The Power of Writing a Book Proposal for Yourself

The first time I heard memoir teacher Marion Roach Smith say, “Memoir is not about you,” I thought, Wait … what? Of course my memoir is about me! This probably won’t be a shocker: Marion was right and I was wrong. She goes on to teach us, in her evergreen book, The Memoir Project: A… Read more »

The Difference Between Topic and Theme

“How is topic different from theme?” This question bubbled up while I was working on my previous Theme: A Story’s Soul post. Even though I briefly explained the difference between those two terms in that article, I realized the question deserved greater exploration. Then, as I began researching this subject (no pun intended!), I discovered… Read more »


#5onFri: Five Things I Learned Writing for Hollywood

I started my writing career as a news producer at MSNBC but decided to throw away a perfectly good career in journalism for a shot at Hollywood glory. After moving to L.A., I got my foot in the door by working on a bunch of network TV dramas as the Writers’ Assistant. So I picked… Read more »


#5onFri: Five Steps to Take Before You Begin Writing

I used to think writing only counted as writing if I had a document open and was adding to the official word count. But over the last few years, my writing process has deepened to include the important creative work that happens before I ever open a document. I like to think it has enriched… Read more »

historical fiction maps

Historical Settings: Finding Clues in Maps

My last column addressed how we writers of historical fiction see a modern setting and then imagine our way backward to how it might have looked at the time of our story and what events might have happened in that place. Now let’s focus on the place itself. There’s no substitute for actually visiting the… Read more »

The Secret Importance of Readability

The importance of readability in a novel is an exhaustive conversation, but a necessary one for writers wanting to sell books. Word processing and editing programs offer a wide variety of grade level and reading ease scales to determine who might be able to read and understand your work. Some writers analyze this closely while… Read more »

creating engaging characters

#5onFri: Five Tips for Creating Engaging Characters

We love, hate, and cry over fictional characters. They can be our best friends, first loves, and most inspiring mentors. So how can we, as writers, make sure our stories are populated by characters readers care about? It’s not enough to have so-so characters, and we definitely don’t want them to be flat or boring…. Read more »

A Deep Dive into Short Forms: Playwriting

My next few articles will act as a deep dive into specific short form works. We’ll examine a piece from each short form and look into its inner workings to find the path to success in our own short form pieces. I confess that I don’t regularly read plays. I’m not a theater maven. And… Read more »