Writer’s Block: Is It Laziness or a Critical Part of Being a Longtime Author? – Written By Kristen Lamb

Writer’s block is a very controversial subject in the publishing world. Everyone has an opinion and everyone is right. Okay, maybe not everyone. I am right…and also NUMBER ONE AT HUMBLE!

*gets cramp patting self on back*

I believe that, when it comes to discussing writer’s block, there is a real danger of oversimplifying a truly complex phenomenon. Many claim there is no such thing as writer’s block. Just sit down and write and stop making excuses for being lazy. While laziness might be an answer (as we’ll explore) this One-Size-Fits-All solution is low-hanging fruit. Sort of like going to the doctor where the standard answer for everything is to “lose weight.”

Me: I’m tired all the time.

Doctor: Lose weight.

Me: My knee really hurts. I think I might have arthritis.

Doctor: Lose weight.

Me: *blood spurting from missing arm* I uh, think I need emergency surgery.

Doctor: Nah. Lose weight.

Now, is it true that many health issues could be remedied if we weren’t carrying around extra poundage? Sure. But, the human body is vastly complex, meaning it’s wise to ditch the myopia and take into consideration other factors.

Same with writer’s block.

Writer’s Block & Laziness

writer's block, laziness, Kristen Lamb, writing tips, publishing

We’ll just deal with probably the most common explanation for writer’s block right now. Why? Because just like sometimes losing weight really IS the answer to a health issue, laziness could be at the root of our inability to put words on the page.

Why?

Because writing is hard work. Let me add a caveat, “Superlative writing is hard work.”

I know this because when I knew NOTHING about my craft, I never ran out of stuff to slap on the page. My first ‘novel’—the 187,000 word monstrosity I keep in the garage because it pees on the carpets—was a JOY to write. My book had IT ALL! There was romance, action, comedy! My novel had everything…except a plot.

CONTINUE READING HERE

Description: The Good the Bad and the Just Please STOP – Written By Kristen Lamb

Ah description. Few things can make a writer’s skin tingle like glorious prose, right? A couple posts ago, I gave y’all some editing tips. In the meantime, I also mistakenly stumbled across an audio book that should be charged with assault, ergo why we are talking about description today.

Can we be really honest about our description? Is it truly remarkable or just filling space? Are we weaving a spell that captures readers or are we boring them into a coma? Are we holding the reader’s brains, afraid if we don’t clarify everything, they might not ‘get’ what we mean?

For those who never use description or very sparse description? Don’t fret. Description (or lack thereof) is a component of an author’s voice and it goes to style.

But obviously all writers will use some kind of description. We have to in order to draw readers into the world we are creating. If we don’t give them anything to sink their teeth into, most will wander off in search of something else.

So whether you are heavy or light on the description, here are some tips on how to do it well…

Description for Dummies Readers

I will never talk badly about a book. Consider it a professional courtesy. This is why I only mention or review books I love. In my POV, writers catch enough crap without me ragging on them, too. I like to take into account that I am not a traditional reader, and I am far more picky because I’ve spent the better part of 20 years as an editor.

CONTINUE READING HERE

The Burning Desire: The Difference Between Magnificent & Maddening – Written By Kristen Lamb

Kristen Lamb once more provided us with an excellent educational post about writing. Thank you so much Kristen. You know we always appreciate your posts and you sharing experience and knowledge!


The burning desire is the beating heart of all great stories. Without the burning desire, the story will fall apart faster than a reality star who’s lost her hair extensions.

We’ve discussed story structure more times than I can count on this blog, and for good reasons. When we understand the fundamental parts of story and how they work, why they work, etc. THEN when something seems ‘off’ we possess the knowledge base and vocabulary to detect WHY the story isn’t working then fix it.

The Burning Desire for the BBT

the burning desire, great fiction, storytelling, fiction, Kristen Lamb, goal conflict motivation

I know it’s been a while, so super quick review. The first crucial ingredient for any story is a core antagonist to create the main problem in need of resolution by the time we reach THE END.

Since the whole ‘antagonist’ concept tied my brain in knots for YEARS, I finally invented my own term—Big Boss Troublemaker (BBT).

Why?

Because every story must have a core antagonist or, by definition, it isn’t a story.

That said, not all antagonists are villains. Villains are only one type of antagonist. Very useful in thrillers, horror, mystery, science fiction, and the like, but not so much in general fiction or literary fiction.

