Writing Long

I was talking to a movie producer yesterday who has about eighty films to his credit, and he was telling me some war stories about how producers and directors had destroyed various actors’ careers. In one case, it was totally by accident. A child actor had graduated to his first starring role in his early […]

Writing for Lonely Readers

More than twenty years ago as I was finishing up some of my writing classes, I asked an aging poet named Leslie Norris, “How have the audiences changed in the course of your writing career?” Leslie grew thoughtful and said, “What astonishes me most is just how lonely people have become. People move from town […]

Single-draft Shakespeare

Some authors advocate writing only a single draft of a work, and then moving on. With concentration and training, some writers do learn to do that beautifully, but most never become first-rank authors. The most blatant exception of course was William Shakespeare.

Getting Great “Word of Mouth” Advertising

as authors, all of us want to get great word of mouth advertising. It is easily the least expensive form of advertising—since it costs you nothing—and the most productive form of advertising, since it comes in the form of testimonials from people that you know, and trust, and who are more or less a lot like you.

To Grow or Not to Grow

In literary fiction, it is often said that the characters should merely “change,” not grow. But it is not nearly so enjoyable watching the demise of a protagonist as it is to watch one succeed. Change may intrigue, but growth inspires. Indeed, here’s a key not only to understanding characters, but to understanding people: look at anyone who is feeling anger, depression, or sadness.

What’s the (plot) point?

When we write a story, we are interested in the things that change in a person’s life. So any time that something significant changes, then we have a new “plot point” that we need to put on our plotting chart.

Audio Fatigue

Many times, you’ll find that you must use the same words over and over. For example, if two men are trying to fix a radiator on a truck, you will probably need to say “radiator” several times. 

Exploding the 10,000-hour Myth

How to write emotion

It has always seemed to me that route practice of a craft isn’t enough. You can’t just show up at college and become a brain surgeon. You have to bring a certain amount of passion and discipline with you. You have to analyze your work, make adjustments, and push forward. You can’t be content just to learn from others, you have to try to make your own discoveries.

Turning Inspiration into Habit

Each year several hundred thousand people sit down to write with the goal of composing 50,000 words on a novel. That’s a challenge for a new writer.

Writing Your Series, Part 6

Write a book series

Sometimes, readers fall in love with a writer’s characters. It’s hard to say who the reader falls in love with, actually. Sometimes a character becomes imbued with bits and pieces of an author—the author’s quick sense of humor, his or her sense of honor, or the author’s eloquence.