Identifying the exact story goal sometimes feels like herding cats. (Sorry, cats, it’s just a phrase, I’ll never overstep.) There’s so much going on in our imaginations — so many motivations, difficulties, supporting characters with their own individual goals, mysteries, magic, and transformations, that at times all this creativity seems like more of a hindrance […]Read More Your Story Goal. Writing Tips, Day 5
“True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure – the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character’s essential nature.” ― Robert McKee, Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting Consider a number of things that are wrong in a protagonist’s life at the […]Read More Character Development Made a Little Easier. Writing Tips, Day 4.
Even at the start of a new tale, it’s worth thinking about the next five stories in your body of work. “Yes, the story I am writing exists, written in absolutely perfect fashion, some place, in the air. All I must do is find it, and copy it.” Jules Renard. Talk about your cool self-confidence, […]Read More Your Future, Five Stories. Writing Tips, Day 3.
Sometimes the end of the book seems so far off that we start to feel that fashions will have changed and technology moved on to a still more distant generation before we’re likely to finish it. The End is Closer Than You Think Still, objects in the rearview mirror, and all that. The end is […]Read More This is the End. Writing Tips, Day 1.
Dunnett’s brilliant, swashbuckling novel Race of Scorpions turns about the 15th Century dynastic war in Cyprus. Her page 1 structure is flawless. Page 1. Building Worlds, Time and Place. Dunnet is wise not to drop us into Cyprus immediately. Her Italian hero Niccolo is never easy in his allegiances, and his machinations will be so clever and […]Read More The Renaissance Rocks. Writing Tips, Day 2.
There’s never been a better time to live a full-time writer’s life along with a full-time working and personal life. Addressing key points in manuscripts during non-drafting time is one way to manage it. Digging Deep via Brainstorming For example, your Act 2 or, as Campbell and Vogler* call it, the “Belly of the Beast” section, […]Read More Fitting a Writing Career Into a Full-time Life. Writing Time, Part 100.
Writing is a demanding profession. That’s partly why we chose it. And, as with all exacting professions, the learning process continues forever. It’s About Process It’s been years since we realized that becoming a writer is not about arriving someplace. We never stop becoming writers. We try our craft, inspiration, and imagination against those of our […]Read More Friday Reflections. Writing Time, Part 99.
Sometimes we go a bit crazy with the work, and for a while it’s fine. We’re in final edits for one project, another is in development, and a third is at 30,000 words. And then, without warning, the cliffs of story loom above and descend below. It all seems too much. We think, maybe there’s […]Read More Averting Writers’ Vertigo. Writing Time, Part 98.
Everything changes in this world of writing and publishing. The truth remains: there’s never been a better time to write and publish. We’re told the opposite, of course, but if you drive your time machine back thirty years or eighty years, you’ll hear the same old discouraging comments. I’m convinced that could one accompany Louisa […]Read More There’s Never Been a Better Time. Writing Time, Part 97.
I’m reading novel submissions these days, and reflecting upon the question of excellence in writing. In the best work, writers are building upon structural understandings and storytelling gifts (I see how GRR Martin sets up his huge cast of characters in triangles.) developing central and supporting characters that are true to themselves (as with Robert […]Read More On Excellence in Writing. Writing Time, Part 96.