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Madeline Smoot

Restricted Realism

Restricted Realism

Novels, even fantasies and science fiction, need to be realistic. There have to be things the reader relates to in order to connect with the story. Something has to ground them to the world you’re building, and realism does that. However, you can have too much of a...

Lessons Learned as a Bookseller

Lessons Learned as a Bookseller

For many years, I spent most of my days in a bookstore. First for one year at Barnes & Noble, and later more years than I can remember at BookPeople in Austin. I have always believed that everyone in publishing from the author to the publisher would benefit from...

Double Duty

Double Duty

One of the best ways to know whether or not your scene is meant for your story is to consider whether or not it’s doing Double Duty. Double Duty is the concept that every scene needs to be doing at least 2 of the following 3...

Breaking Down Your Chapters

Breaking Down Your Chapters

One of the key parts of any children’s book revision plan is the chapter or scene breakdowns. These are chapter (or scene) summaries that highlight the main points of the existing edit. Chapter summaries can be extensive multi-page entries for each chapter, or they...

Make Your Characters Suffer

Make Your Characters Suffer

Recently my writing partner and I were CLEARLY the main characters in someone’s novel. First my writing partner came down with a kidney stone. That alone is enough misery to fuel fifty novels. My ex was in town staying with me, so he stayed with our kid while I went...

Editors Don’t Revise

Editors Don’t Revise

Editors are amazing. (Yes, I may be biased, seeing that I am one.) But editors have their limits. A good editor—whether they’re a freelance editor your hire or one that works for your publisher—is there to help you make your book the best that it can be. But they...

What’s at Stake?

What’s at Stake?

Are the stakes of your story enough to get the reader turning the page? My definition of stakes is something your character risks or finds to be in jeopardy because of their own or someone else’s actions. Basically, the stakes are the external or internal problems...

One of Those Days

One of Those Days

Today I need to write. I need to write at least 500 words on my current novel if I want to keep my momentum going. I need to write about writing for this blog and for my newsletters. I need to write the lesson plans for the next course I want to offer. So, I set aside...