Craft Category

Verily, Verily I Say Unto You, Emphatically

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” — Stephen King

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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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Goldilocks and the Three Kinds of Dialogue

Dialogue in fiction is not simply people chatting away about their day. It’s supposed to do a lot of hard work: characterize the speaker, advance the plot, convey subtext. In a writing workshop that I’m taking this fall, the instructor, author Adam Stumacher, gave us some great advice about dialogue that I wanted to share […]

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When Less Is More

Like many people who write, I love language, and I especially admire writers that are able to compress details and time into just a few words. Look at this example from Jim Henry’s story, “The Flood.” “When I got home from the gym there was a message for the other Jonathan Patrick from a guy […]

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Fiction is Like Golf

Lately, writing has gotten annoying. I’ve been thinking about craft so much and covering it in blog posts that when it comes to write, I feel stuck. I feel like I’m playing golf. There are so many techniques to learn and apply when it comes to the game. There’s a way to hold the club, […]

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Sentences Are the Pack Mules of Literature

On Tuesday, I wrote the post, 100 Most Beautiful Words, and tried to make the case that although words are wonderful, sentences are what’s important. That night, I sat down with Douglas Bauer’s The Stuff of Fiction and read the chapter devoted entirely to the sentence. Some things Bauer said stood out for me and […]

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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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Series of Writing Lessons from the New York Times

I wanted to point you to a wonderful series of writing lessons that recently appeared in the New York Times. I stumbled upon the last of eight entries written by Constance Hale, a journalist based in San Francisco. This column was devoted to the voice of the storyteller. What I liked about it is that […]

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Don’t Get Trapped in the Blogmire

I’ve only been writing this blog for about five weeks now, give or take a few days. And in that time, I’ve noticed something a little disconcerting. People — by that, I mean “writers” — are spending too much time writing blog posts or reading other blogs — so much time that it’s distracting them […]

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