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Monthly Archives: August 2010

On Writing Rules: How to Build Suspense the Right Way

Tweet As Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe have both toiled to teach us, suspense in storytelling mostly comes from the things you don’t say. However, as I pointed out yesterday, every storyteller has a stern obligation to provide readers with everything they need to know to understand what’s going on. Walking the thin line […]

On Writing Rules: Creating Suspense without Your Abusing Readers

Tweet Yesterday I told the story of a math teacher who kept me in suspense, and ultimately spared me the nightmare of taking more math classes. I also talked about how little I liked math in the first place because it was just a set of soulless rules. And then I promised you another creative […]

On Writing Rules: Waiting

Tweet Not too long ago, I unleashed some pretty harsh words on math. (If you don’t feel like following the link, the harsh words were “dang you.”) I didn’t excel at math in high school — not because I  didn’t get it, but because I didn’t care. With the strange exception of factoring polynomials, I […]

What I Learned about Writing this Week…from Stephen King, Redux

Above all, the first draft of a story is meant to be an icky, gloopy mess. And when you’ve completed it, you do, indeed, have an honest-to-gobstoppers gen-yoo-ine story on your hands.
But. You still need to shape that amorphous blob of words into something approachable, let alone digestible, for anyone else. And that is where your toolbox comes in…

On Getting Better: How to Write in the Deep End

Tweet So…a conversation that started out with my gross negligence as a father has now become an essay on expertise. I guess I’m telling you to fake it ’til you make it. The sentiment has been much on my mind recently, as I just finished reading No Plot, No Problem, the NaNoWriMo handbook. It’s heavy […]

On Getting Better: Writing in the Deep End

Tweet Yesterday I told a story about throwing my daughter into the deep end of the pool. It wasn’t intentional, but it was astonishingly effective. Funny enough, I’d been thinking about that metaphor a lot lately. In the last year I’ve been thrown into the deep end at work, building incredibly challenging documents on impossible […]

On Getting Better: In Too Deep

Tweet I’ve been bragging recently about my daughter’s early education. (Joyful, joyful! The girl is learning to read!) We’ve also been trying to teach her some other skills — things like self-control, critical thinking, and fingerpainting. Last weekend, though, it was too hot to spend any time time learning (or teaching, for that matter). Summer […]

On Story Structure: How to Design and Write a Plot Point

Tweet Yesterday I explained why you need to know the plot points in your work-in-progress. If you use them right, they can make your story easier to tell and for more compelling to read. Design a Plot Point Like most aspects of writing, all that power and convenience while you’re writing comes directly from the […]

On Story Structure: What is a Plot Point?

Tweet Yesterday I told a story about my rites of passage, about the moments in my life when I grew up. They were turning points in my personal history, and both of them significantly changed my plot. Today I want to tell you a little bit about the ways writers capture that slice of the […]

On Story Structure: Buried Treasure

Tweet I’ve talked before about arguments I lost to my dad (the expert debater) back in high school. I can vividly remember the last of those. Well…not the last argument I lost to my dad (which is, God willing, still many, many years in the future), but the last argument I lost in high school. […]