blog

Craft. Inspiration. Process.

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 ...

The Lens Through Which You See Your Story

“I find that when I am working I become like an antenna, and suddenly everything relates to my screenplay: a mentioned recipe, a joke somebody tells, a billboard that I see. It all becomes grist for ...

Ignorance is Bliss

I wrote the first draft of my first novel in just under 90 days. I’d been writing stand-up and screenplays for years, but very little prose. I had a strong sense of story, and a pretty clear ...

Your Truest Self

As you write each day, you discover your own process. You begin to see there is no “right way” to create and that your objective is simply to let the story live. The first draft is a near constant ...

Asking “Why?”

“Don’t approach your history for its cautionary fruit . . . Tell your stories, and your story will be revealed . . . Don’t be afraid of appearing angry, small-minded, obtuse, mean, immoral, amoral, ...

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 you’ve explored it. By exploring your protagonist ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 behavior reveals character. Novelists and memoirists have the luxury of exploring the internal lives of ...

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

Humans 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 ...

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 ...

free download

HOW TO BUILD A STORY

The 7 Maxims

MENU