The Perfect Short Story

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A few years ago I wrote the perfect short story. I went to bed that night sure I had created a flawless first draft—no revisions needed. The next morning I re-read the first sentence. Bravado slumped into despair. Had a gremlin changed the words overnight? Had someone broken into the house and altered the perfectly worded manuscript? Even someone with my crazy imagination had to admit those scenarios were unlikely. My perfect short story needed work. I grudgingly accepted that … Read More »

Enriching Your Narrative – Part II

by Mary Lois Sanders & Sarah Nell Summers Weaving Description into Your Scene Organically, i.e., no info dumping! First, what do we mean by ‘organically’? Simply put, the descriptors are not a list lumped together, but details woven into the body of the narrative. This weaving should be seamless for the reader, too. Information he needs to know, that comes as he needs it. This difference between ‘info dump’ vs. ‘weaving’ is critical. An ‘info dump’ stops the plot and … Read More »


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Foreshadowing is putting an object, bit of dialogue, or an action into a scene which hints at something happening later in the story. To be effective, it needs to be subtle enough for readers to miss it; and when they come across what has been foreshadowed, they will think, “That’s right! In the beginning, the character said or did this.” Examples: In the movie The Wizard of Oz, based on L. Frank Baum’s book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, there are … Read More »

Enriching Your Narrative – Part I

by Mary Lois Sanders & Sarah Nell Summers You have your story idea and its setting, but how do you write it so that your readers experience the characters, places, objects, sights, sounds and smells of the book’s world without “info dumping”? Simple, you weave description into your scenes organically. Say what? True! We all want to choose the right “set design” in which our characters act out their tales. Or we need to create a “world” for our fantasy … Read More »

Physical Description

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Make your physical description of characters, objects, buildings, settings, and clothing active. You can do that by using active verbs to replace passive “to be” verbs such as was, were, have, and had. In my unpublished Civil War historical novel, General Samantha Lee: A Tiger’s Heart, (first in a trilogy) there’s a description of a Union captain’s uniform. Here is how I could have described the woman who disguised herself as a Union officer using passive verbs: I strolled to … Read More »

Unlocking the Secrets of a Series

The middle-grade mystery that began its life as a tiny glimmer of an idea is finally done (I’m pretty sure). You know how it goes – just one more tweak here, change a word there. But at this point, I’m hitting the ‘save’ button one last time and calling it done. Now, what do I do with those great scenes that didn’t make the cut and the ideas that are still swirling around in my head? I’m considering a series … Read More »

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