Six impossible things

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Writing basics: Dialog

Dialog is a balance of opposing forces. On the one hand, it’s supposed to be two or more people talking to each other, so it can be considerably less formal than most narrative; on the other hand, it’s not a transcription or recreation of an actual conversation, […]

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Writing basics: Show and tell

“Show, don’t tell” has been basic fiction writing advice since Homer. It could be rendered less colloquially as “Dramatize, don’t summarize,” but either way, it doesn’t say “Show everything, tell nothing.” This leaves many beginning authors with two unanswered questions: 1) How, exactly, is showing/dramatizing different from […]

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Writing Basics: Description 2

When someone says “description,” most people think of static passages – a page telling the reader details about the current setting or background, or a paragraph about a character’s appearance. This isn’t the only way to approach that sort of description, though. It is often more memorable […]

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Basics: Description 1

Description is as much about what you choose to describe and when you choose to describe it as it is about how you describe it. Furthermore, there are really significant differences in how much description different readers like or can even tolerate, and no writer is going […]

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Basics: Process

The last two posts have talked about the basic parts of a plot. How you get to it – the process of building or fixing a plot – is pretty basic, too. The specifics tend to vary from writer to writer, and often from book to book, […]

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Basics: Plot, part 2

Quick review: Plot, in its most basic version, goes like this: A character (or characters) have a problem Where something important is at stake That the character(s) care deeply about. They try to solve the problem, and Eventually succeed or fail. I went through the first three […]

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Basics: Plot, part 1

By popular demand, I’m starting the “basics” posts with plot. Plot, in its most basic version, goes like this: A character (or characters) have a problem Where something important is at stake That the character(s) care deeply about. They try to solve the problem, and Eventually succeed […]

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Back to basics

Every skill, including writing, starts with a bunch of things that are really basic. If you want to be a carpenter, you learn to hammer nails and saw wood; if you want to be a writer, you learn how to write clear, coherent sentences. After a while […]

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Experimenting early

Over the past few months I’ve had a number of writing questions that superficially are all very different, but that, if you back off a bit and look at them, boil down to “Ms. Wrede, why do people keep telling me that I can’t/shouldn’t use XYZ non-standard […]

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Getting it in

There are three basic ways to get multiple plot points and payoffs into a story: you can do it on purpose in the first draft, you can do it by accident in the first draft, or you can do it in the rewrite. Putting in plot points […]

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