Posted by: Jodi | June 10, 2015

Keeping the Story Real


Writer Wednesday strikes again!

Originally posted on Jodi L. Milner, Author:

If Ace Rimmer can ride a random alligator then it must be ok, right? If Ace Rimmer can ride a random alligator then it must be ok, right?

It’s writing Wednesday and yet another chance to inundate the webverse with more unsolicited writing advice. Woo Hoo!

Today’s topic is about keeping it real when it comes to plotting a story. I’m sure we’ve all seen or read at least one story where something happens that’s hopefully exciting or at least vaguely interesting, but has nothing to do with the story. Jack M. Bickham refers to this as “dropping alligators through the transom.”

Unless your story is about mutant alligators taking over an office building, there is probably no good reason for it to happen.

I can hear the argument already.”This scene was kinda dull so I thought adding killer bees would add a bit more interest.”

Ahem… If your scene was dull, and you knew it was dull, why is it even in your…

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Posted by: Jodi | May 29, 2015

Writing Fresh

Originally posted on Jodi L. Milner, Author:

If your writing isn't as fresh as this orange, you better read this. If your writing isn’t as fresh as this orange you better read this.

It’s writing Wednesday and today we are going to talk about writing fresh. Each writing conference I attend teaches me something new and sometimes these lessons profoundly change the way I think about writing. At this month’s LDStorymakers writing conference one of the most influential lessons I took to heart was also one of the simplest.

Write Fresh.

This idea was discussed by several presenters including the evening keynote Martine Leavitt. She spoke about her writing journey and how at times her life was so hectic that often her writing goal for the day was to write one perfect sentence that had never been written before.

Margie Lawson shared the same idea in her deep editing intensive workshops. She added ideas about how to use enhanced description and literary devices to keep the writing alive and also to…

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Posted by: Jodi | May 20, 2015

Writing Fantasy Profanity

Originally posted on Jodi L. Milner, Author:

Bantha-ST Don’t mix up your Bantha Poodoo with your Nerf Herders! Getting swearing right is important.

It’s writer Wednesday and today we are going to delve into the risque topic of fantasy profanity. Well, ok, it’s not all that risque. In fact, the reason many people like fantasy novels is that there is rarely ever any swearing.

Instead, we enter the world of alternate swearing. In a fantasy world there are different beliefs and different cultural practices that lead to different terms being considered profane, just like different English speaking countries have distinct swear words. Saying ‘bollocks’ or ‘bloody’ in the US barely gets an eyebrow raise because most people don’t know what they mean.

Using standard swearing in a fantasy novel doesn’t make sense because you wouldn’t expect an alternate civilization to develop the same swear words. When they are used they pull the reader from the narrative – a…

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Posted by: Jodi | May 13, 2015

Writing Exercise: The KISS Principle

Originally posted on Jodi L. Milner, Author:

It’s Writer Wednesday here at the blog and today we are going to discuss the KISS principle.

KISS stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid.

I’m not calling any of you dear readers stupid, rest assured. Only the smartest of readers and writers end up here. The KISS acronym has been around since the 1960’s when it was used as a design principle in the US Navy.

Some have morphed the acronym to these more suitable alternatives –

  • Keep It Short and Simple
  • Keep It Small and Simple
  • Keep It Simple and Straightforward

Choose the one that works best for you.

A handful of writers fall into the “If it’s complicated, it’s better”  category, thinking that if a plot has twists and surprise reveals on every other page then it must be an awesome read. Yes, there are readers out there that love a book like this. There are also readers…

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Posted by: Jodi | May 6, 2015

Writer Wednesday: Hanging Flags

Originally posted on Jodi L. Milner, Author:

It’s Wednesday and that means a special post for all you writers out there. Woohoo!

Lately I’ve been enjoying the wit of comedian Jim Gaffigan. He’s clean and several of his routines are on Netflix, which is a double bonus for those like me that need something funny to unwind to after a long day and can’t exactly head out to a club. Babysitters are expensive.

Once of Jim’s signature elements in his routine is that he will insert his own criticisms into the flow of the joke. You know it’s coming because he turns to the side and impersonates a generic grandma from the audience, I imagine his mother. It is these asides that make his routines unique and even funnier than if he did a straight up routine. It is also a brilliant way to draw more attention to the joke itself and make it even funnier.

While watching…

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Posted by: Jodi | May 2, 2015

Grammarland: Then vs Than

Originally posted on Jodi L. Milner, Author:

It’s Writer Wednesday here and today we will tackle a mini grammar concept – the difference between then and than. These writing themed posts used to be the weekly mainstay of my other blog, My Literary Quest, but will now be hosted here and reblogged there.

Comic Originally posted at The Oatmeal Comic Originally posted at The Oatmeal as part of the “Ten Words you need to Stop Misspelling” infographic

Then can be used as three different parts of speech, which is probably why it gets mixed up so often with than. The main use of then is as an adverb, specifically to situate an action in time. For example,  she attended English class and then went to lunch. It’s also part of the if … then construction –If you clean your room, then I will tell you my secret.

