How to Develop a Sub-Plot

Having lots going on in a story sounds like it’ll make the story that much more interesting right? It might, but first you have to know what kind of plot additions you’re going to make. There are both plot layers and sub-plots and while the terms sound...

Developing Creative Story Ideas

The issue of uniquely creative story ideas and originality has come up several times in the last few weeks, both here on WTW and in class. Here’s what teen writers have been telling me: “I had this great idea, but then I realized (or a friend pointed out)...

How to Create a Basic Novel Outline

Outlining…some of us love it…some hate it. I admit, I fall into the “I love outlines” category, but I’ve had plenty of students who sit down, write their piece, and then go back to fill out the requisite outline. If you’re one of...

NanoWriMo – where to start?

This week, I’ve had interesting conferences with teens prepping for NaNoWriMo. They have all gone something like this, “I’ve got this great setting OR cool character OR plot idea, but now what? I don’t know where to go with it.” Crafting...

Fast=Slow and Slow=Fast

This past summer at the Ventana Sierra Writer’s Conference, Lorin Oberwerger, a book editor, shared a great tip: fast = slow and slow= fast When she first shared this, I thought “what the heck does that mean?” But then she explained, and it’s a...

What makes a story?

Sometimes, we make writing stories really, really complicated. In fact, I think we often make it much more complicated than it needs to be. One of my students, and founding WTW member, reminded me of this lesson this week when he shared this great little video he...

What is the difference between a scene and a chapter?

A student asked me this question a week or so ago, so I thought I’d address it here. Novels are divided into chapters, and chapters are designed for the reader. They provide good stopping places. Sometimes a chapter is a whole scene, a partial scene or several...

Pile on the Tragedy

Writers who write timeless, compelling fiction tend to be somewhat sadistic when it comes to their main characters. Horrible trauma follows horrible trauma, and as readers, we can’t get enough. We must find out what happens. Think about classics like Romeo and...