[Spencer Daily Reporter nameplate] Light Rain Fog/Mist ~ 57°F  
High: 70°F ~ Low: 49°F
Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014
THE NEW ANTHOLOGY IS HERE!
Posted Friday, December 2, at 9:57 AM
Make Hay While the Sun Shines, the fourth in the Midwest series, is finally finished and available. As with the three before it, it's been a labor of love. In 2007 I first got the idea to put together some of the wonderful stories I've heard over the years, about life in small towns and on farms. ...

Read more   Browse comments (5)  Post comment


SENTENCE STRUCTURE
Posted Friday, November 11, at 2:21 PM

A dramatic tone, especially in an action scene, can be demonstrated by using short, punchy sentences. Short sentences speed up the reading, and the overall impression of the segment. Say you're writing a scene with a car chase. Lots of action and speed. Cars jump the curb, knocking over the ubiquitous flower cart. And all of this takes place on a page that fly by, thanks, in part, to short, swift sentences...

Read more   Browse comments (1)  Post comment


DO YOU KNOW ABOUT NANOWRIMO?
Posted Saturday, October 29, at 2:32 PM

It's almost time for the 12th annual NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month. If you're not familiar with it, NaNoWriMo, which started out small in 1999 and has since grown to nearly 200,000 participants last year, is the time when writers, from newbys to professionals, set out to write a full, 50,000 novel in 30 days...

Read more   Browse comments (2)  Post comment


MORE ABOUT DIALOGUE
Posted Friday, October 14, at 2:44 PM

You don't need to steer away from writing dialogue just because it seems -- okay, is -- daunting. With a little practice dialogue gets easier, as do any of the writing steps. We talked about giving your characters voices that are uniquely their own. ...

Read more   Browse comments (3)  Post comment


GIVE YOUR CREATURE A VOICE: DIALOGUE
Posted Saturday, October 1, at 11:00 AM

Writing dialogue for your characters can be a daunting task, and many people find it intimidating. I think it's a lot of fun. Maybe I just like putting words in other people's mouths. Good dialogue brings a book to life, and gives the reader a sense of being right there in the scene with the characters. ...

Read more   Browse comments (2)  Post comment


HOW TECHNICAL SHOULD YOU GET?
Posted Friday, September 23, at 4:59 PM

I was asked recently, via email, about using technical words in fiction. My answer is that it's fine... as long as what you're writing is a technical thriller, or something along similar lines. If your goal is to write like the late Michael Crichton, author of Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain, and The Terminal Man (one of my favorites), to name a few, then by all means use all the technical jargon that such a book supports. ...

Read more   Post comment


WORD SELECTION - HAVE SOME FUN
Posted Friday, September 9, at 4:12 PM

As long as you're going to be working so hard on your writing, you might as well have some fun with it. One of the more creative ways to use words is to make nouns into verbs, which I see being done more and more lately. We do it in our everyday conversations. ...

Read more   Post comment


WORD SELECTION - VERBS
Posted Tuesday, August 30, at 6:26 PM

Writing isn't just throwing a bunch of stuff down on paper and hoping someone will like it. You need to give your words plenty of consideration. Make them work for you. I know, I've said to use a conversational tone in your writing, and that's true, to a point. But we still, as writers, need to clean up the careless structure and repetition that we tend to use in everyday conversations...

Read more   Browse comments (5)  Post comment


YOUR SLOPPY COPY
Posted Friday, August 19, at 9:42 AM

Now, about your first draft. My friend Betty Taylor, of Hartley, is a retired schoolteacher and a talented author. She used to tell her students that their first draft was their "sloppy copy." (Betty tells me she first heard this phrase when she attended the Iowa Writing Project years ago.) She found that her students were often intimidated by the idea of revising, and if she told them to submit a "first draft" it just drove home the fact that there would be a second and possibly a third draft, to the point where they didn't even want to start a writing project. ...

Read more   Post comment


VOICE & TONE
Posted Saturday, August 6, at 8:16 AM

Your voice, as an author, is how you express your thoughts and put them down on paper. It reflects your personality, and it's what makes your writing different from everyone else's. It's often been said that there are, in writing, no new stories, and I tend to believe it. ...

Read more   Browse comments (2)  Post comment


CHANGES IN TECHNOLOGY
Posted Friday, July 29, at 8:12 AM

I love my computers. I say that in the plural because I have five of them: a desktop at home, a desktop and laptop at the office, and two notebooks. My eye is also on an iPad, which I hope to have by the end of the year. (I'm pacing myself.) The Internet is a wonderful tool for doing research, and the word processing programs (Microsoft Word being my program of choice) are a godsend for aspiring authors...

