Category: Writing Tips

A blog by Shalon Sims about creative writing, literacy, education and psychology

What a Top New York Agent Wants: the element of surprise

Sitting down with Don Maass of the famous Donald Maass Literary Agency last week, I wasn’t all that nervous. Probably the lack of sleep and my impending major surgery scheduled for four days later had dulled my need for validation. Or maybe it was because I actually believe in the book I was pitching; I…
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Plot your novel with MICE Quotient and Try/Fails

Learn how to use Orson Scott Card’s MICE Quotient along with Mary Robinette Kowal’s adaptation of this technique to include nesting codes and try/fails to successfully plot your novel.

How to solve plot problems with a simple self-questionnaire technique

In this article, you’ll learn a simple, yet powerful self-questionnaire technique to solve all your plot problems. If you’ve come here from Wattpad, you probably just want the Solving Plot Problems Template to use for your plot problem today. Especially in science fiction and fantasy, or in any longer story with a large number of elements or characters…
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Writing a Standalone with Series Potential – the magic words every agent wants to hear

Just got back from the Surrey International Writing Conference where I pitched my novel series successfully to three agents. Sounds great, right? Well, yes, it is, but there’s a big but. BUT, the agents have all basically made it clear that they want me to send them a standalone book “with series potential.” Not a…
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3 Reasons to Write Accountable Content On Your Blog

This article is an update of my February 2011 article, It’s Time for Accountable Content on Blogs. Since then, I have learned three solid reasons to write accountable blog content: Your readers will trust you more Your site will rank higher in search engines You will make more money In this article I’ll cover these…
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Cold Outside by the Italian Voice, Flickr

Getting Involved in the Writing Community

This article was written in 2010 and was updated in January, 2016. It covers the following: My experience with the local Vancouver writing community How online critiquing works Pros of online critiquing Cons of online critiquing Tips for using an online critique group successfully In October of 2010, I volunteered at two writing and reading…
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Plot Design & Story Structure: Joseph Campbell vs Christopher Vogler

In this article, I will discuss my process for developing plot and share  the incredible tools that I discovered to examine, critique and improve the plot of my novel. You might also want to download this Campbell & Vogler Plot Design Worksheet that will help you design your plot by examining if and how your story follows the hero’s journey. Joseph Campbell…
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'Writing' by jjpacres on Flickr

Create your own personal writing style guide

In this post I’ll give you a free style guide template to work with, and I’ll cover the following: What is a style guide? Why create a personal style guide? How to create a style guide. In university we learn about style guides such as MLA and APA, which are so confusing that you practically…
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A beautiful long sentence about long sentences – Long Sentence #2

Pico Iyer wrote a playful and eloquent article for the Los Angeles Times about his decision to write long sentences as a form of protest against our world’s obsession with speed. He explained that as a young journalist he had succumbed to the need for speed and crunched his writing into short soundbites, but as he…
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What is grammar?

So, what is grammar?  One of the best definitions of grammar that I have heard comes from a book called The Practice of English Language Teaching (link opens book on Scribd), which defines grammar as: “the description of the ways in which words can change their forms and be combined to form sentences.“ For example, “I pie…
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25 Reasons to Read William Gibson’s Neuromancer

For the writers (and readers) out there who have not read (or who have not finished reading) William Gibson’s Neuromancer NEUROMANCER!  Well, I don’t want to come across as a book snob, but I do have to ask: How can you call yourself a well-read fictionado without having read Neuromancer?  (In classic Lily-style) I’m going…
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7 Types of Sentence Fragments and How to Use Them

People often think sentence fragments are bad, but they are actually a writer’s best friend when used properly. This article explores sentence structure in depth, and acquaints the reader with the seven types of sentence fragments. You will learn how to write beautiful, strong sentences that are varied and complex. This lesson is for beginner…
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It’s Time for Accountable Content on Blogs

We live in what is called the ‘information age’ and the world has been called the ‘Content Nation‘; people are now able to create content at rates that were truly unreachable even 20 years ago, and share that with people on the other side of the world.  It’s amazing–and very overwhelming.  Pete Cashmore (of Mashable)…
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How many times should you tweet a blog post?

Well, up until today, I was only tweeting my blog posts once, but lately I have noticed that some bloggers that I am following are tweeting their posts more than once.  So, I did some research and here is what I found:

Collaborative self-publishing?

I recently read an interesting blog post about the pros and cons of self-publishing vs. regular publishing that really made me think long and hard about how self-publishing could be made more successful.   The answer that I came up with is a collaborative publishing platform.  I don’t think it has really been done yet, and…
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