Advice Category

The First 15 Pages

If you’re writing a novel or a memoir, the following exercise might be helpful. It came up recently while I was working with a Fresh Pond writer on his memoir. This writer was really trying to nail the opening chapter, and so I suggested that he select five of his favorite memoirs (published by others) and analyze the […]

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The Lit Journal Cover Letter

It takes months, and then suddenly I have a finished short story that I want to submit for publication. Many journals ask for a cover letter and I’ve spent some time perfecting my own, which I want to share with you here. I continue to find ways to improve it, but here it is with brief explanations embedded.

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Carving Out Time to Write

The writer writes. As an on-and-off again fiction writer, that very obvious notion eluded me for years. I put writing aside, put it off, did something else, cleaned, cooked, watched television, worked out or just about any other activity that didn’t involve writing, all the while wondering why I couldn’t finish a story.

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Know More

“You should know more than what you put on the page. The reader can sense that.” — Susan Orlean Credit: Tim Green / Flickr Creative Commons

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How to Make Your Writing as Good as Your Ambition

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners. I wish someone had told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has […]

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Off Course

I’m still coming down from my six days in Marin County where I took a writing workshop with Ron Carlson at the Writing by Writers conference. I spent some time the last couple of days transcribing my notes and downloading images. I came across the one above this morning, a panoramic view of Bodega Bay. […]

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Retreat!

To MFA or not to MFA. That has been the question for me as of late. I was leaning toward the MFA. Here’s why: I wanted more time to write and I wanted the potential networking opportunities. Well after explaining this to a friend, who helped me get down to the nitty-gritty, he wondered couldn’t […]

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Writing Advice from F. Scott Fitzgerald

Hat tip to Flavorwire for shining a light on this piece of advice published on Letters of Note. It’s from F. Scott Fitzgerald to the aspiring writer at the time, Frances Turnbull, who sent him a story for comment while she was a student at Radcliffe. (The Turnbulls owned a summer house called La Paix, […]

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Emotion Is Not Always What, But Where

A writer’s ability to evoke emotion is the one skill that separates the greats from the mediocres. I’ve been compiling advice, articles, chapters, blogs posts and more that explain how a write can evoke emotion.  So far, all of the examples, tips, and devices and I’ve read explain what to do, and I wrote about this […]

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Fiction Should Evoke Emotion

The most important thing a piece of fiction can to do is evoke emotion in the reader. This is the goal of all art, isn’t it? To evoke emotion? The question is, how do the great writers do it? I’ve been digging around on this subject quite a bit lately and I have to say, […]

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