#5onFri: Five Powerful Strategies to Build Writer’s Grit

The process of creative writing is a wonderful feeling. There’s the indescribable sense of flow when the words pour out oh-so-effortlessly, there’s that stroke of brilliance when a plot twist strikes out of nowhere, the feeling of creating something no one else has before. Every one of those feelings is motivating and rewarding and necessary… Read more »

Using a Siege Mentality to Write That Book

Writing a novel is a romance. Writing a novel is also a war. Thirteen years ago I was driving home with my beautiful new bride Becky on our way to, what would be our first home in Abilene, when I decided to mention the fact that I was going to change careers. “I think I want… Read more »

Plumbing the Depths of Fairy Tales: Baba Yaga

Fairy tales are a rich source of story ideas. A writer could retell a fairy tale straight, or with a fair amount of creative license to make the story a contemporary one. Some aspects of a fairy tale could be taken individually or in combination as inspiration for a story, or pieces of various fairy… Read more »

A Case Study on Isolation as a Literary Theme

Have you ever been isolated from others? You might be tempted to say “yes” if you’ve sequestered yourself during an illness or retreated to a favorite place to focus on writing or meditation. Isolation, however, isn’t the same as seclusion or solitude. It’s a state of aloneness in which you truly feel cut off from… Read more »

How To Set And Track Goals For a Creative Nonfiction Writing Career

Besides actually doing the writing, I’ve found that the hardest part of forging a writing career is making goals. There are more opportunities now then there have ever been: you can submit to literary magazines, pitch to editors at almost any publication, apply for writing residencies, and, if the opportunity presents itself, go to graduate… Read more »

#5onFri: Five Grammar Mistakes Writers Should Avoid

What’s the fastest way to lose your readers’ trust and interest? Sprinkle your text with grammar mistakes: mess with subject-verb agreement, write only in fragments or run-ons, add apostrophes where they don’t belong, and for good measure, get creative with spelling. If, however, you want to maintain credibility, you’ll need to mop up grammar errors… Read more »

Ask the Editor: Character Motive

Dear Editor, I am revising my first novel, which is also the first novel in a speculative historical fiction trilogy. It has been a great joy, and I’m working on book two, so I feel pretty confident that I want to move this thing forward and that it’s worth the effort of revising. I’m having… Read more »

Signpost Scenes – The Disturbance

Okay, readers, today (and the next fourteen articles) I’m going to try something different. If you’ve read my articles before, you might remember one about outlining. In it, I mention James Scott Bell’s (JSB) idea on signposting scenes, which fuses the processes of outliners and non-outliners together—genius! Well, I’ve got even greater news. While reading… Read more »

#5onFri: Five Reasons It’s Time to Call In An Editor

So, you’ve written a novel. You’ve put in the time and effort. The many years. Sweat, and certainly tears. But, what now? How do you turn that mess of words into a workable story that people actually want to read? Not that I’m saying the work you’ve slaved over is a mess, but to paraphrase… Read more »

Rise to New Challenges the DIY MFA Way

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one becomes a master.”—Ernest Hemingway Writers are, by nature, dreamers. We dream about finishing a book. Then we dream about getting an agent. A book deal. Hitting the New York Times list. On and on and on. But here’s the thing: each one of these dreams,… Read more »