Chicago Writers Association Blog
Chicago Writers Association Blog

April 6, 2021

3 Techniques for Creating Tension

by Tim Storm

Let’s talk reader engagement. It comes from tension and from the reader’s anticipation of change. And there are three situations a writer can create in order to cultivate dramatic tension and to get readers anticipating change: mystery, suspense, and dramatic irony.

These labels name “story/audience relationships,” notes Robert McKee in his book Story.

In this brief article, I want to introduce these concepts and give some clear examples…

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March 30, 2021

What Photography Can Teach You About Writing

By Maggie Smith

Three years ago, my photography instructor gave our class this assignment: spend a day taking pictures which, when put in the right order, tell a story. And coincidentally, the next Sunday I was set to attend my first Green Bay Packer game at Lambeau Field where we were pitted against…

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March 23, 2021

The Journal as Alter Ego

By Tina Jenkins Bell

When it comes to maintaining healthy emotional balance and sound mental health, the struggle is real for writers. This is a particular reality after being trapped in our homes for nearly a year during the pandemic with only our minds--- pregnant with creativity, self-criticism, and frustration--- and Netflix to turn…

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March 16, 2021

Make the Unbelievable Believable

by Samantha Hoffman

Previously published March 21, 2015

We all know that truth is stranger than fiction. How many times have you heard someone say, "If I didn't know for a fact that was true I wouldn't believe it"? How many books have you read where something happens and you say,…

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March 9, 2021

How to Begin Writing a Book

by Samantha Hoffman

Many of us have stories, personal and otherwise, that we think would make a great book, but not many of us ever write them because the process of writing a book seems so daunting. And it is. But if you never try, your story will never be told. Who knows?…

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March 2, 2021

Cave Cities, Broken Elevators, and Robots

by Kristin Oakley

When I wrote God on Mayhem Street, I created Frank Townsend’s family farm even though I didn’t know a thing about farming. As part of my research, I toured a friend’s farm and recruited Veterinarian Bill Stork to read my manuscript. His feedback gave Frank’s farm the authenticity…

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February 23, 2021

All Editors are not Created Equal

By Jim Dempsey

I got a worrying email from an author last week. He had contacted me about a year ago for a free sample edit. He mailed me back after I’d returned the revised text to say he was happy with my work, appreciated my insight, but he had decided to go…

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February 16, 2021

What is Author Intrusion?

By Tina Jenkins Bell

There are days when I get into the groove of telling a story and in my head the arc of the story is complete, conflict and character motivation are evident, and the characters will have taken on the reality of living, breathing individuals. Sometimes, though, I occasionally see myself in…

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February 9, 2021

Writing Critique Group…Is it for You?

by Tim Storm

Thanks to Tim Storm for his time on February 7th for the Cocktails and Conversation event where we discussed writing critique groups and writing buddies.

Are they for you?

Maybe, maybe not.

In case you missed this event you can catch up on YouTube. Meanwhile, here are some…

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February 2, 2021

5 Guidelines for Writing a Helpful Critique

By Maggie Smith

Last week my writing buddy sent me her new novel and asked for my feedback. This is the one I’ve been hearing about for a year, the novel she’s written that’s closest to her heart, and the one I feel will earn her a deal with a major publisher. And…

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