Tag: Craft of Fiction

Vonnegut’s First Rule for Writing Fiction

Vonnegut’s First Rule for Writing Fiction

1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted. –Kurt Vonnegut I did something this weekend (while recovering from a minor surgery) that I haven’t done in years. I put a 

Kurt Vonnegut’s Eight Rules for Writing Fiction

Kurt Vonnegut’s Eight Rules for Writing Fiction

My first Poetry Professor once told me something that I remember to this day. When I insisted that I wrote exclusively free form poetry, he asked me if I wrote any form poems. I told him no, I didn’t like rules. He looked me in 

Mining the Holidays

Mining the Holidays

If you’re like me, the holiday season is jam packed with festivities with multiple get-togethers with friends and family. And some sort of drama. This year, our drama consisted of engine trouble smack in the middle of a four hour trip. We were lucky enough 

Foot off the Gas: Fiction Between Point A and B

Foot off the Gas: Fiction Between Point A and B

No, this isn’t the second part of my previous post. I’ll get to that next week. Before I get to that, though, I wanted to touch on another subject that’s been on my mind lately. When an idea for a novel pops into our minds, 

Developing a Poetic Voice Part 1: The Cento

Developing a Poetic Voice Part 1: The Cento

Yes, this is still a fiction blog. Don’t panic. Everyone just take a deep breath, and calm down! (On that note—try to avoid using exclamation points whenever possible). Before we begin, I need to let you know a little bit about my background in writing. 

Saying “No” in Interesting Ways

Saying “No” in Interesting Ways

One of the greatest pieces of writing advice I’ve received came from a lecture I attended at AULA. A mentor of mine, Rob Roberge, talked about “How to Make a Scene.” The idea stems from the old saying, “Stop! Stop! You’re making a scene!” Well, 

The Value of a Good Reader

The Value of a Good Reader

Funny how some things work out. As I was thinking of a topic to write about today, I got an e-mail from a good friend of mine. He and I attended Antioch University of Los Angeles, where we got our MFAs in Fiction. While there, 

Character Map—An Exercise

Character Map—An Exercise

Some time ago, I had my Creative Writing students draw up a map of the town in which their story takes place. I had them label streets, buildings, homes, shops, etc. The response was greatly varied, from island villas to battleships, to starships, to fantasy 

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