My Passion's Pen

Helping to polish what your passion pens.

Archive for the tag “writing craft”

Character development is mostly unseen

I spend a lot of my editing energy helping my clients refine their characters. And in my own writing I can never know too much about my characters. But readers don’t need (or want) everything about the inner and outer lives of our characters presented like a stenographer’s notes. It’s my belief that character is revealed through action on the page, but the motivation for that behavior is all off-screen. And motivation is the pulse of a story. That’s what keeps us turning the page.

We’ve all seen the iceberg analogy, and it’s one of the most universally true writing axioms: 80-90% of the story is behind the scenes and, in my opinion mostly embedded in characterization. Characters, though, are their own icebergs.

Image from

Screenwriting guru Scott Myers explains here: “Screenwriting Tip: Character Work as Iceberg.”

Happy writing!


The First Book: Six Lessons from a Debut Author

Here are my favorite of the 6:


Your work ethic should have nothing to do with how you feel, or whatever else is going on in your life. Feelings come and go. Situations change. You work ethic, however, is a constant because it is an attitude. A good work ethic is one that commits you to a realistic routine suited to your goals and situation. …


Don’t have time to write? Waiting for inspiration – or an ideal situation? Well, as the saying goes, time is not something that you have – it’s something that you make. Likewise, situations don’t write – people do. …


Like time, confidence is not necessarily something that you have. To avoid crippling self-doubt, pretend confidence is a verb – something that you do. Understand that confidence doesn’t come from self-regard (that’s arrogance). It comes from showing yourself what you’re capable of by trying things. Hence the age-old advice: ‘Fake it till you make it.’ …

Try again. Fail again. Fail better. –Worstward Ho by Samuel Beckett

Read all of the tips here:

“It’s Not You, It’s Me.” When You and Your Manuscript Need to Have a Talk

This is such a refreshingly honest piece. Sometimes our skills are simply not up to par with the story we’ve envisioned.  There is no shame in admitting that.

Don’t get discouraged.

Work on other things. Read. Learn. Write. Grow. One day your ability will exceed your vision and that perfect piece will flow uninhibited.

Don’t give up.

“It’s Not You, It’s Me.” When You and Your Manuscript Need to Have a Talk.

Exclude Us From Novels

Print this and post it at your workstation as a self-editing guide.

A list of what shouldn’t be included in novels, including words and common fiction elements. Use this list to safely exclude unnecessary elements from fiction.

via Exclude Us From Novels.

Mastering Scene Transitions

Good scene transitions are vital for making your novel move forward without dragging and to keep you, the author, from giving too much importance to every

via Mastering Scene Transitions.

Self-editing: knowing how to listen to your gut

A great list to focus self-editing tasks.

Carly Watters, Literary Agent

Self-editing: are you only listening to your gut or are you hearing what it’s saying?

A big part of the writing process is self-editing.

Self-editing means different things to different people. I’m not talking about the little things like missing words and grammar right now, but the bigger issues like plot construction and characterization–the things that can have big holes, but are harder to fix. And harder to know how to fix.

Everyone says listen to your gut. But what I am talking about is the difference between listening to your gut and actually hearing what it’s saying.

Listening to your gut: a passing thought that something might not be working.

Hearing your gut: recognizing specific weaknesses, articulating them to yourself and others, and knowing how to fix them. 

Those residual feelings that your character might need to be stronger, and a bit larger than life or your plot might…

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Self-editing: 4 reasons why you must kill your darlings

Advice to take to heart and put into practice.

Carly Watters, Literary Agent

530973.stock.xchngI’m a big proponent of self-editing and teaching writers how to tackle revisions on their own. I’ve given talks to writers’ groups, presented at writers’ conferences, and blogged about it before (see below for further reading). Self-editing is the difference between a novice and and someone who has trained in their craft.

So many times I get asked “Should I hire an external editor?” And I always direct writers to teach themselves editing and revision skills before going elsewhere. It’s a life skill for a career author.

Here are my 4 Reasons Why You Must Kill Your Darlings:

1. There is only one chance to make a first impression

You want to make reading your manuscript a smooth and enjoyable experience for the reader. Edit and rewrite so that your novel begins in the right place, the stakes are high, and the plot moves quickly. When…

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Review: Writing in a Nutshell: Writing Workshops to Improve Your Craft

Writing in a Nutshell: Writing Workshops to Improve Your Craft
Writing in a Nutshell: Writing Workshops to Improve Your Craft by Jessica Bell
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I had read three other books on writing the week I read this title, so maybe I was burnt out. The book is just okay… I didn’t really learn anything and found the large list of examples to be too much. I ended up skipping most of them.

Don’t get me wrong, there is good information here; I’m sure I’ll be referring back to this book–I did make notes. There’s wisdom in the pages.

View all my reviews

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

Free in-person writers workshop for teens

FREE: Teen writers workshop in North Georgia.

Janice Hardy is leading a workshop for young writers at the Forsyth County Public Library on June 28th. If you know any teenage yarn-spinners in the North Georgia area, have them sign up to learn from a master teacher.

This is a great opportunity!

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