For writers like me, fall is the real “new year.” Cooler weather and darker days drives me to my desk, to my writing. But it’s also when I crack open writing books, sign up for classes and take back in the fuel that helps me do my job well. Give yourself a writer’s “touch-up” this October. Three 1 week mini-classes for just $49 each, or if you REGISTER before September 20th, you can have all three for just $129. Method Writing. 1 week. Self-paced. October 5 through 9, 2009. $49. REGISTER before September 20th for all 3 for just $129! Some of the most widely acclaimed actors from Sean Penn to Robert Deniro use an acting strategy that is said to have “revolutionized” … Read More
Guest Blog by Tanya Egan Gibson I’ve never been a picture-person–one of those folks who whips out the camera just in time to capture baby’s first step or a butterfly alighting on a puppy’s nose. On vacations, I miss the sea lion/dolphin/whale breaching the surface and end up with photos of water, water, water. Yesterday at Six Flags my camera’s battery expired before I could get a shot of my daughter touching an elephant’s trunk. (Apparently you’re supposed to charge the battery every once in a while?) When I do manage to extract a working camera from the depths of my purse, I’m likely to decapitate my subjects or backlight them so excessively that they seem walking shadows. And yet, … Read More
I’ve had the good fortune to professionally edit writers’ manuscripts (as a freelance editor) for the last seven years, and have judged several writing contests, sifting through on the order of hundreds of essays or book-length manuscripts (so please don’t begrudge me such a long first sentence). Though I’d never deign to suggest I see as many ms’s as an agent’s slush pile, I’ve gotten quite an education in the school of “implausibility”—or topics/ideas that every writer should seek to omit or reconsider before pursuing an agent. Yes, fiction is a license to make things up, but there’s a line! Violence and Gore (not Al). Recently I edited a manuscript that involved obscene, gory sex between unfeeling “clones.” Though the … Read More
The first week of Fiction’s Magic Ingredient is underway. I don’t know yet how my students are feeling, but I’m enjoying reading their work, and eavesdropping on their discussion via the class message board. I always get energized by talk of craft; it’s why I really should be a perpetual student. I can never get enough learning. Even in the act of teaching I learn. Maybe more so, in fact. Here are some discussion topic questions we’ve been mulling over: What are your stumbling blocks as a writer? What skills do you covet (that you don’t feel you possess?) Session II, which is full, begins August 30th. I’m contemplating a session III since I’ve had so much interest. If you … Read More
You can’t let go. You have not taken control. Just admit it. There is at least one, but likely several themes you simply have not exorcised from your writing that trip you up. If not a theme, I’ll bet it’s a character, an image or a setting that you can’t shake. Though I’m a fiction writer, I am sure this applies to non-fiction writers and poets too. “Every artist is undoubtedly pursuing his truth. If he is a great artist, each work brings him nearer to it, or at least, swings still closer toward this center, this buried sun where everything must one day burn.” While I’m in agreement with Albert Camus’ point above, I’m pretty sure that mediocre and just plain … Read More
Don’t you get a little tired of the drudgery part of seeking publication? All that sifting, sorting, posting, mailing and then the waiting… Want to have a little fun in the process of seeking publication? Then join me and Rebecca Lawton, authors of the book Write Free: Attracting the Creative Life for our monthly self-paced “Playshops.” Playshop One’s theme is “Playing toward Publication.” The playshops take place each month. Next one begins April 6, 2009. For 20 days of the month you receive inspiring quotes and words, write free prompts, craft exercises and a weekly message to juice your creative energy up and engage in new publishing strategies. Sign up at: www.writefree.us/bookstore.html .
Today I offer a writing exercise: In my book Make A Scene I offer the following “ingredients” that most good scenes require: -Characters (who are complex and layered) -A consistent Point of View (the “lens” through which information is filtered) -Action (significant and plot worthy) -New Plot information (that advances your story forward and fills in clues) -Conflict and drama that tests your characters -A rich, physical setting -Spare amount of narrative summary So, here’s a challenge for you. Grab a scene out of anything you’ve written. It should be at least a couple pages in length. Now, using the ingredients list, go through and label the parts of your scene. See if anything is missing and if it might … Read More
I’ve edited hundreds of manuscripts by now, and the aggregate number of writers who come to me write just like I used to, by intuition–which is to say they have an internalized sense of what makes a story or novel work and run from there. Ater the story has been birthed they seek feedback and THEN discover what craft elements they still have to beef up on or have missed altogether. I actually think this is a wonderful method of writing. These writers press on without the critic or the censor stopping their flow, doing what some of the most diligent writers never do: get a first draft down in a reasonable amount of time. However, the problem with this method, if you can call … Read More