Writing

Conveying Character Emotion

You know your character inside out, but that isn’t coming across to your readers. They aren’t sure what your character is feeling, and they certainly aren’t feeling it themselves. The scenes you carefully crafted to maximize emotional impact fall flat instead. If that sounds familiar, … read more »

Pacing Your Dialogue

Dialogue is like music; rhythm flows from its notes and pauses. By shaping the pace of your dialogue, you can make this rhythm more engaging. Plus, those annoying tags become less noticeable when you’re not hitting the same beat every time. Read more »

Shaping the Sound of Your Dialogue

What you write between double quotes isn’t just ideas on a page; it’s notation for vocal sounds. Thinking of dialogue as sound will help you shape the voices of your characters and communicate their tone to readers. Read more »

Labeling Your Dialogue

Argument at the Council of Elrond

Writers use labels, known as dialogue tags, to tell their readers which character is speaking. Many writers think dialogue tags are part of their story’s narration. That’s a mistake. Tags aren’t narration; they’re a technical necessity like punctuation, font, and quotes. We don’t want readers … read more »

How Do You Describe a Character?

When we use description, we have to prioritize carefully. Too little description leaves the story without flavor, too much gets boring fast. The more effectively we use it, the more we can surf that sweet spot between short description and strong impact. Read more »

Outline a Short Story in Seven Steps

If you have lots of creative ideas and trouble organizing them, try using this framework to craft a short story. It isn’t the key to making every tale under the sun, but it should help you frame your central conflict, create a proactive character, and … read more »

Nine Questions to Ask About Your Draft

You’ve worked long and hard, finally completing the first draft of your story. You could send it to others for feedback, but before you do, stretch your storytelling skills by thinking critically about your work. Does your beginning hold its weight? Is your middle taut … read more »

The Why & How of Foreshadowing

Foreshadowing is the storyteller’s primary tool for setting expectations. It’s a clue that tells the audience what might happen later on. Why do they need to know? There are two different reasons, and each one calls for different foreshadowing techniques. Read more »