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Exploring Every Corner of the Written Word

Exploring Every Corner of the Written Word
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Exploring Every Corner of the Written Word




Episode 27: How to Create Compelling Characters

In which Robynne and Jane talk about creating complex, compelling characters. And before you nonfiction writers tune out. This isn’t just for fiction writers … or for memoirists and narrative nonfiction writers. Everyone needs to know how to make characters sing. Robynne starts with discussing the importance of understanding the whole character you’re writing about, not just the 45-year-old man he is in your story. Knowing your character’s background, and what formed them, helps your reader...


Episode 26: Why Do You Write?

In which Jane and Robynne explore the many reasons for writing at all. Jane opens with a question to Robynne: Why do YOU write. As usual, Robynne’s answer is a little unorthodox … it’s a combination of many, many things, including a bit of a compulsion, a way to learn about herself and others, a way to process events and emotions, a way to share information and encouragement. Jane followed that up with an interesting question: would you, as a writer, still write if there were no hope of...


Episode 25: Increasing Stakes

In which Robynne and Jane dive into the many ways to increase the stakes of your fiction or narrative nonfiction. Creating some sort of tension is imperative to grab your reader’s attention (and keep it!) and these tips will help you do just that. Jane starts with a great definition of stakes: what creates conflict in your novel: spiritual, financial, physical death or loss. Robynne adds that death is a profound stake, but, really, all stakes need to be is some important conflict. Internal...


Episode 24: More Tips for Tighter, More Powerful, Writing

In which Robynne and Jane continuing their conversation on how to really tighten your writing until it’s strong, powerful, and compelling. When last we left the Dynamic Duo, they had already given a great set of tips. But, you know what? There is so much more! Did you know that the phrase “try and” is incorrect? (Should be “try to.”) And did you know that we all tend to overuse some words? For Robynne, the words “lovely” and “rubbish” way too much. Jane admits a slight addiction to “just.”...


Episode 23: Tips for Tighter, More Powerful Writing

In which Robynne and Jane talk about how to make your writing as tight, clean, focused and powerful as possible. Jane admits that she writes pretty minimalistic out of the gate, but even then, can benefit from an intentional attempt to write with efficiency and power. Robynne, on the other hand, loves words and often needs to rein a few of them in to make sure they’re serving the story or the point. Which leads us to the first (almost self-explanatory) tip: Know what you’re writing about. If...


Episode 22: Do I Need an Agent?

In which Jane and Robynne answer the burning question most writers ask at some point: do I need an agent? It’s actually not as simple as you think to make this decision, and it’s even less simple to choose the RIGHT agent. Both Jane and Robynne tell the stories of how they found and were signed by their agents. (Spoiler alert: the key to it all is relationship!) And then they dive into the pros and cons of having an agent, how to find the right one for you, and what the heck an agent even...


Episode 21: Four Common Mistakes Writers Make

In which Robynne and Jane talk, funnily enough, about some of the common mistakes writers make, especially new(ish) ones. Although most of what they talk about applies to all writers, they go a little deeper with Christian writers with the first mistake: believing that a call to writing means that you’re going to be rich and famous. Yeah, that’s not a given, and Robynne deftly explains why … and why focusing on those possible outcomes might mean you’ll miss the biggest benefits of the...


Episode 20: What is S.E.T.T.? And Why is it Important?

In which Jane ushers us into the inner sanctum of craft. First, she tests Robynne about the five senses needed in our rich fiction and creative/narrative nonfiction. Thankfully, Robynne remembered all five (note the non-hesitation when she rattled them off): touch, sight, smell, hearing, taste. Once those senses were firmly in our little brains, she pulled out the big craft guns: S.E.T.T. What’s S.E.T.T., you ask? Jane unwraps it beautifully: Senses (including all five of them is crucial to...


Episode 19: Four Ways to Make Sure You DON’T Get Published

In which Robynne and Jane become super jocular (they clearly crack themselves up) as they turn one of the most asked questions in writing (How can I get published??) on its head. Here, the dynamic duo opts to unpack the four top ways NOT to get published. Robynne also drops a truth bomb about intelligence, but that’s just a bonus for you. As are Jane’s exemplary acting skills. But I digress. In this episode, all important points are covered … submission guidelines, how much to send in a...


Episode 18: The Benefits of Journaling

In which Jane dives into one of her very favorite topics: The benefits of keeping a journal. Why keep a journal? There are so many reasons … to evaluate and examine big events … to process huge emotional episodes … to generate ideas … prayer requests … devotionals … brainstorming. You get the idea. They can be all these things and more. Anne Lamott uses 3 x 5 cards, Robynne loves a combination of writing and voice recording, and Jane loves bejeweled journals. What does this have to do with...


