novel & fiction

Humor in Tragedy

If you’re going to write a tragedy, infuse your story with humor. Humor pulls us towards the characters and makes us care. It also ensures that your ending will resonate. Tragedy is not about a death ...

Conflating Characters

Sometimes we’ve written characters that don’t belong in our story because their function is redundant. Conflict might arise that don’t add anything new to the story. In fact, the conflict might ...

The Great American Novel

Every American writer secretly dreams of writing the “Great American Novel.” What would that look like? It’s a book that captures the zeitgeist, that taps into something intrinsic to our national ...

Third Acts are a Bitch: Reframing the Protagonist’s Goal

“Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing true or beautiful makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by ...

How to Become a First-Time Author

The journey to becoming a first-time author is different for everyone. For me, it involved letting go of the idea that I’d ever get published. I know this sounds counter-intuitive. The temptation to ...

How to Write Your First Novel

Writing your first book might actually be fun. I’m serious. I know you’re terrified. It’s a scary thing to do. But, at the risk of sounding like I was raised on a Portland commune, that fear is just ...

The Dilemma at the Heart of Your Story

“Nothing is more desirable than to be released from an affliction, but nothing is more frightening than to be divested of a crutch.”-James Baldwin OK. We want to write something. We have ...

Character Suggests Plot

“The beginning of a plot is the prompting of desire.”- Christopher Lehmann-Haupt Our idea of our screenplay, novel, or memoir is never the whole story. As we inquire into the world we often discover ...

First-Time Novelists: Dealing with Fear

Many first-time writers share a similar fear: “What will people think?” It looks slightly different for each writer. What will my parents think when they find out I have these thoughts? What will my ...

Opportunities in Self-Publishing

  The goal of every first-time novelist or memoirist is to see her book between covers. The paradox is that when we make this goal more important than the story, we tend to find ourselves stuck. ...

Humor Is Not About Writing Funny

Humor connects us. It makes us care. I don’t mean one-liners. Humor is not about jokes, it is about human behavior. It’s a vital aspect of any story, adding depth, richness and humanity. Drama without ...

How to Master Storytelling: Ask the Right Questions

“It is a parable of art that, to be universal, you must be specific. Otherwise, you are just talking about an abstraction. So you have to talk about a particular person and a particular place. ...

The Internet: A Writer’s Worst Distraction

Sometimes the deeper we get into our story, the more we seek distraction. The internet will suck the life out of any writer. It will turn the most disciplined among us into bug-eyed addicts. Not only ...

The Dramatic Question, or Theme of the Story

Shakespearean plays begin with the chorus telling us what we are about to see. They don’t tell us the whole plot but rather provide a context for the events that are about to follow. That is the ...

Plot vs. Theme

Any writer can experience that moment where you suddenly realize that your “idea” of the story isn’t going to get you to the end. This moment is initially devastating and then, hopefully, liberating ...

Writing the Reluctant Hero

“My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.”- Ernest Hemingway No one likes change. The unknown is scary. The end of Act One involves our protagonist ...

Overcoming Writer’s Block: Exploring the Dilemma

It’s not just first-time writers that get stuck. Every writer, except Stephen King, experiences writer’s block. Writer’s block is often an absence of information. The information can be related to ...

What is My Title?

Those scant few words on the cover of our book or screenplay can be the most labor-intensive work of our entire manuscript. Coming up with a good title can be a bitch. We may have a working title, a ...

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