As writers, we know that learning our craft is a lifelong endeavor. Even well-known published authors still study their craft. These craft masters want to become the best they can be.
After I earned my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, I continued my craft studies with various teachers and felt as if I got an entire second degree. I love writing. I love learning about writing. I love practicing my storytelling techniques.
If you’re a writer, I know you feel the same way, and I have a gift for you.
Some of my writing mentors and friends and I are teaching in-depth writing craft webinars this year. You’re invited to a FREE webinar on Thursday, April 1 for a sneak peek of what we have to offer. Be our guest for quick craft tips, writing exercises, and Q&As from writing pros. Topics include emotional storytelling, outlining, scene structure, poetry techniques for prose, and much more.
To sign up for the FREE Craft Collection night, please click here and scroll down to the April 1 event.
On May 13, I’m teaching a webinar on adding poetry to your prose. Other webinar topics in the series include Writing Your Novel from the Middle by James Scott Bell, Backstory is Fore-story by Donald Maass, Emotional Storytelling by Lorin Oberweger, Dialogue as Action by David Corbett, Character Matters by Sheree Greer, Crafting Your Novel by Emma Dryden and many more!
I hope to see you on April 1.
P.S. If you miss the free event, you can check out the webinar series here.
If you want to write a page turner, you must have conflict. What’s more, you have to raise the stakes. Have you ever heard that saying, “Just when you didn’t think it could get any worse….” If you want to write a page turner, you have to make things worse just when the reader didn’t think it could get any worse.
Writer and literary agent Donald Maass knows this. Here are several questions he urges writers to ask themselves about their work in progress:
1. What’s at stake? How can you raise the stakes so that there’s more to lose, gain, fear?
2. What gives your protagonist hope? How can you crush that hope?
3. What does your protagonist regret? Can you create a situation that amplifies the regret?
4. What tools or resources does your protagonist possess to help solve her problem? Can you take one away or put a block in her path? Force her in a new direction?
Having been a poet for 30+ years, I know the importance of each word. Every single word needs to be polished and perfect—perfect for our intended meaning, the emotions we want to evoke and the music it brings to our ears.
I wrote a nonfiction piece recently that blended elements of essay with elements of narrative nonfiction. I took it to my writing group for their critique and one person expressed concern that my piece was blending two genres that shouldn’t be blended.
I thought his comment was interesting, considering he’d only read three of my five pages and didn’t know how the piece ended. In his mind, essays were one type of beast and narrative nonfiction another. In a way, he’s right. They’re both nonfiction but with different intents and purposes.
Writers have been blending genres for years and are still coming up with new combinations. When is it okay to try something new, to blend elements together that aren’t normally seen together? The answer is—when it works. As you mature as a writer, you’ll know when it works and when it doesn’t. In the meantime, get feedback from others. Read more
When I was writing my memoir, it seemed as if the editing process would last a lifetime. When I finally felt as if my manuscript was ready to send out to the world, I took the advice of agent Don Maass and applied one final editing technique. The results were pretty remarkable. I highly recommend this process for all writers whether you’re a beginner or a published professional.
Here’s how it works: When you think you’re done with your manuscript, take a handful of pages (20 to 30) and throw them up in the air. Repeat until the entire manuscript is scattered across your floor. Then randomly gather the pages into one big pile.
Now, go through your manuscript page by page (still out of order). As you read each page, find a way to do these two things per page: Read more
Sure you want to get your work published, but have you thought about your writing in terms of a career?
It’s easy to focus on the work at hand — the current short story, memoir, or novel in progress. But a couple years ago, I gained a new perspective from literary agent Donald Maass, who says:
Writing is a long-term profession that you must approach as a career. And that career is ultimately in the writer’s court.
First and foremost, Maass says, a writing career begins with good storytelling. Studying craft and writing daily is step one. Maass, author of Writing the Breakout Novel, teaches writing and how to propel your storycraft to the next level in his book and workshops. His advice made me think about what it takes to build a writing career.
Consider these career-building strategies.
Hook into your town’s writing community. Writers are everywhere, so whether you live in a town, tiny burg, or big city, you should be able to find a community of writers (even if it’s small) who share your interest. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, consider starting your own writer’s group. Writing MeetUp Groups are another good way to find a writer’s group focused on writing in general or by genre. Read more