#5onFri: Five Things I Learned Writing for Hollywood

I started my writing career as a news producer at MSNBC but decided to throw away a perfectly good career in journalism for a shot at Hollywood glory. After moving to L.A., I got my foot in the door by working on a bunch of network TV dramas as the Writers’ Assistant. So I picked… Read more »


#5onFri: Five Steps to Take Before You Begin Writing

I used to think writing only counted as writing if I had a document open and was adding to the official word count. But over the last few years, my writing process has deepened to include the important creative work that happens before I ever open a document. I like to think it has enriched… Read more »

historical fiction maps

Historical Settings: Finding Clues in Maps

My last column addressed how we writers of historical fiction see a modern setting and then imagine our way backward to how it might have looked at the time of our story and what events might have happened in that place. Now let’s focus on the place itself. There’s no substitute for actually visiting the… Read more »

The Secret Importance of Readability

The importance of readability in a novel is an exhaustive conversation, but a necessary one for writers wanting to sell books. Word processing and editing programs offer a wide variety of grade level and reading ease scales to determine who might be able to read and understand your work. Some writers analyze this closely while… Read more »

creating engaging characters

#5onFri: Five Tips for Creating Engaging Characters

We love, hate, and cry over fictional characters. They can be our best friends, first loves, and most inspiring mentors. So how can we, as writers, make sure our stories are populated by characters readers care about? It’s not enough to have so-so characters, and we definitely don’t want them to be flat or boring…. Read more »

A Deep Dive into Short Forms: Playwriting

My next few articles will act as a deep dive into specific short form works. We’ll examine a piece from each short form and look into its inner workings to find the path to success in our own short form pieces. I confess that I don’t regularly read plays. I’m not a theater maven. And… Read more »

Lights Out: James Scott Bell’s Signpost Scene #11

Hi writing warriors, and welcome back to studying and understanding James Scott Bell’s genius breakdown of a plot’s 14 signpost scenes (as discussed in his craft book Super Structure)!  If you recall from my last month’s column—featuring Signpost Scene #10, Mounting Forces—we’ve forged forward into the last act of the story. In other words, it’s… Read more »

story inspiration from Finnish Myths

Mythic Storytelling Inspiration: The Women of the Kalevala

In the article before last, I shared the tale of one of the lesser-known Irish mythic figures, Tlachtga. This time around I’m delving into my Finnish heritage for some mythic inspiration. The Kalevala is the national epic poem of Finland, compiled and edited by scholar Elias Lönnrot in its final form in 1849. Professionally, Lönnrot… Read more »