blog

Craft. Inspiration. Process.

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 or novel is never the whole story. As we inquire into the world we often discover that we ...

Act One: Maintaining Tension

“A writer writes not because he is educated but because he is driven by the need to communicate. Behind the need to communicate is the need to share. Behind the need to share is the need to be ...

First-Time Novelists: Dealing with Fear

Many first-time novelists 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 ...

Opportunities in Self-Publishing

  The goal of every first-time novelist 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.   The good ...

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 ...

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. ...

The Internet: A Writer’s Worst Distraction

Sometimes the deeper we get into our story, the more we seek distraction. The internet will suck the life out of any writer. It will turn the most disciplined among us into bug-eyed addicts. Not ...

The Dramatic Question, or Theme of the Story

Shakespearean plays begin with the chorus telling us what we are about to see. They don’t tell us the whole plot but rather provide a context for the events that are about to follow. That is the ...

Plot vs. Theme

Any writer can experience that moment where you suddenly realize that your “idea” of the story isn’t going to get you to the end. This moment is initially devastating and then, hopefully, liberating ...

Writing the Reluctant Hero

“My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.”- Ernest Hemingway No one likes change. The unknown is scary. The end of Act One involves our protagonist ...

Making Time to Write

We’re all busy. We have day jobs, families, therapists, and Facebook. If you’re writing your first novel, you’re probably wondering how other writers do it. It’s simple. Get your writing done first. ...

On Certainty in Writing

There is a particular comfort that comes from being certain. We can shut out the world, all of the noise and confusion and rest in the assurance that we are right. Except that certainty rarely ...

Real Life in Fiction

Writers often use experiences from their real lives in their work. It’s important for the writer to understand the “nature” of the experience, rather than his idea of what happened. Writers can have ...

The Rewrite: Expanding and Contracting

Interviewer: How much rewriting do you do Hemingway: It depends. I rewrote the ending of Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, thirty-nine times before I was satisfied. Interviewer: Was there some ...

Writing Tip – How to Show and Tell

“Action is eloquence.” – William Shakespeare If we find ourselves editorializing, that is telling or explaining what is happening in our story . . . it’s “OK” . . . however, ...

Writing a Bestseller

Did Stephen King set out to write a bestseller when he wrote his first novel Carrie? Apparently his wife found the first few chapters in the trash and convinced him to keep going. Did Norman Mailer ...

free download

HOW TO BUILD A STORY

The 7 Maxims