Tom Lutz

#5onFri: Five Ways Famous Writers Coped With Failure

When I first moved to Los Angeles I watched a close friend, an actor, go out on audition after audition, only to be told, over and over, that was great but we’re going in a different direction. He had a fair amount of success—but I was fascinated by the regularity of failure that was part… Read more »

Brenda Joyce Patterson

Deep Dive into Short Forms: Libretti

Throughout my Deep Dive series, I’ve talked about things I know. I’ve examined essays, novellas/novelettes, flash, poetry, and more. All the short form literature I not only read but also wrote or attempted to write. However, this particular form, libretti, is something I’ve never attempted.  At DIY MFA, my fellow writers and I write in… Read more »

Helen J. Darling

Self Publishing SMART goals for 2020

Who doesn’t love the fresh slate of the new year? Okay, February isn’t quite as fresh and exciting as January, but it’s my first post of the new year, and my mind is still on where I want to go in 2020. Each year in January I take time out to review the year just… Read more »

Short Story

#5onFri: Five Tips for Writing a Great Short Story

Writing a short story always seems so easy until you try to write one. Then, reality sets in. How do you fit in character development? An entire plot? So much to fit and so few words! Because of these constraints, short stories are a great tool to practice writing. Short stories can teach you to… Read more »


Will an Editor Steal My Ideas?

Writing is made to be shared. But too often, people worry about editors, agents, or critique partners stealing their ideas. I hate to break it to you, but this is just an excuse these people are telling themselves to avoid the scary reality of showing their work to the public. Any serious plagiarism in the… Read more »


Mythic Storytelling: An Introduction to the Tarot

For my first Speculations of the new year (and decade) I’m starting a new short series. Periodically, I’ve tackled various mythic structures for storytelling: Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth, Christopher Vogler’s The Hero’s Journey, Maureen Murdock’s The Heroine’s Journey, and Kim Hudson’s The Virgin’s Promise. This time around, I’m exploring the tarot as a mythic storytelling tool…. Read more »


Transformation — Signpost Scene #14 (The Final Signpost!)

At last, we come to the end of my 14-column-series on James Scott Bell’s Signpost Scenes, as depicted in his wonderful book on craft, Super Structure. Signpost Scene #14–Transformation–might be short and subtle, but it’s wildly important for a story’s success. Essentially, the purpose of Transformation is exactly what it sounds like: a scene that… Read more »


#5onFri: Five Practices to Create a Thriving Writing Life

Writing can be intensely rewarding, but each book is also a messy, long-drawn trek.  Here are five practices that may help you to navigate through these journeys: 1) Treat your writing as a job  It is of course your vocation, but if you wait for inspiration from the heavens, you’ll never get anything completed. So:… Read more »


Employing the “Chopped” Philosophy in Creative Nonfiction Writing

“Chefs, please open your baskets.” With those words, the competition on Chopped, my favorite Food Network show, where four chefs compete against each other in elimination-style appetizer, entree, and dessert rounds, begins  At the start of each round the chefs open baskets containing four ingredients that must be used in the dish—unusual ingredients such as… Read more »