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David Farland's Writing Tips

Writing Wretched Dialog Tags

If you really want to write wretched dialog, you should consider working on your dialog tags. Here are a few options that you might not have considered. I love a story that starts out with tags like this: Elena: “Did you buy the soup?” Jacob: “What soup?” Elena: “The split pea soup that I begged you to pick up from

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How to Write Wretched Dialog

Recently I read a couple of stories where it felt as if the author was struggling to come up with bad dialog. So I thought I should give a few tips on how to do it properly. The easiest way to write wretched dialog is to use dialog for the wrong things. In other words, when a scene calls for

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Stalking the Wild Reader + Get 5 Free Books

A couple of years ago, I read an article about hounds hunting for rabbits. Researchers had found that when a hound is hunting for a rabbit, each time that the hound caught a rabbit’s scent, the dog’s brain released dopamine as a reward, to keep him hunting. It wasn’t until the hound actually caught a rabbit and got a little

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What’s the Rush?

I see a lot of trends in today’s literature. Perhaps the biggest one is that every writer seems to be in a rush. Many new writers try to keep the pacing blazing hot. They’ve heard that in today’s world, kids are trained to think in “sound bites,” and anything longer than a television commercial bores them. As a result, writers

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Aim for Profundity

For some authors, it is enough to try to make big bucks, but most of us would like to deliver a powerful message at times, too—something that carries extra meaning in our lives, something profound. Doctors studying the neuro-science of storytelling go so far as to suggest that a story doesn’t really work unless it also surprises and educates the

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Installing a New Habit

Humans are creatures of habit. We learn how to do a thing—such as drive a car—and then put ourselves on autopilot. We don’t have to consciously think about “How do I start this thing? How do I use a turn signal? Am I giving it enough gas?” We just hop in and go. As a writer, you develop habits, too.

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Is Your Story’s Concept Broken?

Every story begins with an idea. The idea may come to you while listening to a song, driving a car, or reading a newspaper. You might be the kind of person who gets a dozen story ideas a day, or maybe they come to you rarely. The question is, how do you know if your story idea is a good

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The Secret Power of Writing Groups

Last Sunday my wife suggested that we go for a hike, and we convinced my son, Forrest, to come with us. Now, I like to go for walks, but I’m not big on “hikes.” I’ve had too many unpleasant experiences on them, from taking accidental detours that forced me to walk an extra 30 miles, to getting lost, and one

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Four Ways to Avoid a Dead-End Career

Have you ever seen a talented new writer rise to seeming stardom, only to crash and burn within a couple of years?  I recall being a new writer and studying my contemporaries with a mixture of awe and fear, trying to figure out who the big writers would be in the future. Ten years later, nearly all of them were

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The Value of a Logline

A log line, or logline, is a simple description of a story that is only a sentence long.  It boils the story down to its essence.  Unlike the tagline, which is created as a marketing hook, the logline gives the basic premise of the story. Here are three loglines for three famous movies: Luke Skywalker joins forces with a Jedi

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The Value of a Tagline

When you’re writing a screenplay or a book, one of the first things that a writer may do is to create a tagline.  This is a single line that describes the work, defining it in some way, and is usually used in advertising the film.  For example, in the classic movie Alien, the tagline was “In space, no one can

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Are You Writing a Book, or a Movie?

In his book on screenwriting, George Lucas briefly discusses the difference in approach between writing a movie or a book. Since this question lies at the heart of so many problems that I see with new writers, I want to get into it a bit more deeply. As Lucas points out, with a movie, the writer stands outside of any

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Writing Workshop Holiday Gift Cards

If you would like to give a writing workshop or lecture from MyStoryDoctor.com to a loved one, email David at dwolvert@xmission.com for more information on how to do just that. Here are our workshops you might be interested in: Online The Story Puzzle – The Story Puzzle covers the steps involved in prewriting and outlining your novel. Learn to identify

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Now Back to the Story

What defines “good” writing when it comes to a story? That’s a question that I have to ask time and again as I’m judging contest entries. You see, there are different kinds of “good,” and there are different levels of “goodness.” One writer has a gift for plotting, another a gift for pithy metaphors. So what’s your definition of a

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The Power of Being a Fan

On May 9, 1977, I became a Star Wars fan. My brother-in-law had seen the film in April (I believe it was) of that year at a special pre-screening and had told me that I had to go see it. So I got a seat (after failing to get into the theatre on a couple of previous tries) and was

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