How ‘Pro Writing Aid’ makes Editing Easier

Editing transforms crappy first drafts into polished stories. To be a good writer, you must be a good editor. I’ve written extensively about how to edit your story, but today, we’re doing something different. Today, I’ll show you a program that does the editing for you. 

It’s called Pro Writing Aid.

Since I brought Pro Writing Aid seven months ago, it’s become essential to my editing process. ProWritingAid is a piece of automatic editing software. No, it won’t write your story, but it will plug into Word and run over 20 types of reports on your writing. Continue reading “How ‘Pro Writing Aid’ makes Editing Easier”


Understanding (and Conquering!) the 4 Parts of Writer’s Block

‘Writer’s Block’ is basically writing-related procrastination. This means that overcoming procrastination = overcoming writer’s block.

In ‘How to be a Knowledge Ninja,’ productivity expert Graham Allcott claims procrastination occurs when we find something:

  1. Difficult
  2. Undefined
  3. Scary
  4. Tedious

Fighting writer’s block comes down to fighting these 4 concepts, which have the handy acronym of DUST. If you can deal with DUST, you can beat writer’s block. Continue reading “Understanding (and Conquering!) the 4 Parts of Writer’s Block”

Why Threatening your Protagonist ISN’T the Best Way to Create Suspense

We often think that suspense = dramatic stakes. The higher the stakes, the higher the suspense. Thus, threatening the character with whom readers have the most connection should create the most suspense, right?

Wrong. Yes, threatening your main character will enhance suspense. However, you’ll never achieve super-high levels of suspense because readers know you won’t really kill your hero halfway through the novel.

So, by all means – threaten your main character. But to achieve even more suspense, don’t threaten your protagonist: threaten the things your protagonist values.

Why You Should Threaten Values:

As I said before, readers know your hero’s probably going to survive. This limits the suspense you can create by endangering your main character.

However, readers don’t know if your hero’s best friend will survive. Or his/her loved one. Or his/her prized 1950s sports car. Or his/her cat.

It doesn’t just have to be people’s lives in danger. Suspense can come from readers not knowing if the protagonist will make it to his daughter’s piano recital on time.

Readers believe valued things could be destroyed much more readily than the protagonist themselves. Thus, suspense increases when you threaten things the protagonist values.

The Two Ingredients of Suspense:

Suspense is really about two things:

  1. Dramatic stakes (i.e. threatening two people is more suspenseful than only threatening one)
  2. Believability of consequences (i.e. it’s more believable that the hero’s best friend will die rather than the hero themselves ->)

Most people only consider number 1 when crafting suspense. I hope this article encourages you to consider the second point as well.

What are your thoughts on suspense? Do you think believability is a key part of suspense? Can you think of any other essential components of suspense? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Photo credit: krystian_o via Visual hunt / CC BY


Becomming a Better Fiction Writer using Passive Learning

The single best way to improve your creative writing is to do lots of creative writing.

However, it can be hard to make time to write short stories, poems or even novels. That’s why you should include as much writing-related passive learning into your day as possible.

Passive learning is essential learning to do a task by performing other similar (yet not identical) tasks. For creative writing, passive learning is a bit like sneaking vegetables into a brownie – it won’t feel like you’re writing fiction, yet your fiction writing will improve.

Continue reading “Becomming a Better Fiction Writer using Passive Learning”


How to Create Effective Character Names

Names are an important part of all good characters. Names can be brave, funny, or menacing, and are an essential part of character creation. Personally, I always need a name for my characters before I can flesh them out, and that’s why today’s post will provide guidelines for crafting memorable, powerful and effective character names.

Consider Character Traits:

Is your character a tad meek, and maybe a little hopeless? If so, name them Neville Longbottom!

Is your character a tough, competant, I’ll-do-it-alone kinda guy? If so, call them Han Solo!

A character’s name is a reader’s first experience of that character. Thus, it makes sense to use names to reflect a character’s personality.

Continue reading “How to Create Effective Character Names”