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Mystery v. Murky

Mystery v. Murky

As writers, we’re often admonished to establish mystery. The great unknown will keep our readers turning pages, so they say. But this inadvertently leads several beginning writers into a trap—the lack of detail trap. Do not confuse murky for mystery. The difference between mystery and […]

Momentum Part 2

Momentum Part 2

In the same way that you as a writer must practice momentum to remain in the story, so your story must have momentum to propel the reader onward. Fiction, more than anything else, is a balancing act. Some time ago, I wrote about Charles Baxter’s […]

Momentum Part 1

Momentum Part 1

Momentum, in context of writing, really covers two different ideas, one pertaining to the discipline of the craft, and the other to the craft itself. Next week, I’ll look at the role that momentum should play in fiction. This week, however, I wanted to look […]

The Brutality of Grace

The Brutality of Grace

After reading “The Brutality of Grace,” an analytical comparison of the works of Flannery O’Connor and Cormac McCarthy and the philosophy that binds them, I wanted to make sure you had a chance to read it, too. Joseph Susanka’s assertions and observations have implications for […]

1,000 Word Picture Challenge Winner

1,000 Word Picture Challenge Winner

A few weeks ago I posed a challenge to my readers (and to the followers of my friends at toursdepartingdaily.com)—select one of their photographs and write a 1,000 word (or less) story to accompany it. I promised that I would run the best story on […]

Deeply Imagine

Deeply Imagine

As is sometimes the case, one of my students asked me a particularly good question. What surprised me is that it had to do with my blog. Don’t get me wrong, I know several of you check in often, but my students rarely do. “So, […]

A Thousand Word Picture Challenge

A Thousand Word Picture Challenge

Another confession: Once, when I was in a Creative Writing class in college during my undergraduate, I turned in a story. This, in itself, was not altogether bad. The writing of said story, however, was. At one point I’d written something to the effect of, […]

The Sampler Platter: Compound-Complex and Run-On Sentences

The Sampler Platter: Compound-Complex and Run-On Sentences

We’ve all been there—frozen by indecision: Character or conflict, voice or setting? They all look so good! Some writers just can’t choose, and decide that a little of each may be the best course of action. The result is long, sometimes unwieldy sentences which stretch […]

What You Do When You Say It: Dialogue and Action

What You Do When You Say It: Dialogue and Action

Another method of beginning a novel is to start with dialogue, but of the best 100 lines, only three contained dialogue. So, while it is popular to suggest, it may not be as practical. But why not? Perhaps because it’s so easy to begin with […]

Jello to the Wall: Nailing Voice

Jello to the Wall: Nailing Voice

The following is an excerpt from my critical paper I submitted to Antioch University of Los Angeles as part of the requirements for attaining my MFA in Fiction Writing. It focuses on the fifth of seven different techniques for creating compelling first lines. By my […]