#5onFri: Five Essentials for Every Scene

Scenes are the building blocks that comprise a longer work. For novels, a scene become a sequence, which turn into acts, which build subplots, which come together to create the global story. Stories are about change. So, something must change from the beginning to the end. Robert McKee calls this the value shift. For example, in… Read more »

The Science in Your Science Fiction: Conventional Space Travel

If you’re writing near-future science fiction involving space travel, along the lines of Andy Weir’s The Martian, or alternate history science fiction, like Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Calculating Stars, you’re going to find your space travel limited to what we can currently achieve. When NASA, or a similar space organization, launches a rocket loaded with… Read more »

A Case Study on Love as a Literary Theme

Love may very well be the most profound emotion we’ll ever experience. Whether platonic or romantic, fleeting or lifelong, love has the power to nurture meaningful relationships, shatter our hearts, teach important lessons, and change lives forever. So it’s no wonder that love is one of the most frequently delved-into themes in literature. It defies… Read more »

#5onFri: Five Ways to Reinvigorate Your Writing

There’s not a lot of advice out there for mid-career writers. Once you’ve finished your first book or story, the expectation is that you now have a process that works for you and can be repeated. And yet, invariably, new problems arise. Maybe the idea for your second novel came in a different shape than… Read more »

Epic Book Club Round-Up — Part 3

Holy guacamole, word nerds, it has been such an incredible few weeks! The Facebook group has been hopping with all the discussion threads and comments. Personally, I’ve had a blast getting to know so many word nerds and having a window into your creative process. This book club has been so much fun, and it… Read more »

How To Write About the Body in Creative Nonfiction

Do you remember the old advice you heard from writing teachers or craft books: make all five senses—taste, touch, sound, sight, and smell—part of the scene? It may not seem like it, but this advice invites you to write about the body in such a way that your readers feel physically present in the prose…. Read more »

Epic Book Club Round-Up — Part 2

Hey hey word nerds! I’m back with another round up of DIY MFA Book Club prompts. Just in time, too, because the month-long challenge will be wrapping up soon! Join us in the Facebook group for a celebration and collective happy dance on Monday. Before we dive into the round-up, I have to take a… Read more »

Ask the Editor: An Introduction

If anyone asks who started this, I blame Cheryl Strayed. I read her book Tiny Beautiful Things recently, and loved the straightforward approach she has to giving advice for the “Dear Sugar” column on The Rumpus. Cheryl opened space for people to ask their burning questions, the ones they were too ashamed to share even… Read more »

How to Write an Exciting First Chapter

Although lots of writers tend to fear the muddling through the middle, first chapters (and beginnings in general) can be just as daunting. You might find yourself asking, “Where do I start? What is the best part of my story to use as my first chapter?” You’re not alone in this internal debate. In fact,… Read more »

Writing Romance, Even on a Bad Day

Writing happily-ever-after (HEA) is great a lot of the time. It’s comforting optimism in a world often full of difficult and sad things. Writing about love can boost a dreary day. But what about the days when you just can’t? What about the days where life feels so heavy that getting words about someone else’s… Read more »