Mission #1: Engage Thine Audience!

Narcissism or Negligence: Mary Sue and Your Characters

By Mike Cluff

Creating and developing characters in your fiction can be a challenging process. Even though authors are more capable of developing multiple unique entities (look up ‘theory of mind’, it’s fascinating), there is a certain crutch that authors can lean on too heavily if they aren’t careful.

The Mary Sue.

The Mary Sue is a form of author self-insertion or personal wish fulfillment that manifests in fiction. Wikipedia gives a good explanation of why it is called the ‘Mary Sue’, so if you are curious go look it up. Personally, I prefer the term because I can say ‘Mary Sue’ without my inner, dorky, adolescent self giggling like it does when I use the term ‘self-insertion.’

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All that Blah Blah Blah: Why Showing Is Better than Telling

By Jon Clapier

If you have taken any creative writing courses, then you have already been beaten about the head and ears with multiple repetitions of “Show, don’t tell!” The internet is full of articles and quotes from authors and editors espousing the careful use of “showing’” language when moving a story forward. And the reasoning is sound. In most instances it is better to show than tell.

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Creativity Isn’t About Ideas; It’s About Execution

By Dan Hope

Where does your creativity come from? Do you believe in a muse who touches your mind? It’s pretty easy to believe that our best ideas come straight out of the aether, especially the ones that seem to jump into our minds fully formed. The most creative people seem to have original ideas pop into their brains on a regular basis.

But that’s wrong.

I’ll make two very inflammatory remarks, and we’ll see if you stick around to hear the explanation.

#1 – There are no original ideas.

#2 – Every creator has stolen all their ideas.

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5 Tips for Better Titles

By Mike Cluff

We don’t judge books by covers. At least we aren’t supposed to. Yet, I can safely bet that you have stood in the bookstore aisles thinking: “Now, what do I want to read today? How about a ‘white people almost kissing’ romance? Or maybe a ‘pale, undead teen’ YA novel? Then again you might want the ‘bright symbol on dark background’ adventure.

Guilty. All of us.

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Stick the Landing, Pt. 3: Common Mistakes in Story Endings

By Daniel Hope

In Part 1 of this series, we talked about the importance of a great ending. In Part 2, we covered the major kinds of story endings. In this final installment of the series, we look at some of the common problems that ruin endings.

It’s always important to talk about the path you should tread, the straightest road to success. But it’s also important to know things you should avoid along the way. There are plenty of traps that will ensnare you or distractions that will divert you from your goal. So now that we’ve talked about what should be in an ending, let’s talk about the things you should leave out.

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Stick the Landing, Pt. 2: A Taxonomy of Story Endings

By Daniel Hope

In Part 1 of this series, we talked about the importance of a great ending. In this installment, we cover the major kinds of story endings. In Part 3, we look at some of the common problems that ruin endings.

Ending a story isn’t the hard part. Making the ending satisfying to the reader is the truly difficult task. Sometimes, you don’t need to tie all plot strings into the prettiest of bows at the end. Sometimes the answer is actually a question. But the point is that the reader needs to see that plot bow or run smack into that question and feel fulfilled, like the story was enlightening. They have to feel that it was worth their time.

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Stick the Landing, Pt. 1: The Importance of Great Endings

By Daniel Hope

This is the first in a three-part series. In Part 1 of this series, we talk about the importance of a great ending. In Part 2, we cover the major kinds of story endings. In Part 3, we look at some of the common problems that ruin endings.

Writing a story, particularly a short story, is like making a great vault in gymnastics. Not sure what I mean? Watch this video of a fantastic example from the 2012 Olympics.

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The Best Question to Drive Your Story: What Does Your Character Want?

By Guest Author T. Eric Bakutis

When I sat down to write a few thoughts about what I learned while writing Glyphbinder, the first thing that came to mind was how much my book has changed over the years and why. I believe the more an author writes and workshops, the more they learn about what makes good characters and a good book. This is why writing groups are so important–the minds and insights of others fill in the cracks authors don’t notice, teaching simple lessons that influence everything that person writes or has written.

Regarding Glyphbinder, I must have rewritten the book from scratch at least eight times over the past 15 years, so it may be disingenuous to say what was published in August is the same book I started writing so long ago. Only a few characters from those earlier drafts and the bare bones of the plot remain. The final book came together in the last few years, built on the bones of what came before.

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