table manners

Some say you can know a great deal about a person by observing their table manners. Here is the children's table, imagine the larger table for adults in the next room. Bring us to a Thanksgiving dinner in which table manners dominate the conversation - and the subtext is driven by one character's belief that Thanksgiving is a time when … Continue reading table manners

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

jumpstart love

Writing a compelling, visceral love scene can be the most daunting of challenges - how many times have you tried, without success, to evoke the eroticism, tension, suspense and thrill of first contact?   The temptation is to make it too obvious, too easy. Or to fall into the trap of 'happily ever after'. We might … Continue reading jumpstart love


   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

behaving badly for good reason

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 behaving badly for good reason

subtxt: omg srsly wym

Subtext – the key to powerful dialogue When people talk, they don’t always say what they mean, they don’t say everything they know, and they don’t know everything they feel.  That’s why god created subtext. Often we empathize with a character more when she fights what she feels than when she expresses it. Strive to … Continue reading subtxt: omg srsly wym