You ARE Creative

Have you ever had this experience?  You come up with an idea for a book or story.  You write a few chapters, get some feedback, maybe write another chapter or two.  Then your entire world comes crashing down.  You discover that someone else has written a book that’s similar to what you have.  It’s not… Read more »

What’s Your Creative Process?

Every writer’s process is different. Some spend ages perfecting each word or sentence in their heads, then sit down and hammer out a draft in no time. Others slap their words down on the page, then reshape those words draft after draft until they look like art rather than a jumbled mess. Some write by… Read more »

Top 10 Website Picks

It’s true. When we’re procrastinating, chances are we are spending most of our time on the web. The good news is that some of the best writers’ resources can be found online, so even when you’re procrastinating no need to worry about wasting time! Next time you have a few minutes in between flurried writing… Read more »

Nine NO’s of Dialogue

There are nine things you should beware of when writing dialogue.  I call these the “Nine NO’s” because they’re things that as a general rule writers should try to avoid.  Notice, though, that these are not the “Nine Nevers” just Nine NO’s.  That means that while you should try to avoid these things, you shouldn’t… Read more »

Demystifying Dialogue: Perfect Your Punctuation

The one grammar problem I see most frequently when I teach creative writing is with dialogue punctuation.  And it’s understandable why this topic leaves many writers mystified.  Dialogue punctuation is confusing.  Is it a comma or a period before the end-quote?  What if you have a question mark or an exclamation point?  Here’s a quick… Read more »

Untraditional Outline Techniques

This past week we’ve been talking about outlines.  On Monday I asked the question: Plotter or Pantser? Where Do You Stand?  That post got me thinking about my own writing process. I’m usually not a seat-of-my-pants writer but I hate traditional outlines.  Something about long lists (I.A, 2.b–it’s all Greek to me) just doesn’t work… Read more »

How to Create a Story Map

One of my favorite ways to outline or plan a story is to map it out like a subway or road map.  Here’s how this technique works. Each road or subway line represents a different story-thread or plot line.  The dots (exits on the highways or subway stops) represent different scenes or moments in the… Read more »

Plotter or Pantser: Where Do You Stand?

Plotter: n. (1) A writer who plots out his or her story in the greatest of detail before starting the draft; (2) a writer obsessed with outlines, index cards and writing apps; (3) a writer who spends most of his or her time organizing the novel then writes it in about ten minutes. Pantser: n…. Read more »

5 Archetypes for Supporting Characters

Before we get to the discussion of character archetypes, I’d like to make a request: please strike the term “secondary character” from your vocabulary.  Not only does it imply that somehow these characters are less important than the protagonist, but the term itself doesn’t tell us much about the role these characters play in the… Read more »

Villains vs. Antagonists

Every story needs a “bad guy,” someone or something that gets in the protagonist’s way and keeps making trouble for him or her.  For instance if my life were a novel, the “bad guy” would be an impossibly cute 3-year-old ginger cat, whose offenses include: “Decorating” the living room with shredded articles of mail Skulking… Read more »