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Where Teens Write is closing its doors as a teen writing community, but the “how to write” blog posts will be up for another few weeks.
I’m happy to announce that you can post your stories and get feedback over at Teen Author’s Journal. Like WTW, it’s a smaller community where you can build relationships with others and hone your writing skills.
It’s been a great few years with all of you, but it’s time to close the doors to this community. If you did post stories here that you didn’t save anywhere else, and you’d like them, you may contact me using the contact page, and I’ll get you your story. Thank you for participating.
All the best,

Writer’s Resources

As discussed in the first post in this villain series, the whole purpose of your antagonist is to oppose your protagonist/main character (MC). In the second post, I talked about how to develop your villain so that their opposing your main character is believable and makes sense. It’s super important to develop great villains, to [...]

In the first post in this villain series, I defined an antagonist and also discussed when to introduce your antagonist (hint – right at the beginning of your story). This post is all about how to develop a solid villainous character. Stephen King, in his novel Misery, developed one of the all time great villains in contemporary [...]

Every great story has a powerful and hateful villain. Or do they? The answer to that question is actually much more complicated than it might seem at first glance. So, in honor of the Christmas season and one of my favorite all-time villains, The Grinch, I’m kicking off a three part series on antagonists. A [...]

Lose “Said” & Try Action Tags in Dialogue

Dialogue is one of the most fun parts of a story to write. We can really get in our characters heads while writing dialogue. It’s our opportunity to let our characters speak, to share who they are. We can also use dialogue to develop our characters not only through their words but also through their [...]

Have you ever read the last few chapters of a book extra slowly because you weren’t yet ready to say goodbye to the characters? Can you list favorite characters that you have fallen deeply and irrevocably in love with? I’m willing to bet that if you’re a reader, you can. We all can. My list [...]

How do you tie together multiple POV’s?

This summer, I started reading the wildly popular Game of Thrones in the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin yet again. I’ve started it two other times but never could get into the story. This time, I stuck with it and am finally enjoying it, but it took until past [...]

How to Add Details in Your Writing

Have you ever been reading a story and found it bogged down in tedious detail or flowery and irrelevant descriptions? You want to get back to the characters and the action, so you skim through pages of detailed descriptions, maybe even skip a page or two until something starts happening. Or, you’re reading along and [...]

Starting a new story or novel is one of the most exciting parts of writing…and also one of the most challenging. There’s so much to think about: How to “hook” your reader? Where or when does your story start? What characters should be on the first page? These are huge decisions that will dictate the [...]

I’ve been hard at work on my latest novel and am enjoying getting the characters developed and on the page. I always have a pretty good grasp on my characters by the time I start writing because I definitely fall into the category of “planner” when it comes to writing my novels. Never could I [...]

Every now and again on this blog, I feel pulled to venture into inspirational waters (perhaps even philosophical) and today is one of those days. Why? Because the whole idea of “worry,” mostly about what others think, has come up several times in conversations with friends and family members, and to be honest, this past [...]

Congratulations – you typed the final word of a story that you’ve been slaving over for days, weeks, or maybe even months. You’ve overcome distractions…You’ve ignored Snapchat, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest (or whatever your favorite online distraction may be)…You’ve kept your focus…You’ve actually got a draft. Now what? First, take a moment to celebrate. Whether you’ve just [...]

  This past week, I was re-reading some of Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. It’s a fascinating look at how our mindset, or how we perceive ourselves, impacts our achievement. Basically, she argues that there are two mindsets: a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. If you believe that you can [...]

May 2016 – Invite to Write

I’d like to invite you to warm-up your writing muscles with a challenge. Are you up for it? Ready to write? To participate, write a piece that includes this line somewhere in it: “Lying seems to run in the family.” Your story (or poem) can be up to 400 words. Post your story or poem [...]

When I begin working on a new project, I am filled with excitement. Ideas come easily. Words flow. I get in the writing groove, working on my project almost daily. And then . . . a vacation happens . . . school starts or ends . . . friends call  . . . something (anything) [...]

Have you ever read (or written) a story where you or your readers have a difficult time picturing the action and the setting? The writer is so focused on the characters, dialogue, and action, that they forget to tell us where the characters are. It’s like the characters are floating heads. They’re talking and acting…somewhere [...]

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 similar, other than both have to do with [...]

Develop your Story with Plot Layers

Every good story is, at its heart, a conflict, and your job as the writer is to throw as many obstacles and conflict in front of your character as you can as they strive to achieve their overall story goal. But, you can deepen those conflicts and make them even that much more interesting by [...]

An Invite to Write

Years ago, a dear friend shared some wisdom which is the inspiration for this prompt. I’d been griping about somebody being a flake, somebody who’d flaked on me over…and over…and over. But I had failed to learn and felt perfectly justified in my complaining. My wise friend said, “The first time someone tells you who [...]

Explode Moments with Details

One of the hardest parts of writing fiction is to figure out how much detail to put into a scene. Too much, and your reader gets bored and starts skimming until they get to the action-y parts. Too little, and your reader can’t adequately picture what’s going on. You gotta be Goldilocks and get it [...]

You’ve probably heard the advice to “write what you know,” and if this whole idea confused you, you’re not alone. If you can only write “what you know,” then how does John Green write so convincingly and beautifully about dying from cancer? He’s still alive and well, and I don’t think he’s had cancer. Or, [...]

