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Craft. Inspiration. Process.

Facebook is Not Your Friend

Not only is the Internet a storehouse of valuable information, and social media a way to stay connected to your friends and loved ones . . . it’s also a time-sucking vortex bent on destroying ...

Myths that Prevent You from Writing

There are myths that prevent you from not only completing your novel or memoir, but keep you from even getting started. Some of these myths are concocted by the world out there, and some are vague ...

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 it has been explored. By exploring your protagonist’s ...

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 that we live (whether consciously or not) in a state of surrendered ...

Why Writers Get Stuck

Einstein says, “You cannot solve a problem at the same level of consciousness that created the problem.” Writers often get stuck because they believe it’s their job to figure out a solution to their ...

Creativity is our Birthright

Creativity is our birthright. We live in a culture that is invested in our believing otherwise. I frequently hear folks talk of talent as though it were a finite commodity that one either possessed ...

It’s Your Turn

This past Saturday night, my wife was reading House Beautiful when she said, “Al, one of your paintings is in here!” And there (see below) was a large painting I’d done about twelve years ago, ...

Show, Don’t Tell

Show, don’t tell—the mantra of every screenwriting teacher. Film is a visual medium in which character is revealed through behavior. Novelists and memoirists are afforded the luxury of exploring the ...

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 ...

What Do I Write Next?

Writers tell me frequently: “I have three ideas. Which one should I write next?” In the 90-day novel workshop, the first exercise we do is we write for five minutes, beginning with: & ...

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 ...

“What is the Book Market Looking For?”

“What does the market want?” I hear this question frequently from first-time novelists, as if there’s some secret, as if their job is to figure it out, so that they can fulfill the marketplace’s ...

The Courage to be Specific in Writing

We are full of paradoxes. We only love to the extent that we hate. We are constantly changing our minds, constantly renegotiating with ourselves and others. To be specific is to be curious about the ...

Character Transformation

A fundamental understanding of transformation is crucial to having anything more than an intellectual relationship to structure. We have all read the books on three-act-structure. By the way, what ...

The Desire to Write

We begin flush with excitement, thrilled at the opportunity to express something in a way the world has never known. As we go deeper into the story, the forest grows thick with ghosts from our past. ...

Building a Body of Work

I remember one day over twenty years ago when I was bellyaching to a friend of mine about how nobody was buying my work. He looked me dead in the eye. “What’s your job?” he asked. “To sell my.” “ ...

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 ...

Juxtaposition

The rewrite process can sometimes lead us into a rut. Our attempts to make our work as clear and specific as possible can begin to feel routine. Sometimes we need to mix things up and get a little ...

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HOW TO BUILD A STORY

The 7 Maxims