Tag: story

What Makes a Great Writer?

I have run critique groups and novel workshops for years and the single greatest indicator I have seen as to whether a writer will succeed or fail is how much he reads and what he reads. I can even look at a writing sample and, very often, tell you if this person is an avid reader or not. My single greatest frustration with many wanna-be writers is that they make a zillion excuses for why they do not read.

Pitfall #2 The Misunderstood Antagonist–More than Just a Villain

Villains are wonderful and should be used when the story you wish to tell calls for one. Never underestimate the awesomeness of s serial killer or ninja. But it is wise to learn about the antagonist in all her forms, so as to be better equipped to slate the right antag for your story. Remember, no antagonist means no story.

It’s Okay to be a Kid—Pitfalls that Can Stunt a Writer’s Growth Part I

Just because a writer writes beautiful prose, in no way means she can carry off a story structure strong enough to sustain 100,000 words. Fiction, especially in reference to novels, is a highly intricate composite of many layers—characterization, dialogue, perspective, pacing, conflict, voice, setting, symbolism, arcs, themes, plot, scenes & sequels, and on and on. The skill and training required to write fiction well can be mind-blowing.

Reality T.V.–The Tractor Beam of Stupid

I will never recapture the time wasted watching dog-groomers compete, or chef’s throw insults and Steak au Poivre at each other. Will never get back the hours watching otherwise smart, talented, beautiful women claw each other like desperate hyenas to garner the Bachelor’s vacuous proposal.

Little Darlings & Why They Must Die..for Real

These two related booby-traps are often hidden beneath our little darlings (clever dialogue, beautiful description, etc). That is probably why Stephen King recommended we kill them. Yes, kill them dead. No burying them in the Pet Semetary, also known as “revision.” Killing means killing….as in delete forever. Yet too many times we hang on to those favorite characters or bits of dialogue, reworking them and hoping we can make them fit…at the expense of the rest of the story.