Helen J. Darling

Self Publishing SMART goals for 2020

Who doesn’t love the fresh slate of the new year? Okay, February isn’t quite as fresh and exciting as January, but it’s my first post of the new year, and my mind is still on where I want to go in 2020. Each year in January I take time out to review the year just… Read more »

Short Story

#5onFri: Five Tips for Writing a Great Short Story

Writing a short story always seems so easy until you try to write one. Then, reality sets in. How do you fit in character development? An entire plot? So much to fit and so few words! Because of these constraints, short stories are a great tool to practice writing. Short stories can teach you to… Read more »


Five Ways to Make Our Own Writer Luck

Hey there Word Nerds! We’re sharing this article from the DIY MFA archives today, talking all about making our own luck. Hope you enjoy! In These Happy Golden Years, the eighth Little House book, Ma Ingalls tells Laura that people make their own luck. This is illustrated in the story when Laura is kind to a girl in her… Read more »


Will an Editor Steal My Ideas?

Writing is made to be shared. But too often, people worry about editors, agents, or critique partners stealing their ideas. I hate to break it to you, but this is just an excuse these people are telling themselves to avoid the scary reality of showing their work to the public. Any serious plagiarism in the… Read more »


Mythic Storytelling: An Introduction to the Tarot

For my first Speculations of the new year (and decade) I’m starting a new short series. Periodically, I’ve tackled various mythic structures for storytelling: Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth, Christopher Vogler’s The Hero’s Journey, Maureen Murdock’s The Heroine’s Journey, and Kim Hudson’s The Virgin’s Promise. This time around, I’m exploring the tarot as a mythic storytelling tool…. Read more »


Transformation — Signpost Scene #14 (The Final Signpost!)

At last, we come to the end of my 14-column-series on James Scott Bell’s Signpost Scenes, as depicted in his wonderful book on craft, Super Structure. Signpost Scene #14–Transformation–might be short and subtle, but it’s wildly important for a story’s success. Essentially, the purpose of Transformation is exactly what it sounds like: a scene that… Read more »


#5onFri: Five Practices to Create a Thriving Writing Life

Writing can be intensely rewarding, but each book is also a messy, long-drawn trek.  Here are five practices that may help you to navigate through these journeys: 1) Treat your writing as a job  It is of course your vocation, but if you wait for inspiration from the heavens, you’ll never get anything completed. So:… Read more »