Category: Writing Tools

A blog by Shalon Sims about education, creative writing, literacy 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 Nesting Codes 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 (takes only 30 minutes), yet powerful self-questionnaire technique to solve all your plot problems, and you can download the Solving Plot Problems Template free, no sign-up required. Especially in science fiction and fantasy, or in any longer story with a large number of elements or characters to keep track of, there…
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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 discuss my process for developing plot and share the incredible tools I discovered to examine, critique and improve the plot of my novel. Download this new and improved for 2021 Campbell vs. Vogler Plot Design Template that will help you design your plot by examining if and how your story follows the hero’s journey. Joseph Campbell and Christopher…
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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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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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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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