Category Archives: Basics of Writing

Run through the basics with the pros: grammar, point-of-view, dialogue, voice, pacing, and more.

Enter THE THORN OF DENTONHILL Sweepstakes!

Posted by January 27th, 2015

THE THORN OF DENTONHILL Giveaway

Congratulations to Book Country member Marshall Ryan Maresca! His debut fantasy novel, THE THORN OF DENTONHILL comes out February 3, 2015! Marshall originally workshopped THE THORN OF DENTONHILL on Book Country, and was picked up by DAW Books.

To celebrate Marshall’s release, we are asking you to describe your own fantasy world in one sentence in the discussion thread for a chance to win one of ten advance copies of THE THORN OF DENTONHILL!  You may also email your submission to info@bookcountry.com with the subject line “THE THORN OF DENTONHILL Sweepstakes.”

To help you get started, Marshall shares his advice on the worldbuilding process below. The deadline to enter is 11:59 PM Eastern Time on February 2, 2015 Continue reading

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Five Reasons to Take an Online Writing Class in 2015 by Sharon Oard Warner

Posted by January 21st, 2015

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”                          – Zen Master Shunryo Suzuki

First Ranamin adOL.inddMost beginning writers are anxious to shrug off the adjective, which they perceive as a pejorative. When I was beginning to write, I wanted nothing more than to be taken seriously. Now, I can pass as an expert fiction writer. I am a professor in English Department at the University of New Mexico where I teach creative writing to undergraduates and graduate students. I also serve as the founding director of the Taos Summer Writers’ Conference, an annual week-long event that is currently in its seventeenth year.

Why, then, have I decided to shrug off the expert mantle and assume the role of beginner again. Why am I taking a writing class online? Here’s why:

In October of 2014, I finally published my fourth book—and second novel—a family story set in New Mexico called SOPHIE’S HOUSE OF CARDS. It’s a good novel. I’m proud of it, but the sad truth is that I spent the last thirteen years of my life completing it.  At that rate, I will complete only one or two more novels in my lifetime, and I won’t have much fun in the process.

My reasons for enrolling in “Write Where You Are: a Mindful Approach” might be different than yours.  But if you are wishing and hoping to write more in 2015 (more, say, than you wrote in 2014), if you’re striving to compose better, fresher prose, consider the following: Continue reading

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Write Start Author Series & Contest from Biographile and Paste Magazine

Posted by January 6th, 2015

Calling all Book Country writers! Are you ready to start a great story this year?

Biographile, a Penguin Random House blog dedicated to biography and memoir, is going to be a wealth of inspiration and advice for aspiring writers all through the month of January. Already an excellent place to brush up on the craft of writing (check out our post from last month with Biographile’s Joe Muscolino), they’re amping it up with the Write Start Author Series. More than forty published authors are going to share tips for getting started on a new project . . . just in time for a new year in your writing life.

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From Biographile:

At some point most writers will face this struggle, the furious and paralyzing reality of squeezing perfect ideas into imperfect words.

We at Biographile feel your pain, so we’ve spent the past few months asking forty-plus authors to share their hard-earned writing advice to remind you you’re not alone. For the month of January, in the spirit of new beginnings, Biographile will be spending each day celebrating the craft of writing by giving you all the basics to get started.

Additionally, the awesome folks at Paste Magazine are hosting the Write Start Contest, perfect for Book Country writers! Continue reading

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Doodling Prompts for Character and Story Development! By Lisa Currie

Posted by November 25th, 2014

Currie promptFinal week of NaNoWriMo 2014? Even if you aren’t participating with a new work, and are instead in some stage of editing your novel in progress, we can help! Today we offer the final installment of fun doodling prompts for character and story development, from author and master doodler Lisa Currie, whose new book ME, YOU, US is just out from Perigee Books. You can download and print these exclusive prompts by clicking on the hyperlinked words in the text below. Share yours with us on social media! Both books, ME, YOU, US and THE SCRIBBLE DIARY, are available widely online and in stores.

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So, you’ve made it through a month of thinking creatively about your novel-in-progress, through the power of doodle prompts. Huzzah!  I hope it’s been as fun as it has beneficial. To recap: In the first doodle prompt installment post, we established the power and popularity of doodling. If you click on the link, you’ll be able to download four doodle prompts that you can use to start fleshing out your character(s). The second installment, was a more in-depth online profile prompt. The third doodle prompt focused on plot points and obstacles in the way of your protagonist’s goal(s). Our fourth installment helped prompt you to finding those nuggets of details that makes your character unique. Continue reading

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Character-Based Doodling Prompts By Lisa Currie

Posted by November 17th, 2014

Lisa Currie

Midway into NaNoWriMo 2014? Or, stuck on your novel-in-progress or novel-to-be and feeling like your characters need a little more oomph? Today we offer another set of fun doodling prompts for character development from author and master doodler Lisa Currie, whose new book ME, YOU, US is just out from Perigee Books. You can download and print these exclusive prompts by clicking on the hyperlinked words in the text below. Share yours with us on social media! 

