A Computer Wrote My Story

Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming an increasingly powerful tool for authors, providing new opportunities to generate creative fiction. With the ability to analyze vast amounts of data and understand natural language, AI can help authors generate new ideas, develop characters, and even write entire stories. In this article, we’ll explore the ways in which AI can assist authors in their writing process, from idea generation to story development, and examine …

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Writing Lessons, Wrong Books

For writers, literature is an ultimatum. Are you going to enjoy it? Or are you going to learn something? It’s a false dichotomy, really. Doing both isn’t so hard. Growing in your skills and superpower has a certain satisfaction in itself. And sometimes understanding the fiddly background bits in stories enhances appreciating them. Whatever your personal approach, literature an ultimatum. There was a time when I wouldn’t put that thought …

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Your Character’s Thoughts

At a glance, it used to be easy to identify what a character was thinking, hearing, seeing, or saying BECAUSE the author would write: he thought, she heard, he saw or she said… The current trend is to remove such markers or filters to reduce the “narrative distance” between the character and the author. This is a psychological technique that gives the reader the perception they are listening directly to …

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Four Steps to Revising My Opening with a Critiki Bar Hangover

Ugh. I just woke up with a wicked headache, and my tongue feels like it’s taped to the roof of my mouth. That’s what I get for drinking at The Critiki Bar, my pick for best workshop of the 2022 RMFW Gold Conference. The bartenders (er, moderators) were Katharine Sands, an established New York literary agent, and David L. Robbins, a best-selling author and creative writing professor. Prior to the …

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Filter Out Filter Words

The most common stylistic problem I find while editing early drafts (both my own and those of critique partners) is excessive filtering and filter words. Filter words are terms and phrases that filter action or insight through a character’s point of view (POV). Overusing them is like asking your reader to watch your story unfold while looking through a dirty window. So, writing an immersive scene means the filter words …

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Pacing and Paragraphs

Having spent the last three years as a member of a robust online critique group and the last year as judge in a novel contest, I’ve learned several things about what makes writing effective. I’ve found many people have a story to tell, but only a small minority have the ability to tell their story well. One such aspect of good writing is pacing. Stories should speed up when the …

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Critique Groups: The Writer’s Lifeline

If you are a writer or aspire to write, you soon discover it’s not as easy as it looks. In fact, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I’ve been writing professionally for over thirty years. It’s a career where the minute you think you’ve mastered the craft, your editor returns a document covered in markups and comments that triples the size of your MS Word file. Hence, writers …

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3rd Person Omniscient POV

The third person omniscient point of view is the most open and flexible POV available to writers. As the name implies, an omniscient narrator is all-seeing and all-knowing. — David Mamet Once a writer decides to use a third person point of view (POV) the next question is: what is the SCOPE of that view? Objective: access only to an external view and dialogue of a character Subjective: access to …

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Expert Advice from a New Writer

Writing advice surrounds me. Everyone, it seems, is an expert. One day, all that information on self-publishing, pitching a story, and writing query letters will come in handy, but for now I feel like I’m drowning in unhelpful advice. Sink with me to the bottom of the writing-advice ocean, where I talk with Mark Stevens, author and host of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers (RMFW) Podcast. Why would Mark bother …

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Short Story Elements

Short stories are fun to read because they pack an unexpected emotional punch. However, “short” does not mean easy to write, or a formless type of expression. Quite the contrary, they are written and rewritten numerous times with herculean effort to be efficient, banish loose ends, conclude with a plot twist plus a memorable last line. The big picture of a small story The plot follows the shape of a …

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