46: Twelve Great Ways to Find Story Ideas

In this episode of Writing Pursuits, I will discuss twelve ways to find story ideas.

Question of the week: What is your favorite method of brainstorming new story ideas?

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Transcript
Kathrese McKee:

As a fellow author, hope you have a notebook

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of ideas in your backpack or desk drawer. This way when you

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run dry, you can restart your writing process. In this episode

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of writing pursuits. I will discuss 12 ways to find story

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ideas. Welcome to the writing pursuits podcast where authors

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like you discuss writing craft, author, life and book marketing

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strategies. I'm your host Kathrese. McKee. I own writing

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pursuits and write and produce the weekly newsletter writing

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pursuits tips for authors. In addition, I am a speculative

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fiction author writing pursuits is for authors who drink too

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much coffee, endure judgemental looks from their furry riding

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companions and struggle for words. If you are a writer

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seeking encouragement, information and inspiration,

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this podcast is for you. Let's get to it. Hey, writing pursuits

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authors. Welcome back to the podcast. Those of you who are

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new, I want to extend a special welcome my name is threesome key

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and I'm glad you're here. Please leave a comment the star rating

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and follow the show to help others find writing pursuits.

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One of the most dreaded parts of writing a new story is facing a

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blank screen or piece of paper. You stare at it and nothing

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happens except crickets. nurture the writing habit by generating

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story ideas. If you haven't started your idea notebook, pick

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up a new spiral, or find a digital app on your smartphone

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where you can capture ideas no matter where you are. story

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ideas are easily derived and in limitless supply. If you are

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determined to be an author and I and I know you are because

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you're listening to writing pursuits, then do not make the

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lack of ideas your excuse for not writing. Here are some quick

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methods for filling your story idea notebook. One, read books,

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read in your genre and read in your sub genre to learn reader

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expectations, and learn the tropes. Yes, you have permission

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to use tropes. You know, this describes the vast majority of

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romance is on the market boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy

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winds girl back, or some variation on that theme. It's

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not the idea that's important so much as what the writer does

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with the idea. Let's try a more specific plot idea a man travels

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back in time to change x event so that y catastrophe will not

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happen in the future. This has been done so many times. Again,

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it isn't the idea but the execution that counts. Each

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author tells a story in their own way. It's okay to reuse

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ideas. Mark Twain said this in his autobiography. There is no

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such thing as a new idea it is impossible. We simply take a lot

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of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We

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give them a turn, and they make new and curious combinations. We

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keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely. But

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they are the same old pieces of colored glass that had been in

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use through all the ages. So that was number one. Read books

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and learn the tropes. Number two read the newspaper you can skip

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the murders if you're not a who done it author. But there are

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plenty of other ideas to tear from the headlines. You can find

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your next book idea by asking yourself what if questions about

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current events? What if your newspaper runs an article about

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computer chips commonly in use that leave personal data up for

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grabs due to security weakness? Or that sounds real? Doesn't it?

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Sounds actually plausible? story idea. You don't even have to

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write a high tech story. What if the so called flaw was in the

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human brain? What if there were certain people who could grab

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your thoughts? Every thought you ever had just by being near you?

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A similar story mind writer by Mike Lynch and Lisa Godfreys was

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ability to transfer a person's thoughts, memories and

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personality into a clone and in their world. This is how those

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in power stay in power. What a nightmare. Number three watch

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news programs YouTube videos and documentaries. In other words,

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watch a lot of nonfiction educational videos. My My kids

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are sick of me doing that. I I watched nonfiction stuff all the

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time. I love documentaries. What can I say? Always be learning

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new things and looking for inspiration make it a regular

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exercise to write an idea and riff on it by improvising

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variations for listen to classical music for inspiration.

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This is where Disney's famous movies Fantasia and Fantasia

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2000 were developed. Artists listened to classical selections

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and let their minds wander. That's where the Sorcerer's

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Apprentice came from. And who can forget Night on Bald

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Mountain images and stories snippets will develop of their

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own volition. As you listen, take the time to let the images

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form in your mind as you sink into a dream state. Then write

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out what you see. Also, watch music videos by your favorite

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artists. The emotions you feel as you watch are what you are

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trying to capture. Pay attention to your emotions, and take the

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time to figure out how to write them down. Number five, ask

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yourself questions about what you see in real life. As you

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drive or walk somewhere, ask yourself how something came to

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be the way it is. But don't research the facts unless you

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write historical fiction. Speculate instead, okay, this is

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about imagination. Haven't you ever wondered how someone came

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to be where they are? In doing what they are doing? Make up a

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backstory for a person, a place or an object? How did that come

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to be? How did that odd group of people get together? Why are

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they friends? Why does a person act that way? Who does she go

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home to every night? What famous person does he know? And how?

