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Write what you want to know

When Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. arrived at my alma mater to give a talk and take part in a few workshops, a friend of mine named Seth had to make him feel welcome. Over lunch at the Bull Run Inn, the local sit-down eatery, Seth asked Vonnegut about the time-honored adage, “Write what you know.” Vonnegut responded with fervor: …

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Two mistakes novice writers make before setting pen to paper – and how to avoid them

Some mistakes crop up before you type the first letter of you manuscript: conceptual mistakes, errors of attitude and approach. Find out here about two biggies.

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Win the name game in style: 11 ways to dream up an original, effective character name.

Think of dynamite names for your characters and win the battle for characterization at the reader’s first glimpse of you character. Your hero’s essential traits will hit readers in the face before she even opens her mouth.

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Win the character name game in style: 11 ways to dream up an original, effective name. Pt. 2

Think of super names for your characters and win the race on characterization at the starter’s gate. Your hero’s essential traits will strike readers before a single word is uttered. Let’s get right to the next three tactics to sharpen up your characters through smart naming: …

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Win the name game in style: eleven smart ways to dream up original, effective character names.

Have great names for your characters, and you get a head start on characterization from the firing of the starter’s gun. Your protagonists’ core characteristics will hit people before the first word or action of your stories, before …

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8 ways to make your story stand out

Editors and agents see enough manuscripts in a day to make their heads spin, most of them with the same mistakes. If you want to forestall the “Not again!” reaction, follow these 8 steps to a more competitive story. 1. Make sure you base your story on some kind of action that propels it forward. …

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5 tips to land a nationally syndicated column through a national syndicate

Want your own column? Then choose: (1) work with a single publication, (2) self-syndicate, or (3) submit to a national syndicate. If you choose number 3, you set a very ambitious goal. If you do, follow these points: …

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Avoid the info-dump debacle

Sometimes a writer needs to convey something that happened before the starting point of the story, and can find no other way than to have the narrator throw it on us in one lump that gets stuck in our throats. Readers may skim through it, or lay the story aside, as the main action of the work stops until the dump ends…

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