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Blog Your Junk

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[Image courtesy of flickr by Lara604]

We are often told that we need to toss a lot of what we think is our best work before we can begin working as a real writer, and there is a lot of wisdom in this. I see now that several works I thought were amazing when I got them ready for publication were merely stepping stones to help me become a better writer, and I’m sure I will look back to my current work and cringe some time in the future. We also do a lot of other writing that will never make it into our finished works even after we pass these milestones.

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6 Ways to Avoid Being Predictable

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I have discovered that I can predict plot twists. A lot of people don’t like that I can do that. I have a few friends who recommend things and I predict the end of the series or the book and it doesn’t surprise me like it surprised them (like Legend of Korra, one of my friends was surprised that I guessed the first season villain and how he did it). Whatever I do that makes it so the major plot twists don’t surprise me, I still love reading because I don’t catch everything. So here are 6 ways to avoid being obvious about your plot twist and how to keep your readers interested.

1. Be subtle.

Do not start out your book by giving the reader the plot twist. Don’t do it. End of discussion. Don’t be too subtle. The reader needs to know that something will happen, they just don’t need to know it when they open the book or start reading the story. You can have the book start at the end, with all the aftermath right in front of your reader, that is fine. You should lead and guide your reader to the end, that’s what keeps them around. But be aware that it will seem obvious to you and that you might need to just change all of it. Don’t. Let someone else read it first. They can give you feedback that you can use to make sure your story is plot and not just surprises.

2. Lead up to the twist.

As you go through the plot, drop hints. These can be anything. A sly look or the character not quite believing some information can lead to the reader being aware something is going to happen, but not necessarily what. Dropping hints can be difficult, but it comes with developing characters. Your twist (whatever kind of thing that might be) will leave some trace. It could be a note left discreetly, but the protagonist might only see the flicker of paper out of the corner of their eye. Or a city being wary of travelers, but the protagonist only sees people that have been beat down by oppression. Give your reader signs that something is off. That leads to a good ending.

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Get on Your Butt and Write!

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We as writers have ideas flowing around our heads. Some of us have even gotten to the point where those ideas are on paper. But why is it that writers so rarely turn those brilliant book ideas into … actual books?

We all face the never-ending list of ideas that never lead to  actual writing. These ideas only lead to ideas continuously building on each other. What needs to happen is something every writer I have met seems to avoid: sitting down and writing.

As simple as that sounds, it can be pretty tough. To help you as you face this common writer’s struggle, this article gives you ten tips on buckling down for the daunting process of actually writing.

1. Give up on perfectionism.

You will not have perfect prose your first time writing. You won’t. I’m sorry that we have that idea in our brains, but it just isn’t going to happen. At some point, you’ll have to transform those wonderful ideas into a messy, flawed reality. It doesn’t matter if you can’t spell. It doesn’t matter what the grammar is like. You can do all of the editing later. For now, just write.

2. Pick a single idea.

Part of the dilemma for writers is that we so often get overloaded with the sheer number of ideas. In response, the best idea is usually to just pick an idea or scene. You don’t have to decide where it fits in the grand scheme of things yet, and you don’t have to plan your entire novel before you can write that brilliant scene that you thought up at three in the morning. In fact, writing the scenes you’re excited about will often give you the momentum you need to figure out the rest.

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9 Guidelines for Creating a Healthy Workshopping Environment

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So you want to lead a workshop. Whether you’re running a classroom, starting a writing group with friends, or working with a local chapter, the challenges will be similar. This article explores ways you can address the core dilemmas of workshopping and create a productive, enjoyable workshopping environment.

The Big Problem: Navigating the Losada Line

The tricky part of workshopping is navigating the Losada line. Don’t know what that is? The Losada line is the ratio of positive to negative interactions required for an environment to feel basically positive. In short, if people experience three or more positive interactions for every negative interaction, they will experience the environment as positive and nurturing. Anything less than that 3 to 1 ratio and people will dread the environment and start thinking in ways that are self-protective rather than expressive.

So, how can you take a situation like a workshop, where critical comments are going to be—and likely should—be more common than positive comments? While we’ve seen some people and groups try to compensate by giving inauthentic praise or emphasizing that they liked the piece, our experiences have taught us that there are better options.

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9 Tips to Start World-Building

9 Tips to Start Worldbuilding

Worldbuilding is an essential component in most forms of speculative fiction. Faced with a history of amazingly fantastical worlds, it can be quite daunting. Here we will look at some of the initial concepts in crafting your realms.

1. Start Small

The most intimidating aspect of worldbuilding is the fact that you are building an entire world. You should start with smaller changes, allowing everything else to fall into the standards your readers know and understand. Once you have more experience with worldbuilding techniques, you can add higher degrees of complexity.

2. Identify Your Needs!

To help alleviate the overwhelming blegh of building a world, you can identify what aspects of worldbuilding your story will need and focus on those. Does a long journey across the lands play a prominent role in your story? Does it involve space travel? Are multiple cultures involved? Is there a magic or alternative physics system in play, and if so, do its details impact the story?

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