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Character Goals Can Help You Craft Descriptions Readers Will Love

Character Goals Can Help You Craft Descriptions Readers Will Love

Prose is the undertow that immerses readers, and the deeper they sink, the more truth and beauty they can explore. The transformative power of storytelling resides in the author’s ability to pull readers into an unfamiliar sea and convince them they can taste the salt. Until they believe the waves lapping at their imaginations are real, they won’t set sail—or ever reach the shore of a new perspective.

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How to Use Flash Fiction to Hone Your Writing

How to Use Flash Fiction to Hone Your Writing

I’m addicted to flash fiction. I enjoy the challenge of compacting a story into a thousand words or fewer—and watching other writers do it too! But flash fiction is more than a method for writing quick, poignant stories. It’s an incredibly useful yet overlooked tool for refining your skills in general.

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4 Tried and True Methods to Stop Over-Editing

4 Tried and True Methods to Stop Over-Editing

I have a confession: trying to find the right words takes me ages. I obsess over sentence structure, vocabulary, and descriptions, pouring my time and energy into the black hole of unnecessary edits. It’s a harmful compulsion, and I know it. The more changes I make, the more I hate my work-in-progress, and the less productive I become. I forget the big picture and throttle my motivation. Worst of all, my creativity ebbs. But restraining myself seems impossible. Can chronic over-editors dare to hope for a cure?

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3 Ways Fanfiction Helped Me Grow as a Writer

3 Ways Fanfiction Helped Me Grow as a Writer

For writers, especially “serious” writers, fanfiction can feel like the elephant in the room. Everyone is aware of it, and many of us have tiptoed into it. Yet, because of the stigma that clings to it, we avoid talking about it. The genre (if it can even be classified as one) has no gatekeepers or editors, and readers often use it to extend stories they love—usually with an odd or disturbing twist. You could fill a library with all of the erotica and overdramatic depictions of the worst tropes (consider yourself warned). Several popular mainstream books-turned-films began as fanfiction, including Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Jane Austen’s delightful novel repackaged with zombies and zombie fighters) and Fifty Shades of Gray (a smutty mutation of Twilight minus the vampires).

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Stylistic Tips to Enhance Both Brief and Lengthy Sentences

Stylistic Tips to Enhance Both Brief and Lengthy Sentences

A book that’s the clone of hundreds of others won’t capture or keep a reader’s attention. Every sentence—the flesh and muscle of a story—must glisten. The most legendary writers, like Ernest Hemingway and Virginia Woolf, are memorable because they honed their own idiosyncrasies into pleasing forms of expression. If you hope to write evocatively, you need to learn how to capitalize on any sentence length.

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5 Stylistic Choices You Need to Stop Making

5 Stylistic Choices You Need to Stop Making

Every story consists of tiny, pixel-like decisions that either make the big picture clear and vivid or fuzzy and muted. Whether you’re placing punctuation or determining which character’s voice should narrate a scene, each judgment call will affect readers’ enjoyment. Oftentimes, the difference between clunky and compelling text is a pair of scissors, and the acronym P.R.O.S.E. can help you recognize what to trim.

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How to Write Humorous Stories (Even When You’re Not a Funny Person)

How to Write Humorous Stories (Even When You’re Not a Funny Person)

Everyone enjoys turning red in the face and struggling to breathe for a few seconds after a hilarious experience. Laughter lightens your mood, reduces stress, and even improves your immune system. On a relational level, humor helps you connect with others whether you’re swapping anecdotes in the same room together or reading a character’s wisecracks from a printed page. Humor makes stories more engaging overall, as well as balances out tenser scenes.

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How Monet Gives Writers the Secret to Crafting Intoxicating Scenes

How Monet Gives Writers the Secret to Crafting Intoxicating Scenes

Over a period of one year, famous artist Claud Monet dedicated himself to painting a set of haystacks during various seasons, weather conditions, and times of day. Sounds monotonous, right? On the contrary, the results were stunning, because Monet discovered a technique that can revolutionize any scene—whether it’s typed in a word processor or splashed onto a canvas.

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You Need to Define Your Writing Voice Before You Can Refine It

You Need to Define Your Writing Voice Before You Can Refine It

If you’ve ever gone hunting for advice on finding your writing voice, your brain is undoubtedly tuckered out. Many tips are vague at best and confusing or contradictory at worst. Some claim that voice develops over time. But that leaves you wondering when it will appear to you in a poof of smoke. Others treat it like a supernatural gift that some writers have and others don’t. So helpful, right?

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How to Fine-Tune Your Pacing to Craft Heart-Pounding Action Scenes

How to Fine-Tune Your Pacing to Craft Heart-Pounding Action Scenes

Action scenes strap readers in for a thrilling ride—or at least that’s what they’re supposed to do. Every millisecond must be engaging and accurately portray what’s happening. If the action crawls, it loses its impact or, worse, readers’ interest. And if the action hits light speed, readers crave more details, similar to the dissatisfaction of eating a fun-size piece of chocolate instead of a whole candy bar.

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