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Craft. Inspiration. Process.

Show, Don't Tell

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

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

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...
The Lens Through Which You See Your Story

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...
What is the Book Market Looking For

“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 book market’s...
The Courage to be Specific in Writing

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

Character Transformation

A fundamental understanding of transformation is crucial to having anything more than an intellectual relationship to structure. You’ve probably read books on three-act-structure. But it is...
The Desire to Write

The Desire to Write

Whether it is conscious or not, the desire to write is connected to the desire to evolve, to untangle the lie that we have been carrying around about ourselves for a million years. The lie is that we...
Building a Body of Work

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.”...
Juxtaposition

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...
Your Writing Process is Valid

Your Writing Process is Valid

Every writer has their own way of working, a process that has to be developed and honed over many years. Margaret Atwood starts with a rough notion of how the story will develop, “which usually...
Ten Suggestions for Writing

Ten Suggestions for Writing

Below are ten writing suggestions for anyone who is setting out to craft a novel, memoir, or screenplay. Some are obvious, while others are perhaps less so. 1) Write everyday. No matter what. The...
The Protagonist's Experience

The Protagonist’s Experience

Regardless of the medium, your reader is not interested in what your character is feeling. Seriously. In fact, if you tell your reader that Bill felt sad, dejected, elated, euphoric, or glum, your...
Stay Curious

Stay Curious

“The curious are always in some danger. If you are curious, you might never come home.” – Jeanette Winterson When my son was three years old, he was Captain Hook for Halloween. It was...
No Dilemma No Story

No Dilemma, No Story

One thing that has been coming up a lot in my classes is the tendency for writers to “figure out” their plot. This is due, at least in part, to story structure being taught by story analysts as a...
What is My Screenplay About?

What is My Screenplay About?

When we think of our favorite movies, there is invariably an element that is so novel, so surprising, that it ignites our imagination. Think of the character Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs...
Becoming a Professional Writer

Becoming a Professional Writer

The publishing industry has undergone tremendous changes over the years. “Mid-list” writers who relied on decent advances from their publishers have found themselves shut out of the big publishing...
The Creative Process

The Creative Process

When my son, Ray, was first learning to speak, there were so many new words each day — the syntax often fascinating and occasionally perverse. He also had a sophisticated sense of humor. He called his...

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