writing Archive

Fictional Writer Master Class: The Wisdom of J.B. Fletcher

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Writers love to create writer characters, so much so that fictional writers are their own sub-character set. Maybe it’s because we understand the torture of the artistic monkey better than anything else; creating fictional writers is one way of following the adage of writing what you know. Or perhaps we

Roundup: Bold Beginnings & Sensational Starts

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In our Roundups segment, we’re looking back at all the great posts since the blog started in 2009. We explore posts from our archives as well as other top literary magazines and websites, centered on a certain theme to help you jump-start your week. Autumn is upon us and students everywhere are getting

Self-Help Seduction

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There are certain books we all hide. You know them. The ones purchased late at night when no one we know is in the bookstore. Or better yet, ordered from Amazon for further anonymity. These are books we don’t want anyone to know we read, certainly not our literary

My First Nemesis

Author: | Categories: Writing 3 Comments
I can only admit this because I believe I’m not alone. I believe that every writer—maybe every creative person, maybe anyone whose life is ruled by ambition, by a calling beyond rationality—has an imaginary nemesis. The person isn’t imaginary, mind you. But the rivalry is. Here’s what I mean

The Revenge Society: The Plot Thickens

Author: | Categories: Writing, Writing Advice 1 Comment
Nothing hits the literary palate with quite the delightful punch of a well-spun revenge story. Not the third-act, Scooby-Doo reveal that a killer did it all for revenge, or even the author’s personal vendetta against some person(s)—no, I’m talking of revenge plots where the actions unfurls around a quest

The Revenge Society

Author: | Categories: Writing, Writing Advice 1 Comment
A few weeks ago, I was furious at someone on a level normally reserved for politics. For about three days I didn’t know how to defuse my anger; I just complained and ranted to any poor person who came within ear shot. It was eating at me, how much

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: Speak to Me

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In his introduction to the most recent issue of Ploughshares, guest editor Peter Ho Davies says that the thrill he found in each selected story was the sense that it spoke to him alone.  But how do you make that happen? We’ve talked about a lot of different strategies to make

Author-Spotting for Amateurs

Author: | Categories: Reading, Writing 3 Comments
It’s summer! Time to get out those binoculars and spot some writers. If you are unable to find writers, a simple whiskey trail should suffice to lure them to your backyard. Be on the lookout for these newly identified species. Laureatos bolanos The dead foreign writer who wrote eight

Episodia 1.10: Artistic Disappointment

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You’ve felt it before—that sinking feeling a writer gets when the project she’s been working on for months or years doesn’t meet her expectations. Your latest novel or short story doesn’t have cohesion despite your repeated attempts. You don’t get into the MFA program of your choice, or any