Till, ‘Til, Til or Until?

Recently, I critiqued a submission for our weekly writer’s group meeting. I found an obvious error in this sentence: “I’ll be in the office till noon.” Till is something you do to the ground, I thought, as I changed till to until. After a moment, it...
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Create Suspense: Leave ‘Em Hanging

  One day, after stepping away from my writing for a few days, I re-read the my most recent chapters. They felt so comfortable, I almost went to sleep. I knew I’d formed some bad habits. I started with an objective to write a page-turner that riveted the...
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Start at the End

As I described in my last post [Pantser to Plotter], I started writing my novel as a pantser.  One day, one of my characters did something unexpected, and the entire story evolved in a new, tantalizing direction. This development excited me, until I realized I needed...
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Pantser to Plotter

One night, I got a message from my brother, who also writes novels. It read: Subject: Pantser or Plotter Two links for you: http://jilljames.wordpress.com/2010/03/12/plotter-or-pantser/ http://jnduncan.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/panters-and-plotters-the-core-difference/...
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How To Write Engaging Dialogue

At one of my early critique sessions, the leader told me I had a “tin ear for dialogue.” Ouch. I’m not complaining. I asked for honest feedback. I appreciated the blunt delivery. I knew not to waste time honing dialogue skills built on weak...
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Omit Needless Words

After politely criticizing nearly every sentence in my first submission, my critique teammates suggested I read several books. Eager to learn, I ordered them all before I left the building. When they arrived, one stood out: Strunk and White’s The Elements of...
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Join a Critique Group

After I finished several chapters in my novel, I wanted to get some feedback. I thought my work was good; but I knew it could be improved. So I circulated portions to a small group of friends, asking for feedback. They all raved, told me my stuff was great, and begged...
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Proper Manuscript Format for a Novel

Early in the process of transferring the story in my head into my computer, I realized I should format my work properly. In my mind, I pictured Earnest Hemingway pounding out pages on his typewriter in perfect manuscript format. I figured I ought to do the same. So I...
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