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    Finding Ideas that Stick

    Anonymous asked: “Hi Lizard! I’ve always wanted to write a book, but whenever I try to write, all my stories feel the same, and all my characters feel flat. I quickly quit stories, also, losing my interest on them in a matter of hours. Could you give me some advice so that I won’t have to sell my soul to the dark overlords in order to write a single paragraph?” Writing is a process. No book is ever going to be just a matter of sitting down and writing it out in one shot. It’s drafting, redrafting, intense editing, often huge various changes along the way and ultimately then you get…

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    Writing Emotional Baggage

    sempiternallydemure asked: “I’m trying to write a book about a divorced mother falling back in love, but I don’t know how to write a divorce relationship with kids involved. Do you think you could give me some suggestions?” Okay so I can’t exactly give over any real suggestions in the way of my own real life experience of falling in love following a divorce, but when it comes to writing from experience I think there are aspects that your character’s situation that you probably can tap into. Even if you’ve never been quite literally in their shoes, there’s a chance you’ve been in situations where you can begin to imagine what…

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    Writing a Dialogue-Heavy Scene

    magicallynormal asked: “Hi Lizard, I was wondering, what do you do when everything you write feels disjointed? I have trouble working in dialogue and description and emotions and when I try, it feels like I’m just trying to connect things with with a few extra words in between.” Oh, I’ve been there I practically live there. But really, that is a very familiar feeling for me. I start with dialogue and can just get carried away in the conversation and lose track of the rest of the scene. It’s a natural thing I think actually.  In general, I think if you’re great with dialogue, you just have an ear for it.…

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    Writers, Know Your Stuff

    Anonymous asked: “Hey Lizard, now I know there is a lot of frustration and anger towards incorrect hospital and emergency procedures and I was wondering if you had any tips about it or any do’s and don’t’s?” I love to read. That’s not really a secret, but one of the reasons I love reading is because I love to learn new things. Even in fiction, you can constantly be learning new things about the world around you. You can learn about different industries and occupations, about different time periods, historical events, and so on. I always assume that whatever I’m reading is true, or that the things that seem plausible…

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    When You Hate Your Novel

    Anonymous asked: “Hi Lizard! I have a huge problem: in the middle of my first draft I’ve realized that there are parts of my story I don’t feel passionate about, or just don’t work, and I would need to go back and change it all and start over again. The point is that I feel like a failure leaving the first draft unfinished and starting from scratch. What should I do?” So it’s kind of a funny thing. This morning a friend of mine asked me if she should put aside her novel to work on another one. It’s never an easy decision to put a novel aside for later, but…

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    A Novel from Pieces

    Anonymous asked: “Hey Lizard! I have my story outlined and plotted and I have got most scenes written, but I feel that I can’t connect them. I feel like my story lacks a certain kind of ‘flow.’ Is there a tip you can give me how to connect scenes so it doesn’t feel like a hard cut after every scene?” That is a great question. So there is one thing that about writing sequentially is that you allow conflict to build naturally. Whenever I write sequentially, my scenes often blur together and aren’t necessarily quite as strong as they could be. I find myself always needing to go back, to work…

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    Why this Character?

    Anonymous asked: “Hi! I’m having trouble showing my protagonist’s personality while writing. It seems like I’m doing just fine with the others, but my main character is just getting pulled along by the plot. Do you have any tips on showing the protagonist’s personality and making them more active in the story?” If your main character is more acted upon than active, I think it’s time to ask yourself, why is this the character who is telling the story? Would it be better if a more involved character told the story? Active characters do have a tendency to take over a novel.  This happens all the time, especially for new writers.…

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    Writing Text Messages

    “Hey Lizard! I’m writing something about teenagers, so what do you think is the best way to write text messages?” Oh my gosh, great question. So, to be perfectly honest, this is actually a bit of mystery to me as well at the moment. There isn’t just one way to do it.  I’m pretty sure that every novel I’ve read does it a little differently so, there is some freedom. One example I really love is from the novel Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight. There are pages that are just back and forth, found text conversations, but then there are also instances where characters get texts and read them in scene.…

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    Characters Bottling Emotions

    @knightedwriter asked: “I have this character who gets into a stressful situation and has a history of emotional abuse. He bottles his emotions. I’m having a lot of trouble figuring out how he should respond to situations, especially as his stress builds and he starts to break. He’s not the POV character.”  I’ve gotten similar questions more than a few times recently and I think there’s something to be said for characters who don’t wear their heart on their sleeves are harder to write about when it comes to showing emotion.  That’s the point though, they’ve got personalities that just don’t like showing any kind of vulnerability and it makes sense.…

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    Writing a Well-Rounded Scene

    mockingjaybrandybuck asked: “Hi Lizard, I also most enjoy dialogue and feel pretty comfortable writing it, however, I struggle with the text to fill out a dialogue heavy scene. What are some other ideas I can be thinking about when writing a dialogue heavy scene that is more well rounded?” Good question. Sometimes while I’m writing and just so into the dialogue I forget I’m just writing the conversation and not actually writing the scene itself.  I tend to be a little wary of my writing when it ends up like that. If I’m just describing character body language and can’t visualize the scene beyond that, there might be something wrong with…