Read more   Browse comments (6)  Post comment


ADD SOME MUSCLE: SETTING
Posted Friday, July 22, at 8:44 PM

I've been asked many times if setting is important to a novel. It certainly is, though in what way depends on what you're writing. That's a big help, isn't it? Obviously, the setting in some novels is so much a part of the story that it couldn't take place anywhere else. ...

Read more   Browse comments (2)  Post comment


MORE ABOUT CHARACTERS
Posted Friday, July 8, at 3:31 PM

While not all books are character-driven, the people who populate your stories are the glue that hold it all together. If your readers don't care about what happens to your hero, what's the point in reading the book? You make your readers care by developing characters that are multi-dimensional and "feel" like real people...

Read more   Browse comments (2)  Post comment


THE IMPORTANCE OF IGOR
Posted Friday, July 1, at 3:31 PM

There are more characters to your book than just the protagonist and the antagonist. A rich array of secondary characters add a lot to a story, and give your main characters a break. Your hero and heroine can't be at center stage throughout every scene; the secondary characters can take over now and then to offer conflict, comic relief, dramatic exposition -- anything to enrich the story. Just as we have friends and family in our lives, so should your protagonist...

Read more   Browse comments (6)  Post comment


THE ANTAGONIST
Posted Friday, June 24, at 1:18 PM

The antagonist of your story, depending on the genre in which you're writing, is just about as important as your protagonist. The antagonist is the bad guy, the opponent your hero will fight against and conquer. I mentioned genre because not all books contain a clear-cut villain.Gone with the Wind contains a lot of conflict, but no one antagonist. ...

Read more   Browse comments (4)  Post comment


QUESTIONS
Posted Sunday, June 19, at 10:59 PM

I've had a busy week, but several emails have come in to me lately with questions so I'm going to take some time here to answer a few of them. Q: I keep hearing 'write what you know.' What if I haven't traveled or had a lot of experiences, but I want to write about them?...

Read more   Browse comments (3)  Post comment


YOUR PROTAGONIST, PART 2
Posted Friday, June 10, at 2:19 PM

Last week we talked about your protagonist (hero/heroine) and the importance of making him a well-rounded character with the flaws and frailties possessed by real people. But it's easy to fall into the trap of creating characters that are clichés, or stereotypes. ...

Read more   Post comment


YOUR PROTAGONIST, PART 1
Posted Friday, June 3, at 11:47 AM

Now that you've created the skeleton for your creature - you've developed an outline using the 3-Act structure - it's time to move on to the internal organs. At the heart of your story is the protagonist - your main character. Your protagonist is the center around which all the activity in the story revolves. ...

Read more   Browse comments (5)  Post comment


THE OUTLINE
Posted Friday, May 27, at 12:13 PM

Many very successful authors say they never outline a story before writing it. Stephen King says he doesn't, and I certainly can't argue with his accomplishments. Dean Koontz also says he doesn't outline. More power to them both. That method doesn't work for me, however, and I don't recommend it, especially for a beginner...

Read more   Browse comments (3)  Post comment


PLOT & STORY
Posted Friday, May 20, at 10:32 AM

Even though I call your book, article, essay - whatever - your "story," there's more to it than that. "Story" actually refers to the emotional part of what you're writing. "Plot" is the physical part. If Timmy falls down the well and Lassie goes for help, that's a Plot. If Timmy falls down the well and Lassie, for love of her boy, goes for help, that's Plot and Story...

Read more   Browse comments (3)  Post comment


View all blog posts (31)

Jean Tennant has been writing professionally for more than 30 years. Beginning with short stories, newspaper and magazine articles, she eventually branched out to full-length work, with several novels published by Warner Books, Kensington and Silhouette. Now the owner of Shapato Publishing, LLC, in Everly, Iowa, she teaches writers' workshops throughout the Midwest, for which her schedule can be seen at: www.jeantennant.com. Jean lives in Everly with her husband, Grover Reiser, and their dogs, Kirby and Dakota. Favorite quote: "Outside of a dog, man's best friend is a book. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." Groucho Marx.
Hot topics
THE NEW ANTHOLOGY IS HERE!
(5 ~ 4:22 PM, Jun 4)

SENTENCE STRUCTURE
(1 ~ 2:55 PM, Nov 12)

DO YOU KNOW ABOUT NANOWRIMO?
(2 ~ 6:09 AM, Nov 9)

MORE ABOUT DIALOGUE
(3 ~ 2:29 PM, Oct 26)

GIVE YOUR CREATURE A VOICE: DIALOGUE
(2 ~ 5:35 PM, Oct 12)