before selfies

Before there were selfies, photographers revealed themselves with subtle clues that perhaps even they were unaware of. Examine this photograph, and from the details - tangible and intangible - evoke the photographer. Who is this person on the other side of the lens? What is their relationship with the people in the photograph? How did they come to be the … Continue reading before selfies

choreographing the Aleutian cackling goose

Exposition is risky - and necessary. At it's best exposition provides critical back story, or foreshadowing, it can enhance character development and help to convey place, time, and atmospheric subtleties that are not appropriate for dialogue. Used with patience, pacing and economy, exposition feels 'invisible' to the reader, it enhances story without intruding. A good way … Continue reading choreographing the Aleutian cackling goose

vehicle for change

Select a departure point and destination on a map, then put two people on a bus - chart their geographic progress as they navigate their relationship. How does being in a restricted space limit what they can say? How does the changing scenery propel them into the past? How are they changed by this journey? … Continue reading vehicle for change

insects sting

“Insects sting, not in malice, but because they want to live” Friedrich Nietzsche This is true about some people, making life poignant and circumstances precarious.  photo: Jon Sullivan If you want to render your characters with nuance, you might ask in what way they resemble insects. Complexity can be created in the simplest ways. Writing Prompt: Select an … Continue reading insects sting

origins of belief

Quarrelsome characters make stories interesting and unpredictable. And origin shapes perspective.    photo Steve Hillebrand U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Here is a docked research ship. Create two scientists with distinctive, opposing belief systems, and put them on the ship. Now show them in an interaction that is shaped by the friction between their perspectives. One grew up … Continue reading origins of belief


Every character has a unique world view. For whom is this paradise?  photo: Al Crane, US Fish & Wildlife and this? Writing Prompt: In 50 words each, create two characters, one from each photograph. Then, using a maximum of 200 words, bring them together for the first time as they wait in line at the Department … Continue reading paradise


   Steve Hillebrand U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service There are many ways we can reveal who characters are without 'telling'. How someone lives, how they perceive themselves and others can be manifested in what they call home. Or in what they drive:  Writing Prompt: Who lives here and drives this car? Use the qualities of house … Continue reading reveals

setting character

Create a character through the observation of this setting. Look for aspects and qualities of this photograph that evoke who the person is, how they conduct themselves in their lives, what they desire, what they fear, how they see themselves, how others see them. There are infinite ways to communicate who a character is - we … Continue reading setting character

Stage 1: write write write

There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to write creatively, and every writer ultimately develops an approach that works best for them. What works for one writer may not work for another – and what worked yesterday may not work today.  Writing is personal. It can be lonely and it can alleviate loneliness. It can … Continue reading Stage 1: write write write