Blog on Writing

From Picture to Story by Jack Popjes

Old Photos

I just finished reading the second in the three-volume series of Ransom Riggs’ "Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children." Riggs came across some vintage photographs of children and was struck by the peculiarities of expression, bodies, dress, or poses. He collected more of the same style of photos and eventually developed a storyline based totally on the photos and the peculiarities they showed. After personally handling and viewing 100,000 photos, he wrote the first volume, using a photo to introduce each character, setting, and situation. The result is not only a fascinating story liberally illustrated with vintage photos but a book that was on the New York Times best sellers list for nearly a year and sold 2 million copies. (more…)

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You Gotta Wind Up Where You Started From by Janice L. Dick

Start Goal Sign

Beginnings and endings are the most important parts of our stories, besides the middles! Each part is essential. Take a look at I Corinthians 12:21ff, “. . . the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ ” Our stories would be incomplete without the necessary parts, just as our bodies and the church are incomplete without each part. The thing about beginnings is that they set the stage in so many ways. First lines or paragraphs are responsible to introduce character, setting, mood, and possibly even the story question. (more…)

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What Gerald Did Next by Brenda J. Wood


Ever read a mystery that left you flabbergasted? The murderer was not the suspect you had in mind. How did that happen? There wasn’t a clue—or at least not one you figured out. So how did the writer pull it off? Quite possibly they were surprised too. (more…)

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A Three Act Sandwich by Tracy Krauss


Building a Sandwich You may be familiar with the good old sandwich analogy. Take two pieces of bread—the beginning of the story and the ending—and layer the rest of the ingredients in between. This is the basic three act structure that fits almost every kind of fiction, no matter if it’s a play, a short story, or even a full length novel. Put simply, every story must have three basic parts: the problem; the problem gets worse; the problem gets solved. While the middle usually makes up the bulk of the "sandwich," the "meat" if you will, the choice of bread on either side can make or break the story. A weak beginning and readers may not continue reading. A weak ending and they will be left feeling unsatisfied and probably won’t be back for more. (more…)

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Are You Hooked? by Steph Beth Nickel

Girl Reading

NONFICTION OPENINGS “Imagine for a moment that one of your favorite female Bible characters were to somehow travel through time to the modern day. What would Esther, or Ruth, or Mary Magdalene think as they stared, amazed, at our lives?” (opening of Chapter 1 of The Life Ready Woman: Thinking in a Do-It-All World by Shaunti Feldhahn and Robert Lewis) “It was a scary year when I sat down to write this. The toughest I’d been through by far. My place in the world never seemed so uncertain.” (opening of the Introduction of My Life A.S. Is: An Inside Look at Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome by Benjamin Collier) “This is the story of a family living on a farm that once belonged to my grandparents. It is about the individuals, the personalities and the ties that bind us to each other, in love and in faith, within a community of extended family, neighbours and friends.” (opening of Chapter 1 of Once Upon a Sandbox by Carolyn Wilker) (more…)

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Opinion Pieces Need Muscled Middles by Pamela Mytroen

Power Pic

Nonfiction has unique challenges with middles. A reader may notice that the body of the piece flops around in too many directions rather than delivering a muscled middle. This divergence should be addressed at the very beginning of every opinion piece by developing a focused thesis. (more…)

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What is a Poem? by Violet Nesdoly

Fountain Pen

In my last blog post I asked and tried to answer this question: “What is poetry?” Even as I was coming to my conclusion, I realized I would need to answer another question before we went on to other things poetic: “What is a poem?”. (more…)

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Like an Oreo by Steph Beth Nickel


When I was thinking about middles, the ever-popular Oreo cookie came to mind. (Advertising at its best since I don’t particularly care for them.) I wonder what would happen if we tried writing a scene or an entire chapter that would fall smack dab in the middle of our story. (more…)

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Middles by Janice L. Dick

Dart Board

Middles have a way of sagging. I’m talking about books, of course! (adapted from http://www.coloring.ws/t.asp?b=m&t=http://www.coloring.ws/animals/horses/horse7.gif) (more…)

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10 Excuses I Hear Most Often


Thanks to Brenda Wood for sharing Lucy V. Hay's post. 1. “I wish . . .” Stop it. Just stop it. You want to write? Do it. You want to try your hand at another type of writing? Do it. You want to change genres? Do it. DO IT! You get the gist. Life is too short. You might die tomorrow. You probably won’t, so why add another 24 hours not doing what you want to with your life? (more…)

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