Lesson #79: What’s in a Setting?

In one of my college courses (I’m an English Literature major), I read a novel titled “Waiting for the Barbarians” by J. M. Coetzee. It’s an intriguing book for several reasons, but especially because of how the novel was written: it has very little defined setting. Let me explain.  The book is intentionally written to […]

Lesson #77: Writing the Show-Down

Every story has an ending. Smash-bang stories, however, will have smash-bang endings. By smash-bang, I don’t mean action-packed, surprising, or emotional. (Though a smash-bang ending can be this way). When I say “smash-bang ending,” what I really mean is that the ending is influential and changes the reader, makes the reader contemplative, and/or leaves the […]

Lesson #70 The Hero’s Journey

Hold on, this is gonna be a wild ride. I’m gonna take you on a journey—the hero’s journey—in 800 words or less. When I teach this, it’s a six-week course! I can do twelve hours of lecture and worksheets on this topic, so this will be very basic. First off, it’s important to know that […]

Lesson #65: Strengthening Characters

In this lesson, we’ll discuss how to strengthen an already-existing character. Check out Lessons #62, #63, and #64 to learn more about strengthening plot, voice, and setting. Questions to Ask Are you editing an old manuscript? Have you transferred a character from one story to another? Are you editing your current manuscript and noticing some […]

Lesson #62 Strengthen Your Plot

  Read any good book on writing, attend writer’s conferences, and you’ll hear this warning again and again—beware the sagging middle. These fine folk are not speaking of the aftermath of that dozen donuts downed in despair over a deadline. Nor are they eluding to the need of sturdier foundational garments. Rather, they are warning […]