3 Ways to Make Your Writing More Visual

Written fiction is comparatively unique among art forms. Why? Because it isn’t visual. Unlike theater, dance, painting, sculpture, and photography, writing offers no inherent visual images. And yet, as any reader can tell you, reading a good story is a tremendously visual experience. This means you, as the writer, bear an important responsibility to make […]

Hack Your Readers' Brains by Describing the Five Senses

Hack Your Readers’ Brains by Describing the Five Senses

“It was a dark and stormy night…” Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s the Snoopy-at-his-typewriter iconic opening line of melodramatic English literature. But read the whole paragraph from Sir Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton’s Paul Clifford and then let me ask you a question. It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents – except […]

Discover the Simple Trick for Creating Vivid Story Descriptions

Discover the Simple Trick for Creating Vivid Story Descriptions

This week’s video offers a super-easy rule of thumb for always finding the best and most evocative details for your story descriptions. Video Transcript: In some ways, story descriptions are kind of the bane of the writing life. Descriptions of character and setting are integral to bringing to life any story. But there’s also a […]

The Power of the Senses: How to Fire Up Any Story Description

The Power of the Senses: How to Fire Up Any Story Description

As writers, it is our job to give our readers a powerful emotional experience, via story description. Many emotions come about because one or more of our five senses has been stimulated, so one way to elicit emotions is to “awaken” your readers’ senses. Sight is probably the easiest sense to incorporate, because when you are […]

How Write a Gut-Wrenching Tragic Scene—Thanks to One Surprising Detail!

How to Write a Gut-Wrenching Tragic Scene–Thanks to One Surprising Detail!

This week’s video contains a confession from me, slightly counter-intuitive advice on how to write a tragic scene, and an absolutely spot-on example from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. Video Transcript: I have to start off this video with a confession. Within the last month or so, I stumbled across a fantastic quote of writing advice, […]

5 Reasons Not to Describe Your Character in a Mirror

5 Reasons Not to Describe Your Character in a Mirror

This week’s video offers five good reasons you shouldn’t describe your character by having him look at himself in a mirror.   Video Transcript: Today, I want to discuss a simple but important “don’t” of how to describe your character. And that’s simply this: Don’t describe your character by having him look at himself in […]

Add Muscle to Your Fiction With Unity and Contrast

The painting technique known as chiaroscuro (which, in the words of Lemony Snicket, is a big, big word meaning, quite literally, “light-dark”) makes full use of the contrast between light and dark to pull details into sharper focus. We see the world in shades of light and dark. Without one or the other, details fade into invisibility. Our fiction […]

How to Improve Your Story With Specificity

This week’s video offers some contrasting examples to demonstrate how to improve your story using the power of specific language. Video Transcript: Today, I want to ask you a question. What is the single greatest contributing factor in bringing your prose to life? Since you’ve probably already read the title to this video, you probably already know the […]

Visceral Reactions: Emotional Pay Dirt or Fast Track to Melodrama?

Are visceral reactions emotional pay dirt or a fast track to melodrama? The answer of course is: both! But let’s back up the cliché truck. The word “visceral” is thrown around quite a bit, but not everyone understands what it means. A visceral reaction is an instinctive, gut-deep bodily response to a stimulus or experience. Without getting too complex, neurotransmitters (chemical […]

How to Bring Your Writing to Life With the Telling Detail

This week’s video explains how, in North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell uses a single “telling detail” to effectively take the place of a lengthy description. Video Transcription: In fiction, we’re unable to sketch every detail of our character’s actions, feelings, appearance, and surroundings. Particularly in the current trend of minimalistic descriptions, we’re lucky to get […]