Over two days I met with more than twenty people face to face for 15 minute critique sessions. Now you may think: what can you possibly determine about a person’s writing in 15 minutes? The truth is: a lot. In my decade of teaching writing I’ve learned that most of us show our bad habits in the first paragraphs, if not pages, of our work. Most of the time that’s because they’re unknown to us, they’re second-nature. We haven’t unlearned them.
Most common habit I still see? The one that urged me to write Make a Scene eight years ago? Telling your story instead of using strong scenes to let your characters demonstrate your story.
This doesn’t make you a bad writer, by the way, so don’t run away.
You “tell” or “narrate” or “lecture” often because you’re still telling yourself the story
You do it because you haven’t yet figured out the dramatic action or the character’s motivation
You tell because sometimes just getting writing down at all is the only way you can move forward
There are a hundred reasons, all of them understandable.
But your writing will not transform until you learn how to wield the simple, beautiful, elegant scene. And once you do, you will never write the same way again. You’ll wonder how you lived without it. It’s so simple, and so transformative that I will forever be its champion, out blowing my horn to writers around the world.
Learn to write scenes, and you’ll never go back.
My “master class” on scenes: Scene Stealer, adapted from, but going way beyond my book Make a Scene, is back. It begins November 4th. Earlybird discount good through October 15. Join me! Change your writing.