writing advice Archive

Episodia 1.14: An Antidote to Scripted Female Friendship

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A few months ago, I wrote a post on the best bromances on television. Since then, I’ve wanted to write a similar post on female friendship, but I came up empty when I hunted for good examples. There are so many storytelling techniques that current scripted television gets right

Episodia 1.13: Embracing Your Dark Side

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Let me begin by confessing that this was not the post I wanted to write. All week, I have been working on an essay about female friendships on television. Unfortunately, my writer-self is not cooperating. You’ve had that moment—much like this one—when you sit in front of the computer

For Those About To Write (We Salute You) #12: The To Do List

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For Those About To Write (We Salute You) will present a writing exercise to the Ploughshares community every few weeks. We heartily encourage everyone reading to take part!  Can you believe we’re nearly ten months into this year-long writing extravaganza? I’m pretty damn impressed that we’ve all made it this

Episodia 1.11: Character Differentiation

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During the first creative writing class I ever taught, a student approached me with a particular challenge. She had a wonderful premise for a novel that revolved around a pack of women who worked in a 1970s factory in the Midwest. But even with a strong idea, she was

From the Slush Pile: Readers Speak

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If there was a magic pill—you know lose weight, no exercise—to beat the slush pile and warm the hearts of editors straight to publication, I’d eat it and then dole it out to all of you. But we all know you have to do the work, show up every

Beach Writing

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I was elbow-deep in my first novel when my second novel arrived. Since Novel 2 concerns premature babies, its timing seemed appropriate. For a week, I pacified Novel 2 with light research and a thousand words of writing. There, I told it. Wait. I headed back to the hard,

Do Characters Dream of Left-Justified Sheep? (Part Two)

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How can you avoid bad dream-writing? Part One of this post appeared on Monday. All right, let’s talk about the good things dreams can do for your writing process. Let’s have some nice dreams. Real-ize Your Dream  Have you ever used a dream as inspiration for writing? George Saunders did this

Do Characters Dream of Left-Justified Sheep? (Part One)

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I had the strangest dream about you last night, my husband said. You were surrounded by wood. There were wood walls, floors. All this old furniture everywhere. Of course, a wife is keenly interested in her husband’s dreams, especially if she’s the star. But what struck me about my

Relationship Rescue! Courting Your Long-Lost Writing

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First, a confession: I’m lousy at prioritizing fiction writing. I let everything else in my life take precedence. I even let other writing take precedence—articles, book reviews, syllabi, comments on student work, status updates, replies to all. And yet, good things have happened to the fiction I’ve written. I