A Guide to Critiquing a Story

How should we critique someone’s writing? Frequently authors ask if I have a form that I use to help me critique a story.  Given the large number of things that I look at in a story, any form that I might use would simply be too long to be workable.  Yet it makes sense to […]

Finding Your Theme

In brainstorming a work, you will often find that you want your characters to behave in certain ways.  And as they grow and develop, you may even find that you need to justify why they do what they do.  If you get deep enough into their thought processes, you can almost imagine them arguing with […]

Finding Your Theme

In brainstorming a work, you will often find that you want your characters to behave in certain ways.  And as they grow and develop, you may even find that you need to justify why they do what they do.  If you get deep enough into their thought processes, you can almost imagine them arguing with […]

Writing the Perfect Story, Part 2

Earlier, I talked about one attribute that the perfect story will display—honesty.  You can’t layer a tale with a thin veneer of factoids and give it the verisimilitude that it needs to be a “perfect” story.  Nor can you skimp on your plotting and characterization and hope to arouse a stunning emotional response. Today I […]

Checklist for Writing your Story

When I used to write for competitions, I would make lists of ways that judges might look at my work in order to grade it. For example, some judges might look for an ending that brought them to tears, while another might be more interested in an intellectual feast. A couple of you asked what […]

What’s the Rush?

I see a lot of trends in today’s literature. Perhaps the biggest one is that every writer seems to be in a rush. Many new writers try to keep the pacing blazing hot. They’ve heard that in today’s world, kids are trained to think in “sound bites,” and anything longer than a television commercial bores […]

Aim for Profundity

For some authors, it is enough to try to make big bucks, but most of us would like to deliver a powerful message at times, too—something that carries extra meaning in our lives, something profound. Doctors studying the neuro-science of storytelling go so far as to suggest that a story doesn’t really work unless it […]