August 1, 2011

Writers Tip #70: Dump Your Spouse if They Complain About Your Writing

writers tips

Great tips for soon-to-be great writers

When you read your story, does it sound off, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know you’ve done something wrong? Sometimes–maybe even lots of times–there are simple fixes. These writer’s tips will come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make the adjustments.

I just finished James Frey’s outstanding How-to book for thriller writers, How to Write a D*** Good Thriller (St. Martins Press 2010).

lee child

One of my favorite thriller authors

I learned more about writing in my genre from these 246 pages than I’ve learned since I began writing. Each genre is different. If you try to apply rules of, say, literary fiction, to your thriller, you’ll bore your audience, not to mention drive them away. Thrillers are fast paced, less introspective and more moral than other genres. Don’t mix that up with exploring global warming or the political correctness of current labor laws.

I’ll be reviewing it soon, but wanted to share a truncated list of tips he has at the end of the book. These are reason enough to purchase this book.

  1. Commit yourself to creating strong conflicts in every line of every scene
  2. Decide you will have fresh, snappy dialogue and not a single line of conversation (read the book to see what that means)
  3. Decide to write quickly when drafting. Fast is golden (hard for me to do)
  4. If your significant other complains your thriller writing is taking up too much of your time, get a new significant other
  5. Trick the expectations of the reader and create nice surprises from time to time
  6. Have powerful story questions operating at all times
  7. End each scene or section of dramatic narrative with a bridge, a story question to carry the reader to the next one
  8. Try to be fresh. Don’t use the same old cliches. Be sure your prose is colorful and sensuous
  9. Keep the clock ticking and the excitement mounting right to the climactic moment

About #4–try to educate him/her first. It’s hard to find good mates.

Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for, an Editorial Review Board member for SIGCT, an IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s working on a techno-thriller that should be ready this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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