Received Actions

When should I use the passive voice? Are there situations in which it’s preferrable over the active voice?

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Hinting at Reversals

What makes a story memorable months or years after reading it? How can you make a plot device stand out, particularly when it is one as timeworn as a reversal?

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Weavers Think About Weaving

What makes some metaphors seem at odds with the rest of the text and others enmeshed within it? How can you write similes that draw the reader into the world of the story?

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A Trio of Analepses

What are the tried and true techniques for writing a flashback? What can you accomplish through a flashback scene?

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You Only Get 3 Paragraphs

How long do you have to hook your reader? One sentence? One paragraph? Longer? The truth is that anything in that nebulous “beginning” section of a story needs to be compelling. Nancy Kress suggests that we use three paragraphs as a rule of thumb for short stories.

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The Triple Down Metaphor

A well-placed metaphor can add a dash of color to a paragraph. But what if you want to add more than a dash? What if you want to turn the paint bucket upside down and drench the paragraph in color?

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Character v Character: Tension, Done Well

How can you quickly build tension between two characters? And how can you imbue that tension with a feeling of immediacy?

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What Came Before

What’s the difference between an internal and external flashback? Why might a writer use a flashback?

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The Le Guin Binary. The Nivenette.

The best short-story writers maintain an arsenal of short-cuts. Learn how to write concisely without lessening impact.

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Future Exposition, Now

How can you add world-building without presenting it to the reader in one enormous expository lump? How can a character describe the world around them without it feeling contrived?

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Pairing Description with Action

How can you describe the setting of your story without it reading like a dry litany of told facts? How can you keep this exposition centered firmly around the main character to keep it grounded in the narrative’s flow of time?

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The Care and Handling of Throwaway Characters

One-off characters don’t have to have generic names or pronouns. If they’re more than a spear carrier, why not give them a nickname?

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