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The Funnily Enough
The whole world of writing in one place
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Think Like A Doctor: Diagnose And Cure What Ails Your Book

Think Like A Doctor: Diagnose And Cure What Ails Your Book | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

One of the most important skills you can have as a writer is the ability to detach yourself from your work and diagnose its weaknesses objectively—as if you were a doctor examining a patient.

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Ax Your Cliches: Why and How

At one time every cliché was fresh. Maybe clever. Sometimes funny.

The first time someone wrote or said it, it was fresh. Now, not so much.

 

If you’ve read a sentence a dozen times, or twenty dozen times, or every which way but Sunday, it is as boring as it is annoying.

Clichés are old hat. Clichés are yesterday’s news. Clichés are been there, done that.

 

Clichés are scummy water under a broken-down bridge.

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Guilt-Free Creativity: Stop Kicking Yourself & Start Producing

Guilt-Free Creativity: Stop Kicking Yourself & Start Producing | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

We've all been there: You finally carve out the time to work on a big creative project and then you... choke. After counting on this break to really produce something, you're suddenly paralyzed by performance anxiety. But instead of showing up as fear on the surface, it manifests itself as guilt. If you don't proceed with caution, you can soon fritter away your creative fortune on nickel and dime activities.

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Just Say No To Melodrama

Just Say No To Melodrama | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

Unfortunately, many writers make the mistake of assuming that to be gripping, emotion must be dramatic. Sad people should burst into tears. Joyful characters must express their glee by jumping up and down. This kind of writing results in melodrama, which leads to a sense of disbelief in the reader because, in real life, emotion isn’t always so demonstrative.

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Building Deep Conflict into Novel Structure

If I am working on a novel, and my plot in essence consists of someone saying to the mc, "here, do this," and the character says, "sure, no problem," then runs through a bunch of obstacles, maybe even dangerous obstacles, I as then I, the author, am the one with a serious problem. I haven't given my mc a strong enough reason to push back against the events unfolding. And adding conflict once the novel is written isn't as easy as it sounds, because what ultimately makes for the kind of book that I, personally, want to read, is deep conflict. That's what makes me care about a book and keeps me turning pages late into the night.

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Write Tighter, Write Smarter

Write Tighter, Write Smarter | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

Recently, I came across those notebooks of my first attempts at writing a novel and was shocked to see what my style was like when I wrote it eight years ago. I think the aspect that struck me the most was how much I rambled.

 

It wasn't that I wrote endless chapters of setting or backstory or dialogue. My problem was that I wrote the way I spoke--and I spoke with a lot of extra words.

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Secondary Characters Have a Life of Their Own

Secondary Characters Have a Life of Their Own | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

We all need a supporting cast in our novels. Secondary characters have to be in there, unless your book is about a guy stuck on a deserted island the entire time. But even in that instance, an animal or even a volleyball can play the role of a secondary character. There are plenty of great movies where even the hero is an animal. But whether your secondary characters are human, feline, canine, or bovine, they need to be fully human in their characteristics (well, maybe cats can getting away with just saying no).

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The Trouble With Intentions

The Trouble With Intentions | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

On their own, sentences are implacably honest. They may be long, short, simple, complex, clear, ambiguous, even incoherent. But they don’t try to hide those qualities. They are what they are and they say what they say. It’s as plain as the words on their faces. The trouble is that most sentences have writers, a fact that readers are well aware of. That makes it hard to consider sentences entirely on their own. Other questions arise. What’s she saying? What did he mean?

 

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The Subtle Knife: Writing Characters Readers Trust But Shouldn’t

The Subtle Knife: Writing Characters Readers Trust But Shouldn’t | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

I don’t know about you, but I love reading books where the author encourages me to draw conclusions that are wrong. Case in point--untrustworthy characters who I trust anyway. Like all writers, I am ultra aware of character cues and actions as I read, so when I’m led astray and find out someone I believed to be good really isn’t, I want to cheer and tell the author, “Well done!”

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Frequently Asked Questions About Query Letters

Frequently Asked Questions About Query Letters | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

When contacting agents, the query process isn’t as simple as “Just keep e-mailing until something good happens.” There are ins, outs, strange situations, unclear scenarios, and plenty of what-have-you that block the road to signing with a rep. It’s with that in mind that I have collected 10 of the more interesting questions submitted to me by readers regarding protocol during the query process.

 

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7 Tricks to Add Variety to Your Dialogue

7 Tricks to Add Variety to Your Dialogue | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

A simple back and forth exchange in dialogue is like a plain chicken breast. It’ll keep your body full and moving, but pretty soon your taste buds get bored. You need BBQ sauce. Or Ranch shake-and-bake. Or spicy raspberry-balsamic marinade. You need to add variety.

 

The same principle applies to your dialogue, and the best way to add variety is to imitate real speech patterns.

