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Gabrielle Pollack

Story Embers Discussion Coordinator

A long time ago on a hill not so far away, Gabrielle Pollack fell in love. Not with ice cream or cats (though those things are never far from her side) but with storytelling. Since then, she’s been glued to a keyboard and is always in the midst of a writing project, whether a story, blog post, or book. She was a reader before becoming a writer, however, and believes paradise should include thick novels, hot cocoa, a warm fire, and “Do Not Disturb” signs. Her favorite stories include Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn saga and Nadine Brandes’s Out of Time trilogy.

As those who know her will confess, Gabby is a whole lot of weirdness packed into one INFP. Sharp objects, storms, and trees are her friends, along with stubborn characters and, on occasion, actual people. When she’s not writing, she’s shooting arrows through thickets and subsequently missing her target, jamming on the piano, and pushing her cat off her keyboard. She hopes to infuse her fiction with honesty, victory, and hope, and create stories that grip readers from the first page to the last. Her other goals include saving the world and mastering a strange concept called adulthood.

A 4-Step Guide to Writing a Murder Mystery

A 4-Step Guide to Writing a Murder Mystery

Crafting a murder mystery for the first time is like learning the violin. After listening to a compelling performance on Youtube, a burst of excitement overwhelms you. You’re sure that, with minimal practice, you can master the instrument too. So you hop onto Amazon, scroll through a few reviews, and buy a set of strings and a bow. Thus armed, you attend your first lesson. Your confidence then explodes. The teacher talks about shoulder rests and resin, frogs and violas, tuning pegs and horse-hair bows. With sinking dread, you realize that becoming a violinist is far more complicated than you expected, and playing that song from Youtube may take years. Admiring an artist’s technique is one thing, and trying to replicate it is another.

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Give Readers What They Need, Not Just What They Want

Give Readers What They Need, Not Just What They Want

Though stories are imaginary, they have an incredible ability to encourage readers to either engage deeply with the real world, or search for an escape. As writers, our responsibility is to be intentional about the reactions we provoke and instead fill readers up. Only when they’re overflowing with hope can they pour themselves into others. To leave them in a better state than you found them, you need to stir up a special sort of longing.

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5 Ways to Infuse Tension into Stories of Any Genre

5 Ways to Infuse Tension into Stories of Any Genre

We’ve all had heart-pounding experiences alongside fictional characters. We held our breath when Ethan Hunt made a last-ditch attempt to stop an explosion in Mission Impossible, pored over Pride and Prejudice for hours to discover one family’s future, and perched on the edges of our seats when Thanos, Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man faced off in Avengers: Endgame. But why do these scenes capture us, and how can we replicate the effect in our own stories?

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How to Write Healthy Enemies-to-Lovers

How to Write Healthy Enemies-to-Lovers

If you grew up in the early 2000s, you probably mutilated a daisy at least once to help you guess whether your crush shared your feelings. You’d pluck off the petals one by one, reciting “he loves me” or “he loves me not.” At age nine, I didn’t have a true love, but pretending was fun, and handfuls of daisies met unfortunate ends thanks to my mock indecision. This floral game of roulette is what the enemies-to-lovers trope looks like from afar.

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How to Unlock Your Secret Writing Instincts to Fix a Story That Doesn’t Feel Right

How to Unlock Your Secret Writing Instincts to Fix a Story That Doesn’t Feel Right

Every story you consume informs your instincts about plot structure, prose, and characters, and when problems crop up in any one of those areas, an alarm sounds at the back of your mind. Unfortunately, no matter how savvy you are at detecting issues, the solutions won’t be as obvious. The disconnect between your ability to identify and straighten out problems is nerve-wracking because you don’t want to write an entire novel without realizing a huge flaw is undermining everything. You need to learn how to interpret your intuition’s signals through three approaches.

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Comparison Isn’t Your Biggest Problem (and Other Ways Envy Makes Writing Miserable)

Comparison Isn’t Your Biggest Problem (and Other Ways Envy Makes Writing Miserable)

The most helpful writing advice I learned this year came from the letters of a demon. C. S. Lewis published The Screwtape Letters serially in a newspaper called The Guardian, and he realized that the human race harbors an oversized sense of entitlement. Because others have more than we do, we think we deserve the same amount. In idle moments, we wake our phones and thumb through twenty social media posts per second. We read glowing reviews for a debut novel that the author pounded out in two months. We see friends gushing about their book deals, finished drafts, and beta-readers-turned-fans. They’ve achieved their goals while we haven’t. We try to celebrate with them. We extend perfunctory congratulations, but inwardly we can’t resist asking, Why not me?

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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 Worldbuild without Losing Your Mind

How to Worldbuild without Losing Your Mind

I tend to procrastinate about worldbuilding because it overwhelms me. I’m expected to design an alternate reality that’s as complex and nuanced as my own. Considering the thousands of cultural customs, geographical differences, and historical events attached to every inch of Earth, the task seems too infinite for my finite imagination. Where do I start? How do I determine when to stop? Which ideas should appear in my story, and which should remain archived inside my brain?

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