Expansion Pack: Prequels

Story Empire

Hi Gang, Craig once more to wrap up this weird series about cautionary tales for writers. You can check out the two previous posts at these links:


One Upmanship

This one is about something that’s all the rage right now; prequels. You have a cool story, and one of the supporting characters could have been your main character if you weren’t into it eight chapters already. Wouldn’t that character’s story be fun to write? Seems like everyone is doing it today.

I’ve struggled with all the things these posts relate to. I wrote a fun stand-alone, and my author friends begged me to make it into a series. What the hell am I going to do for an encore? (Wrote it anyway. Polishes nails.) I’ve struggled to live within the parameters I established multiple volumes into my ongoing series. (That one is a series on purpose.)

Then it occurred…

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3 Ways That Writerly Grit Leads to Publishing Success – by Susan DeFreitas…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

on Jane Friedman site:

They say everyone has a book inside them, but few have the talent, skills, and wherewithal to actually write and publish that book.

Talent? Frankly, I think talent is pretty common, and that most people who really love books have the essential spark of what it takes to write one.

Skills? Those are harder to come by, and generally pretty expensive to come by, whether you’re paying in cash, time, or both.

But having recently completed my fourth novel manuscript—and coached countless writers through the same process—I can honestly say that this business of wherewithal, or grit, is by far the biggest factor in that equation.

Grit is often seen as the stubborn plowing ahead, the continuing to do, do, do despite life’s various indignities, rejections, and setbacks. And it certainly is that—but also, I think, something more

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Using Polarity #amwriting

Life in the Realm of Fantasy

When I get into revisions, I often find my characters seem two-dimensional. Certain passages stand out because the characters have life, an intensity that feels palpable.

Others, not so much.

ContrastsI aspire to write like my heroes, authors who create characters who come alive. While I’m in that world, I see the people and their stories as sharply as the author intends.

Some of my work manages to find that happy place, but other passages feel flat, lacking spark. That is where I look at contrast – polarity. When I use polarity well, my narrative makes my editor happy.

I know I say this regularly, but word choice matters. How I choose to phrase a passage can make an immersive experience or throw the reader out of the book. Sometimes I am more successful than other times.

My goal is to make vivid sensory images for my readers, but not…

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Storytelling: What is a Plot? – by Melissa Donovan…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

on Writing Forward:

A plot is a sequence of related events in a story.

Plot usually centers around the protagonist’s primary goal or challenge, the central story problem. Each event in the story pushes the protagonist toward a climax where they either succeed or fail to resolve the story problem. In a mystery, the challenge might be to solve a crime. In a romance, the goal is to find true love.

As the plot progresses, the stakes get higher and tensions rise. A killer is on the loose. If the detective doesn’t solve the crime fast, the killer will strike again. As the detective closes in, the killer taunts the detective and threatens his family. Then he kidnaps the detective’s daughter. The situation grows increasingly dire, desperate, or dangerous. The story intensifies at every turn.

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Rewrites and Second Drafts: A Necessary Evil.

Story Empire

Greetings, SE’ers! Beem Weeks here with you again. Today, I’d like to talk about rewrites and second drafts.

Side view of Authoress using typewriting

Some writers have all the skills needed to nail their story on the first run. Others may require a second draft—or even a third. I’m a firm believer in the second draft. This doesn’t necessarily mean a complete deconstruction of your manuscript, mind you. It simply means fine-tuning your story. I usually do this after putting the finished story away for a period, then, after I’ve cleared the tale and all its characters from my mind, I approach it with fresh eyes.

During the reading process is where I’ll find bumps in the rug that cause me to stumble. Perhaps there’s a character that needs to be softened if he or she is to be likeable or deserving of a reader’s sympathy. Or maybe a character is too soft, to the point…

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Point of View: Is Deeper Always Better? – by Jami Gold…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

on Writers Helping Writers:

Until relatively recently, most stories were written with an omniscient point of view (POV), which follows the story and characters from an all-knowing distance. But over the past several decades, storytelling techniques have trended to a closer POV, focusing on one character and their experience at a time. In fact, for many genres, the expectation now is to use Deep POV for third-person stories, relating the story from within the POV character’s head (much like how we’d write first-person stories, just with different pronouns).

With the trends and expectations pushing toward a deeper POV, we might wonder if that means we should never drop out of Deep POV. What if we keep the POV “close” to one character’s experience, but relate some of the story from a shallower perspective that’s not so deep inside their head?

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Conflict + Choices = Character Agency – by K.M. Weiland…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

on Helping Writers become Authors:

Character agency is a hot topic these days, but truly it was always an important topic for writers.


Because a character (particularly a protagonist) with no agency is a character who isn’t likely to be very interesting.

More than that, a character with little to no agency won’t be able to generate and/or respond to conflict.

The result? The plot grinds to a halt.

So how do you create characters and plots in which agency is baked right into the mix?

Continue reading HERE

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Blogging Tricks For Keeping On Top Of Your Content

K.M. Allan

The key to a successful blog is well-written content that’s posted regularly.

For some bloggers, that means a post every day. For others, it’s once a week or every other week. That’s a decent amount of content to create and oversee from an idea, to the first draft, and to a published post, year after year.

With a workload like that, amongst other creative endeavors and responsibilities, you’ll want to keep on top of your content with as much ease as possible. And that is where the following tricks will come in handy!

Blogging Tricks For Keeping On Top Of Your Content

Work Ahead Regularly

If you’re able to make the time to draft one blog post, why not try two? They both don’t need to be completed in one session, but if you get one completely written and another half-written or outlined then you’re already at an advantage…

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What’s the Central Conflict of your Novel? Keep it Center Stage – by Becca Puglisi…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

on Anne R Allen:

“Conflict in Every Scene”

We’ve all heard this advice, and for good reason. Your protagonist has a goal—hopefully, an audacious and high-stakes goal that is difficult to achieve. “Difficult” is important. It’s one of the qualities of a highly engaging story because the harder the goal is to reach, the less certainty readers have that the protagonist will be ok. They’ll find themselves wondering: Will the hero win in the end? Can they overcome the odds? Will they be able to make the necessary internal growth for them to succeed?

To maintain this level of reader empathy and engagement, the conflict has to come hard and fast. There needs to be hardship in every single scene. Some of that strife will relate directly back to the story goal. This will be in the form of obstacles, adversaries, setbacks, and disappointments that push the character farther from…

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