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Craft. Inspiration. Process.

The Real Meaning of “Write What You Know”

Write what you know. We’ve heard this so often. But what does it mean? Does it mean that if I am a mechanic then I should only write about mechanics? Or if I am a woman, I can only write about women? ...

The Purpose of the Outline

Whether consciously or not, every writer is in search of a process. The outline is an often misunderstood element in the creative process. Some writers eschew it completely, considering it to limit ...

Discovering Your Writing Process

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

Writing Prose

“Prose is architecture, not interior design.” – Ernest Hemingway Our words are in service to our story. When we get too flashy with our adjectives, we may distract and even confuse our reader in ways ...

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 ...

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’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. We live in a state of surrendered acceptance to it (whether consciously or ...

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 our ...

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 are ...

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 ...

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 work.” ...

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. So sometimes we need to mix things up and get a little ...

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HOW TO BUILD A STORY

The 7 Maxims

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