Home » Archive by category "Craft of Writing"

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Atmosphere and Stranger Things!

Several of you probably saw Stranger Things a year ago, but I just saw the first episode. The homage to the 1980s is lovely, but the artistic expression in the unified vision of the writing and directing is captivating. The Duffer brothers, who previously worked with M. Night Shyamalan on Wayward Pines, excel at building […]

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The Magic of Scrivener Finally Comes to iOS!

Somehow it slipped by me this past July: Scrivener finally arrived in the App Store for iPads and iPhones after years of our waiting. Now we can take the magic of Scrivener with us on any of our Apple devices! The potential is truly exciting. Since I just got my copy, though, I can only […]

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Goodreads and Camp NaNoWriMo: Resources for Authors

There are many social-media resources for authors today, and many authors eventually waste untold hours trying to promote their books through these channels. Although Facebook and Twitter can be helpful in some ways (I have made connections with several other authors there), I have found that they are not all that useful in building a […]

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Writing Lessons (3.2): Conflict in Colony’s Pilot

To help explain the elements of CHANGE mentioned in my last post, I thought it would be helpful to analyze a movie or television episode. I just recently watched the premiere of Carlton Cuse and Ryan Condal’s Colony and felt that it did an excellent job of hitting the seven points. There are several spoilers, so […]

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Writing Lessons (3): Conflict, the Essential Ingredient!

The last writing lessons focused on reader expectations (genre conventions) and the four basic narrative elements (plot, character, setting, and point of view). Several popular books about making your novel or screenplay a commercial success (including those by Robert McKee, Scott Meredith, Steven Pressfield, Shawn Coyne, and many others) like to focus on plot–arguing that readers […]

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Author Interview (Video)

On January 6, Boo Sheppard and I sat down for an interview about the release of Wolf Code. Boo is a talented interviewer, actress, director, producer, and author. For nineteen years she interviewed a host of people (such as Danny Glover, Ossie Davis, and Mary Lou Retton) for the television show Orangeburg Inside/Out, including such […]

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How Robert Redford Influenced Wolf Code (And Jim and Jamie Dutcher Too)

So where did you get the idea for your book? Authors hear this question frequently. It is a good conversation starter because it asks the writer to punctuate the highlights in the long journey to bring the story to the readers. Though some novelists can crank out books in several weeks, most of us spend months […]

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How Martin Luther King Saved Uhura: The ‘Escapist’ Power of Stories

I recently watched the documentary Trek Nation and learned Nichelle Nichols considered leaving Star Trek after the first season. During this pivotal time, she met Martin Luther King, Jr. and learned he and his wife numbered Star Trek among the very few shows they let their children watch. When he learned she was planning to leave the show, […]

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Writing Lessons (2): The Building Blocks of Stories

At least since Aristotle, writers and critics have identified four building blocks that storytellers use to spin their tales: plot, character, setting (atmosphere), and tone (point of view). Stories are a (1) series of events that happen to (2) someone in a (3) particular place as told by a (4) specific narrator. We learn these categories […]

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How To Find the Perfect Writing App: An Idiosyncratic Quest from Typewriter to Scrivener

Now that I’m in the production stage with Wolf Code, I finally took a moment to re-evaluate my “workflow,” as a number of writers call the process by which we fashion words into stories. I’m not talking about the creative side to writing, but the physical side. Thirty plus years ago, a writer would answer this […]

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Writing Lessons (1): Expectations

Back after a summer break. I’ve been reviewing story-construction advice from writers, editors, and agents: Steven Pressfield, Shawn Coyne, Scott Meredith, and others. For my benefit, and hopefully for yours as well, I am processing and blending their advice into my own lists I hope to unpack in future entries. As Aristotle reminds us, stories […]

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Is Writing More about Planning or Discovering?

“When you write, do you spend more time planning out the details of your story or discovering them as you are swept along in the process?” Readers often ask writers this question, and writers, out of curiosity, often ask it of each other. As you can imagine, there are a myriad of answers, for each […]

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Returning to Writing after a Long Break

This week I returned to my novel after a hiatus of almost four months. That is certainly not as long as the infamous break in Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain took from 1876 to 1880, but it was enough to make getting back into the project a challenge for me. I have found the writing life to […]

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Three Writing Lessons from Breaking Bad

Since Breaking Bad this week swept the 2014 Emmy Awards, it seems to be a good time for me to highlight three narrative techniques the show’s writers and directors exploited well. (There are, of course, many points where the show excelled, and I wish I had done an episode-by-episode analysis when I first watched the […]

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How To Write a Sad Scene

Today I got to a point in my novel where there is a funeral and an emotional reunion between my two leads, who have been emotionally estranged from each other for several months (and a few chapters). Quite a lot rests on this scene, and it happens also to be the saddest exchange in the […]

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Writing Is Immersion!

We are all babies in the water…. As I’ve been wrestling with myself to get words in my computer to finish my novel, and as I’ve been reading comments from fellow writers on Twitter, I’ve been reflecting on this game of fiction writing. I’ve noted how other writers are having difficulty “focusing” and still others […]

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Anyone Can Write!

Pixar’s animated movie Ratatouille tosses around the slogan, “Anyone can cook!” The story dramatically plays with this slogan, putting a rat inside one of the most prestigious restaurants in Paris. For our quick reflection, I would like to modify the slogan so that it says, “Anyone can write!” Certainly many people feel that way. If we […]