Learn Plotting: Miss Peregrine’s Home…

Plotting: MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN Line-by-line writing is important. Characterization is key. But for most readers and editors of genre and mainstream fiction, what’s most important is story. A story that grabs the reader by the throat, hauls her inside, and doesn’t let her go until the story comes to a satisfying end. How does a writer create a work of fiction that compels the reader to keep turning pages? Ransom Riggs demonstrates his mastery of story in his wondrous first novel, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. In chapter one, our protagonist Jacob, … [Read more...]

Learn Voice from Mim in Mosquitoland

Probably the most frequently asked question of an editor by an aspiring writer is this: What kind of book are you looking for? Inevitably, the answer goes something like this: “I’m looking for a compelling story, told with a fresh, appealing voice.” So what is voice? I think of it as the personality that resonates with the telling of a story. Voice is created with a variety of elements: vocabulary, syntax (the order of the words in the sentence), grammar, idiom (expressions whose meaning might not be understood outside of a particular group or region), and the rhythms of the sentences. … [Read more...]

Bannack & Dork in Disguise2

Before the new, updated Dork books are published, I want you to see what just arrived in my email box! This young man loves to read! His third-grade teacher said she heard giggling from her classroom library. He held up DORK IN DISGUISE and said, "It's me!" I love this picture and this enthusiastic reader! … [Read more...]

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Character Backstory

Everybody has a past, and our past has shaped us.  Our parents, our friends, our culture have made their mark. Of course, everyone responds differently to what surrounds them. Some flourish under pressure, some crack. Some are resentful, some are grateful. Some forgive, others don’t. How has your character become who she is today? How was she raised? Did she accept authority or rebel? Was life easy or difficult? Did she work hard in school? What did she do in her spare time when she was ten years old? Who were her friends? What inspired her? Your reader doesn’t need to know everything about … [Read more...]