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Craft. Inspiration. Process.

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 ...

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 FBI, ...

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 ...

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, ...

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 as ...

The True Nature of Our Characters

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anais Nin Good writing is a synthesis of ideas and instincts working in concert. Letting ...

Staying Connected to the Source

“To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination.” – Albert Einstein The rewrite uses the left and right brain ...

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 ...

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HOW TO BUILD A STORY

The 7 Maxims

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