Your Next Protagonist is Down the Street (Day 24)

Today I realized firsthand that the greatest thing you can do as a writer is simply to keep your eyes open and absorb the variety of people in this world, for life really is stranger than fiction, and the protagonist in your next story is right around the corner. Let me explain… I have been…

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Bluffing Your Way Through a Story–It Doesn’t Work (Day 23)

I always know where a student is bluffing on an exam when the wording is vague and presumptuous; I might find something like this: “and then, of course, as everyone knows, the king was beheaded because they were not happy with the things he had done.” It is a wordy response that says little to nothing.…

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I See Strange Things When I Walk (Day 22)

My daily walks are more than just exercise: they fill my mind with the very images that eventually end up in my stories. On these walks I see things that I am certain no one else sees. I do not mean to say that I am particularly sharp-eyed and thus observe the things that others…

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Writing for a Specific Audience (Day 21)

I find it so much easier to work on my romance novel when I can actually picture my audience. When I say “audience”, I do not mean some abstract mass of people hunched over my story, nor do I mean a demographic type like “middle-aged women” or “male young adults.” What I mean is that…

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Fear of Writing (Day 20)

When I think about my schooldays, I always call to mind that recurrent sense of dread that would creep up on me every Sunday night throughout the school year. I remember as if it were just yesterday that awful feeling of foreboding that would follow me from mid-afternoon Sunday until bedtime. Clearly, I felt trepidation…

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Creative Writing Techniques: Cliffhangers & Sourdough (Day 19)

As I waited in line to be served at a local German bakery this morning, I started reading a brochure that describes all of their loaves. It explained how the bakers have been using the same sour culture for years now, refreshing it daily. In other words, the leaven is dough that is saved from…

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Negative Reviews (Day 18)

I have said it once and I will say it again: if you care more about external opinion than you do internal, you are going to go insane. Literally. This week the Guardian published the personal essay of a novelist who confessed to stalking a blogger who had posted a negative review of the author’s…

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Distractions and Writing (Day 17)

I keep a writer’s log, one of the purposes of which is to write out my goals (daily, weekly, + end goal), track my progress, and write a few words as to my “writing mood” on any given day. On the whole, I reach my weekly landmarks, but one of the things that continues to…

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How I Learned to Stop Worrying—and Start Writing (Day 16)

When I am faced with a task that appears far too big for my undertaking, I start to panic. What adds fuel to the fire is when I actually really do care about the task for I suddenly become paralyzed with fear. In such cases I no longer know where to start, how to start,…

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[Auto-] Censored Art (Day 15)

Yesterday I caught myself doing something rather repulsive. I was writing a scene in my novel and then I quickly proceeded to delete it—just like that, without a second thought about it. Now, it is not the actual deletion of a passage that scandalized me—of course not, that happens all the time—but rather the impulse…

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