You can find depths of meaning in the shared language and goals you’ve developed with the writers around you.
Why are we so curious about authors’ own lives in relation to their books, and the ways that they do (or don’t) bring their own stories into their work? Why do we wonder what’s “true”?
Before you can take someone else’s advice, you have to develop a realistic picture of who you are, what your tendencies are, and what you’re willing and able to change.
The greatest tool for gaining reader confidence is internal dialogue—because when a character reveals his thoughts, he’s confiding in the audience.
Novelist James Scott Bell identifies 5 common “rules” that writers would do best to ignore—such as “Don’t start your story talking about the weather.”
Writers can be like misers with their money when it comes to ideas—and ultimately that behavior can prevent you from producing great work.
Think in terms of “telling details”: details that let the reader see your characters while also revealing something about their minds.
It’s the question I dislike the most from writers, and that I try to avoid answering—because it lays a terrible burden on me.
Much of writing advice boils down to: add more conflict. But don’t forget how happy lives can involve compromise and complication as well.
The advantages of walking are well-known and long-heralded. Likewise delightful, the urban perambulatory habits of the flâneur. Less heralded perhaps are the practical creative benefits of stretching one’s legs with neither exercise nor aimlessless in mind.
Write about the things you can’t forget, the things that keep you up at night.
In the literary fiction world, it’s often taken as an article of faith that writing is an intrinsically important activity to be engaged in. Is it?
A couple weeks ago, I advised young writers to have patience—with themselves, with the publishing process, and with their development. Writer Gabe Herron recently wrote an essay for Glimmer Train that echoes that theme as well. He says: Time is the main thing. There never seems to be enough of it, especially once you’ve gone […]
The first secret of comedy writing is perhaps its most important.
What young people need to know about writing and publishing.
Learn what it means to see and read the world in terms of narrative design.
I’m often asked: How can I be so productive? Or how does one balance creative work and other life demands? Here’s the most truthful answer I have.
For every 45 minutes that you write, do 15 minutes of something else. But there’s one catch.
Fiction writer Douglas W. Millikin offers an honest and insightful essay about the biggest myths writers face about their profession.
Writers may desire advice on how to better balance their writing lives and be productive, but few prescriptives are one size fits all.
How do you balance work on your art with work on yourself?
Understand the 7 sins of memory, and how to use these sins to convey greater meaning and truth in your stories.
Author Barbara Baig discusses word choice and how it affects tone, voice, and clarity.
If you want to write realistic dialogue, resist the temptation to follow a very logical “call and response” structure.
Brooke McIntyre of Inked Voices explains what to look for in a critique group and how to find the best writing critique group for you.
The personal essay can provide an artful account of earned insight often more useful than years of therapeutic work.
As a teenager, I looked on my mother’s files with disdain and, later, with pity. How sad, I thought, to just move papers about and never really do the things you want to do. How tragic, to lock up a life in a box.
If you can’t portray someone you know personally in a positive fashion, you will probably lose this friend and/or be sued for libel.
More writing does not necessarily equal better-quality writing, nor does faster writing lead to faster achievement of your goals.
Rejection is rarely personal—but it still hurts. So what do you do?
A specific and daily moment of self-reflection can revolutionize your writing by offering you a clear picture of your mental state, anxieties, and fears.
To inspire other people to engage in something that you’re concerned about, you have to avoid getting caught in the trap of writing with an agenda.
Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.
Do you have a project that confuses you, or feels dangerous? That’s what you should write says Mark Wisniewski.
For me, the hardest thing about being online is remembering what I think and the “why” that I’m working for. The multiplicity of voices can make you forget your center.
Why you should ensure you have as many stories on submission as possible.
At conferences, I’m often asked by writers if they “have what it takes” to be a successful writer. I usually interpret that question as: “Do I have talent?”
Fiction writer Rowena Macdonald says she finds writing dialogue much easier than constructing a plot.
Today’s guest post is by freelancer and author Marcy McKay. The November 2014 issue of Rolling Stone interviews the master of contemporary fiction, Stephen King. The Q&A covers a myriad of interesting topics for writers: the author’s typical working day, his literary legacy, as well as how alcohol and drugs affected his writing back in the […]
One of the most important goals of any fiction writer is getting the reader to connect on an emotional level with the story’s characters. But how do you accomplish this without being clumsy—without saying, directly, “Joe felt so upset he wanted to die,” which takes you right into the heart of cliché? John Thorton Williams […]
Every month, Glimmer Train releases a bulletin that includes a few brief essays by writers on the writing life. For October, I was happy to find the themes of procrastination and distraction—and how they can be a positive influence in our work lives. Elizabeth Katdetsky discusses how she gives in to the procrastinator in herself, and how […]
One writing and publishing adage I’ve always believed in: “Writing is rewriting.” Fiction writer Amina Gautier’s approach is similar. For her, revising is the best part. Over at the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, she offers tips on unlocking the joy of revision. She says: Revising encourages and liberates the writer to “make mistakes.” It rewards mistakes; each […]
In a thought-provoking post over at Glimmer Train, Josh Weil talks about Chekhov’s rule: If you bring a gun into the story, then it must fire by the end. Weil reverses it to produce a new insight: “If you’re going to fire a gun at the end, you’d better bring it in near the beginning.” He goes on to discuss […]
This past weekend, I attended the World Domination Summit (WDS) in Portland, which attracts 3,000 creative people who are concerned with answering the question: “How do we live a remarkable life in a conventional world?” They are guided by three values: Community Service Adventure Speaking personally, I’m really into the first two, as well as […]
To create a story that feels as if it could leave the page: That’s the dream of many writers. But to pull it off means leaving space for the reader. Celeste Ng, author of the newly released Everything I Never Told You, explains: … you need to leave a few unmapped places so the characters can step beyond […]
Fiction writers: How well do you know your protagonist? While you may have learned the basics of point of view, and can tell the story from your protagonist’s perspective, how does your protagonist see the events and details of the world around him? Bret Anthony Johnston suggests, “Point-of-view is defined by obsession.” He writes in […]
In a bold and insightful piece by writer Monica Byrne, she discusses how, as an emerging writer, she created a list of her favorite authors titled “My Idols.” But she scratched that out, then wrote “My Models.” Then, finally, “My Peers.” Why? … I realized the difference between admiration and idolatry. How I placed the famous writer’s innate […]
Over at the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, writer David James Poissant discusses a topic very near and dear to my heart: Grit. Or maybe you call it persistence. He calls it relentlessness and tenacity. It goes by a lot of names, but basically it means a few rejections aren’t going to stop you. Or just […]
There’s a part of me that is not completely comfortable talking about my writing: the best of it is highly personal, even as it is universal.
In an essay about writing a novel with her husband, Beth Ann Fennelly discusses that the process did not lead to fighting, but that it was fun, and not as lonely. However, it didn’t mean half the work. It meant twice the work. She writes: That’s when the novel really started cooking—and finally became fun to […]