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Let’s Talk About Your Opening . . .

Posted March 2nd, 2015 by in Writing Tips

Not long ago a student asked me if I would mind providing more definition about the inciting incident and core conflict. He said they sounded the same to him. Also, he was confused about what I meant when I said the best openings begin slightly before the beginning. I had been explaining how it was […]


One Dozen Rules for Writing Effective Love Scenes

Posted November 21st, 2014 by in Writing Tips

• Love scenes should have a slow buildup of sexual tension. Anticipation, a slow seduction of the reader, is what to strive for. • The key ingredient to a good love scene is emotion. The scene must involve the reader emotionally. The reader should care what happens to these people. • Love scenes should not […]


Deliver on Your Promises

Posted June 3rd, 2014 by in Writing Tips

“The reader has certain rights. He bought your story. Think of this as an implicit contract. He’s entitled to be entertained, instructed, amused; maybe all three. If he quits in the middle, or puts the book down feeling his time has been wasted, you’re in violation.” ~ Larry Niven If you’re writing a mystery, you […]


Patricia Kay’s Sequel Checklist

Posted May 31st, 2014 by in Writing Tips

Patricia Kay’s Sequel Checklist Questions to ask yourself about your sequels: Is a sequel really needed here?  Would a simple transition to the next scene do the job better? Is the sequel written in the right point of view?  Would it be more effective if it were written from the point of view of another […]


Patricia Kay’s Scene Checklist

Posted March 28th, 2014 by in Writing Tips

 Patricia Kay’s Scene Checklist Questions to ask yourself about your scenes:  Is there a clear scene goal?  Does the point-of-view character want something or want to accomplish something during the scene?  Is the point of view clear?  Would the scene be more interesting and/or dramatic if another point-of-view character had been used instead?  If this […]


The First Five Pages

Posted March 2nd, 2014 by in Writing Tips

A Fifteen Point Checklist Developed By Patricia Kay • Hook the reader with an intriguing opening. • Start your story just before the beginning on the day that is different. • Introduce your protagonist – if your book is a romance, either your hero or your heroine should be introduced in the first scene. • […]


Ways To “Show” instead of “Tell”

Posted January 25th, 2014 by in Writing Tips

Critique partners, contest judges, agents and editors constantly admonish writers to “show” not “tell.” Too often this advice is interpreted by writers as the need to delete all “was” verbs in their writing. In my opinion, this is ridiculous. Yes, sometimes the deletion of a “was” verb improves the work. But a lot of the […]


It’s all in the details . . .

Posted January 20th, 2014 by in Writing Tips

“Name names. Make your writing physical. Use lots of exact nouns. ‘Food’ is an idea; ‘black-bean soup’ is a thing. Naming not only makes the writing more visceral, it makes the reader trust you. And use your own expertise, whatever ‘insider information’ you have. Use words like soffit, draw shave, spit valve.” ~ David Long Years […]


Let’s Talk About Prologues . . .

Posted January 10th, 2014 by in Writing Tips

In every class I’ve taught over the years someone raises the question of editors “hating” prologues. This usually pops up when I’ve suggested they begin their book with a prologue. I don’t know why this perception of “no prologues” exists because honestly, I’ve written for five different publishers over the past 20+ years, had seven different […]


Be Fearless By Patricia Kay

Posted December 31st, 2013 by in Writing Tips

“You can’t be afraid to deal with your demons. You’ve got to go there to be able to write.” — Lucinda Williams Most writers have heard the oft-quoted line from Natalie Goldberg’s WRITING DOWN THE BONES about writing being a matter of just opening a vein and bleeding all over the page. I firmly believe […]