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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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4 Tips for Respectfully Writing Disabled Characters

4 Tips for Respectfully Writing Disabled Characters

“Write what you know!” the experts insist—except in the case of, well, everything, because fiction is inherently composed of lives you’ve never lived. Restricting yourself to personal experiences is impossible, because that will prevent you from showcasing the diversity of humanity. Yet, what if you offend a reader for misunderstanding the challenges she faces? 

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3 Benefits You Miss If You Don’t Write Short Stories

3 Benefits You Miss If You Don’t Write Short Stories

Many writers, myself included, tend to devalue short stories because of their brevity. “Real” writers are supposed to craft novels. Some of the most famous authors of the twentieth century, however, were masters of the short story. Think William Faulkner, Ray Bradbury, Oscar Wilde, Flannery O’Connor, and O. Henry. At only 5 or 10 percent the length of a novel, a short story may seem far less intimidating, if not downright easy, to write. But short stories come with their own set of challenges that can help hone your skills for larger projects.

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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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Make Promises, Not Traps: How to Write Honest and Engaging First Lines

Make Promises, Not Traps: How to Write Honest and Engaging First Lines

I rarely buy stuff on impulse, not even books. When I bring home a book I hadn’t planned to get, it’s because the cover and the first line grabbed my attention. Cover design usually isn’t an author’s responsibility, and even if you’ll be involved in yours, that comes at the end of the writing process. Instead of worrying about that prematurely, I want to talk about the other half of the equation—a story’s beginning.

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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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How to Avoid Losing Your Story’s Vision in the Details

How to Avoid Losing Your Story’s Vision in the Details

At the beginning of this year, I taught an English camp in Spain, where I spent most of my daily commutes focused on memorizing the unfamiliar streets. If I took a wrong turn, I might not have been able to reroute myself, so several days passed before I looked beyond the signs and noticed the gorgeous mountain backdrop. Sometimes I slip into the same habit when I’m writing and editing. I miss the big picture because I’m preoccupied with all of the complicated, troublesome scenes.

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