#5onFri: Five Tips for Processing a Negative Critique

The most hurtful critique I ever received came from a well-meaning uncle who, after reading my first published novel, spent an hour on the phone picking it apart. The first thing I did after hanging up was to yell a few choice words I can’t repeat here. Unfortunately, as soon as I finished yelling I… Read more »

Tips and Techniques for Training Your Writing Brain

Writing is fraught. You worry about your imagination. You worry about your writing ability. You descend into navel gazing. “Is my writing engaging enough? Are my ideas interesting enough to hold a reader’s interest? Does my idea have enough substance to be a poem, short story, novel?” It all starts to spin out of control…. Read more »

Three Major Roles of Minor Characters

Every character in a story is important, even minor ones. Actually, especially minor ones. When written well, they advance plot and/or develop a major character. If they’re not, well…we’ll get to that later. But first, I’d like to discuss three simple ways minor characters make a story. Pay close attention, and you might learn the… Read more »

A Deep Dive Into the Hero’s Journey

The Hero’s Journey is everywhere in writing craft circles. Steven Pressfield and his editor Shawn Coyne use it. Donald Maass refers to it. It’s mentioned in the Writing Excuses and The Writing Files podcasts. DIY MFA instigator Gabriela Pereira talks about it and some of the character archetypes derived from it in her book and… Read more »

Five Lessons I Learned Writing My First Middle Grade Novel

For the longest time, I only considered myself a contemporary young adult writer. I’d fallen in love with realistic teen stories, and I thought I’d found my writing niche. Last year, with three completed YA manuscripts under my belt, I started brainstorming my next idea. I decided to share my outline and first couple of… Read more »

Developing Themes In Your Stories, Part 12: The Setting

We’ve already talked about how characters, plot, and conflict are frequent sources of literary themes. But one building block of storytelling that we haven’t covered yet is setting. It’s as important as the other three “blocks,” using location, time period, and other elements to play a pivotal role in the external conflict and the protagonist’s… Read more »

#5onFri: Five Habits to Keep Your Writing Fresh

Like many writers, I write because I can’t imagine not doing it—not because I always love writing. Some days, I decidedly don’t love it. Sometimes I have to write even when I’m not inspired (that’s what it means to have a career rather than a hobby). So I’ve developed techniques to keep my butt in… Read more »