Articles about writing fiction

Networking for Introverted Writers

by Kathy Edens Feb 08, 2017

Networking for Introverted Writers

Let’s face it. A lot of writers are introverts who would rather stay holed up in front of a computer writing their next novel than go out there and network. (I humbly include myself in this crowd.) Networking experts, however, say you need to meet as many people as possible to find the right connections. This leaves us at quite a disadvantage when marketing and promoting our books or writing services thanks to the painful nature of getting out in public.

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4 Ways an App Can Make You a Better Writer (Yes, Really!)

by Lisa Lepki Feb 08, 2017

4 Ways an App Can Make You a Better Writer (Yes, Really!)

One of the biggest problems that creative people face is how to take their imagined ideas and communicate them clearly and effectively in writing. I dread to think how many incredible adventures, concepts, and viewpoints are locked up in the brains of people who struggle with the technical elements of writing. The part of the brain that we use for imaginative thinking is quite different from the part that actually crafts the sentences. And the quickest way to lose a reader’s confidence—even if your ideas are water-tight—is to present them with clumsy, awkward, error-filled writing.

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Attention Writers: Why You Should NOT Copy the Masters

by Kathy Edens Jan 16, 2017

Attention Writers: Why You Should NOT Copy the Masters

Chefs around the world don’t merely copy the recipes of other great chefs. Instead, they dissect the completed dish, looking for ways to improve it and make it their own. In the same sense, writers shouldn’t copy the masters. We’re not saying don’t learn from the masters, but rather dissect their work and see what makes it great.

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Is it Ever OK to Use Dreams in Your Novel?

by ProWritingAid Jan 16, 2017

Is it Ever OK to Use Dreams in Your Novel?

If you’ve taken writing courses at the university level, more often than not, your instructors have fervently cried: Never, ever, ever, ever start a story with a dream sequence. And if you Google “dreams in novels,” you will find a huge range of opinions on the matter. For every post scorning the use of dreams, there is one saying that when done well, dream sequences can move your plot forward.

But are there times when dreams are ok to use? Some authors have used them incredibly effectively in the past. .

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How to Construct a 3D Main Character

by Kathy Edens Jan 03, 2017

How to Construct a 3D Main Character Have you ever read something and about 50 pages into it, you’re just not feeling the main character? You’re either not invested in her conflict or she’s kind of … boring.

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Should Dialogue Stand Alone?

by ProWritingAid Dec 27, 2016

Should Dialogue Stand Alone?

How you format dialogue is a matter of style rather than a rule. There are a few guidelines, however, that make dialogue easier for your reader to follow. And we want our work to be easy to read.

Some novelists like Cormac McCarthy do their own thing with dialogue. For example, McCarthy doesn’t use quotation marks, which is his style of choice. Most of us need to follow our publishing house’s rules, or at least accepted standards. Here are 3 unequivocal standards for starting new paragraphs in dialogue.

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Top 10 Blog Posts of 2016

by Lisa Lepki Dec 19, 2016

Top 10 Blog Posts of 2016

Here are the posts from our blog that most resonated with our readers this year. Did your favorite make the list?

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How to Create Tension Like Andy Weir did in The Martian

by Kathy Edens Dec 12, 2016

How to Create Tension Like Andy Weir did in The Martian

If you haven’t read The Martian, it’s 369 pages of full-on tension. Mark Watney, the main character, faces one set-back after another as he’s fighting for his life on Mars. The stakes are pretty high; if he doesn’t get off Mars soon, he’ll die.

Weir is a master at creating tension. Just when things are finally going right for Watney, Weir pulls the rug out from under his feet. We watch as Watney perseveres through untenable disasters that would crush the rest of us. Weir keeps readers asking throughout the story, “How’s he going to get out of this one?”

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What the Heck is a Word Cloud and Why Would I Use One?

by Lisa Lepki Dec 12, 2016

What the Heck is a Word Cloud and Why Would I Use One?

A word cloud is “an image composed of words used in a particular text or subject, in which the size of each word indicates its frequency or importance.”

So, the more often a specific words appears in your text, the bigger and bolder it appears in your word cloud.

ProWritingAid has a Word Cloud Gallery that makes it easy to create word clouds based on the text you paste into the tool.

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NaNoWriMo's Finished: What do I do Next?

by Kathy Edens Dec 12, 2016

NaNoWriMo's Finished: What do I do Next?

It’s time to burst your bubble. Sorry! The typical paperback novel is between 80,000 and 100,000 words long. Yes, you completed 50,000 words, and that’s an amazing achievement in 30 days. But 50,000 words does not a novel make.

The beauty of NaNoWriMo is that it releases you from worrying about what you’re writing, trying to make it perfect, and instead you just focus on getting words down on the page. And that is a serious accomplishment: 50,000 words in 30 days. NaNoWriMo hopefully taught you that when you’re not seeking perfection, you can get an amazing amount of words out instead of staring at a blank page.

So, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you’ve likely got more work ahead on that novel of yours. Here's what you need to know...

