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Timed writing sprints #writersblock #writingtips

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I’ve been struggling with writer’s block/lack of motivation in my writing for several months now, and I’ve been battling it the way I’ve always battled it before—I sit my butt down in a chair and force myself to write, powering through the blah feeling and writing absolute crap as if I’ve forgotten everything I’ve learned about writing prose.

The problem with this is that if the writer’s block/lack of motivation lasts for a long time, that kind of “powering through it” can get really tiring. So I’ve also been reading writing books to try to glean some new trick or technique to use.

I read 5000 Words Per Hour by Chris Fox and I really liked his concept of timed writing sprints. I found that the time pressure really helped me to turn off the internal editor and just write.

Rather than being stuck on a particular scene or page, I would force myself to just write whatever came to mind even if it was trite and bland, because I can always fix it later. If I really couldn’t think of somethi…

Audio Commentaries for Movies

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I just discovered a great resource for inspiration, reminders, and tips for writing. I’ve been in a bit of a plotting rut and so I do what I usually do, which is watch TV shows and movies. This time, I watched the audio commentary for one of my favorite movies, Captain America: Civil War.

I didn’t realize that I’d get so many great ideas for plotting, characterization, dialogue beats, theme, mood, and setting by listening to the directors and the screenwriters comment as they viewed the movie. It not only gave me a springboard for my own plot and character ideas, but it reminded me of techniques I’d forgotten about, which helped me in my story structure and character development.

It’s a shame that I’m only realizing this now, because it’s a resource I’ve always had, in the movies I’ve bought on iTunes, but never utilized. I’ll definitely be using this more in future.

I hope this tip helps you guys, too—pick your favorite movie and listen to the audio commentary. You never know what ne…

Fluff in Dialogue

Jim asked another question:

The guidelines for eliminating fluff or fillers were very helpful. I learned a lot from them. (I know, I shouldn’t have used “a lot”. Having said that, do these same rules or guidelines apply to dialogue as they do with narrative? It appears that we can use unfinished or incomplete sentences, poor grammar, pauses, etc. in dialogue. Do we have the same exemption when it comes to fluff or filler words within dialogue?

As asked above, even if we are not bound by the same rules within dialogue, would it be better to still remove as many fluff words such as that, very, really, just, get, got, etc. as possible?


Camy here: In dialogue, it’s fine to have incomplete sentences, poor grammar, etc. But also be aware that dialogue in fiction isn’t really true dialogue—it’s kind of like the difference between a real mixed martial arts fight and a scripted fight on TV. The moves are all the same but on TV, the scripted fight is made to look prettier and flow better and be …

Q&A: Can Dialogue be Backstory Dumping?

It’s been a while, but I was finally cleaning out my Inbox and got a question from Jim. He wrote book one in a series aimed at 6-9 year olds, but he had a question about the second book in the series:

At this point, I used Book 2 to allow the child’s siblings to ask and receive answers about what he’s been doing the past 8 months. This was done via dialogue.

Would this be considered Backstory dumping when it’s a second book and responds to a different “now”. If it’s not considered “dumping”, would it still be preferable to eliminate the 6-8 chapters in book 2 and go with the “dribble” the backstory approach?


Camy here: Honestly, it’s entirely up to you. I’ve seen children’s books that have massive backstory dumps, and others where the backstory is more gradually inserted as the story goes along.

I’ve also seen books where the backstory is only briefly outlined. (For example: “Harry explained about how he got somehow entered into the Goblet of Fire and had to compete in dangerous tasks …

Deep Point of View worksheet now available

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I've just released my Story Sensei Deep Point of View worksheet on ebook!

$2.99 on Kindle, iBooks, Nook, Kobo, Smashwords.

As a writer, you can provide a richer emotional experience for your reader by utilizing a deeper point of view.

Deep point of view draws the reader into the characters’ heads and can elicit a stronger emotional reader response to the characters’ struggles, decisions, and reactions to external conflict.

Readers who have read a passage in deep point of view often talk about how the characters seemed more vivid, how the story and prose riveted them to the page.

It is very easy for a writer to learn ways to draw the reader into the mind, body, and soul of your characters through deep point of view techniques.

By the end of the worksheet you’ll have:

1) A basic understanding of different points of view so you can decide if deep or shallow point of view is best for your story

2) Ways to strengthen the emotional writing and draw the reader deeper into the character’s…

Great writer's block article

I recently was cleaning out my file cabinets and came across a print-out of this article on writer's block that I'd forgotten about. In re-reading it, I was struck anew with how interesting and informative it is. Or maybe I just liked it because it appeals to the geek in me, since it addresses the psychological and neurological basis of writer's block. Anyway, here's the link in case you're interested:

Writer's Block: Is It All in Your Head? by Leslie What

Heroine's Journey worksheets available

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I’ve just published a revised edition of my Heroine’s Journey worksheet! It’s $2.99 on Kindle, iBooks, Kobo, Nook, and Smashwords.

Here’s more information about it:

I was asked to describe my Heroine’s Journey many times and I even taught several workshops on it at writer’s conferences, and so I decided to write a more detailed worksheet on the subject. I read about the Heroine’s Journey from several books and compiled what I learned here in one place. This is the same worksheet I myself use for my own novels.

Why the Heroine’s Journey? Sometimes the story arc of a female character will differ from the traditional Hero’s Journey because culture and time period will affect the character in accordance with her gender. This will create specific psychological differences in how a male and female character will respond to conflict in a story.

Joseph Campbell’s original book is based on the writings of psychoanalysts and the world myths. The Hero With a Thousand Faces is a psychological ana…