Here’s a fun game—spot the theme, as stated in the first half of the first act of the novel or film, usually by a supporting character or similar. One of my favourites was the moment in Spectre when Moneypenny, on the phone with Bond, tells James she can’t help him just then because she has […]Read More Writing Tip 7. Running with the Theme.
Some movie titles resonate over the decades, with just a single word: Greed, 1924 Superman, 1978 Heist, 2001 Memento, 2000 Charade, 1963 One Great Word I’ve been reading Michael Connelly’s The Crossing. I admire the way he joins the inner and outer conflicts in the single word, crossing. The outer problem is finding the point […]Read More The One Word Tip. Writing Tips, Day 6.
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.
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.
I don’t want to call it “writer’s block.” I don’t even believe in “writer’s block.” What I do believe in is our work ethic, and how we writers are often too hard on ourselves. After all, we work to our own rhythms, and hear others say, “I don’t know how you manage to write. I’d never […]Read More The Sweet Dog Days of Writing. Writing Time, Part 92
One of our greatest statesmen has said that a change of work is the best rest. So it is. -Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four The summer doldrums bring with them some excellent thinking time. Schedules change up in these months, and sometimes ideas for projects shake loose at the same time. As […]Read More Change, Rest, and Revival. Writing Time, Part 88
If you’re revising an older novel in the midst of present-day writing projects, the process of chunking it down can be a lifeline to a busy writer. Here’s one way to begin it. Chunk 1. Mull it Over. This is the easiest bit, and also the hardest, because I want to read my old ms… […]Read More Writing Time, Part 84. Revising That Beloved Older Manuscript, Practical Tips, Part 1