Writing Workshop Lesson 8: What is a hook?

Workshop Introduction What is a hook? Editors and agents make a decision about your story based on the first few pages—sometimes the first paragraph. They don’t have the time or patience to read the whole thing if the opening doesn’t grab them. You need a good “hook” to get the reader’s attention and keep him […]

Writing Workshop Lesson 7: Plot

Workshop Introduction Plot “Plot grows out of character. If you focus on who the people in your story are…something is bound to happen. …Any plot you impose on your characters will be onomatopoetic: PLOT. …Let what they say or do reveal who they are.” (Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, 1994) All stories, no matter their […]

Writing Workshop Lesson 6: Setting

Workshop Introduction Setting In Lesson 1, we learned some of the factors that can make up the setting of the story. In this lesson we’ll go into each in more detail. Please note that you should avoid dropping large chunks of setting description (or character background) into your story. This is known as “info dumping” […]

Writing Workshop Lesson 5: Point of View

Workshop Introduction Point of View Who is the narrator? Through whose perspective is the reader viewing the story? First Person This is the most intimate Point Of View (POV). The reader views the action directly through a character’s eyes, but not necessarily the main character. An example of this is in the Sherlock Holmes stories—the […]

Writing Workshop Lesson 4: Dialogue

Workshop Introduction Dialogue Don’t write dialogue in perfect, grammatical English. No one really speaks like that, except perhaps English professors. Make your characters talk on the page the way you hear them in your head. A good exercise is to carry a small notebook with you everywhere you go and eavesdrop a bit on everyday […]

Writing Workshop Lesson 3: Characters

Workshop Introduction Characters Exotic names are okay in certain genres, but not all. For example, the name Chesapeake Divine would work in a romance novel, but not as well in a children’s story. Beware of using complicated or hard-to-pronounce character names. Have you ever read a story where you weren’t sure how to pronounce a […]

Writing Workshop Lesson 2: Fiction Genres

Workshop Introduction Fiction Genres There are many genres and subgenres, with lots of cross-over between genres. Many stories could fit into several different genres, although they are usually marketed in the one they have the strongest connection to. Most authors find one genre (or a close combination of a couple) more comfortable than others and […]

Writing Workshop Lesson 1: Elements of a Good Story

Workshop Introduction Elements of a Good Story There are seven basic elements to any good story. As you read through these elements, think of your favorite stories (books, movies, etc.) and how they embody each one. 1. Theme or moral You should be able to describe your story in one sentence. Theme isn’t the same […]

Free Online Writing Workshop

Welcome to our free online writing workshop. Beginning next week, we’ll be presenting one lesson here each Wednesday—a total of 10 lessons. Each lesson includes at least one exercise designed to reinforce the topic of that lesson and to help you build toward a completed short story (up to 5,000 words) by the end of […]

Free Sample of a Bilingual Book

Sleeping Cat Books has been busy designing a series of bilingual English-French books. We have four titles currently in publication, with a fifth on the way. We thought you might like to see what a bilingual book looks like, so here’s the first chapter of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Excerpt from […]