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Craft. Inspiration. Process.

Take Risks

Writing your first novel is sort of like, well . . . there’s a first time for everything. It’s scary and exciting, and you’re not quite sure if you’re doing it right. Here’s something to remember in ...

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 ...

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 ...

Conventional Wisdom

If you’re not at least a little scared writing your first novel, you’re probably nuts. Every writing project involves surrendering what we thought we knew. It’s a humbling process. The thing about ...

Banishing Redundancies

redundant: 1 a: exceeding what is necessary or normal : superfluous b : characterized by or containing an excess; specif : using more words than necessary. Redundancy is not only a sign of lazy ...

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) ...

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 ...

Writing Tip: Ignore Conventional Wisdom

Many of you 90-day novelists are writing your first novel. If you’re not at least a little scared, you’re probably nuts. Every writing project involves surrendering what we thought we knew. It’s a ...

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. ...

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 ...

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HOW TO BUILD A STORY

The 7 Maxims