novel & fiction

Make it Dramatic

Make it Dramatic

“Drama is life with the dull bits cut out.” – Alfred Hitchcock Story moves as the result of complications that arise, not out of plot, but out of character and theme. As our protagonist attempts...
Everything You Need to Know is Within

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 a...
Act One - Maintaining Tension

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

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

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 help...
Shedding the Idea for Truth in Writing

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

Writing for Your Ideal Reader

Good storytelling is about having at least a somewhat conscious relationship to your ideal reader. It is about understanding the most effective order of events. Hold the story loosely, and be willing...
Writing Act Three

Writing Act Three: Our Hero Accepts the Reality of Their 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...
Writing Despite Fear of Criticism

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, counseling us...
Finding Your Writing Voice

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 different...
The Real Meaning of Write What You Know

The Real Meaning of “Write What You Know”

Write what you know. We’ve heard this so often. But what does it mean? Does it mean that if I am a mechanic then I should only write about mechanics? Or if I am a woman, I can only write about women?...
Writing Prose

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 ways...
Is It Any Good?

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. Is it really any good? I have a friend, a successful Century City lawyer, let’s...
Exploring the Dilemma

Exploring the Dilemma

At the heart of every story lies a dilemma. It is not a question of whether or not your protagonist has a dilemma, but rather, how effectively you’ve explored it. By exploring your protagonist’s...
Story Structure as an Experiential Model

Story Structure as an Experiential Model

There is a structure to the universe. From the smallest atom to the forces that move the planets, there is a universal law. We live in a state of surrendered acceptance to it (whether consciously or...
Show, Don't Tell

Show, Don’t Tell

Show, don’t tell—the mantra of every screenwriting teacher. Film is a visual medium in which behavior reveals character. Novelists and memoirists have the luxury of exploring the internal lives of our...
Story Structure

Story Structure

Story structure is often taught by story analysts as plot, but it is really the DNA of our protagonist’s internal journey to transformation. Without a sense of a beginning, middle and ending, you are...
Overcoming Self-Doubt

Overcoming Self-Doubt

I used to be amazed at the madness of my mind. One day, I think my writing is brilliant, and the next I’m cringing with embarrassment. It’s difficult to have objectivity when we’re in the middle of...

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