Archive | April 2011

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Weekend Assignment: Refilling the Tanks

Ever get to the end of the week feeling like life has sucked the writing motivation right out of you?  This weekend’s assignment is especially good for weeks like that. Writers cannot exist in a vacuum. We need to read, to interact, to play, to connect. For this weekend, your writing assignment is to refill […]

Fiction and the Inverted Pyramid

Today, I’m thinking about story beginnings. Not just about writing opening lines that catch a reader’s interest, but the elements needed to keep a reader invested once they get past that first line. Robin Black put it best in her post, “To Begin” on Beyond the Margins. Black desribes an epiphany she had while teaching […]


Kurt Vonnegut is one of my favorite authors. That said, it should come as no surprise that I value the insights he often shared on the process of writing. In this video, Ernie Lausten performs an excerpt from Kurt Vonnegut’s book Man Without a Country. It’s an instructive and entertaining look at story structure.

Weekend Assignment: Bad Mood Rising

Welcome to another writing-filled weekend! This week I was reading an issue of Real Simple magazine. One of the regular features is a section devoted to reader responses to a monthly question. In this particular issue, readers were asked to describe what cures their bad moods. Naturally, my writer’s brain took the notion and ran […]

Writing: Is Pen Mightier than Keyboard?

How do you write? Are you like Patrick E. McLean and prefer to put pen to paper? Are you a writer whose words flow better if your fingers are in connection with a keyboard? The choice of writing methods is a debated topic among writers. Some argue the pen is too slow. Others say writing […]

The Writer’s Guide to Great Lengths

Writers write. Right? (Sorry, I just couldn’t pass that up today. Let me know when you finish groaning. Ready?) What length should your finished piece be? I’ve compiled a list of typical word counts for some common types of submissions. I offer them as guidelines to give you an idea of a general target number […]

Weekend Assignment: One Word

I found the inspiration for this weekend’s writing assignment in a book review. Editor Molly McQuade asked 66 writers to choose a favorite word and write about why it was important to them. The results make up the book: One Word: Contemporary Writers on the Words They Love or Loathe (Sarabande Books). Now, not only […]

Writing Rituals: Train Your Muse to Be a Creature of Habit

Are you a writer held hostage by your muse? You wake up determined today will be THE day that project gets completed, that dream gets dreamed, that story gets started… you know what I mean. Then, you sit at your desk wondering what adventure your muse has wandered off on, because she didn’t show up […]

Submit, Submit, Submit (Ep. 11)

It’s time once again to share new market links. Click to go to the guidelines for each publication. I post these links as a way of sharing the market information I find as I am working. This does not mean I endorse them. Please research all markets before submitting any material. American Way Magazine This […]

Weekend Assignment: Practice Queries

The weekend is upon us! Time to tackle another writing challenge. This is possibly my favorite writing exercise EVER. Not only does it require that you stretch your writing muscles, it helps you hone your skills at writing one of the most dreaded things ever faced by novelists — the novel query. The idea comes […]