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Craft. Inspiration. Process.

The Dramatic Question, or Theme of the Story

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

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

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 ...
Finding Your Writing Voice

Finding Your Writing Voice

I work with many first-time novelists, and the question of voice always comes up.“Do you think I have a voice?” asks the first-time novelist.“Should it be in a different voice?” he wonders, as if ...
Making Time to Write

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.I t’s simple. Get your writing done first. ...
On Certainty in Writing

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

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

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

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

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 ...
Shedding the Idea for Truth in Writing

Shedding the Idea for Truth in Writing

It’s not just first-time novelists that struggle with getting their story from the imagination to the page. Every writer struggles with this. Here’s the thing: Our idea of our story is never the ...
Writing for Our Ideal Reader

Writing for Our Ideal Reader

Good storytelling is about having at least a somewhat conscious relationship to our ideal reader, and telling the story in the most compelling way possible. It is about understanding the most ...
Writing When You Have Nothing to Lose

Writing When You Have Nothing to Lose

Have you ever experienced great loss? Whether it was a parent, spouse, or friend, the experience pulls you sharply into the present moment. Nothing else matters, not the barking dog, the unpaid, ...
“What do I do when I get stuck in my story?”

“What do I do when I get stuck in my story?”

When writers come to a dead stop there can be a tendency to panic. It’s important to remember that our idea of our story is never the whole story. When we try to figure it out, we tend to dig a ...
Writing Despite Fear of Criticism

Writing Despite Fear of Criticism

Every open heart has an Antagonist When Gustavo Dudamel became the youngest conductor of a major orchestra, an L.A. Time’s journalist urged us not to get too excited about our newest, ...
Overcoming Writer’s Block: Exploring the Dilemma

Overcoming Writer’s Block: Exploring the Dilemma

It’s not just first-time novelists that get stuck. Every writer, except Stephen King, experiences writer’s block. Writer’s block is often an absence of information. The information can be related to ...
Making the Impossible Possible

Making the Impossible Possible

“A problem cannot be solved with the same level of awareness that created it” — Albert Einstein We often have an idea of the direction our story is going, and sometimes we discover ...
Procrastination Masquerading as Research

Procrastination Masquerading as Research

I work with first-time novelists all the time who desperately want to convince me that they can’t begin their first draft until they do more research. Research is important, and it’s also ...

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HOW TO BUILD A STORY

The 7 Maxims