Are we writing the novel we want to write?

Christina Ranallo Opinion, Uncategorized, Writing Tips Leave a Comment

If the title of this article insinuates that writers might be writing a novel other than the one they want to write, that is exactly what I am proposing, and I’ll explain. First comes the great idea. We love it. Really love it. It’s the kind of idea that occupies our minds every single waking moment. We talk about it …

Finding a good idea, luck, and four-leaf clovers

Christina Ranallo Uncategorized 1 Comment

Have you ever looked for a four-leaf clover, searched a seemingly endless mass of little green look-alike plants trying to find one that’s different from all the rest? Whether you have ever found a four-leaf clover or not, as writers we search for an equally rare commodity: a really good idea for a story.

Can some conflict be bad for a story?

Christina Ranallo Opinion, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

For the last ten years I’ve had a mantra, “No conflict, no story.” I said it so often that writers said it for me during our writer’s group and chanted it during workshops. It even turned up as a t-shirt by popular demand. But I was turned on my heels when I was asked this question: “Is there such a …

Why write a story out of order?

Christina Ranallo Uncategorized Leave a Comment

I read a startling comment the other day. Once upon a time publishers wouldn’t accept a manuscript unless the story was told in chronological order. I thought about all the novels I’ve read that would never have been published if held to that standard. So what do readers prefer?

How do you know when you’re half way through writing your novel?

Christina Ranallo Opinion, Uncategorized, Writing Tips Leave a Comment

If you try to guess how long it will take to finish something, you check if you’re at the beginning the middle or close to the end. That only works when you know where you are. Don’t you wish there was a template, a “blueprint” that allowed writers to feel certain they had accomplished what was needed to move past …

Friends, family, lovers – do they make good characters?

Christina Ranallo Uncategorized 1 Comment

I had a coffee mug made for my writer’s group years ago that said, “I’m a writer and I will fictionalize you.” It was a hit, perhaps because it was true. The best characters are real in some fashion. People who have left deep and undeniable impressions on our lives craft their own versions of heroes and villains in our …

Have you tried writing from the “middle”?

Christina Ranallo Uncategorized, Writing Tips Leave a Comment

Many stories are told naturally in chronological order. This happens, and then this happens next, and so on. But what do you do when future events are not as clear as the one in front of you? Some writers keep writing the beginning over and over trying to perfect it. They think maybe, just maybe if those first chapters are …

Too much story not enough plot?

Christina Ranallo Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Nothing beats a good story. Around a dinner table, at a party, a café or any place friends and family gather. Once a storyteller grabs hold of willing listeners there’s no letting go until he or she delivers the payoff. We smile, maybe clap a little and we are happy. Good story, we say. But… What happens when after awhile …

Too tired to write a novel? Dream one.

Christina Ranallo Uncategorized 2 Comments

I read to my daughters often. Many of the books remain on my shelf and have found a place as inspiration for writing. I’ve often thought, whimsically, about finding a way to do what Shel Silverstein says he can do in this poem: I’ll take the dream I had last night, And put it in my freezer, So someday long …