Latest Posts

  • Your character is driven by 3 emotional motives. See?

    March 27, 2020 by

    Mood: The immediate (and temporary) emotions of your character. A feeling of joy after kissing the girl they like; frustration after a busy day working a summer job at the fair; despair after somebody eats the last Oreo. Situation: The plot and relationship contexts of your character. The apprehension they feel with a friend in the weeks… Read more

  • COVID-19: A Writer’s Guide to Self-Care

    March 20, 2020 by

    These are challenging times. The coronavirus (COVID-19) has turned into a global pandemic. Our schools, restaurants, and cities are shutting down. Many of us are self-isolating. And you’d think, with all this time alone, we’d finally be able to get some writing done. But it hasn’t been easy, has it? In fact, it’s been harder… Read more

  • Creating character arcs with Joyce’s epiphany

    March 13, 2020 by

    The year is 1905, and the scene is a Dublin bazaar, just after nightfall. The large hall is cast in shadows. Most of the vendors are closed — the silence broken only by murmured voices, the clatter and scrape of coins being counted on a tray, and the footsteps of a boy, walking through the… Read more

  • 5 frustrating workshop rules that made me a better writer

    March 1, 2020 by

    Throughout the 15 workshops I joined in college and grad school, I encountered two types of writing rules. First, there were the best-practice guidelines we’ve all heard, like “show don’t tell.” And then there were workshop rules, which the professor put in place not because they’re universal, but because they help you grow within the… Read more

  • The Habit of Art: How to write better stories, more consistently

    February 21, 2020 by

    “Art is the habit of the artist.” – Flannery O’Connor In 1955, Flannery O’Connor wrote a short story called “Good Country People,” which is often remembered in lit classes as the story where a Bible salesman steals a woman’s wooden leg. Many consider it to be among O’Connor’s greatest works, and yet… She wrote it… Read more

  • Never mow the same grass twice: Improving faster as a writer

    February 16, 2020 by

    One of the most important writing lessons I ever learned came, surprisingly, from my college trumpet instructor. “Michael,” he’d say with a heavy sigh, pulling off his glasses and rubbing the lenses with the bottom of his shirt. “You know I hate to mow the same grass twice.” It was a phrase he used a lot, in… Read more

  • Describing your Character: The Power of a Single Detail

    December 28, 2019 by

    Alexander has red hair and hazel eyes. His cheeks are fuzzy with stubble. He wears a button-down shirt, with the sleeves rolled up to his forearms. On his wrist is a watch. These details build a picture in your mind of a man named Alexander. But what they don’t do is make him feel like… Read more

  • How to improve the flow of your writing

    December 21, 2019 by

    When writing a story, your prose can often feel jumbled. Muddled. Disconnected. Like it just doesn’t flow. And for a long time, I never knew a clear, tangible tactic for fixing that problem, except by feel or by trial and error. Then I learned a simple, but effective trick for improving flow: Go from the known… Read more

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