Using Twitter Effectively: Part 1 of 10 – The Basics

Nat Russo How-To, Twitter, Writing 25 Comments

[UPDATED 05/09/2014]

Twitter is, arguably, the most far-reaching social platform in the world. But the overwhelming majority of users don’t know how to use it effectively. Worse, they abuse it and risk getting shackled with a poor reputation that can be difficult to change. 

With the right tools and techniques, Twitter can help you build a stable writer’s platform that allows you to reach tens of thousands of people with a single click. Awesome power. But, as the saying goes, “with great power comes great responsibility.”

Even if you’re not a writer, I believe you’ll find most of these techniques invaluable.

In this 10-part series, spread out over the next ten days, I’ll cover the following Twitter basics:


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“Yes, but” or “No, and” – End Writer’s Block

Nat Russo Basics, How-To, Plot and Structure, Scene Structure, Story Ideas, Writing 12 Comments

Writer’s Block. Two of the most dreaded words in a writer’s vocabulary…at least when put together in that order. 

You stare at the blank page, and it stares back. It’s taunting you. It’s telling you you’re no good. You’re just about to slam the lid on your laptop shut when you remember something crucial:

“Writing is a learned craft, not a mystical gift from the universe.” (I think I’ve heard that somewhere before…)

A craft? A learned craft? Yes. And don’t you forget it! Now click the link and read on. Let’s get rid of that pesky writer’s block using tried and true elements of the craft!
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World Building Primer

Nat Russo Basics, How-To, World Creation 28 Comments

World Building is something that all writers of speculative fiction need to do at some point in the story development process. I’d go so far as to say World Building is one of the primary things that drew many of us to this craft in the first place. 

In today’s post we’ll cover the following:

  • The Map
  • Borders
  • Religions
  • Cultures
  • Cities

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I Won a Liebster Award!

Nat Russo Awards 2 Comments


Well how about that! Just when I thought no one was watching what I was doing out here on the interwebs, a couple of lovely folks nominate me for a Liebster award!

Priest. Philosopher. Policeman. Programmer. Pencil Pusher.

Follow the jump link for details on why I only choose professions that begin with the letter “P”!

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How Do You Come Up With Story Ideas?

Nat Russo Basics, How-To, Idea Net, Story Ideas, Writing 27 Comments

Perhaps another way to phrase this question is “where do story ideas come from?” The answer is simple: story ideas are all around us.  Everything we see, touch, smell, hear, and taste has the potential to be a story seed that blossoms into a full-fledged story if nurtured properly.

For some of us, this nurturing process is intangible, defying attempts to be described or squeezed into a bullet list. But for most, full story ideas aren’t something that spring up like eureka moments. Instead, the full story only emerges after idea “seeds” are watered and nurtured.

I’m one of the latter. Rather than waiting for the mysterious process by which a story miraculously springs into existence in the rusty innards of my mind, I take small ideas or observations and massage them into stories, similar to how Orson Scott Card uses his “Idea Net”. Let’s take a look at how this works.


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Revision Checklist – Part 2 of 2

Nat Russo Checklists, Dialogue Attributions, Editing, Filter Words, How-To, Misused Phrases, Misused Words, Passive Voice, Present Continuous, Revision 10 Comments

[Updated 5/09/2014]

Welcome to part two of my two-part series on Revision.

If you haven’t read part one yet, I recommend it, and not in an entirely self-serving way. In this post I’m going to dig into the second half of my Common Revision Checklist, and I’m going to assume you’re already familiar with the first half.

Today we’re going to take a look at the following topics:

  • Commonly misused words/expressions
  • Filter words
  • “Something of Something” constructions
  • Superfluous Movement Verbs
  • Passive voice
  • Dialog attributions
  • Superfluous “That” usage
  • Confusing “ing” constructions

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Revision Checklist – Part 1 of 2

Nat Russo Adverbs, Capitalization, Checklists, Editing, How-To, Qualifiers, Revision, Word Count 21 Comments

[Updated 5/09/2014]

In an earlier post titled Revising Your First Draft: The First Read-Through I teased you all with mention of a Revision Checklist and going into a deeper dive of my own revision process. Before I go there, I want to caution you: if you are still in the middle of writing your first draft, you do not want to read this post.

You heard me.

If you’re still producing your first draft, close this browser tab and back away from the blog. Better still, bookmark this post for later review…then step away from the blog.

Ok. We should be alone now. If any of those “first drafters” come back, someone nudge me or something. We can’t have them poking around here just yet. They’ll get overzealous and start editing themselves prematurely.

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How Do You Find a Character’s Voice?

Nat Russo Characterization, How-To, Voice, Writing 33 Comments

Finding a character’s voice and personality comes easy to some, and with difficulty to others. In fact, even for those of us who don’t struggle with this issue, some characters are just more enigmatic than others. So what can you do?

In a couple of #writetip auto-tweets that I send out periodically (we’ll debate the merits of auto-tweeting later) I mention a process of interviewing your characters to get at the heart of that person’s character traits. I’ve received an enormous response to those tweets asking me to go into some detail, so I decided to write today’s blog entry on that subject.

In the past, I’ve taken a number of approaches to this problem that usually wind up being a type of exploratory writing: short stories, stream of consciousness, random scene from current project, etc. Those are all tried and true techniques, and they are worth experimenting with to see if they are more to your liking. But I’ve since stumbled upon another technique that has added more depth to my characters than any of the previous techniques I’ve tried.

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Merry Christmas

Nat Russo Holiday Leave a Comment

I’d like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas! I probably won’t be able to blog until closer to New Year’s.

I’ll be spending the holidays with my extended family in Texas. It’s our first Christmas without my mother-in-law, Arnette. She passed away this summer, far too soon, and we all miss her dearly. If any of you are the praying kind, please keep my family in your prayers this holiday season.

God Bless!