Why Is the Theme of Family Important?

Family has long been a cornerstone of humanity, regardless of time period, location, and culture. This is also true in the stories we read and write, as we discussed in this DIY MFA case study. However, what makes family such an important literary theme? Why do stories that focus on family sometimes lift our spirits… Read more »

Research as Real Life

Research: for some people, the word itself is enough to send chills up the spine. It brings back memories of term papers and case studies . . . of long hours pouring over mostly boring academic treatises and note cards . . . of bibliographies and footnotes and the dreaded decision about when to use… Read more »

#5onFri: Five Ways to Express Character Emotion

Reading is an exercise in empathy. When we read an effective story, we identify with its main characters and mirror their emotions. Indeed, the best stories get us to experience the events being portrayed. Studies have even shown that when readers encounter well-told stories, there’s cortex activity in their brains; that is, the areas of… Read more »

Ten Rules for Writing Killer Romance: Part One

Hi, I’m Tammy Lough, and I’m thrilled to be talking romance with you. Over my next three articles, we’re going to go over ten rules to help you craft a killer romance. Plant the soles of your Jimmy Choo’s on the floor and wiggle your backside. Let’s do the “Happy Dance.” Why? Keep this on… Read more »

#5onFri: Five Ways to Create Conflict Within Your Reader

The man-versus-X distinctions we were taught in school are pretty useless. In my experience, at least, knowing that an individual might struggle against nature or man or self or society does little to help me craft gripping scenes. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying conflict isn’t important. It’s absolutely essential. But giving broad labels… Read more »

Short Forms: No Stepping Stone

I have done my beloved short forms an injustice. And I’ve led you, my readers, to believe that poems, short stories, and novellas are simply stops on the way to the writing world’s holy grail: novels. This column, Writing Small, is an exploration into this near-mystical thing called writing. My aim is to plumb others’… Read more »