blog

Craft. Inspiration. Process.

Humor in Tragedy

If you’re going to write a tragedy, infuse your story with humor. Humor pulls us towards the characters and makes us care. It also ensures that your ending will resonate. Tragedy is not about a death ...

Conflating Characters

Sometimes we’ve written characters that don’t belong in our story because their function is redundant. Conflict might arise that don’t add anything new to the story. In fact, the conflict might ...

Building Sentences

“You become a good writer just as you become a good joiner: by planing down your sentences.”– Anatole France There are no rules that limit the length of a sentence, but when our sentences ...

Own Your Work

Just because you might be a first-time novelist, it doesn’t mean you’re not the authority over your work. No agent, publisher, or film producer knows more about the inner workings of your story than ...

The Great American Novel

Every American writer secretly dreams of writing the “Great American Novel.” What would that look like? It’s a book that captures the zeitgeist, that taps into something intrinsic to our national ...

Our Characters are Malleable

“Nothing changes more constantly than the past; for the past that influences our lives does not consist of what happened, but of what men believe happened.”– P.L. Berger In the rewrite ...

Third Acts are a Bitch: Reframing the Protagonist’s Goal

“Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing true or beautiful makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by ...

How to Become a First-Time Author

The journey to becoming a first-time author is different for everyone. For me, it involved letting go of the idea that I’d ever get published. I know this sounds counter-intuitive. The temptation to ...

How to Write Your First Novel

Writing your first book might actually be fun. I’m serious. I know you’re terrified. It’s a scary thing to do. But, at the risk of sounding like I was raised on a Portland commune, that fear is just ...

Narrative Drive

“The purpose of narrative is to present us with complexity and ambiguity.”— Scott Turow If you’re rewriting and a point in your story feels flat, here are some questions you can ask yourself: 1) What ...

Ten Signs of a Good Writing Instructor

Choosing a writing instructor is a big decision. They are not all created equal. Here are some guidelines and suggestions that may help you in making your decision. 1) Qualifications: Does he have ...

The Dilemma at the Heart of Your Story

“Nothing is more desirable than to be released from an affliction, but nothing is more frightening than to be divested of a crutch.”-James Baldwin OK. We want to write something. We have ...

Writers, The Time is Now

I know writers who have struggled for decades to complete their first novel. They work on their novel for a while, then get distracted, put it in a drawer, fish it out a few years later, work on it ...

Character Suggests Plot

“The beginning of a plot is the prompting of desire.”- Christopher Lehmann-Haupt Our idea of our screenplay, novel, or memoir is never the whole story. As we inquire into the world we often discover ...

First-Time Novelists: Dealing with Fear

Many first-time writers 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 ...

Opportunities in Self-Publishing

  The goal of every first-time novelist or memoirist is to see her book between covers. The paradox is that when we make this goal more important than the story, we tend to find ourselves stuck. ...

Humor Is Not About Writing Funny

Humor connects us. It makes us care. I don’t mean one-liners. Humor is not about jokes, it is about human behavior. It’s a vital aspect of any story, adding depth, richness and humanity. Drama without ...

How to Master Storytelling: Ask the Right Questions

“It is a parable of art that, to be universal, you must be specific. Otherwise, you are just talking about an abstraction. So you have to talk about a particular person and a particular place. ...

free download

HOW TO BUILD A STORY

The 7 Maxims

MENU