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Conflict in Fiction… Yeah, You Gotta Have It (Part 1)

Conflict is the lifeblood of a manuscript. Without it, nothing happens except a lot of rationalization and angst. Deb Dixon explains it perfectly: Conflict is the reason your character can’t have when he or she wants. If your character could have what he or she wanted, then you have no book! In life, how we manage conflict—how we act when up against it—is what makes us… “us.” Same is true for your characters, especially the main ones. Conflict keeps your story going and reveals much about your characters. Conflict is the gap between expectation and the actual result. Three levels …

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One-Minute Grammar… Hyphenation Between Words

Poor Mr. Hyphen. He gets no respect. Considering he can combine the power of two words (sometimes three) and force them to work together to describe a noun—all in one simple swoop—Mr. Hyphen is one mighty mark. Andrew planned to build a new company headquarters with fifty stories. Andrew’s plans called for a new fifty-story company headquarters. Verb or noun phrases are hyphenated when they serve as compound adjectives, i.e., work together to describe nouns. If they show up somewhere else in a sentence, use no hyphen. Ken quit school in the fifth grade. Ken’s fifth-grade education limited his ability …

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How To Be An Invisible Writer

If you read the headline and expected tips on how to disappear so that your family, friends, and/or co-workers leave you alone so you can make your next deadline, sorry. However, if you have time, read on anyway. You just might learn something. As a writer, you want your reader to be interested in your characters and the action, not your writing. You must remain invisible and not distract your reader from the story with obvious or strained writing. One way is to vary sentence length and variety. Sentence Length Involves the Writer’s Purpose, Good Grammar, Variety, And Rhythm The …

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6 Things You Need To Know About “Was”

Some writers love it. Most are passive about it. Some editors can take it or leave it. Others abhor it. Was can be your best friend or your worst enemy. It all depends on how you use it in fiction writing. “Was” Is Your Rough-Draft Go-To Verb. Was is the perfect verb to use when throwing down the rough draft of your novel. Madeline was sad. The stranger was in the dark hall. Emily was coming around the corner. It was imperative they find the killer. Instead of stopping to look for the right word to describe how sad Madeline was or …

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Does Your Reader “See” What You “See”?

Last weekend, I was reminded that people “see” words differently. Hubby and I were cycling a beautiful section of road near Mountain Green. At one point, a woman and a man rode by and waved. Hubby said, “Did you see that couple blow past us?” “Yeah, how long have they been together?” I replied. Hubby looked at me like I’d grown a second head. (Since he regularly rides with the local cycling club and the pair waved, I assumed he knew the riders.) “What makes you think they’re ‘together’?” “Because you said ‘couple’,” I answered. And I’m a hopeless romantic. …

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Why Hire An Editor?

A friend recently asked me to take a look at a novel she’d bought for her Kindle. A huge fan of cowboy romance, she’d been extremely excited to sample a new indie-pubbed offering by one of her favorite fiction authors. However, my friend refused to read past the first three pages because “the writing was stilted, convoluted, and difficult to follow.” She planned to post a negative review and ask for a refund on her purchase. My friend’s reasoning? “I read fiction for pleasure. If I have to work that hard to figure out who is saying what and what …

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