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Where is that family traveling? What momentous event will happen

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when they get there? Will they return? Why? Or why not? Let

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your imagination take over. Write down every idea and create

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variations six binge television series. When you reach the end

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of each episode, ask yourself what will happen next? Write

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some fanfiction about how you hope the story will go. There.

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You have a story idea. Go and make it your own seventh, start

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with unlikely opposites. Try the exercise of thinking about a

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certain kind of person and pair that person with an unlikely

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opposite outcome. So a billionaire puts his money in a

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trust and chooses to live on the streets fighting for the

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underdog. If only Batman was Cisco, a former prisoner saves a

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world that enslaved him. A freedom fighter falls in love

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with an enemy soldier. You get the idea. Start with unlikely

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opposites. Number eight use writing prompts. I love this

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idea. This is such a good discipline to get into. There

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prompt can be as simple as one word like yellow, or it can be a

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sentence like the rats were in the cheese again. Sometimes

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prompts or lines of dialogue. You shouldn't have come back.

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The calling happens tonight. We are out of ammunition. I used to

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love him. But listen for snatches of conversation in real

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life and write them down. Then use those as writing prompts a

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writing prompt might be a complete scenario, like a group

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of strangers makes a dangerous trip together. hostile forces

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tried to kill them, and their only shot at survival is to

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learn to work together. This is the kernel for John Ford's movie

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stagecoach. But the same kernel could as easily be about a sea

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voyage, a journey to the center of the earth or a mission to

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Mars. It's not the idea. It's the execution scheduled time to

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practice responding to writing prompts because writing leads to

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more ideas. Nine, pay attention to your dreams. Dreams are

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uncensored fragments from the creative side of your brain.

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Most of mine are too silly dimension. But occasionally, I

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have an idea that so crazy, it just might work. Dreams can be a

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source of ideas.

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I rarely wait long enough to write mine down honestly. But I

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know of authors who have turned their ideas into full blown

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novels 10 Participate in role playing games, Tracy Hickman and

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Margaret Weis and a group of associates used to play Dungeons

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and Dragons together, and their games inspired a series of

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novels in the dragon Lance universe. In role playing,

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participants practice the skill of taking on a character's

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persona and facing challenges with a group of players. world

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building skills are critically important in these games, and

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playing these games can spark story ideas. Hickman and Weiss

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developed a long timeline, and mapped geography for their

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novels, and several other authors have created side

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stories in the same universe. Don't overlook role playing

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games they're a rich resource 11 Use the process of writing to

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generate ideas. The act of writing itself can trigger

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ideas. Writing is a process after also start with a nugget

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or kernel of an idea and ask questions. Write about anything

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that pops into your head. Brainstorm, hypothesize,

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visualize, follow the rabbit trails. beginning writers often

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have the mistaken idea that a story arrives fully formed. But

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in reality of story idea usually develops with work. writers

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write keep writing about one idea and other ideas will form,

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you will not run out of ideas. Writing for the sake of writing

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is a discipline worth pursuing. I recommend keeping a notebook

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and writing your ideas by hand. That's my preferred method. And

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then when I know I have a really great idea, I make sure I

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captured on my computer and it gets backed up and all that. Be

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messy doodle make diagrams. writing on paper with pen uses

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both sides of your brain. But if you have trouble with

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handwriting, as does my dysgraphic daughter, then do the

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same exercises on your device of choice. 12. Right. You knew I

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was going to say that practice generating new story ideas on a

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regular basis perhaps once a week. To gain confidence, you

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will build a huge backlog of usable plot ideas. Whenever you

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feel that you are running on empty. Use the methods we have

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discussed. prime the pump and get your writing to flow again,

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go back to your idea notebook and choose something to write

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about. story ideas are everywhere, but they are easily

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forgotten. Capture them in your notebook or digital app at the

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earliest opportunity. Take a picture if possible to remind

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you that oh so fleeting thought because most often that that

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precious Golden Nugget will not return once it is forgotten. The

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question of the week is what is your favorite method of

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brainstorming new story ideas? Leave your answer at writing

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pursuits.com forward slash podcast forward slash 46. And

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that's all I have for today. Until next time, keep writing.

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Thank you for joining us today. If you enjoyed this episode,

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please leave a comment and follow the podcast. If you're

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new around here. I hope you will sign up for the weekly

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newsletter writing pursuits. Tips for authors that link and

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all the links mentioned in today's episode are in the

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shownotes at writing pursuits.com Please join us on

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Wednesdays for new episodes and keep writing my friends. Keep

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