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Articles by Melissa James


Men Behaving Badly: When Heroes Become Unheroic

Did anyone else watch the recent movie version of Phantom of the Opera and love the Phantom at the cost of caring about Raoul -- and not just because bad boy Gerard Butler is way more hunky than nice boy Patrick Wilson ever could be? Thinking about it, I understood why: Raoul performs only one

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Story Flow

Just recently, a writing friend, who, despite being an excellent writer, is having problems with her story's jerky feeling, asked me: "What do you mean by flow (big wail here!!!)?? I know how to recognize it in other people's writing, but I'm not sure what the specifics are. Is it a technique you can learn,

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Twisting an Old Plot into a Fresh Idea

Sherry-Anne Jacobs, author of 18 published novels so far, wrote something in her handbook called Plotting and Editing that made a great deal of sense to me. On page 19, under the heading, What Makes Your Book special?, she writes: "All the time you're writing, whichever method you use, you should bear in mind that

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Emotional Depth 3: Finding Physical Stimulants

Today, we're finding physical stimulants to finding an emotive response. These are triggers, if you will. Some people feel they need to work in silence, but for me, that's impossible. I need triggers! There are many different ways to trigger emotion, but most of these involve using your senses -- touch, sight, sound, smell --

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Emotional Depth 4: Deep Point of View

A skill that leads straight into strong, emotive writing is Deep Point Of View. And I mean deep. This is often a very hard skill to conquer, but it's so effective I felt it needed a whole day's work. Deep POV is an art, because it's putting yourself so totally into the character you basically

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Emotional Depth 5: Emotional Sex

Yep, I said it: SEX. The hot-and-sweaty, no-holds-barred, tangled-sheets or on-the-floor, down-and-dirty three-letter word that terrifies some of us so bad we write, "put love scene here" on a page and move on in seconds! Yet sex scenes can be so vital to the story (unless you're doing Tender Romance or Inspirational, of course), if

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Emotional Depth 6: Fattening Your Scenes

The title here is pretty self-explanatory! How do we go about adding emotional depth to scenes without doing two pages of looooong flashbacks (or, as someone from my last workshop put it, "whining and pining") about the past, or what the hero, my mother or so-and-so did to me 5 or 25 years ago? Well,

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Emotional Depth 2: Bring Your Characters To Life

Today we're dealing with working at knowing your characters, so the emotional depth comes, not just from you, (though that's vital) but also from within them. And if this sounds nuts, it isn't: if you want your book to live, so must your characters! When you learn your characters, they start to "speak" to you,

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Emotional Depth 1

How many rejection letters have we all had, stating that our writing lacks those two awful words, "emotional punch"? I know I've had more than a few in the past. But it would leave me puzzled for a long, long time. What is emotional punch? People say to write the book of your heart and

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Risking Emotional Suicide

It’s happened again. You’ve had another rejection, one of those awful, generic ‘editorial department’ ones we all dread: ‘Your story is well-written and plotted, but lacks the emotional depth and excitement we’re looking for.’ You probably screw up the letter and throw it somewhere. You imagine vile things happening to that rotten editor who has

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