Then can also be used as a noun meaning that time. (e.g…

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Posted by: Jodi | April 22, 2015

Writer Wednesday: Magical Realism


The weekly writing post will now be hosted over at my Author blog, go check it out!

Originally posted on Jodi L. Milner, Author:

Welcome to writer Wednesday! Here we will tackle topics of interest to fellow writers and hopefully interesting to readers of fiction. These posts used to be written over at My Literary Quest but now will be featured here and reblogged there.

Today we will discuss the literary genre, magical realism.


Although it feels like the term “Magical Realism” is fairly new, it has actually been around since the 1920s. As a fantasy writer myself, I wanted to explore this term to better understand it.

The idea of magical realism sprang up first from a German art critic, Franz Roh, who used it to describe art that pushed beyond the surreal, creating intriguing, thought provoking works. This art was known for it’s photographic clarity and focused on the magical nature of the real world.

This art inspired writers to find the same feeling in their works. They aimed to capture the…

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Posted by: Jodi | April 15, 2015

Writing Exercise: Try Resetting Your Setting

cemetary-irelandSometimes scenes refuse to come together.  They are missing that element that makes them special and feel downright boring. Sometimes the characters or plot are to blame, if the conflict isn’t driving them toward a goal then you have a problem. Assuming your plot is awesome, try this:

Reset Your Setting

Setting is often the last thing a writer will consider when creating a scene in their story. With so much other awesome stuff going on it’s easy to overlook. For this exercise, take an existing scene, or one that you are preparing to write, and place it somewhere different. Ideally this place should be a place that adds a distinct emotional tone to the scene.

Have a chase scene in a busy metropolis? Take it through a cemetery or a department store. See what happens when your hero trips over a gravestone or gets tangled up in a rack of lingerie.  A spooky graveyard scene adds more moments for your hero to experience horror. Fighting against a pile of underclothes is downright funny. Neither of these emotional beats would have happened if the hero been stuck on Main St.

Lover’s quarrel in an apartment? Take it to a bakery or a roof top observatory. Let the smells of the bakery comfort the hero and bring back memories of the good times, or the sight of the drop off tighten their already frayed nerves to the breaking point.

Have fun with it. The worst that could happen is that you can’t use the scene and have to try again. The best, however, is that you end up with a scene that’s memorable and interesting.

Whatever happens, Happy Writing!


Want to see more writing exercises? Here’s a handy link.

Posted by: Jodi | April 8, 2015

April is Poetry Month

I don’t know why we do it, assigning commemorative days and weeks and whole months to different ideas. It’s a strange phenomenon. It is as if those things don’t have enough of a voice, that we must draw extra attention to them. And for the most part, that is precisely why it is done.

April is poetry month. It is also: (list from wikipedia: List of Commemorative Months)

Because I’m no poet, check out these other wonderful writers for their contributions to the cause.  Many have taken the April poetry challenge where they write a poem a day, or a total of 30 poems during the month.

I hope you enjoy this sampling of poetry, and as always,

Happy Writing!

Posted by: Jodi | April 1, 2015

A Friendly Reminder – Back Up Your Work!

blue-screenIt’s April Fool’s day, and for many that means playing pranks and fooling around. My April Fool’s came early, and I wish it was a prank. Yesterday, a member of my family (I won’t name names) downloaded a malicious virus on my personal computer. We’re talking the kind of virus that reaches out and downloads dozens of other programs and in the process sends hundreds upon hundreds of pop-ups and errors flooding the screen. It even breeches barriers between user accounts, and sinks its teeth into the hard drive itself.

The problem with this type of virus is that you can never be sure that you have removed all of its components. Even when it seems the crisis is over, there might be something lurking inside waiting for you to let your guard down. We had two options, wipe the entire drive clean and start over, or buy a new hard drive and very carefully load needed programs and files on it.

We were in need of an upgrade anyway, so we chose the latter. I am now the proud owner of a solid state 260 GB hard drive. It’s fast, it’s quiet, and is now free of any irritating bugs. The kids are no longer allowed to use my personal computer, they have one of their own so it’s not like they’re missing out.

Until we had finished replacing the hard drive and reloading everything back onto it, I had no assurance that the manuscript I had worked on for the past five years was safe. My last back up was months ago, and the thought of having to re-edit all of those chapters once more makes me want to cry. Had I been more proactive in backing up my work, this wouldn’t have been an issue. I wouldn’t have had to worry as much.

I used to keep the files saved on both my hard drive and on a USB key.  It was so easy to back it up this way that I didn’t forget to do it. Then, I changed my writing software. The new filing system made it more complicated to save it to the USB and I didn’t do it. Every few months my darling hubby would ask me to send him a back up copy, just in case, and I would avoid it because most of the time I couldn’t get the program to create and export a usable backup file.

That’s what I get for using free software. I have purchased new software, Scrivner, and I plan to plug my project into it as soon as I finish this draft, which I hope will be soon. With it, one of the first things I’m going to do is figure out the best way to back up my project files and save them off site.

Let this be a lesson to you! Back up your work, do it often, and do it in more than one place.

And as always,

Happy Writing!

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