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Craft. Inspiration. Process.

Sell Your Novel to the Movies

When I did a book tour for my first novel, someone asked, “Have you sold the film rights?” And when I said yes, there was this gasp, like I’d been showered with pixie dust because Hollywood wanted ...

Trust

I grew up in a very bright, academic family, but at times I felt alone. My family members were very logical, reasonable people. I was not. I was more interested in the nature of things and the ...

Writing Memoir: Personal & Universal

The challenge in writing a memoir is that self-examination is not typically meant to be shared. The goal in writing a dynamic memoir lies in offering a transformative experience for our protagonist ...

Weights and Measures

PROXIMITY Do our characters have to be two thousand miles apart, or three miles apart? If we are trying to convey a sense of distance, remember that distance is relative. Let’s say that our ...

Setting Up the Argument

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. These forces manifest as our ...

Hold the Story Loosely

“Film is a dramatized reality and it is the director’s job to make it appear real . . . an audience should not be conscious of technique.”- David Lean HOLD THE STORY LOOSELY Our idea of the story is ...

Simplicity

Forward, he cried From the rear And the front ranks died. Pink Floyd (Us and Them)   We can tell a whole world in a sentence.  The rewrite is where we polish our prose until it gleams.  We ...

Dilemma: The Source of Our Story

At the heart of every story lies a dilemma. It is not a question of whether or not our protagonist has a dilemma, but rather, how effectively it has been explored. By exploring our protagonist’s ...

No Good Guys, No Bad Guys

I think there are times, as a storyteller, that I can be so bull-headed about what I want to express, that I end up pushing an agenda rather than telling a story.  I create “good guys and bad ...

What Happens Next?

“Be curious, not judgmental.” – Walt Whitman   A fatal mistake many writers make in beginning a new story, is allowing themselves to be seduced by their premise. They set about trying to ...

Writing the Forbidden

“Freedom of speech and freedom of expression are so ingrained in our society we rarely stop to think about it. I can write anything I want – dark fiendish plots without fear. I can criticize the, ...

Technique

“Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.”– Martha Graham   Technique develops over time. By reading and writing, we absorb a sense of ...

Backstory

“The past is prologue.” – William Shakespeare When we are stuck, it is inevitably because some part of our backstory is unclear. Backstory refers to what happened before our story ...

Make it Cinematic

A picture paints a thousand words. Since a movie is a story told in pictures, a screenplay is the blueprint from which the director takes his cues. It is not the screenwriter’s job to provide camera ...

Choice

Why do we write? Why do we spend months, years, even decades engaged in the solitary act of creating a world on paper with no assurance than anyone will read it, except perhaps our immediate family, ...

Dialogue

“If you have a good ear for dialogue, you just can’t help thinking about the way people talk. You’re drawn to it. And the obsessive interest in it forces you to develop it. You almost can’t help ...

Opposing Argument

“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 Every story is essentially an argument ...

The Arc of a Scene

“I exhort you also to take part in the great combat, which is the combat of life, and greater than every other earthly conflict.” – Plato   In the rewrite, we seek to make our story as dynamic ...

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HOW TO BUILD A STORY

The 7 Maxims

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