To understand more what I mean about the BBT, feel free to go HERE. If we fail to understand the BBT, then frankly the burning desire is a moot point.

While all stories must have a core antagonist (BBT), that alone isn’t enough. We must also figure out what drives the BBT. What is the burning desire fueling the goal that will eventually come at odds with the protagonist and (eventually) create a hero?

If we look back at some of the most iconic books, movies and series, we will see the writers NAILED the burning desire.

***I’ve detailed this on posts about real ‘flesh and blood’ villains, but also when we have a BBT that might be more everyday or existential.

Again, in the essence of time, I recommend taking a look at the posts I’ve hyperlinked.

CONTINUE READING HERE

The Writer’s Journey: From Total Newbie to the Joy of Mastery – Written By Kristen Lamb

Mastery is peculiar in that spectators see whatever the professional does as ‘easy.’ Masters rarely seem to even break a sweat, whether they’re dancers, authors, or entrepreneurs. What they do seems so natural that it’s easy for us to be fooled into believing we could do the same right off the bat.

Sure.

I recently signed up for a watercolor workshop. Years ago, I dabbled for fun painting in acrylics, but I’ve always heard how watercolor is among the most challenging mediums. With running a business, writing, homeschooling my young son, taking care of my aging mother, etc. I needed a hobby and a time and place to simply chill.

Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Oh how my Type A personality loves to muck things up. It’s taking everything for me to RELAX, let go and simply give myself permission to be NEW. My teacher has painted thousands of watercolors and is arguably one of the top masters in the country. It takes all I have to not compare my rookie attempt to his version he seems to produce without even having to actually focus.

***A skill earned through many years, countless of hours of practice, and training.

Same with authors. With the pros? Their stories flow, drag readers in like an unseen riptide only to release the exhausted and elated audience at The End. 

Mastery, to the casual observer, appears seamless and effortless.

CONTINUE READING HERE

Characters: The Emotional Touchstone Readers Crave – Written By Kristen Lamb

Characters are critical for stories that resonate. Why? Because characters are the conduit that connects the reader and vests them in the story problem. They’re the emotional touchstone that allows for catharsis, because—when written well—it doesn’t matter if the character is a space alien or a federal agent, we (readers) can relate to them in some way.

We can’t empathize with technology, spaceships, magic, or nuclear submarines. Humans can’t bond emotionally to a place (without the characters as the connection).

For instance, we CARE about Lord of the Rings’ Middle Earth because we care about Frodo, Samwise and Gandalf. And, because Frodo, Samwise and Gandalf care deeply for Middle Earth and the Shire…we do as well.

Story is like the wall socket that’s connected a tremendous power source. But, how useful would those wall sockets be if all the gadgets in everyday life didn’t have plugs? How useful would a bunch of dead gadgets be?

We cannot have story without characters and can’t, conversely, have characters (DIMENSIONAL characters) without story.

Readers read stories, but great stories read the readers.

***I know we’ve talked about all this before, but since I am pathologically honest, I feel the need to tell on myself. I cracked a back tooth and had major dental work last week. With all the drugs? I actually have a completely new post almost finished, but it’s been like pulling teeth…bada bump snare.

*cries*

So please forgive the refresher.

Moving on…

CONTINUE READING HERE

Beware of Chapter-by-Chapter Book Critiques – Written By Lisa Cooper Ellison

on Jane Friedman site:

As an editor and coach, I’m frequently asked by writers when they should level up from free and low-cost feedback (critique groups, webinars, and classes) to more expensive forms of feedback (workshops, private editors, even MFA programs). Some are newbies who don’t understand the feedback landscape. Other writers have been burned by overly critical MFA programs, bad editing experiences, or critique group dramas—and they’ve learned that while some mistakes hit your pocketbook, the costliest ones can damage your manuscript.

Often these problems have one common cause: You’ve asked the right question of the wrong person.

Continue reading HERE

Story Structure: Why Some Stories Fall Apart & Fail to Hook Readers – Written By Kristen Lamb

Kristen Lamb published an article about story structure. She writes as educational and informative as always – and with just as much wit and humor as usual. Thanks for another helpful and funny post, Kristen!


Story structure is a HUGE deal in all stories. The last couple of posts, I’ve mentioned memoirs and how they can utilize a variety of structures. This said, there are so many variegations for the memoir, that I just can’t do them all justice here.

