The Memorable Character Line-Up

A writer friend trying his hand at fiction recently asked, “…since my protagonist is a woman, what traits might both men and women find appealing in her?” My first response: Whether readers are male, female, gay, straight, transgender or some combo thereof, almost everyone is drawn to someone who passionately and actively yearns for something we consider meaningful. The person on the page who truly catches our attention, emotion and heart is the character who shows desire, yearning, drive and who takes all steps possible to achieve their desire, no matter if the pursuit is misguided, and no matter the …

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The Ultimate (Narrative) Climax

An eloquent and elegant statement by French writer Anatole France of what happens to the hero at the climactic turning point of the most profound narratives, those books we love and those stories that have the power to transform us: “All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” 

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How To Focus and Hone Your Ideas Without Taming Them: 10 Easy-Peasy Strategies to Get to the Heart of the Book(Story, Essay, Blog) You Want to Write

If you’re one of those people who ask how, when, where writers get their ideas, it might be hard for you to imagine the need to get a handle on Idea Overwhelm. But when it comes to generating ideas, many Creatives struggle with too much, too many, too fast! The ability to sift, hone and focus ideas and material is crucial to every writer’s success. Here are 10 ways to begin to get a handle on your wealth of creative material: Go for your hot spot! Write your passion! Life is too short to choose tepid subjects. You will only end …

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GOOD BOOKS: SECRET DOORWAYS TO WIMSY AND WONDER–a Mac Barnett TED talk

Janus, the ancient Roman god of beginnings and endings, thresholds, doorways and gates, is most often depicted as a two-faced guy because he is looking to the future and the past simultaneously. With those thresholds, gateways and passages in mind, take a moment in the present to listen to Mac Barnett’s delightful, funny and provocative TED talk. You might just get a whale of an idea!

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My January 2014 post for Algonquin Redux on “How Dilemma is Vital for Storytellers”

I was recently invited to join the Algonquin Redux writers roundtable. This is a terrific site for writers and readers. I will be posting a new essay on the 9th of each month. I’m sharing the link and also encouraging you to browse the archives to find a variety of brief essays by amazing authors. Sharing my Jan 2014 post now on Algonquin Redux

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PARITY: The Other Cat in the Room

It’s Sunday and I’m finishing up two scenes for today’s writing quota. Both these scenes center around two characters. Both scenes share the same viewpoint character. And I will rely on parity to make sure both scenes come to life. In very simple terms for writers of fiction, “parity” means knowing your non-viewpoint character’s desire(s) and goal(s) within the scene as well as you know those of your viewpoint character. If you feel a scene going dead, try parity. Work the scene through the non-viewpoint character’s eyes. Let the non-VP character drive the scene. Your protagonist is only as strong …

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Writers: Pull Up from the Page for the High View and other De-stressing Tips

I’m on deadline for Penguin/Blue Rider Press and the book is due in less than three months. Do I feel the stress? Sure. Even after six previous novels published by the majors? Oh yeah. But there are four things I’ve learned over my years as a pro writer that instantly help to drop my stress meter by notches: 1) Take ten deep breaths. That’s inhale, and, yes, exhale, too.  Honestly, it sounds too reasonable and basic to mention, but when I’m stressing out, I am not breathing. Not smart. Oxygen helps everything. 2) Slow down to speed up. It’s not …

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