novel & fiction

Passion

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” – Albert Einstein What do you feel passionate about? What is your position on justice, authenticity, self-authority, the need for ...

The Protagonist’s Experience

Regardless of the medium, your reader is not interested in what your character is feeling. Seriously. In fact, if you tell your reader that Bill felt sad, dejected, elated, euphoric, or glum, your ...

Stay Curious

“The curious are always in some danger. If you are curious, you might never come home.” – Jeanette Winterson When my son was three years old, he was Captain Hook for Halloween. It was ...

No Dilemma, No Story

One thing that has been coming up a lot in my classes is the tendency for writers to “figure out” their plot. This is due, at least in part, to story structure being taught by story analysts as a ...

But That’s What Really Happened

“I’ve given my memoirs far more thought than any of my marriages. You can’t divorce a book.“—Gloria Swanson In writing fiction, we inevitably come to that moment lifted directly from ...

12 Maxims of The 90-Day Novel

I hope you’re enjoying your spring. My post today is actually a list I call “12 Maxims of The 90-Day Novel.” These are twelve things to consider while writing your first draft: 1) ...

Becoming a Professional Writer

The publishing industry has undergone tremendous changes over the years. “Mid-list” writers who relied on decent advances from their publishers have found themselves shut out of the big publishing ...

What Does it Mean?

Everyone has a story. It takes courage to tell it, be it memoir or fiction, because there comes a point where we must separate the facts from the truth. The challenge for the storyteller lies in ...

The Creative Process

When my son, Ray, was first learning to speak, there were so many new words each day — the syntax often fascinating and occasionally perverse. He also had a sophisticated sense of humor. He called his ...

Sell Your Novel to the Movies

When I did a book tour for my first novel, someone asked, “Have you sold the film rights?” And when I said yes, there was this gasp, like I’d been showered with pixie dust because Hollywood wanted my ...

Weights and Measures

PROXIMITY Do our characters have to be two thousand miles apart, or three miles apart? If we are trying to convey a sense of distance, remember that distance is relative. Let’s say that our ...

Setting Up the Argument

Story is an argument. The theme (or dramatic question) is the thesis statement, and the story is the argument played out. Any argument requires opposing forces. These forces manifest as our ...

Dilemma: The Source of Our Story

At the heart of every story lies a dilemma. It is not a question of whether or not our protagonist has a dilemma, but rather, how effectively it has been explored. By exploring our protagonist’s ...

No Good Guys, No Bad Guys

I think there are times, as a storyteller, that I can be so bull-headed about what I want to express, that I end up pushing an agenda rather than telling a story.  I create “good guys and bad ...

Writing the Forbidden

“Freedom of speech and freedom of expression are so ingrained in our society we rarely stop to think about it. I can write anything I want – dark fiendish plots without fear. I can criticize the FBI, ...

Backstory

“The past is prologue.” – William Shakespeare When we are stuck, it is inevitably because some part of our backstory is unclear. Backstory refers to what happened before our story ...

Opposing Argument

“The moment we want to believe something, we suddenly see all the arguments for it, and become blind to the arguments against it.” –  George Bernard Shaw Every story is essentially an argument ...

The True Nature of Our Characters

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anais Nin Good writing is a synthesis of ideas and instincts working in concert. Letting ...

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