Category: writing fiction

5 reasons why I believe this person will one day get published

One of the members of my writing workshop had a major breakthrough. “She’s writing at a publishable level,” I said (when someone’s work is being critiqued, we discuss it as if she’s not there). Rachel, the workshop leader, nodded and agreed and looked visibly moved: she’s been working with this woman for a while now…

Jan 12, 2010 · 25 Comments / ADD YOURS

conflict, change, loglines and novel ‘hooks': talking about the heart of your story

1 In articles and books on writing fiction, we have a tendency to isolate the elements from each other and talk about them as if they’re independent entities: this is how you make a plot, this is how you build a character, this is what a theme is, these are the different kinds of conflicts,…

Jan 5, 2010 · 16 Comments / ADD YOURS

write hard, write fast

I like how experienced novelist James Scott Bell puts it in his book THE ART OF WAR FOR WRITERS: Write hard, write fast, and the fire of creation will be yours. It reminds me of an exercise Rachel Resnick (LOVE JUNKIE, GO WEST YOUNG F*CKED UP CHICK) had us do in a workshop: “You have…

Dec 13, 2009 · 0 Comments / ADD YOURS

the writer’s show-and-tell: show us what’s important, and tell the freaking story

One of my earliest lessons in “show, don’t tell” — or, as I prefer to think of it, “imply, don’t say straight-out” — came from Stephen King’s novel ‘The Dead Zone’. A salesman walks along a country road and a dog gets in his way. The man kicks the dog. Point made. The guy is…

Nov 24, 2009 · 7 Comments / ADD YOURS

how to figure out your novel ‘hook’, part two

1 In my last blog entry I talked about finding your novel ‘hook’ — the one or two sentence description that strikes at the heart of your story and sells it to the right reader. It’s useful to work this out early because it forces you to hone your sense of the story that you…

Nov 16, 2009 · 8 Comments / ADD YOURS

how to figure out your novel ‘hook’, part one

I’m writing a novel called ‘The Decadents’ and need to figure out the answer to the question people ask when they discover you’re writing a novel (usually after, ‘Are you published?’ and ‘Have I heard of you?’ and sometimes ‘Who is your publisher?’, which is another way of asking, ‘Is it a real publisher?’) They…

Nov 13, 2009 · 8 Comments / ADD YOURS

finding the touchstone for your work-in-progress

I keep thinking of a conversation I once had with a very cool female screenwriter. She’d written a screenplay based on the life of Zelda Fitzgerald — Natalie Portman was interested in playing Zelda — and went on to say that an important part of her writing process was finding the story’s central image. In…

Nov 6, 2009 · 6 Comments / ADD YOURS

FORM VS FORMULA: the question every writer needs to ask, and why

1 I heard Kevin Rose give a speech to a crowd of young entrepreneurs about developing a successful website. The nuggets of wisdom Kevin tossed out included a story about this really cool guy on his development team who would say, whenever they were discussing a plan that excited them: “Okay. What can we take…

Nov 2, 2009 · 9 Comments / ADD YOURS

FAILURE IS GOOD FOR YOU: how practice novels helped me get published

Fear of failure is a bitch. It’s like the bitch god or bitch goddess – depending on your preferred visualization – holding sway over so many of us. We learn young – especially in this culture – that people can be either winners or losers, and to be a loser – to Fail – is…

Oct 25, 2009 · 26 Comments / ADD YOURS

reading is the inhale, writing is the exhale: developing writer’s intuition

1 Reading came first. It always does. Reading is the inhale, writing is the exhale. I once read somewhere that kids who like to read fall into two groups. The first naturally picks up reading from their environment: they see their parents reading, they find books in the house, they go to libraries and bookstores…

Oct 20, 2009 · 21 Comments / ADD YOURS
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