Category: Craft

What is contrived conflict

Conflict is the life blood of drama. YA authors gleefully thrive on the tears and broken hearts of their readers. Readers wail and cry and tweet and then come back, hungry for more. But contrived conflict is another matter altogether. It destroys your reader’s trust and dare I even say it has the potential to […]

March 26, 2018 | Posted in Craft, Story Courses
The 4 Worst Words in Any Story

If you watch much tv, you hear these words all the time in almost every series. Some tv shows, you hear them every episode. Writers use them to create conflict. Not just conflict but high stakes. They use them to have a character act out of their nature; to pit allied characters against one another. […]

March 12, 2018 | Posted in Character, Craft, Story Courses
Show Don’t Tell Alternatives

‘Show Don’t Tell’ is one of the most common pieces of writing advice around (followed closely by ‘Kill Your Darlings’ which is daft but that’s another post). The problem with show don’t tell is that it’s unspecific. And also just kind of impossible. Let’s start with the impossible (and I’m going to be very literal […]

August 8, 2016 | Posted in Craft, Story Courses
Kill Your Darling Alternatives

I have always thought, ‘kill your darlings’ was terrible writing advice. I, therefore, mostly just disregarded it. No, let’s be honest. I kind of spitefully worked to prove that they were worth keeping. I wasn’t always correct, which is where a good editor is important. But I still don’t think you should kill your darlings […]

July 4, 2016 | Posted in Craft
the 80 percent rule

I have an 80% rule when writing. It is the supporting caveat to all my other writing rules. You could say, though I call them all rules, that it turns them more into guidelines. Because the 80% rule is that I only follow all my other rules 80% of the time.The thing is, writing is […]

October 22, 2015 | Posted in Craft, Story Courses, Tattered Heart
the key to predictability

I’m reading this book and it’s predictable. Which isn’t awful. The characters are amusing enough and it’s not great, but it’s not bad. But it got me thinking… I’ve also been reading this book a little bit every night before bed. I think I started, I mean really I started a few weeks ago, put […]

February 9, 2015 | Posted in Craft, Story Courses
pantser or plotter

The most popular question for authors these days seems to be “Are you a pantser or a plotter?” If you know me at all you can probably guess I think these are dumb words and would answer neither out of spite. But the actual truth is I write in layers. There’s an old saying, “Write […]

February 16, 2014 | Posted in Craft, Story Courses
the Gore Verbinski conundrum

That’s an unwieldy title but it’s because of his last name and not at all that I just like the word conundrum. Gore Verbinski had an interview years ago, I think in Movieline, long before any of the Pirates movies. He talked about making The Mexican and Mousehunt and he said that if something was […]

December 8, 2013 | Posted in Craft, Tattered Heart
persistent, irrational doubts

I so needed to hear this this morning. I was driving in to work this morning wondering why I’m having such a hard time writing this second book of mine. Why am I resisting something I enjoy doing so much? Am I really even a writer, as I supposed? Was writing the first one just […]

February 6, 2012 | Posted in Craft, Story Courses
How Bad Habits Create Boring Stories

This isn’t really a book entry – but it is a story entry. It’s definitely an interesting point of view on the stories we’re living and, therefore, I think worth remembering and/or discussing. How Bad Habits Create Boring Stories I’ve a friend who helps people plan and organize their lives so they can get greater […]

August 5, 2010 | Posted in Craft, Story Courses