Episode 17: Writing Conferences 101

In which Robynne waxes poetic on one of her favorite topics: Writing Conferences. She firmly believes that writing is a team event, NOT a solo sport. So, she’s particularly passionate about this topic. Northern California has a particularly rich literary environment with numerous solid conferences, workshops, etc., but there are over thirty Christian writing conferences scattered throughout North America. WCCW, ACFW, and OCW get a big plug for quality conferences on the West Coast, but there...


Episode 16: Brainstorming—Dreams, Visions, and Headlines

In which Jane tackles the tricky subject of figuring out unique ways to get your creative juices flowing when you’ve finished a project and need a new direction, hit a literary wall, or are suffering from a bad case of writer’s block. So, if inspiration is eluding you, here are some interesting possible sources for your next greatest writing idea. Or starting point for a free writing session. Or some notes you need to give to your therapist. But I digress. On dreaming, we learn something...


Episode 15: The Value of Critique Groups—The One Big Thing (Part 2)

In which Robynne and Jane further their discussion about different kinds of writing groups. This time, however, they hone specifically in on critique groups. Robynne makes the VERY bold declaration that if she had to choose between BEING critiqued and critiquing others, she’d always choose critiquing others. Why? Listen in and you’ll find out! What’s more, you’ll learn what The One Big Thing is, and why it is a crucial component in a strong, effective, life-changing critique. If you don’t...


Episode 14: Critique Groups, Writing Partners, & Beta Readers, Oh My! (Part 1)

In which Robynne and Jane wade through the different kinds of writing organizations, critique groups, and beta readers, etc. There are the obligatory definitions, and a few very bad jokes, but mostly, you’ll learn what these entities are all about. Why is that important? Writing is not a solo sport. It’s a team event and, at some point in your writing journey, you’re going to need challenges, support, and information. Where do you get these wonderful things? In a writing organization or...


Episode 13: Should You Join a Writer’s Organization?

In which Jane and Robynne answer the burning question: Should you join a writer’s organization? (Hint: the answer is a RESOUNDING yes!). Robynne, who happens to be the president of a writer’s organization, and Jane, who happens to sit on the boards of two writer’s organizations, are obviously in the camp of “Writer’s organizations have immense value!” But Robynne concedes that it’s necessary to choose the correct organization. Making sure it fits your needs is paramount. WCCW (West Coast...


Episode 12: Freewriting

In which Robynne and Jane talk about how freewriting can help develop your skillset, perspective, and even your writing voice. What is freewriting? Many things. It’s sitting down and writing without a goal. It’s writing inspired by a certain picture. It’s writing to defined and stated parameters for a specific amount of time, but without a real goal. It’s any kind of writing where you are unsure of the outcome and are writing to see what comes out. But why do it? Why do we take time out of...


Episode 11: What Role Does Truth Have in Fiction? (Part 2)

In which Robynne and Jane continue their conversation about the role truth has in fiction. However, this time, they swerve into the question of whether there can be too much truth in fiction. Jane gives a great example of where too much truth can be problematic, namely when a piece becomes too graphic. Robynne adds that poorly disguised “characters” can have legal ramifications. A rousing discussion ensues on how to honorably, judiciously work truth into fiction via changing details that...


Episode 10: Memoir—It’s Place in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Creative Nonfiction

In which Robynne and Jane dive into another aspect of Memoir: how it intersects with fiction, nonfiction, and creative or narrative nonfiction. They run through the definitions of the various genres, in case you’d forgotten, before sinking their teeth into the heart of the issue. Robynne asks Jane a daring question … “Is Memoir a stand-alone genre, or does it cross over into fiction and straight nonfiction?” And, after a few moment’s consideration, she knocks an answer out of the park. (She...


Episode 9: The Bane of a Writer’s Existence … The Proposal

In which Jane and Robynne talk about the nemesis of many a’writer: Proposals. The good news? They’re actually not that scary. In fact, they’re often born of one of the most exciting things that can happen to a writer—an expression of interest from an agent, editor, or publisher. ‘Tis true proposals are composed of many different components, but once you know what they are and how to attack them, you are ready to pull this baby together. Jane and Robynne get down to the nitty gritty of what...


Episode 8: Where to Enter a Story (Inciting Incidents) Part 2

In which Robynne and Jane continue their conversation about “inciting incidents” and where to enter a story. Jane mentions Susan May Warren who says “the inciting incident is something that comes along and interrupt your life” (the phone call, the accident, the meeting). What a great way to define the Inciting Incident! Right after that quote, The Chosen, by Chaim Potok, one of Robynne’s favorite authors, is used as an example of how even literary fiction uses this technique. We bring back...