And how to permit yourself to be creative, experimental, and imperfect

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So much of the creative writing process is a mental game. Even if you are connected to a writer’s group or community, the writing process itself is a very solitary act. Many of the years of learning how to write and working on writing projects are done without a lot of validation. So it no surprise that certain mindsets can be *less than helpful* to writers. The good news is, if you become aware of them, you can combat the ways they may be tripping you up.

Perfectionist mindset

We all know what perfectionism is. This need to have your creative writing…


The Short Of It

Sometimes your basic first and third POV just aren’t cutting it

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The majority of short fiction, as with commercial fiction, will be written in first and third person (particularly limited/close third). Those are both very solid options for conventional storytelling and both offer a range of creative decisions within their parameters. However, one of the benefits of short stories is that there are more opportunities to experiment. (Not to say the below techniques haven’t been used in novel-length stories and very successfully before.)

So, if you’re interested in spreading your writing wings outside of the conventional first and third box or want to try telling a story from a less conventional…


Craft is king, but it takes more to build a writing career

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I will always believe that the most important thing a writer needs to focus on is building and growing their writing skills: prose and storytelling, structure and clarity, and so forth. (Whatever applies to your specific brand of writing.) However, when it comes to building a career as a writer other knowledge bases will serve you well to study: to promote yourself, to protect yourself, and to navigate the publishing world at large.

SEO

Search engine optimization. This is all about making yourself and your stuff discoverable when someone searches for a related topic on Google (or another search engine, but…


Creative writing is supposed to be *creative*

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I’m going to suppose that pretty much all of us learned how to write first and foremost through our schooling as children and young adults. The thing about the writing we learn in schools (and I’m talking from a US schooling experience; maybe yours elsewhere is different), is that it is focused on “proper” writing. We learn about grammar. We learn to diagram sentences. (A skill that I have never used anywhere but middle school.) We learn to write topic sentences and thesis statements, format a citation, and write paragraphs according to a structure. …


The Short Of It

How to get of your way to get words on the page

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We’ve all been there. You have a story idea. One you’re excited about. But when you sit down at the computer to write, you end up staring at the blank page, the cursor blinking at you tauntingly, as you wonder, “How in the heck do I start this thing?”

Will you ever get around to putting words on the page of that writing session? Who knows?

It is a common writer’s trip-up, struggling to translate an ephemeral idea to the page. Especially beginnings. There is a special pressure on beginnings — the opening line, the hook, the setting of the…


The real #harshwritingadvice

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Jumping onto the Twitter moment that happened earlier in 2021 in which someone told writers that the #harshwritingadvice was that other writers — even your friends — were your competition. Then all of writing Twitter exploded and overwhelmingly eviscerated, criticized, and memed the idea. But it got me thinking.

Who or what is a writer’s competition? Is it the audience of readers we are hoping to attract? The agents and publishers that hold our potential future careers in their hands? The reviewers, whether on Kirkus or Goodreads?

No, nothing like that at all. We writers are each our very own…


The Short Of It

Three strategies to liven up you short story concept and get you past writer’s block

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Sometimes when you are writing a short story you just get stuck. Sometimes this is partway through the first draft. Sometimes this is trying to get a second draft up to par. It’s not writer’s block per se, but it is something in the writing that just doesn’t feel right. Like pulling teeth. Or trudging through a swamp. Or just running face-first into a brick wall.

Have you ever had this happen to you?

If you have, I promise not all is lost for your story. Here are some hacks to consider to get your story unstuck.

Switch point of view

This hack comes…


Making characters “go out of character” while still being “in character”

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In 2018, I was sitting in the audience of a literary panel for “Writing Characters with Agency” at Balticon, a science fiction and fantasy convention in Baltimore. During the panel, one of the audience members asked for writing advice on how to keep characters internally consistent when making them do something essentially “out of character” using an example of a lawful good character doing a bad thing. While the panelist shared many a insight, this question got my brain turning and coming up with answers that were not brought up at the time.

So how you keep a character “in-character”…


The Short of It

How to use the most polarizing point of view in your fiction

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Using second person point of view in fiction is unconventional, polarizing, and sometimes just the creative push you need. While there are some second-person novels out there, second person is often a better fit for short stories where readers are more likely to commit to going along with out-of-the-box storytelling techniques.

What it is

First person point of view: I said.

Third person point of view: she said.

Second person point of view: you said.

Second person is when the narrator/protagonist of the story is telling the story through “you” statements. …


How skipping the hard parts and the little details can keep you in your writing flow

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“Skipping” is something I have naturally applied to my writing life: Skipping the harder parts in favor of the easier parts to write at any given moment and then cycling back to fill in the blanks. Whether fiction or nonfiction, it helps me write faster.

Looking back, I’ve always been a strategic skipper. On high school history tests, I would jump through and do the easy questions and the ones I was sure of first before cycling back through to hit the ones that would require more brainpower. It was a tactic that served me well once I got to…

Margery Bayne

Margery is a librarian by day and a writer by night; a published short story author and an aspiring novelist. Find more at margerybayne.com or @themargerybayne.

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