Writing Assignment (Daughter’s First Date)

So this week’s assignment is about stepping outside yourself. I challenge you to write a short piece in first person, describing your daughter’s first date. But it’s not you. Don’t write what you would do. Ask what the character would do. Is this modern, futuristic, Old West, 1950’s, Middle Ages? What does the date rollContinue reading “Writing Assignment (Daughter’s First Date)”

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Blogging About Fiction Beats Blogging Fiction

If you post creative things you’ve written, do you look at the blog stats to see what gets read and what doesn’t? You understand, of course, this is not the same as ratings. If someone reads your post, they can also rate it, or comment so you can get feedback. Are people reading your fictionContinue reading “Blogging About Fiction Beats Blogging Fiction”

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One of My Favorite Authors: Brian Doyle

Last year I was listening to my local NPR station, and heard an interview with Brian Doyle. He was already a well-known essayist, but was now discussing his first novel, Mink River; a swatch of life and death and talking crows set in a fictional town on the Oregon Coast. I love how it blendsContinue reading “One of My Favorite Authors: Brian Doyle”

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Pure Capitalism is Antithetical to Pure Art

Maybe I’m just betraying my romantic side, but when we study art in history (at least, in my formal education), we tend to look at European art, or Asian art, or cave art. But we rarely talk about American art. That’s because there isn’t much art coming out of America. Not art for the sakeContinue reading “Pure Capitalism is Antithetical to Pure Art”

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Would You?

If your future self from the distant future came to you today and said that the way things turn out, you never get to be a successful writer, chef, painter, sculptor, singer, composer, philosopher, saint; would you still keep at it? Does it matter if no one remembers you 100 years from now? I’m justContinue reading “Would You?”

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The Real-Life Power of Fiction

Sometimes I listen to songs like U2’s Sunday, Bloody Sunday, or John Lennon’s Imagine, and I think protest songs are a waste of time. People don’t listen to music and expect it to change the world. People don’t read novels and hope they will change the world, either. And yet, I find that things IContinue reading “The Real-Life Power of Fiction”

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One of My Favorite Authors: Max Barry

Max is one of the few authors I read who is still alive (may he live many more decades, cos he’s still fairly young).  I thought it would be helpful to post the words of an established writer, but I don’t re-post or re-blog, so here’s the link to his own words. He wrote JenniferContinue reading “One of My Favorite Authors: Max Barry”

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Modes of Writing

This post is more for me than anyone else. When I sit down at the computer to write, I sometimes sit here for hours and the story is no longer than it was when I started. But that’s not always a bad thing. Editing is an important mode of composition. My first mode is Conceptualization, whereContinue reading “Modes of Writing”

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Character Development

Plumbers plumb, priests pry, so writers ought to write. When it comes to developing characters, I used to think that what I do was a little nuts. But I have heard a lot of writers do this, so we’re nuts together. I interview my characters. Like they are present in the room. “What would youContinue reading “Character Development”

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Unusual Writing Solution

Some time ago I bought an Acer Netbook from a former co-worker so I could write on my lunch breaks at work. It was helpful. But it gave me an excuse not to work on my next book at home (the manuscript was on the computer in my trunk). The solution was to bring itContinue reading “Unusual Writing Solution”

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Fictional Characters

Where do your characters come from when you write? I’ve heard people say they are inspired by people they know, or people they’ve met. Or historical figures. I write from a less-intentional perspective, and I don’t know where characters come from. Sometimes I wake from a dream and think that it was a good story,Continue reading “Fictional Characters”

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Writing Assignment (Flat Tire)

Write a scene where your character gets a flat tire driving somewhere important, and the changing of the tire does not go well. Add some kind of surprise. If you’re working on a novel, could you fit this into your manuscript, and would it somehow move the story along or reveal something important about theContinue reading “Writing Assignment (Flat Tire)”

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Why We Blog

I think most people blog for selfish reasons. Don’t take that wrong. If no one knows you exist, then how else can you tell them? Go door to door, showing off your poems, photos, recipes, indie news reports? I don’t think I want to sell my novel that way. But I want to sell myContinue reading “Why We Blog”

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How to Get Educated

There was a day when people used to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, make their own way in life, create empires starting with a rock, a stick, and three buttons (they had no duct tape, you see). While most people who tried this kind of thing failed miserably and died penniless, the ones whoContinue reading “How to Get Educated”

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Minor Leagues of Creative Writing

Someone (who has money) needs to create a clearinghouse or a minor league for creative people. We need a place where independent authors, journalists, painters, composers, photographers and the like can take their completed projects and have them looked over by experts somehow, evaluated, and critiqued. Stuff that’s fresh or unique (and possibly good, potentiallyContinue reading “Minor Leagues of Creative Writing”

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You Don’t Have To Answer The Phone Just Because It Rings

On my personal phone, I only pick up when it’s my mom, my sisters, my dad, my wife, my kids or my best friend. Everyone else is invited to leave a voicemail message. If it wasn’t important to them, it isn’t to me. If you aren’t expecting a call, and the number doesn’t ring aContinue reading “You Don’t Have To Answer The Phone Just Because It Rings”

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Writing Assignment (Restaurant)

For those who feel up to the challenge, here is a fun writing assignment. I was just in a spaghetti restaurant, trying to enjoy my meal, but a group of about 12 people at a table 20 feet away were all yelling and having a great time. I couldn’t even hear my wife or daughterContinue reading “Writing Assignment (Restaurant)”

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Complaining About Garbage Food Can Produce Results

Terry Gross interviewed Tom Philpott from Mother Jones Magazine on her show Fresh Air on Natl Public Radio yesterday, and they talked about the meat industry in America. One of the many things they discussed was Pink Slime, and how public outrage over the USDA’s decision to feed this dog food to school kids is shuttingContinue reading “Complaining About Garbage Food Can Produce Results”

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Novelist Researching Stone Circles

Fugue in C Minor has been fun to write because every little thing that happens requires a little bit of research. I love looking things up. I have been reading up on stone circles for the novel. We have an interesting replica of Stonehenge near us in the Columbia Gorge. As you enter the circleContinue reading “Novelist Researching Stone Circles”

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