Brock

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So here we are at our very first lecture for Novel Boot Camp! It only makes sense to start at the beginning – the very beginning – the first page of your novel.

If you follow my blog, then you know that I put a lot of stock in first pages. I provide free first page critiques every week in my blog series First Page Friday. I’ve probably written more about first pages and first chapters than anything else. And for a very good reason!

If your first page sucks, you’ve got nothing. Harsh? Maybe. But writing is a tough business. And because I’m an editor and love analogies, I’m going to compare it to another harsh business: the movie business.

Your Submission Package (An Analogy)

Most aspiring writers think of their first page as the setup, the part of the novel that just gets things going, the calm…

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Novel Boot Camp – Lecture #3: How to Avoid Info Dumping

Ellen Brock

Landscape

Info dumping is a problem for many writers. Sometimes it’s lazy writing. Sometimes the writer can’t come up with an alternative way to convey the information. And sometimes the writer doesn’t know what an info dump is at all.

For those who don’t know what an info dump is, it’s an extended form of telling (rather than showing). An info dump is a big chunk of information that is “dumped” in the reader’s lap all at once. These info dumps are usually done through narration but can be found in dialogue as well.

Sample Info Dump:

Jessica was her best friend. They met in high school and spent every day together. On the day they met, they were at dance class, which they both thought was kind of dumb, but had attended on a whim. Jessica stood right next to her and they laughed together about how goofy the boys…

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Letting Go

Really good stuff.

Write Through It

Recently a colleague posted to an online editors’ forum: “How do you tell a client who keeps tinkering to just stop?” Her client’s tinkering was not improving the manuscript. In some cases it was making things worse.

Her client was having a hard time letting go, and with good reason: letting go is hard. Off the top of my head I can think of several excellent manuscripts that are languishing in their authors’ desk drawers or on their hard drives because their authors can’t let them go.

The subject has been on my mind lately because I’m in the process of making an ebook out of my novel, The Mud of the Place. The print version came out in 2008. My final draft was a Word file. The proofs were in PDF. Plenty of corrections and tweaks were made on the proofs. My first step was to transfer all of them to…

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On Making Sure Your Characters Aren’t MIS-motivated by Love and Hate

Creative Writing with the Crimson League

flames It’s so interesting how both love and hate can be symbolized by a blazing fire….

Today I want to start of series of posts on the forces that motivate characters, and I’d like to start with some reflections on topics that are often overdone, overemphasized, made cliche, or glossed over because they are such basic human emotions: love and hate.

I understand how cliche an author’s treatment of love and hatred can become in fiction. I understand it well enough that I feel like this post is a big risk. I worry that I can only give a cliche treatment of such a topic. So please bear with me. I think if we can cut through the cliche there’s a lot of consider.

The first thing that occurred to as a direction to take this post was the quote from BBC’s “Sherlock” that says:

Bitterness is a paralytic. Love is…

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The Seven Deadly Sins of Prologues

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Image via Flikr Creative Commons, via Mikko Luntiala Image via Flikr Creative Commons, via Mikko Luntiala

To prologue or not to prologue? That is the question. The problem with the prologue is it has kind of gotten a bad rap over the years, especially with agents. They generally hate them. Why? In my opinion, it is because far too many writers don’t use prologues properly and that, in itself, has created its own problem.

Because of the steady misuse of prologues, most readers skip them. Thus, the question of whether or not the prologue is even considered the beginning of your novel can become a gray area if the reader just thumbs pages until she sees Chapter One.

So without further ado…

The 7 Deadly Sins of Prologues

Sin #1 If your prologue is really just a vehicle for massive information dump…

This is one of the reasons I recommend writing detailed backgrounds of all main characters before…

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Review: Mastering Showing and Telling in Your Fiction

Mastering Showing and Telling in Your Fiction
Mastering Showing and Telling in Your Fiction by Marcy Kennedy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Short, sweet, and to the point. Marcy has provided lots to chew on in this practical guide to showing and telling. She breaks down the examples used to clearly point out opportunities for deeper POV and guides the reader/writer through revisions. Her ‘Take it to the Page’ section will be a great benefit to my writing and editing. I’ve already purchased a few more of Marcy’s titles; I like her teaching style.

This is a great addition to any writer’s reference library. I know I’ll be coming back to this one often.

View all my reviews

The Seven Deadly Sins of Prologues

I had started writing a ranty-ragey post about my frustration with prologues in the romance books I’ve recently read; however, in my search for supporting evidence for why prologues are bad, I came across this post. Kristen, as per usual, explains this topic with tact and clarity.

Bookmark this. Print it. Post it wherever you write. This is valuable information.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

To prologue or not to prologue? That is the question. The problem with the prologue is it has kind of gotten a bad rap over the years, especially with agents. They generally hate them. Why? In my opinion, it is because far too many writers don’t use prologues properly and that, in itself, has created its own problem. Because of the steady misuse of prologues, most readers skip them. Thus, the question of whether or not the prologue is even considered the beginning of your novel can become a gray area if the reader just thumbs pages until she sees Chapter One.

So without further ado…

The 7 Deadly Sins of Prologues

Sin #1 If your prologue is really just a vehicle for massive information dump…

In my critique group, one of the first tasks each member must do is they must write detailed backgrounds of all characters. I make…

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Personality traits defined by introverts and extroverts

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What is the Value of an Editor?

4 Tips for Surviving Your First Edit: Guest Post by Kristen Otte

Change It Up Editing

When I invited author Kristen Otte to share her experience of working with her editor (that would be me—*waves*), she graciously accepted. I’ve been lucky enough to edit three of Kristen’s books: The Adventures of Zelda: The Second Saga, The Adventures of Zelda: Pug and Peach (coming soon), and The Photograph, which releases today.

As an editor I’m used to being invisible in the final product, but as Kristen writes, I am anything but when a manuscript comes to me for editing and I get my red pen out. Kristen is a dream author from an editor’s point of view: she is receptive to suggestions, thoughtful in her approach to edits, and eager to put what she learns into practice. At this rate, I may be out of a job in another book or two! 😉

Here is Kristen’s take on working with me . . . and a few…

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