Creativity is our Birthright

Creativity is our birthright. We live in a culture that is invested in our believing otherwise. I frequently hear folks talk of talent as though it were a finite commodity...

It’s Your Turn

This past Saturday night, my wife was reading House Beautiful when she said, “Al, one of your paintings is in here!” And there (see below) was a large painting I’d...

Show, Don’t Tell

Show, don’t tell—the mantra of every screenwriting teacher. Film is a visual medium in which character is revealed through behavior. As novelists, we are afforded the luxury of exploring the...

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...

What Do I Write Next?

Writers tell me frequently: “I have three ideas. Which one should I write next?” In the 90-day novel workshop, the first exercise we do is we write for five minutes,...

Overcoming Self-Doubt

Feelings Aren’t Facts 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...

“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...

The Courage to be Specific in Writing

We 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...

Character Transformation

A fundamental understanding of transformation is crucial to having anything more than an intellectual relationship to structure. We have all read the books on three-act-structure. By the way, what lasting...

The Desire to Write

We begin flush with excitement, thrilled at the opportunity to express something in a way the world has never known. As we go deeper into the story, the forest grows...