Books On Writing

For more than 20 years, Dancing on Coals Workshops have been a favorite among fiction writers, talking about conflict, motivation, goals, scene structure, plotting and more.

Scroll down to see which workshops are currently available in Kindle format, and check back each month for the newest addition.

The Dancing on Coals How-To Series

books for the fiction writer


Creating Characters with CharacterCreating Characters with Character

From hero and heroine to protagonist and antagonist, main characters to sidekicks and walk-ons, you’ll learn the art and craft of breathing life into the characters in your story. Learn how to uncover what drives your characters emotionally, what they want from life and what they value. Explore the best uses of point-of-view and perspective, and learn how to find your characters’ unique voices. Learn successful techniques for conducting character interviews and getting your characters’ emotions out of your head and onto the page.

You’ll walk away from this workshop knowing how to add those special touches that will take your characters from ordinary to extraordinary in every book you write.

Part of the Dancing on Coals How-To Series. Based on the Dancing on Coals online Master Class.

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Mastering Story ConflictMastering Story Conflict

For years, Mastering Story Conflict (by whatever name it was known at the time) was one of Dancing on Coals’ most popular workshops. Designed to help writers build strong, believable and realistic conflict in every book you write. this book focuses on the art and craft of conflict, both internal and external.

You’ll learn how to make sure the conflict in your novel is strong enough to sustain a work of novel-length fiction, how to weave conflicts together in ways that are fresh, exciting, and powerful, and how to identify ways in which a character’s core beliefs create conflict.

We’ll focus on how internal and external conflicts work together and against each other and how to ensure that you’re using conflict as a double-edged sword to keep readers interested and engaged from the first page of your novel to the last. Part of the Dancing on Coals How-To Series. Based on the Dancing on Coals online Master Class.

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Mastering Character MotivationMastering Character Motivation

Mastering Character Motivation is focused on helping you create strong, realistic motivation for the characters in your novels.

Motivation is one of the key elements of any novel. Strong, believable motivation can drive your story from page one to the final scene, while weak or unrealistic motivation can be the kiss of death. In this workshop, we discuss how to avoid clichéd and contrived motivations and how to build on your basic characterization to create characters that actively push your story forward. We also tackle that dreaded nemesis of so many writers—author intrusion.

This is a great follow-up to Creating Characters with Character, our book on characterization, but can also stand alone, especially if you’ve already some preliminary work with your characters. This Master Class workshop has been presented in part at various writer’s conferences, including Romance Writers of America annual conference in Washington, D.C. (2009) and an excerpt from it was published as an article in RWA’s trade journal, Romance Writers Report.

Part of the Dancing on Coals How-To Series. Based on the Dancing on Coals Master Class.

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Organic PlottingOrganic Plotting

Organic Plotting is designed to work with plot, subplots, pacing, and turning points. This book focuses on creating the basic blueprint of your story, giving you a loose framework to follow as you write. This method can be as simple or as detailed as YOU choose to make it, leaving you free to have the best of both writing worlds—a blueprint to follow and the freshness of writing organically, creating and remaining open to changes as you write.

You’ll learn how determine what drives your story from beginning to end, how to decide on subplots for your story, how to identify turning points, how to weave plots and subplots together effectively, and more.

Part of the Dancing on Coals How-To Series. Based on the Dancing on Coals Master Class.

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Mastering Scene and SequelMastering Scene and Sequel

You’ve heard about scene and sequel, and the idea of using it makes sense — but can you use scene and sequel and still maintain the fluid style of writing you prefer? Will using scene and sequel box you in, or can you still fly by the seat of your pants and see where the story takes you?

Learn how to use scene and sequel to create powerful scenes while maintaining your own artistic integrity.

In this book you’ll learn to:

  • Identify the anatomy of scene and sequel ‘
  • Use scene/sequel structure to build tension and highlight conflict
  • Use that structure to drive your story forward
  • Create hooks that keep the reader turning pages
  • Make characterization, motivation & conflict work together powerfully

Part of the Dancing on Coals How-To Series. Based on the Dancing on Coals Master Class.

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Mastering Character EmotionMastering Character Emotion

Mastering Character Emotion is designed to help authors get powerful character emotions out of their imaginations and onto the page.

In this book you’ll learn how to get into your characters’ thoughts and feelings, how to identify common mistakes writers make with emotion, how to convey emotion using body language, and how to identify reader expectation and make it work for you. Learn how to captivate those readers who come to your manuscript looking for the emotional ride only a novel can provide, and do it time after time.

Part of the Dancing on Coals How-To Series. Based on the Dancing on Coals Master Class.

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Avoiding Author IntrusionAvoiding Author Intrusion

Author intrusion jars readers, slows the pacing of your work, and puts a barrier between your reader and the story’s emotion. It often brings about contrived or impossible situations and breaks that magical connection between story-teller and reader.

In this book, we’ll take a close look at author intrusion—one of fiction’s most deadly diseases. We’ll talk about what it is, identify how it shows up in your work and, most importantly, help you understand how to avoid it (and what to do about it if you can’t.)

An excerpt from the original Master Class was published as an article in Romance Writers of America’s trade journal, Romance Writers Report.

Part of the Dancing on Coals How-To Series. Based on the Dancing on Coals Master Class.

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Dodging the Dreaded Saggy MiddleDodging the Dreaded Saggy Middle

Every writer has encountered at least one—the dreaded saggy middle of the novel-in-progress. It’s that place between set-up and climactic ending where conflict often droops, motivation wilts, and scenes begin to feel repetitive.

You’ll learn how to work with your characters, their goals, conflicts, and motivation to keep the story fresh all the way through. You’ll learn to use pacing and timing to create a story that will keep readers, agents, and editors hooked from beginning to end. Each chapter contains an exercise designed to let you try the techniques on your own work in progress.

Part of the Dancing on Coals How-To Series. Based on the Dancing on Coals Master Class.

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Revising Your NovelRevising Your Novel

In this book, we focus on what to do once you’ve finished the first draft of your novel. We’ll take you from rough first-draft to polished finished product by putting all your skills at work together.

Learn how to look at the whole landscape instead of just that cloud in the corner, how to revise in waves when necessary and how to revise the manuscript as a whole as well as scene by scene.

You’ll learn how to make sure your characters have come to life, your conflict is real and believable, your characters believably motivated and your sensory texture is richly drawn.

Part of the Dancing on Coals How-To Series. Based on the Dancing on Coals Master Class.

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Mastering the Mystery NovelMastering the Mystery Novel

Clues and red herrings. Murder and mayhem. Suspects, victims, and protagonists. In this book we’re talking about writing the mystery novel. We’ll look at the various elements of the genre, talk about plotting, about building suspense and hiding clues in plain sight.

We’ll discuss how to plant red herrings that don’t give themselves away, how to keep the readers guessing, and how to create characters equal to the task you put before them. If you’re interested in writing mystery and suspense, you won’t want to miss this book from national bestselling author Sherry Lewis and Dancing on Coals.

Part of the Dancing on Coals How-To Series. Based on the Dancing on Coals Master Class.

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Watch for more of your favorites

from the Dancing on Coals How-To Series

coming to Kindle soon.