rise above cliche

There are some characters you are likely to enjoy more in fiction than you would in life. These are the dysfunctional characters who make stories interesting by behaving badly for good reason. As the writer of these characters it is your job to understand, even if they cannot, why they do what they do.  One … Continue reading rise above cliche

it’s like this

A metaphor is an implied comparison between two things that are unlike each other but have something in common. When used with restraint, metaphor is a way of conveying depth and complexity without ‘telling’ your reader what to think. “Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space” Orson Scott Card … Continue reading it’s like this

dynamics of plot

Plot is dynamic. It has purpose, meaning and motion - cast your ideas in terms of something happening, people talking and behaving. Thoughts and emotions become the engine of plot when they trigger actions that cause significant consequences that impact outcome. Make the struggle worth witnessing.  Compelling story is founded on effective, strongly felt conflict where opposing … Continue reading dynamics of plot

your first draft in one year

A typical novel is 80,000 words–100,000 words. There are 365 days in a year So if you wanted to write an 80,000 word novel in one year, you would need to schedule 220 words/day. That’s roughly one double-spaced 12font page. Or 100,000 word novel would be 274 words/day, less than 2 pages. Of course, you’d … Continue reading your first draft in one year

our inner apocalypse

Creative writing is a way to externalize our fears and heartbreaks, our inner apocalypse – and it can satisfy longing, ease sorrow, relieve pain, release stress. This is true for fiction, as much as for creative nonfiction. Think about this: Stress isolates when we most need connection. Creative writing helps, try it. Writing prompt: take … Continue reading our inner apocalypse

make it personal

If you want your reader to care, you must be genuine. Write the truth and don’t hide behind abstractions. Take risks. Scrutinize your life. Be fearless about revealing what is truly there. Then, use restraint. Find a measure of distance from your experience, be disciplined with your edits. The personal essay is not private but … Continue reading make it personal


Cli-fi is an emerging literary genre, dedicated to imagining the consequences of a disrupted ecology. Like Speculative Fiction, it is based on what could happen if… Two examples of Speculative Fiction, with elements of Cli-Fi, at its best: Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood The Road, by Cormac McCarthy The characters in these books are … Continue reading Cli-Fi

what matters

Avoid the obvious - there are certain things readers already know – for example, that death causes grief. Though it is true, and truly sad, it is also predictable. Find the surprise in it, the unexpected moment that felt the opposite of what you thought it would. When writing about something momentous, think small. Focus … Continue reading what matters

good edits make good writing

Editing is an essential part of the creative process - it is just as important to know what to leave out of your story as it is to know what to put in. Take out anything that doesn’t enhance character, advance plot, intensify experience or illuminate critical backstory. Elmore Leonard said: “I try to leave … Continue reading good edits make good writing