7 Character Lessons from a Real Life Heroine – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by Piper Bayard
of Bayard & Holmes

This week on June 8 was Women’s Fiction Day, celebrating strong female protagonists. More and more stories these days are bringing us great female characters. In thrillers and military fiction, one challenge is to write those strong women as authentic, well-rounded female personalities rather than alpha males with lady parts.

One good way to address this challenge is to study the real-life heroines of the past, who used wits, wiles, cunning, determination, and subterfuge to stay alive and conquer their foes. Today, we’ll take a look at the life of a real-life heroine who was feared by the Nazis as “the most dangerous spy in all of France,” Virginia Hall Goillot.

I’ve shared seven precious writing tips from Virginia’s life are at the bottom of this post.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

5 Signs You Have “Writer’s DNA” – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by Colleen M. Story

You enjoy writing, but does that mean you should be a writer?

This can be a difficult question. Most of us don’t know if we have what it takes to be successful writers, and we may spend years allowing that doubt to interfere with our writing progress.

We’d love to have some authority come along and tell us whether writing is indeed what we “should” be doing with our lives. We dream of hearing the words, “You were meant to be a writer. This is what you should do.”  

But no one—absolutely no one—is qualified to say whether you’re “good enough” to be a writer. You wouldn’t want to give that power to anyone else anyway. The decision to devote your life to being a writer is yours to make.

Still, it’s often a difficult one, and we could all use some help. After all, no one wants to waste their time chasing dreams that have no chance of coming true.

To discover if you truly have a writer’s DNA, look for the following five clues in your life. They may not reveal a definite answer, but they will help you get a little closer to figuring out whether you were meant to write or not.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

Monopolize Your Indie Author Real Estate – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by Penny C. Sansevieri

My favorite token was the Scottie dog; maybe yours was the race car. Whether you played the game on long ago rainy summer days with your siblings, or your last round was just last week with members of your pod, if I say the word Monopoly, I’ll bet a vivid image comes to mind.

For the purposes of this post, hold on to that image because today we’re going to talk about what indie authors can learn from an 86-year-old board game that has been played by over 1 billion people worldwide. Two words: real estate and exposure.

These two words are also important in book marketing. The more places you show up, the more likely your potential buyers will find you. And that’s why it’s important to own and manage your author real estate, so let’s look at your options. If it gets you motivated, picture each of these as a little deed, and claim them!

Read the rest of this post HERE.

The Death of Print Books? – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by James Preston

Let’s talk for a minute, you and I, and then raise a glass to absent comrades –– the printed word, at least on paper.

Books are a visceral and sensory memory for many of us. A physical book has connections not only to the words but also to where you bought it, when you first read it, and maybe what you were eating at the time.

In this essay I’ll use a few personal examples to illustrate the differences between e-books and print, and then I’ll examine that popular concept — physical books are dying — to see how it stacks up against the facts. At the end we’ll raise a glass and salute our absent comrades, the books we love that have gone away.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

The Why and How of Choosing a Genre – From the Writers in the Storm blog

by Jenny Hansen

Over the last few years, I’ve thought a lot about genre. The differences between them and why and how we choose our preferred genre to write in. Some writers are solidly in a certain genre camp and others straddle two or more genres.

Examples of popular “straddlers” – The Hunger Games series, the Outlander series, books by J.D. Robb.

I believe one of the reasons many authors have moved to genres like young adult (YA) or women’s fiction (WF) is that the definitions of those two transcend traditional genres. For example, in addition to the other straddling achieved by the Hunger Games series, it is also classified as YA because of the age of the main character. (YA protags are usually in the 14-21 range.)

Many of us behind the scenes here at WITS have participated in various NYC Midnight contests. One of the most unique factors about their contests is that your genre is assigned to you, along with a character and a story element you must use.

