COACHING QUESTIONS TO KEEP YOU ON COURSE

When I was nineteen I started a business with a partner and we called it “Hat Trick Hats”. We wanted to be portable. We sold our hand-stitched leather creations on the sidewalks of Santa Barbara and on the Wharf and Union Square in San Francisco. We wanted to be free to make our own designs and decisions and we accomplished both. We needed to make a living and sometimes we actually ended the month with a financial surplus! Of course that money was quickly spent to replenish our supplies to make more hats. Our goal was never to get rich—and …

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The Loose Novelist

This advice from Alan Watt’s wise how-two, THE 90-DAY NOVEL: “I didn’t try to figure out the ending, but rather, imagined a sense of my hero at the end of the story. How was he relating differently to his father? What had he come to understand as a result of his journey? How was the dilemma resolved? What was the visual metaphor, the image that captured the essence of my story at the end? As I pondered these questions, ideas came to me, and I realized that they were a goldmine of images for what preceded the ending. Imagining our …

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Life of Fiction

From Kenneth Atchity’s A WRITER’S TIME: Fiction isn’t identical with reality. Instead, dramatic fiction gives the impression of reality. Aristotle described it as an “imitation” of action. In many ways we prefer the imitation to reality. Fiction has a definable shape, a satisfying closure. When you read a good book or see a good play, you walk away with a feeling of having experienced something definite, something conclusive. Unfortunately, life itself doesn’t often provide such a well-rounded feeling. We go to the theater or the bookstore to find fictions that are philosophically, morally, or dramatically more meaningful than those we …

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Fiction, the Mind, and Ghosts

“So far we’ve looked at two places where you can put the character emotion you’ve stripped out of your dialogue mechanics–into the dialogue itself and into the language of your descriptions written from an intimate point of view. A third place is interior monologue. Movies and television may be influencing writers to write more visually, using immediate scenes with specific points of view to put their stories across. But fiction can always accomplish something that visual media will never be able to touch.” From Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King In other words: The fiction writer …

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Of All the Stupid Things

As my friend, writer Alexandra Diaz, celebrates the publication of her wonderful debut novel, Of All the Stupid Things, she also shares some advice and thoughts about the writing life. *What advice do you have to writers? If writing is what you really want to do then keep at it, and keep at it some more. All artists encounter people who tell them that they will never make it, but you’re the only one who can make that decision. *What do you think was the most crucial move you made in your writing life that pushed you toward publication? Whether …

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Shunning the Muse

I’m writing on a deadline these days and, consequently, I’m short on time to blog. However, I do have time to share some of my favorite quotes from incredible writers, editors, and teachers. This one from A Writer’s Time by Kenneth Atchity: “I haven’t mentioned the Muse, the mythic word for “inspiration.” She is the last person you want to depend on. Professional writers generally speak of her with a mixture of affection and tolerance: Discipline, not the Muse, results in productivity. If you write only when she beckons, your writing is not yours at all. If you write according …

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December’s Writing Child…and more

More musings as the Solstice draws near… 9) Know that Creatives need company, we need our creative community, those who will support us on our journey. 10) Understand that books are written in drafts, often three. 11) Embrace the mess of your first draft. This is special, this is the mud and mess of first creation. 12) Invite your constructive critic to join the writing/revising process only after you have completed your messy first draft. 13) Understand that your book may take one year or more to complete. 14) Build a strong foundation to support you so you can write …

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December’s Writing Child…more

More miscellaneous, so-not profound musings on writing: 4) If you are constantly doubting your work, ask yourself if you trust your own creative process. If the answer is anything but yes, add “TRUST” to your daily mantra. 5) You need a safe–some call it sacred–space to write, where you are free from interruptions and intrusion. That safe place might be your office, your car, the nearest library or cafe. If you write on a computer, you need to know others will not be reading your stories before you are ready to share. 6) You need psychic privacy to write–a sense …

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Advice on Writing a Bestseller–Beware Info-Dump

When I work with writers, often the hardest news I have to deliver about their manuscript is “Cut, cut, cut, cut the info-dump.” That’s the term some people in the biz use to describe the excessive use of backstory/exposition. You know it when you see it–paragraphs or pages of information delivered passively to the reader. Information served up on a paper plate. Information that dulls the reader out of the dynamic narrative now. When I say it’s difficult to tell writers they have to cut backstory that’s because they’ve usually spent hours, days, weeks getting those sections just right. They …

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