Since I am at least sharp enough to know when to defer to people much smarter than me…AND because I am #1 at HUMBLE…

At the end of the post, I’ll give y’all some links to people who ARE memoir experts and can do a much better job explaining all the structural styles available.

This said, if you’ve read my last two posts The Quest: The Hero’s Journey Meets Memoir and Narrative Style: The Heart of Storytelling we didn’t ONLY talk about memoirs. Rather, we discussed where some fundamentals for writing great memoirs apply across the board to other types of storytelling.

Whether we’re writing a memoir, novel, short story, essay, or even screenplays…structure matters.

If we keep starting out with great ideas that ultimately end up haunting our hard drives unformed and unfinished?

Structure.

Or, maybe we finish books, but no one seems to want to read them. It could be the glut in the market. OR it could be that the core idea is GOLD, but the structure isn’t such that it fully reveals what our story has to offer.

There are many reasons our writing might be stalling, stumbling, fumbling or failing. Yet, in my 20 years editing? It’s almost always, always a problem with story structure.

CONTINUE READING HERE

Narrative Style: The Heart of Storytelling & Why It Also Matters in Memoir – Written By Kristen Lamb

My favorite blogger Kristen Lamb has published a post about narrative style, the heart of storytelling. Thank you so much for another educational blog post, Kristen.


Narrative style is the beating heart of writing. While our voice might remain consistent from a blog to a non-fiction to a fiction, narrative style is what keeps our work fresh and makes it resonate.

Developing a strong narrative style is especially critical if we decide to write a memoir because the style will need to not only reflect the personality of the author-storyteller, but also hit that sweet spot in tone that is appropriate for the story.

But what IS IT?

Last post, I opened the discussion about memoirs. Memoirs are not only becoming increasingly popular, but with the implosion of traditional publishing, there’s good news. Anyone can write and publish a memoir. There’s also bad news…anyone can write and publish a memoir.

Before we talk about the various structures and types of memoirs, it’s a good idea to first discuss the broad concepts. Last time, I mentioned that superior memoirs frequently DO reflect The Hero’s Journey.

That was our first meta-concept, so to speak. The second meta-concept is narrative style. This aids us in connecting with audiences and generating long-lasting resonance.

Narrative style can be one of those amorphous concepts that’s tough to define directly. Sort of like black holes.

Scientists don’t per se observe a black hole directly, as much as they suspect they might have a black hole because of what’s going on around a certain area in space (the behavior of light and nearby planets, etc).

This said, all creators would be prudent to keep some core principles in mind when writing anything from a blog, to a non-fiction, to a memoir. These principles lay the foundation for what we think of when it comes to ‘narrative style.’

CONTINUE READING HERE

How to Write a Novel Synopsis – Written By Jane Friedman

Jane Friedman provides us with information on how to write a novel synopsis. Thank you for this very educational post, Jane!


It’s probably the single most despised document you might be asked to prepare: the synopsis.

The synopsis is sometimes necessary because an agent or publisher wants to see, from beginning to end, what happens in your story. Thus, the synopsis must convey a book’s entire narrative arc. It shows what happens and who changes, and it has to reveal the ending. Synopses may be required when you first query your work, or you may be asked for it later.

Don’t confuse the synopsis with sales copy, or the kind of marketing description that might appear on your back cover or in an Amazon description. You’re not writing a punchy piece for readers that builds excitement. It’s not an editorial about your book. Instead, it’s an industry document that helps an agent or editor quickly assess your story’s appeal and if it’s worth them reading the entire manuscript.

Continue reading HERE

Writing A Book Blurb In 4 Easy Steps – Written By K. M. Allan

K. M. Allan helps us with four steps to write a book blurb, something we all fear one way or another. Thank you so much for all your efforts, K. M.!


Any writer who’s had to write a query or a synopsis for a submission knows how hard it can be.

Trying to boil the essence of your carefully crafted story to a few paragraphs, or a page seems like the hardest thing ever.

I’m here to tell you it’s not. And that’s because there’s a greater horror: a book blurb.
A book blurb, or the book jacket description, summarizes the best part of your book in only 150 words (yep! one hundred and fifty).

If you’re wondering how to do that and where to start, it involves penning multiple drafts, lots of cutting, losing your sanity, and planning your blurb with the help of these steps.

Writing A Book Blurb In 4 Easy Steps

Step 1:Add A Tag-Line

Open with one catchy line, a question, or a hook.

Step 2:Introduce Your Main Character

Continue Reading Here