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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,


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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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. [...]

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 [...]

In the 1900’s, a German novelist named Gustav Freytag came up with the plot pyramid, and his basic structure for organizing a story still stands today. In fact, it’s often taught in schools as a way to analyze plot. Do you recognize this? I’m guessing you probably do! We usually learn this as a tool [...]

If you’ve ever told a good story to your friends that had them captivated, you intuitively understand STORY. Whether your story was about what you did last weekend, what happened to your family on your disaster of a vacation, or even what tragedy befell your pet, if they’re hooked, you’ve nailed the five key plot [...]

I’ve spent the last week reading a stack of short stories all written by super talented teen writers. They had believable characters, funny and realistic dialogue, and interesting conflicts and plots. But, well over half of the stories suffered from the same problem. What was it? They had giant chunks of back story which bogged them [...]

I wrote a post a few months ago about How to Start a Story which goes into detail about what to include on the first few pages of a longer piece or a novel. The “4 C’s and a Q” are super important to include, but I’ve read quite a few teen short stories over [...]

Three Types of Short Stories

Last week, I had an interesting conversation with a sophomore. She felt like she had a great character for a short story, but she couldn’t “fit” her character into what she thought was the “mandatory” story structure of a character having a goal, facing obstacles and conflict, and then either achieving or failing to achieve [...]

An Awesome List of WTW’s 2014 Blog Posts

Throughout 2014, we posted on the blog (almost) every Thursday. The posts included both creative writing instruction and inspiration for all you teen writers out there Reviewing all of the posts was actually kind of fun, and I was surprised at how much content is on the site from 2014. Check some of the posts [...]

Starting a new project is often the most exciting stage. As creative writers, we get to put our imaginations to work dreaming up witty and fun characters, fantastic settings, conflicts that would destroy anyone but our stalwart protagonist, and plot twists that readers never see coming. We get it all planned and then sit down [...]

Three Strategies to Develop your Plot Ideas

Nano is almost upon us, and if you’re participating in this month long frenzy of writing, you’re probably working on figuring out what is going to happen in your story. This can be an overwhelming task. You can either have way too many plot ideas floating around in your creative head, or you don’t have [...]

Developing Creative Story Ideas

The issue of uniquely creative story ideas and originality has come up several times in the last few weeks, both here on WTW and in class. Here’s what teen writers have been telling me: “I had this great idea, but then I realized (or a friend pointed out) that it sounds like ______________, so now [...]

Have you ever tried to start writing at the beginning of your story but ended up staring at your screen with no idea of how to start? Me too. I end up feeling like I need the perfect line to begin, but there’s no need to start at the beginning. If you don’t know how [...]

How to Create a Basic Novel Outline

Outlining…some of us love it…some hate it. I admit, I fall into the “I love outlines” category, but I’ve had plenty of students who sit down, write their piece, and then go back to fill out the requisite outline. If you’re one of those, you might be asking “why bother with an outline?” For a [...]

NanoWriMo – where to start?

This week, I’ve had interesting conferences with teens prepping for NaNoWriMo. They have all gone something like this, “I’ve got this great setting OR cool character OR plot idea, but now what? I don’t know where to go with it.” Crafting a novel worthy idea can be intimidating and overwhelming. There’s so much to think [...]

Fast=Slow and Slow=Fast

This past summer at the Ventana Sierra Writer’s Conference, Lorin Oberwerger, a book editor, shared a great tip: fast = slow and slow= fast When she first shared this, I thought “what the heck does that mean?” But then she explained, and it’s a useful guideline once you understand it. It has to do with [...]

What makes a story?

Sometimes, we make writing stories really, really complicated. In fact, I think we often make it much more complicated than it needs to be. One of my students, and founding WTW member, reminded me of this lesson this week when he shared this great little video he created. It’s all of one minute and 15 [...]

A student asked me this question a week or so ago, so I thought I’d address it here. Novels are divided into chapters, and chapters are designed for the reader. They provide good stopping places. Sometimes a chapter is a whole scene, a partial scene or several scenes. When a writer wants to create suspense, [...]

Pile on the Tragedy

Writers who write timeless, compelling fiction tend to be somewhat sadistic when it comes to their main characters. Horrible trauma follows horrible trauma, and as readers, we can’t get enough. We must find out what happens. Think about classics like Romeo and Juliet. Poor Juliet has fallen in love only to have her parents hate [...]

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