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Body language

Body language is one of those things that has to some extent become a code. “He shrugged” “She sighed” “I smiled” and so on have become almost like punctuation – nearly meaningless things inserted into a paragraph or a line of dialog to let the reader know that there’s a pause here, or a small change in the level of the action, or something that needs just a little more emphasis.

 

As a result, some writers find it difficult to move beyond the code.

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Self-Publishing:--Is It for You? Four Writers Share Their Experiences with Releasing Their Own Books

Self-Publishing:--Is It for You? Four Writers Share Their Experiences with Releasing Their Own Books | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

It used to be called "vanity press," but now it's looking like a good deal for many writers.  Why?  What are the pitfalls and the benefits of publishing yourself?  Why are so many writers considering it a great option these days?

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The 11 Key Questions Every Indie Author Must Know about the Competition

The 11 Key Questions Every Indie Author Must Know about the Competition | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

The number one secret of bestselling authors: knowing what’s already in the market. The questions below are things to consider as you research competing titles. In the business world, this is known as a competitive analysis. Your answers to the following questions will not only help strengthen your vision, but will help you create the book that will stand out from the pack.

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Characters Don't Know What Other Characters Think

You may be writing paranormals and so, yes, you might have a mind-reading character or two in your fiction. But if you’re not and if you don’t, then it’s likely your characters are no better at reading the minds and emotions of other characters than any of us are at reading the 3-dimensional people in our lives.

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Day After Day After Day—Showing Up At The Page No Matter What

Day After Day After Day—Showing Up At The Page No Matter What | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

There is a point in every novel I write where I am utterly miserable. The book is a big mess, full of TKs (“to come”) and notes to myself (“fix this in line with Chapter 22”), sloppy writing and dull characterization. It feels like it will never, ever be finished, and even if it is, it will be the biggest pile of manure to yet arrive on the literary scene.

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Rules, Schmules: Don't Follow the Rules, Tell a Great Story

Rules, Schmules: Don't Follow the Rules, Tell a Great Story | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

This might sound odd on a blog that is dedicated to ways to improve your writing, but if you're more concerned with the technical rules of writing than the story itself, you're hurting your chances of ever getting published.

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How to Avoid the Blank Page

How to Avoid the Blank Page | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

In his book,The Screenwriter’s Workbook, Syd Field mentions that the great Irish writer, James Joyce, once said that writing is like climbing a mountain. When ascending the rock-face, all you can see is the surface directly in front and behind you. You can’t see where you’re going or where you’ve come from. Writing is a little like that. All you can see is the page you’re immediately working on.

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Anatomy of a Best-Selling Novel—Structure Part One

Anatomy of a Best-Selling Novel—Structure Part One | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

Structure is probably one of the most overlooked topics, and yet it is the most critical. Why? Because structure is for the reader. The farther an author deviates from structure, the less likely the story will connect to a reader. Agents know this and editors know this and, since they are in the business of selling books to readers, structure becomes vital. A lot of new writers want to break rules. Okay, well I won’t stop you, but I will point out a simple truth:

 

Story that connects to reader = lots of books sold

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Cliffhangers For Unscrupulous Writers

Cliffhangers For Unscrupulous Writers | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

Obviously, it would be preferable if writers used this technique for good instead of evil. But we both know that is not how they are used for the most part. Anyone with a television set can see the abuse and misuse they are put to nightly. Still, it’s worth having this weapon in your arsenal. How you use it is your affair.

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An Adverb That Defies Certainty

An Adverb That Defies Certainty | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

I am an “almost” writer.

 

A quick and random sweep through a few of my manuscripts reveals the following uses of “almost”: almost never, almost always, almost certainly, almost ready, almost willing, almost impulsively, almost as though, almost immediately, almost everywhere, almost kind, almost cruel, almost exciting, almost home, almost asleep, almost dead. She said “Don’t” almost before his lips had touched hers.

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Bad Guys Have a Story to Tell

Bad Guys Have a Story to Tell | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

Last week I dove into bad guys in your fiction. Before you say you don’t have a clear antagonist in your story, think about a character that opposes your protagonist. It could even be a good friend. In some instances, supportive characters take on the role of an antagonist, so try to broaden your perspective a bit as we go a little deeper into understanding your antagonist and working on making him/her more human.

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What a Concept! Plotting Your Novel Conceptually

What a Concept! Plotting Your Novel Conceptually | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

I'm always looking for better ways to plot my novels. Every time I attend a great workshop on story structure, or see a phenomenal blog post, or read a fantastic book, I incorporate those tips into my process and update my basic plotting template. I just started developing a new novel, and I noticed that I start conceptually and narrow the plot down to specifics.

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The Three Rules for Writing a Novel

All due respect to Somerset Maugham, there are three rules for writing a novel and I know what they are.

 

Now, it is quite common to hear, at conferences and in classrooms across our favored land, in tones pugnacious and pejorative, that when it comes to the art of the novel, quite simply and unequivocally, There are no rules!

 

I would like to test that enthusiastic effusion and establish the contrary position.

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