Have you ever had this experience:  you had a great idea for a story, so you spent an afternoon or a week or two, getting it down on paper. Then, you read through it, but it didn’t seem to work so well, so you revised it. Maybe you asked your mom or good friend for [...]

This past week I decided to start a new project. I’ve had  a few brewing around in my head for awhile, but I felt like I should finish revising another project first. But I didn’t feel like revising anything. (That’s a whole other story about no more “shoulding on myself”) Sooo…what happened? I haven’t been [...]

Lookin’ Back and (Happily) Lookin’ Ahead

Woah – 2015 is coming to an end, in just a few short hours. And I think I’m glad to be putting this year behind me and looking ahead! It’s been a rough one, perhaps the roughest since I was sixteen and my parents divorced, I got braces (on my 16th birthday because my mom [...]

Boost your Creativity: Writing by Hand

‘Tis the holiday season and many of us wish for the latest in technology: a new laptop, a new computer, a new iPad or smartphone. As writers, our lives often revolve around this technology. We can write stories, send them off to writing buddies or post them online, and research on the internet. I’m the [...]

How to End Your Story – the Resolution

I began this series on Essential Elements of Plot way back at the beginning of the summer, but I never finished it. Why? Because I found my own life completely yo-yo-ing as my husband underwent a major medical crisis, and I found I couldn’t write a piece on “resolution” when my own life was in [...]

Using HONY to Create a Character

“HONY? What the heck is that?” You might be asking. HONY stands for Humans of New York, and it is (in my mind) one of the greatest blogs EVER. This past week, a WTW’er posted a great poem  about how we, as humans, often base our judgements of others on appearances. The poem reminded me [...]

Add Reaction to Develop your Characters

Do you choose your friends for their actions? Are you first drawn to them based on how they look? Or, do you choose them for their personality? I’m guessing it’s probably a little bit of all of those things. Now, think about your favorite character(s) from a novel. What do you like about them? Is it [...]

The setting of a story is one of those fiction elements that we imagine vividly in our heads but sometimes it’s hard to remember to put it down on paper. In my writing group, when I read a piece that has great dialogue and solid action, I’m always the one who asks, “Now, where are [...]

Following Your Curiosity to a Story

As some of you know, I’ve been spending up to ten hours a week in the car, driving between my home and teaching job and the hospital where my husband is. It’s a long 320 mile drive through the Nevada desert, but the benefit is that I’ve been listening to all kinds of podcasts and [...]

Writing (or not) in Crisis

I haven’t posted on this blog in several weeks because, as some of you know, my life has gone all upside down with my husband’s health crisis. Since the end of August, we’ve spent forty five days in the ICU as he’s undergone twenty two surgeries. I’ve learned that writing fiction, blog posts, and even [...]

Some Useful Plot Structure Definitions

When I first found my way back to writing after putting it aside for far too long (during my entire twenties and thirties), I discovered a whole world of “writing terms” that I’d never heard when I wrote as a young girl and teen. As a reader, I intuitively knew what these terms were, but [...]

The Beloved and Oft-Misused Semi-colon

I’m not sure why it is that teen writers love the semi-colon, but they do; however, despite their love for it, they often misuse the poor thing. I don’t think this is all their fault. For whatever reason, at least where I teach, students have a semi-colon “learning gap.” They seem to be either terrified of [...]

3 Strategies for Writing a Great Climax

The Climax – this scene is often the most fun to write (for me at least), but have you ever struggled to make sure it is as exciting as it can be and it also ties up all the conflicts? This is the scene that’s in your head when you start your story, that exciting [...]

Three Story Plotting Strategies

Last week my writing group had an interesting discussion. One of the members just sold her most recent novel to a publisher who wants a sequel within six months. My writing buddy has been busily plotting and planning the story. She swears by her plotting method which involves lengthy spreadsheets filled with character and scene notes. [...]

During the summer, I always spend some time working on what I’m going to be teaching during the coming school year. A few weeks ago, I read an article discussing contractions in academic writing, and how in school, the author had been taught not to ever use contractions in writing. Then, in the comments, quite [...]

There’s a myth to long lazy summer days. Because I teach, the school year brings busy-ness and obligations, so I always look forward to summer as a time to write and get caught up. But not this summer. This summer has been filled with unexpected trips, family medical emergencies, and distractions that have pulled me [...]

This past spring, I went to two education conferences where speakers discussed the neuroscience of learning, and they both talked about how our brains are unable to multitask. Doing two things at the same time dramatically impacts our performance. I asked both presenters specifically if students should listen to music while writing, and both gave [...]

My family always goes camping over the 4th of July weekend. The further away from humanity we can get, the better. But usually, we still have some access to the world. Not this weekend. After driving over fifty miles on a dirt road into a remote western mountain range, we were completely cut off from [...]

Everyday, we make mundane decisions. What will we have for breakfast? What clothes should we wear? What book should we read next? Some decisions we make might feel like major life decisions at the time, but they’re really not that big of a deal, like if we should go on a date with someone we’re not [...]

I’m not sure why writing, one of the things I love the most, is the first to go when life gets crazy busy, but it is. It’s a problem when life gets to be so much that one of the things that helps you get through the craziness is the first to go. As summer [...]

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