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Craft. Inspiration. Process.

Why Writers Should Embrace Doubt

Doubt exists in each of us much of the time. We are unsure about our futures, our relationships, our new tile in the bathroom, our car insurance, etc. Doubt is the cradle of conflict, both internal ...

Make it Dramatic

“Drama is life with the dull bits cut out.” – Alfred Hitchcock The movement of a story happens as the result of complications that arise, not out of plot, but out of character and theme. As ...

Everything You Need to Know is Within

“If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act.” – Billy Wilder The purpose of story is to reveal a transformation. This shift in perception means ...

Act One: Maintaining Tension

“A writer writes not because he is educated but because he is driven by the need to communicate. Behind the need to communicate is the need to share. Behind the need to share is the need to be ...

The End of the Story Informs the Beginning

In Steven Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he states: “Begin with the end in mind.” For first-time writers, this is helpful advice. But let’s clarify. When we talk about “the ...

3 Secrets for Getting Started On Writing Your First Novel

Every writer struggles with getting the story from imagination to the page. The first-time novelist confronts the special challenge of having never done this before. Here are three quick tips to ...

Shedding the Idea for Truth in Writing

It’s not just first-time novelists or screenwriters that struggle with getting their story from the imagination to the page. Every writer struggles with this. Here’s the thing: Our idea of our story ...

Writing for Our Ideal Reader

Good storytelling is about having at least a somewhat conscious relationship to our ideal reader, and telling the story in the most compelling way possible. It is about understanding the most ...

Writing Act Three: Our Hero Accepts the Reality of His Situation

It can be frightening and exhilarating to realize that our story is bigger than we are, that in fact, it does not “belong” to us, that we are simply a channel. In Act Three of our story, our hero ...

“What do I do when I get stuck in my story?”

When writers come to a dead stop there can be a tendency to panic. It’s important to remember that our idea of our story is never the whole story. When we try to figure it out, we tend to dig a ...

Writing Despite Fear of Criticism

  In 2017, Gustavo Dudamel became the youngest conductor of a major orchestra of his time. I remember an L.A. Times journalist urged us not to get too excited about our newest conductor, ...

Finding Your Writing Voice

I work with many first-time novelists, screenwriters, and memoirists, and the question of voice always comes up. “Do you think I have a voice?” asks the first-time writer. “Should it be in a ...

Trusting the Unconscious

If you’re a first-time writer, and you’ve yet to complete a manuscript, you may have had the experience of writing something, and getting stuck halfway through. Our idea of our story is rarely the ...

The Real Meaning of “Write What You Know”

Write what you know. We’ve heard this so often. What does it mean? Does it mean that if I am a mechanic I should only write about mechanics? Or if I am a woman I can only write about women? No, of ...

The Purpose of the Outline

Whether consciously or not, every writer is in search of a process. The outline is an often misunderstood element in the creative process. Some writers eschew it completely, considering it to limit ...

Discovering Your Writing Process

As we write each day we discover our own process. We begin to see there is no “right way” to create and that our objective is simply to let the story live. The first draft is a near constant state ...

Writing Prose

“Prose is architecture, not interior design.” – Ernest Hemingway Our words are in service to our story. When we get too flashy with our adjectives, we may distract and even confuse our reader in ...

Is It Any Good?

There can be a real desire, especially for the novice writer, to have someone validate our work as soon as possible, even to tell us if we are, in fact, a writer. I have a friend, a successful ...

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HOW TO BUILD A STORY

The 7 Maxims