successfully start a book with a dream

5 Ways to Successfully Start a Book With a Dream

Don’t start a book with a dream.  This has become one of those bits of writing advice that has passed into legend, right along with “show, don’t tell” and “write what you know.” There are so many good reasons for this. Dream openings are notorious for being boring, irrelevant, misleading, and cliched. As a “fake” opening, […]

when writing how do you know when enough is enough

When Writing, How Do You Know When Enough Is Enough?

Last month, I invited you to tell me what topics you’d like me to write about. You flooded my inbox and comments section with suggestions. (I scheduled this as an “easy” post that wouldn’t require much maintenance while I was in the midst of the a big move. When I logged on that first day to […]

5 lessons from a lost novel

5 Lessons From a Lost Novel

Mistakes are unavoidable. To fear them is to fear life itself. To try to eliminate them is to waste life in a futile struggle against reality itself. I daresay no one has more opportunities to learn these truths than does a writer. As writers, our lives are a never-ending litany of mistakes. Certainly mine has […]

cherish language

Words Are Radical! (or, How to Cherish Language)

Years ago, I was hiking with someone around the Scotts Bluff National Monument in western Nebraska. A bird flew over our heads, black against a metallic July sky. A lover of all things beautiful, my hiking partner was the first to point it out. I shaded my eyes. “Cool. What do think it is?” He […]

want me to critique your story

Want Me to Critique Your Story?

Would you like me edit an excerpt of your writing? I have a new series in mind for the blog, which I think will prove fun and instructive for all of us. Here’s how it works. If you’re interested in participating, send me a page of your work-in-progress. You can email me here. Attachments aren’t […]

story structure q and a

Story Structure Q&A: 6 Outstanding Questions About Structure

Being a good writer is all about being a good learner—having a wide-open mind that’s always looking for the next question. I think you guys must all be good writers, because you know how to ask some good questions! Today, I want to share a story structure Q&A, featuring six thought-provoking emails I’ve received. Story structure […]

how to up your show don't tell game

3 Tips for Improving Show, Don’t Tell

When looking for a new book to read, there are a couple quick tests I do to determine whether it seems like I can trust the author to know what they’re doing all book long. The first and most important of these tests usually requires just a quick glance across the first page to see […]

what do you want me to write about

What Do You Want Me to Write About?

Hey, everybody! I’m making myself a bit sparse this week as I’m in the middle of moving. But I want to take the opportunity to flip things on its head this week and ask you to tell me something. What would you like me to write about? Is there a writing subject that’s really got your […]

sloppy writing habits header

Do You Have Sloppy Writing Habits? (And 4 Things to Do About It)

The question I want to ask today is whether sloppy writing habits are a deterrent to success, a natural and unavoidable part of the creative process, both, or neither. I’ve never met the writer (myself included) who didn’t suffer from sloppy writing habits. These habits fall into a number of categories—everything from sloppy handwriting to […]

Use the Enneagram to Write Better Characters2

5 Ways to Use the Enneagram to Write Better Characters

The Enneagram. Maybe you’ve heard of it. Maybe you’ve even used the Enneagram to write better characters. Like Myers-Briggs, Socionics, and the Four Temperaments, the Enneagram is one of many systems within the study of personality theory. These systems are designed to identify the patterns found in the different ways we approach various aspects of […]