Author Archive


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I’ve heard of a mythical thing that some writers get to experience: momentum. Like a heavy stone, a writing career starts out motionless and seemingly without hope of ever moving, but then it starts to roll, and, sometimes, builds speed. Momentum can happen to “good writers,” or so I’ve

In Response: Five Books That Changed Me

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A few weeks back, Eric Weinstein had a great post about the five books that changed the way he wrote. His post inspired me to think about my own influences. I realized that, though I am a short story writer, some of the most important influences on my writing

Drifting House: an Interview with Krys Lee

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For this blog post, I am interviewing Krys Lee, author of the short story collection, Drifting House, published this year by Viking/Penguin. Drifting House follows the lives of Koreans both in their homeland and in the United States. According to the book’s website, “Alternating between the lives of Koreans

The Way We Talk

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When I write, I often struggle with writing what falls within the quotation marks because I’ve been told conflicting things over the years about how to write dialogue. For most of my writing career, I tried to write dialogue the way my writing instructors taught me. An often-taught rule

Tips and Tricks: an Interview with Tom Parker

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For today’s post, I am interviewing my long-time writing coach and mentor Tom Parker. I first met Tom at a writer’s workshop run out of University of California, Berkeley six years ago. He was the professor, and I was an overconfident young writer who needed guidance. Since then, he

When Do I Have Enough Back Story?

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I had a great idea for a story. The main character is a 32-year-old actor who lives in Brooklyn. He is looking for his runaway sister, and… Wait. Actor? What kind of actor? What has he been in? Did he always want to be an actor? Most actors can’t

One Man’s Approach to Writing Women Characters

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“How do you write women so well? “I think of a man, and I take away reason and accountability.” – As Good As It Gets. The above, often-cited quote about how to write female characters is quite funny, but at least for me, not true. As a man, I

The Black Hole of Revision

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  You can potentially revise forever, as there’s always something that can be improved in your story. You could’ve added another dimension to a major or minor character. That word you used in paragraph 14, the third sentence…was that the right word? Or is there another one that is

When a Workshop Goes Bad (Part 2)

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Last week, I wrote about some bad experiences that I’ve had in writer’s workshops. Some of my past workshops fell apart because of: Tit-for-tat commenting: Writers exchanging immature cheap shots with each other. Generic commenting: Lazy comments that don’t help anyone in particular. Focusing on political issues: Arguments that

When a Workshop Goes Bad (Part 1)

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  I have been a part of many writer’s workshops. College, post-college, online, extension school, gathering of friends. You name it. I’ve done it. For the most part, I believe workshops made my writing better. After all, there’s only so much that you can perceive regarding your own words.