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Summary Report: The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

by Kathy Edens Nov 21, 2016

Summary Report: The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

We have just released the new (and much improved) ProWritingAid editing tool and we wanted to tell you a bit more about one new feature that we are particularly excited about.

What is it? A Summary Report is an all-in-one look at the statistics in your writing. Not just the basics like word count, sentences, and paragraphs, but it also points out the key actions you need to take to strengthen your writing.

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How to Foreshadow Like Alfred Hitchcock

by Kathy Edens Nov 21, 2016

How to Foreshadow Like Alfred Hitchcock

Foreshadowing allows you to plant clues, hint at what’s to come, build the tension, or even place a red herring in your reader’s path.

You can use foreshadowing in a variety of ways. The resulting action can be immediate or delayed. You can use dialogue or narrative to set the scene, and you can foreshadow a symbolic event or an ethical dilemma. You can use direct or indirect foreshadowing, and it can even be true or false.

Foreshadowing can feed the tension of a scene. Who doesn’t know the famous shower scene in the movie Psycho? Right before the character Marion Crane pulls up to the Bates Motel, her windshield wipers are slashing through the rain, foreshadowing what awaits her in the shower scene.

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Flashbacks: A Writer’s Best Friend (or Worst Enemy)

by ProWritingAid Nov 21, 2016

Flashbacks: A Writer’s Best Friend (or Worst Enemy)

A flashback is a scene you use in your current narrative to show something that happened in the past. The two key differentiators are: 1) it must be a scene (as opposed to narration about an event), and 2) it’s past news.

Flashbacks are great for building three-dimensional characters because readers gains insight on how a character’s thoughts, feelings, and morals were formed by important events. They’re also useful for dropping hints about what happened to lead your main character to the current point in time. They help your readers understand and care deeply about your characters and what happens to them.

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Check Out These New ProWritingAid Features

by ProWritingAid Nov 16, 2016

Check Out These New ProWritingAid Features

The newest version of ProWritingAid comes with some shiny new features to check out including a Word Explorer, summary reports, easier navigation, contextual thesaurus, detailed explanations and more. Take it for a spin now.

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Writing for a British Audience

by Heather Baker Nov 16, 2016

Writing for a British Audience

As someone who lives and runs a business in the UK and has travelled extensively in the US, I can tell you from first-hand experience that there’s a world of difference between the way Americans and Britons do things.

And I’m not just talking about the fact that we drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road (though, you know, obviously remember that if you decide to visit).

There’s the whole ‘s’ versus ‘z’ argument, the fact that we prefer spelling colour with a ‘u’ and grey with an ‘e’. And of course, let’s not forget about our penchant for the imperial system.

Grammar and measurements aside though, when it comes to marketing across the pond the differences are both vast and nuanced. We’re all speaking English, but that doesn’t mean it’s the same language.

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How-To Techniques to Establish Pace

by ProWritingAid Oct 28, 2016

How-To Techniques to Establish Pace

Pacing your story is like using the throttle to give an engine more gas. With more throttle, the engine revs up and speed increases. Less throttle slows you down so you can see the passing scenery.

Controlling the pacing of your story is like maneuvering through city streets, main thoroughfares, and high-speed highways. You need different speeds to maintain control of your vehicle in each situation.

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How Literary Devices Can Add Depth to Your Writing

by Kathy Edens Oct 14, 2016

How Literary Devices Can Add Depth to Your Writing

The term “literary device” refers to some common techniques that writers use to add meaning to their writing and get their message across more poignantly. When mastered, literary devices can help your reader interpret your scenes and understand your ideas with greater depth.

There are hundreds of literary devices to choose from, but let’s talk about some of the ones that will add layers to your writing.

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Writing App Reviews…Rough Draft

by Kathy Edens Oct 14, 2016

Writing App Reviews…Rough Draft

We love technology at ProWritingAid and how it helps writers improve. Over the past few months, we’ve been checking out some of the best writing technology out there. We've already reviewed Scrivener, The Novel Factory, Ulysses, and ILYS, this month we look at a new app called Rough Draft.

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How to Seamlessly Shift Between POV Characters

by Kathy Edens Oct 07, 2016

How to Seamlessly Shift Between POV Characters

Very occasionally some exceptional writers can get away with shifting Point of View (POV) between two characters within the same sentence. Most of us, however, should avoid this kind of head-hopping.

Where Faulkner and Joyce are masters at POV shifting (and they make it seem so effortless), here are a few rules the rest of us should follow when shifting between characters.

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How to Punctuate and Format Inner Dialogue

by ProWritingAid Oct 07, 2016

How to Punctuate and Format Inner Dialogue

Inner dialogue is an excellent way to give your readers a peek inside the heart and mind of your characters. Readers can’t get this depth of character strictly from the actions you include in your story. You should give them inner thoughts to create 3-D characters with which your readers will fall in love.

The bad news is that there is no hard and fast rule about formatting inner dialogue. Depending on which author, editor, or publisher you talk to, there are as many ways to handle inner dialogue as there are people writing it.

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