Category: writing fiction

how to put heart & soul into your story structure

There are few things more intellectually beautiful, to me, than a well-crafted story structure. To quote Hannibal from the 80’s show THE A-TEAM – not exactly a literary figure, I know, but bear with me – “I love it when a plan comes together.” When you can’t put the book down. When different storythreads weave…

Nov 29, 2010 · 10 Comments / ADD YOURS

the key element that every good scene needs (or: how to change the game in your novel)

A good scene requires a turning point. A turning point happens on two different levels, and like a figure skater planning two quad jumps in his Olympic performance, it’s important to nail each one. (Okay, that figure skater reference probably a bit gratuitous. I just wanted an excuse to use that photo of Kurt Browning….

Sep 7, 2010 · 4 Comments / ADD YOURS

7 ways to navigate the middle of your novel (and maybe your life)

I’m in the muck and murk of my novel, otherwise known as “the middle”. The middle is a difficult place. It’s hard to sustain tension. It’s easy to get lost. And I got lost – which manifests itself, for me, in writer’s block, like a big hand rising out of my subconscious to smack me…

Aug 24, 2010 · 11 Comments / ADD YOURS

email (and advice) to a young aspiring writer

Okay, as far as blog posts go this is a bit of a cheat. This is from an email I wrote a few months ago to a charming sixth grader who emailed me and asked for writing advice. I found this a very interesting assignment, and gave it some thought (see me in the photo,…

Jul 23, 2010 · 13 Comments / ADD YOURS

how to think more creatively and come up with better ideas

1 There’s a show I like to watch when I’m on the treadmill called A WORK OF ART. In the same vein as TOP CHEF or PROJECT RUNWAY, it’s about a group of artists who complete an assignment each week. Their works are put on display and critiqued by the judges. One of them is…

Jul 20, 2010 · 30 Comments / ADD YOURS

5 ways to put more ‘soul’ into your writing

What does it mean to write with ‘soul’? ‘Soulful’ gets defined as the “expression of profound emotion”.  But it’s not enough to express it: you need to invoke it in the reader. Fiction – and some forms of nonfiction – require that you put the reader through a well-crafted emotional experience. You can also define…

Jun 29, 2010 · 25 Comments / ADD YOURS

plot is a process, and how to work it

1 There’s something beautiful about plot. Yet plot seems to be a four-letter word, associated with generic or formulaic fiction. But if there isn’t any plot, there isn’t any story (no matter how creatively it’s been constructed), and story is why we read (or at least most of us). Plot gives the juice and forward…

Apr 13, 2010 · 12 Comments / ADD YOURS

the dirty secret truth about talent — and how to grow it

1 A writing teacher told me that although it’s easy for her to recognize the students with “talent”, she’s learned that it’s impossible to predict who will develop and succeed as a writer and who will not (the “talented ones”, she said, “tend to disappear and you never hear from them again”). She told me…

Mar 17, 2010 · 41 Comments / ADD YOURS

5 ways to use minor characters to add depth and complexity to your protagonist

1. You can use different characters to bring out aspects of the protagonist you want to emphasize to the reader. Minor characters who have been involved with the protagonist for a long time are carriers of their own history with and memories of the protagonist. Minor characters can reference the past in handy ways that…

Mar 13, 2010 · 6 Comments / ADD YOURS

the mysterious art that keeps your reader glued to every page

Few people know the ins and outs of fiction — and have a knack for explaining them — so well as uberagent Donald Maass. In his book “The Fire in Fiction” he dedicates a chapter to what he calls microtension. A writer who masters the art of microtension keeps a reader glued to every page….

Mar 7, 2010 · 22 Comments / ADD YOURS
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