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Welcome to the fourth installment of doodling prompts for writers, adapted from my books, ME, YOU, US and THE SCRIBBLE DIARY. And as the holidays get closer, a little hint: the books make great gifts for writer and non-writer friends alike! In the first doodle prompt installment post, we established how doodling can help develop your book. If you click on the link, you’ll be able to download four doodle prompts that you can use to start fleshing out your character(s). The second installment was an in-depth online profile prompt. The last doodle prompt focused on plot points and obstacles in the way of your protagonist’s goal(s). Continue reading

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Doodling Prompts for Character Development! By Lisa Currie

Posted by November 12th, 2014

Lisa Currie prompt Participating in NaNoWriMo 2014? Today we offer another set of fun doodling prompts for character development from author and master doodler Lisa Currie, whose new book ME, YOU, US is just out from Perigee Books. You can download and print these exclusive prompts by clicking on the hyperlinked words in the text below. Share yours with us on social media! 

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This is the third installment of doodling prompts for writers, adapted from my books, ME, YOU, US and THE SCRIBBLE DIARY. Both are excellent tools for writer’s groups, and a fun yet productive break from laboring over the story page. In the first doodle prompt installment post, we established the power and popularity of doodling, identifying famous politicians, businessmen, authors, and creative types who doodled. If you click on the link, you’ll be able to download four doodle prompts that you can use to start fleshing out your character(s). In the second installment, it was a more in-depth online profile prompt. Continue reading

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Doodling Prompts for NaNoWriMo! By Lisa Currie

Posted by November 5th, 2014

ME, YOU, US by Lisa CurrieReady to start NaNoWriMo 2014Fleshing out characters for your novel-in-progress or novel-to-be? Today we offer another set of fun doodling prompts for character development from author and master doodler Lisa Currie, whose new book ME, YOU, US is just out from Perigee Books. You can download and print these exclusive prompts by clicking on the hyperlinked words in the text below. Share yours with us on social media! 

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In the first post, we established the power and popularity of doodling, identifying famous politicians, businessmen, and creative types who doodled, from George Washington to Bill Gates, Michelangelo to Larry David.  More relevant to you, well-regarded authors throughout history have turned to doodling and scribble-thoughts to better imagine characters and give them more depth, outline story arc, and visualize settings and context. Continue reading

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NaNoWriMo: 5 Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block

Posted by October 29th, 2014

Preparing for NaNoWriMo: 5 Tips for Overcoming Writer's Block

What happens when you’re in the middle of completing your daily word count for NaNoWriMo, and you hit a wall? Writer’s block is never fun, but it’s especially panic-inducing when you’re trying to write 50,000 words in one month. Waiting around for “inspiration” to come can be both time-consuming and frustrating. Here are 5 tips on how to get through writer’s block:

Do a Ten Minute Free Write Session

When trying to find the perfect words, you can get stuck and lose momentum in your writing. Remember, the purpose of NaNoWriMo is to just write the first draft. Doing a free write session, where you write non-stop for a set period of time, can help keep the words moving. Even if you end up writing something entirely different from your story during the free write, at least you’re still writing! You might even come up with a phrase or idea that you can use in your story later on.
Continue reading

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How to Use the Snowflake Method to Prepare for NaNoWriMo

Posted by October 1st, 2014

DJ Lutz

NaNoWriMo is only one month away! October is the perfect time to start outlining your novel before the mad rush of writing begins in November. Book Country member D.J. Lutz shares how using the Snowflake Method can help you make NaNoWriMo a success!

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Hi, my name is DJ, and I am a recovering pants’er.

What do I mean by pants’er? Well, in late October, 2008 I discovered NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and decided I could scribble out a 50,000 word first draft by the end of November. No prep, no editing, just flat out stream of consciousness clacking on the keyboard. Fueled by venti Americanos with extra shots of espresso, I would go on to write my first ever novel PECOS BILL AND THE CURSED GOLD by the seat of my pants.

I finished well over the requisite 50k word count. Of course, the novel had no discernable structure other than “ramble,” which I don’t think counts. It was, however, fun to write and the experience taught me about the time management and discipline professional writers need to be successful. But as a coherent novel it lacked. Everything. It was time to research the craft of writing. Continue reading

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5 Considerations for Sequel Writing by Hillary Jacques

Posted by September 10th, 2014

Hillary Jacques on sequel writing

Welcome Urban Fantasy author Hillary Jacques! Hillary has been a Book Country member since 2011, workshopping THIS IS DALTON and BROKEN IN. Her new book, CARNIEPUNK: RECESSION OF THE DIVINE, will be out in December and is published by Simon and Schuster. Hillary shares advice on sequel writing. 

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Writing a first novel is like going on a carnival ride in a foreign language. Even when you think you know what’s happening, there are these moments of pure discovery where you round a corner and find a ghost town or a nemesis long thought dead. It’s almost magical. And then comes the sequel.

Writing a sequel isn’t as simple as getting in line for the ride again. Nope. The author boards, ticket in hand, but instead of bumping along a familiar set of tracks, there are all these considerations to deal with. Details, development, and continuity. Half of them have been explained before, and the other half have changed. So what do you do? Continue reading

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