Showing posts from March, 2009

I'm teaching at the ACFW conference!

Hey guys, My workshop "The Hero and Heroine's Journeys" just got accepted for the American Christian Fiction Writers conference this year! I'll be teaching on--duh--the Hero and Heroine's Journeys. If you've never used the Heroine's Journey, especially, and you have a female main protagonist, this will be a good workshop for you for characterization. The ACFW Conference is in Denver, Colorado this year, from September 17th through the 20th. Information is on the ACFW website . Registration hasn't opened yet, and only ACFW members can attend the conference (but it's only $50 membership fee for the first year to join ACFW, and believe me, it's totally worth it to join! I talk about ACFW here . If you have questions about ACFW, just leave a question in the comments.) They'll announce when registration is open for the conference on the ACFW members email loop. So anyway, I hope you (a) join ACFW and (b) take my workshop in Denver this year!

Book in a Nutshell contest

The Knight Agency is holding a Book in a Nutshell Contest Submit three compelling sentences (150 words max) about your completed, unpublished manuscript to submissions@... Write BOOK IN A NUTSHELL in the subject line or it will not be deemed eligible. One submission per project, please. Twenty of the best submissions will be chosen and requested by various agents who will then give feedback on your work...and it may even lead to possible representation. Hurry, the deadline is April 20, 2009. Winners will be notified by May 1, 2009. For more info, go to

Avoid Info Dumps in Dialogue

I admit, I'm prone to info dumps in my dialogue, especially in my first drafts, and I have to edit them out in my revisions. I wrote this article, which originally appeared on Suite101, with some of my tips and tricks. Avoid Info Dumps in Dialogue Strengthen Your Dialogue By Eliminating Telling Eliminating the Info Dump in dialogue will create mystery that keeps your reader riveted while strengthening the prose. In publishing days long past, it wasn’t uncommon to find a character who starts a line of dialogue with the infamous, “As you know ...” For example: Gerald walked into the living room and announced, “Phillip, our mother is at the door. As you know, she ran off twenty years ago with the family lawyer and we haven’t heard from her since.” Today’s readers and publishing industry has moved toward eliminating this technique, which is “telling” and not “showing” the story to the reader. Emulate Real Life In real life, people don’t need to remind their listeners

Shorten Your Dialogue

Sometimes, in my haste to make sure the reader knows something, I'll have a character go on and on in a line of dialogue, and I'll have to edit it out in revisions. I wrote this article, which originally appeared in Suite101. Shorten Your Dialogue Improve Pacing and Add Emotion With More Deliberate Dialogue Often, shorter dialogue lines with more deliberate word choices can improve a scene’s pace and create greater emotional impact. In real life, people don’t often have long speeches. Most of the time, someone will interrupt them—maybe when they pause for breath—or the speaker will purposefully pause for a reaction from the person they’re talking to. It should be the same in your fiction. Contemporary Fiction The dialogue in a present-day novel should be more back-and-forth, give-and-take, which is what real-life dialogue is like. One person says a sentence or two, the other person responds to what they said. A character who goes on and on for a paragraph or two i

The first page, part 5 - Establish the tone or atmosphere

This is continuing my series on things to look for in your first page. Click here for part four. Establish the tone or atmosphere of the story In addition to using key words to indicate genre, use key words to develop a certain feel to the writing, setting, and story in that first page. Remember, you are dumping the reader in a completely new story world. You want them to be able to know what type of story this is going to be right off the bat. If they’re expecting a gripping, emotional story and the first page is heavy with action, they’re going to close the book. If your story is going to be humorous, start it out humorously. Also, use key words that indicate whether it’s dry British humor or slapstick comedy or sarcastic chick lit. If it’s going to be a roller-coaster ride, start it out quickly. Use strong words and sharp sentences to strap the reader in for a wild read. If it’s going to be deeply emotional, start it out emotionally. Use words that evoke strong emotional responses s

Reciprocal blog links?

Hey guys, Sorry I've been AWOL the past week, I've been too busy! Anyway, before I continue on with my series on The First Page, I wanted to know if any of you wanted to trade blog links? I'm going to set up a Blogroll on this blog and if you already link to this Story Sensei blog, please email me or comment below to let me know! Camy

Medicals for Harlequin Mills & Boon

Have you ever considered writing Medicals for Harlequin Mills & Boon? Want the inside scoop? Wednesday, March 11 Laura Iding will be in Seekerville sharing about the Medicals line. Laura has written 18 books for Harlequin Mills & Boon over the past five years. Her most recent book is Emergency: Single Dad, Mother Needed. And she's giving away a copy of her latest release. See you there.

Two Dogs. One Bone

Pam Hillman wrote a really great article detailing character conflict in a novel. She simplifies the concept of conflict but also makes it easy to grasp, a jumping off point for writers: I’ve started a new wip (work-in-progress) and while I’m excited and have a lot of angst and conflict planned for my characters, the core conflict between my hero and heroine doesn’t feel strong enough to carry the entire book. Or at least it’s not fleshed out enough for me to see it. So I started looking around for ways to define that backbone and nail it down. (Ouch, that sounds painful, doesn’t it?) Click here to read the rest of "Two Dogs. One Bone."

The first page, part 4 - Indicate the genre

This is continuing my series on things to look for in your first page. Click here for part three. Indicate the genre When an editor opens your book, he/she should be able to tell what your genre is right off the bat. Genre does not have to be established in the first line, but it should be fairly obvious by the end of the first page. You don’t want to open your story with: The wagon train left a dust cloud that Shep could see from seven miles away. when your story is a contemporary thriller. Use key words to indicate to the editor/reader what genre your novel is. Certain words or phrases are indicative of different genres by tapping associations in a reader’s mind. “Glock” will usually indicate a suspense or thriller or crime drama. “Wagon train” will usually indicate a Western or a historical prairie romance. “Desire” in context will typically clue the reader in to the fact that the story is a romance of some sort. Another benefit of indicating genre in the first page is that it will