Avoid Backing In

Impala tail lights

We’re going to discuss “Breaking Bad Habits” in our writing during the next few Thursdays, beginning today with “Avoid Backing In.”

I gave my daughter’s friend a ride home once. We drove for several miles along a road that could almost be described as a pig trail. One narrow lane, deep ditches on either side, more dirt than gravel. Her home was perched on top of a low ridge. As we neared her driveway, she said, “How good are you at backing?” Continue reading →

Brainstorming Your Blog Posts

3D Rendering of Lightbulbs inside a Head

As we continue our “Write for Story,” series, where we’re learning how to incorporate elements of fiction to make our blog posts more memorable, this post will take us behind the scenes, so to speak, and discuss the pre-writing process that takes up much of a novelist’s time — brainstorming.

The world is full of distractions that can prevent us from losing our focus. In order to write clear, concise copy, however, we need to maintain that focus. But often, just like Winnie the Pooh poking his head and urging his brain to “Think, Think, Think,” my poor mind needs help.

Karen Wisner, in her book First Draft in 30 Days, suggests that not only do we need to brainstorm an idea at its conception, but at each stage of the writing process. (If you’re not familiar with this book, the link I’ve inserted in the text goes to Karen’s web site and has a lot of information included in the book.)

Brainstorming is important whether you’re writing a novel, a magazine feature, a devotional, or a blog post. While Karen’s book deals with novel writing, the brainstorming prompts she suggests can be used in all genres of writing. She lists over 25 brainstorming exercises. Here are just a few that I’ve adapted from novel writing to blogging:

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Writing for Story: Setting the Stage

Empty stage with red curtain in expectation of performance

In our continuing series about writing for story, today we’re going to discuss settings. The word “set” simply means “to put (something or someone) in a particular place.” The key word in this definition is “particular.” What if Bram Stoke had set Dracula in a gingerbread cottage? Think of other books you’ve read that could have taken place only in the setting in which they were written — where setting is such an integral part of the story, it becomes another character.

Here are a few examples:

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Writing for Story: Using Dialogue to Show Character Emotions

antique story book

At one time, nonfiction had a reputation of being a boring, “just-the-facts-ma’am” type of writing. Then Truman Capote came on the scene with his nonfiction novel, In Cold Blood, forever changing the way readers (and writers) looked at nonfiction. Using elements of fiction in your blog can enhance the reader’s experience and make the blog post more memorable. Starting with Characters, during the next few Thursday is Words Day segments, we’ll discuss the elements of fiction and how to include them in our blog posts.

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What Bloggers Can Learn from Storytellers

On a chilly March morning in Dayton, Ohio, I fidgeted in my chair at a writers’ workshop, waiting for the instructor to arrive. After a few minutes, a young woman, who looked to be fresh out of college, walked in carrying a stack of papers nearly as tall as she was. That woman was Kelley Benham, and that class forever changed my thoughts on writing nonfiction.

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