blog

Craft. Inspiration. Process.

Setting Up the Argument

Story is an Argument

(Image from “Big” 1988) 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...
What is My Screenplay About?

What is My Screenplay About?

When we think of our favorite movies, there is invariably an element that is so novel, so surprising, that it ignites our imagination. Think of the character Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs...
Dealing with Fear

First-Time Novelists: Dealing with Fear

Many authors 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 friends...
Hold Your Story Loosely

Hold the Story Loosely

Our idea of the story is never the whole story. The act of writing a novel, memoir, or screenplay is a way of developing a coherent narrative for something that began as a simple idea or image. We are...
What Does it Mean?

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...
Choose Love

Choose Love

In every story, love is the mystery that is always on the table. In the beginning of your story, the question may appear to be a choice between loving and not loving. But perhaps you have already...
Passion

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 Inner Critic

The Inner Critic

“Don’t worry about what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.”– Howard Thurman There’s a difference between...
Hope

Hope

Have you ever seen a dog waiting for their master at a window — their wet nose pressed against the glass, eyes watching the street expectantly for any sign of their beloved guardian? It’s sort of...
12 Maxims of The 90-Day Novel

12 Maxims of The 90-Day Novel

Have you thought about your creative goals for this coming year? If you’re planning to write your novel, here are 12 maxims that will guide you to the end of your first draft in 90 days. 1) When...
Exploring Your Protagonist's Dilemma

Exploring Your Protagonist’s Dilemma

(Image from The Hunger Games, 2012) “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...
The True Nature of Our Characters

Dramatizing Character

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anaïs Nin Good writing is a synthesis of ideas and instincts working in concert. Letting...
There are No Ugly Trees

There are No Ugly Trees

“Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.” – Eleanor Roosevelt People are always talking about how they need to be better, to...
Plot vs Theme

Plot versus Theme

Plot versus 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. Maybe you had a plan, but now the characters have...
Stay Out of the Result

Stay Out of the Result

For any writer, here’s a question to ask yourself: “Why do I want to write this?” A student told me recently that he was writing his first novel in order to sell it for a lot of money. Though I fully...
The Necessity of an Outline

The Necessity of an Outline

“The outline is 95% of the book. Then I sit down to write, and that’s the easy part.” – Jefferey Deaver Many writers resist story structure because they fear it will limit their creativity and...
Certainty

On Certainty in Writing

There is a particular comfort that comes from being certain. We can shut out the world, with all of its noise and confusion. And we rest in the assurance that we are right. Except that certainty...
Humor is Not About Writing Funny

Humor Is Not About Writing Funny

Humor connects us. It makes us care. I don’t mean one-liners. Humor is not about jokes, but it is about human behavior. It’s a vital aspect of any story, adding depth, richness, and humanity. Drama...

unleash your creative potential

Join Alan Watt's newsletter for creative writing ideas and news about upcoming workshops.

MENU