To give you an idea of what these assignments look like, here are the last three assignments I received in their short story contests:

  • Genre – Mystery, Element – a collection, Character – a nomad
  • Genre – Sci-Fi, Element – a career, Character – a tracker
  • Genre – Sci-Fi, Element – a colony, Character – a lumberman

Read the rest of this post HERE.

What’s Your Body Language IQ? – From the Writers in the Storm blog

by Margie Lawson

Everyone needs to become an expert on body language. Misreading body language can lead to disgrace, disaster, and divorce.


How well do you read body language?

Take the 10 Point Quiz I created and find out!

What’s Your Body Language IQ?

  1. Ninety-three percent of communication is nonverbal.  T    F
  2. If people say the right words, it doesn’t matter how they say them.  T    F
  3. Some people wait a few seconds before showing a nonverbal response.  T   F
  4. Body language can only be interpreted one way.  T    F
  5. People subconsciously mirror nonverbal behavior of others.  T    F
  6. If the words and body language contradict each other, the listener believes the body language. T F
  7. Facial expressions convey 85% of the nonverbal message.  T   F
  8. People can cover up their emotions by keeping their face blank.  T   F
  9. Lips carry more nonverbal messages than eyes.  T    F
  10. When anxious, people touch their face more often.  T    F

Read the rest of this post HERE.

Dear Readers – Share Your First Lines – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

Fabulous first lines tend to stick with all of us. We ponder them, agonize over them, rewrite them, and rewrite them again. And more than once, we’ve actually purchased a book based on breathtaking first line or paragraph.

Plus, a good first line is quotable. Who doesn’t remember these?

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” – Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”  Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” – Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier

“Call me Ishmael.”  Moby-Dick, Herman Melville

Also, our own Laura Drake has offered some great advice on writing a winning first line here and here.

But today, we invite you to share the opening lines of your current WIP (work-in-progress) or recently finished novel in the comments! Or share a favorite from someone else. Give us the title and genre, then your opening line(s). Feel free to comment on others’ as well, and tag your writing friends on the post!

We’ll get you started.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

4 Ways Movement Effects Deep POV – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

By Lisa Hall-Wilson

Ever had an editor or beta reader flag the moving or disembodied body parts in your fiction?

Eyes roaming/flying/darting…
Fingers flying…
Hand creeping…
Feet following…
Arms folding…
Heart pounding/racing…

Now, I get it. It feels like editors are just splitting hairs and camping out on semantics because the reader will understand what you meant. Let’s look at 4 reasons why we want to avoid these autonomous body parts in fiction – and because I’m always about deep POV geekery, we’ll look at this topic from that angle.

First, let’s keep in mind that you won’t be sitting next to the reader as they’re turning pages and stumbling over phrases. You won’t be there to explain things, or shrug, “You know what I meant.” If you’re justifying these phrases by saying “they’ll figure it out,” you’re not doing your job. Your job is to articulate how the character feels and (in deep POV) create an immersive emotional experience for the reader.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

Bringing Your Stories to Life with Nonverbals – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

By Tiffany Yates Martin

Imagine, for each of the below statements, receiving each of the above reactions:

  • “Could you take the trash out?”
  • “I got you a puppy!”
  • “I have something to tell you.”
  • “I love you.”

Actions, so the cliché goes, speak louder than words. Most experts agree that nonverbals make up the bulk of communication, and yet so often authors write scenes that rely mostly on dialogue to convey the dynamics between characters.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

5 Quick Dialogue Tips: Round 1 – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

By Julie Glover

I enjoy presenting workshops, and the latest one I did was on “Writing Dialogue That’s Real But Even Better.” Toward the end, I give ten tips for writing dialogue, and I figured I’d share five of them with y’all today and five next time!

(All examples come from YA paranormal short stories I’m releasing later this year!)

1. Minimize dialogue tags.

Sometimes you need a “he said” or “she asked,” but oftentimes you don’t need a dialogue tag at all. You can show who’s speaking by having the character do or feel something before or after the part in quotes.

Read the rest of this post HERE.