If you skip any step along the way, your story will fall flat

Photo by Klaus Hausmann from Pixabay

As for any process, there are rubrics. Formulas. Standardized patterns we can follow that allow us to produce content that:

a. Is interesting, informative, and useful for the reader

b. Stands a better chance of connecting with the reader

c. Stands a better chance of curation (on Medium)

We, as creative writers, may object to this “standardization.” This recipe. This formulaic technique for producing content.

But these standards need not inhibit our creative input, our subject matter, or our message for the reader.

They are, however, necessary for creating a piece of writing that is readable, well-organized, and connects with…


Don’t let it happen to you

Photo by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

With seven published novels under my belt, I was becoming pretty confident in my abilities as an author. I got this. My premises are sound, my characters charismatic, and my plots as exciting as a thrill ride.

I’m still not selling very many books. Why not?

Six of my novels have either made the finals or won awards in major competitions. My reviews are mostly good — average over 4.2 on Amazon. I have a small but loyal following of readers who are all anxiously awaiting the next book.

So why can’t I land a BookBub ad? Why haven’t one…


External details impact your ability to access your creative mind

Photo by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

It’s a scientifically proven fact: environment affects creativity. The world of business has long been studying this connection. A virtual slew of scholarly articles have been written on the subject.

The conclusion? It’s true. Certain physical conditions really do promote those precious “aha” moments, allowing the door into our creative minds to magically swing wide.

As writers, we each have “our space,” i.e., the place where we usually do our work. Sometimes we change it up when we’re stuck, like moving into a coffee shop to see if we can knock something loose. …


An indie author’s journey

Photo by Christine Engelhardt from Pixabay

If you love to read, you may also love to write.

If you are a writer, and you’re not spending at least as much time reading as you are at the keyboard, it’s highly unlikely you will ever succeed at the craft.

“If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.” — Stephen King

Although we all have vastly different tastes in the kinds of novels we like to read, most of us tend to gravitate time and again to certain genres or sub-genres.

Mysteries. Detective stories. Dystopia. Fantasy. Literary Fiction…


It’s sort of like dating — you won’t find the right one right away

Photo by BaNNanE007 from Pixabay

As a hybrid author of both fiction and nonfiction, I’ve worked with many editors. My experiences have been a little like that attraction at Disneyland called Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. As described in this article from TripSavvy:

Fear Factor: . . . Timid little ones who don’t like noise and confusion should probably pass on taking a ride with Mr. Toad.”

You don’t have to be a timid or little child to be fearful of the editing process. Believe me, it can be downright scary.

The article also mentions Mr. Toad having a certain “herky-jerky factor . . . …


And how I’m dealing with it

Photo by skeeze from Pixabay

In the list of mental (and emotional) challenges I have faced in my life, fear reigns king. I tend to be a worrier, lying awake at night imagining all the bad things that could happen tomorrow. Or next week. Or next year. Fear has kept me from pursuing some goals that were very important to me.

But is my fear abnormal?

Fear is part of the basic human psyche. If not for fear, our species would not have survived beyond the age of woolly mammoths, when they and other species considered us a “food source.”

The instinct has survived the…


Why this emotion controls you and a strategy to kick the habit

Photo by skeeze from Pixabay

We all know that one person in our lives who walks around with, as they say, “a chip on their shoulder.” This person seems angry at everybody, in the whole world, all the time. It takes very little provocation to cause their volcano to erupt.

Do you think this person is happy? No. Of course not.

In this essay, I’d like to explore this emotion called anger in more depth. Let’s look beyond the shouting, the flared nostrils, the clenched fists and vile words.

What is anger, what causes it, and why do some people actually seem addicted to it?

Anger is a defense mechanism


Photo by Pixabay

Sometimes you just have to trust in your dreams

About a week ago I had a very vivid dream that seemed significant. Nonsensical, as most dreams are, but it seemed important. Something I remembered and felt I needed to act on.

In the dream, I looked down at my left wrist (NOT the arm that is broken and fairly useless these days) and saw a bracelet. I do like bracelets, but have not been able to wear any jewelry since my accident almost four months ago.

With a badly broken right arm, it’s just too difficult to attach the clasps, etc. I can barely get dressed by myself, for…


You don’t have to start from scratch

Photo by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The end of October looms. It scares me for reasons that have nothing to do with Halloween.

The calendar hangs above my desk, taunting me. “October 30th!” it warns. “NaNoWriMo begins in LESS. Than. 48. Hours. Where’s your new story idea???”

I’ve been participating in this annual writing event now for over five years. Some years I “won,” i.e, wrote 50K words in 30 days. Sometimes, I did not. But one thing is for certain: every year, in November, I make a renewed commitment to my writing goals. My writing life.

After all, it’s a really big part of my…


Using stream of consciousness to free up your imagination

Photo: 2331323 from Pixabay

Story = characters + plot

No matter how exciting your plot is, the only way to hook your readers by the heart is to get them to care about your characters. These are the people who drive the plot. In order for readers to care about them, however, they’re first going to have to get to know them, inside and out.

Do you know your characters inside and out? Their history, motivations, emotions, internal weaknesses and fears? Not just their backstory, but how they look at life?

When I create a fictional character, they become as real to me as my best friend. Or my…

Claire Gem

Award-winning author of fiction & nonfiction. Get informed about new articles: http://eepurl.com/gIuf5r

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