Category: Essays/Articles (all)

Why I Write: Lena Marecki
On Writing Writing, for me, is unlike any other form of art in that its mode — words — are able to uniquely capture the complex human...
Why I Write: Lena Marecki
“I Denigrate Myself”
I will start by saying that I do not have to explain myself to you.  Then I will go on to explain myself, out of some misplaced sense of...
“I Denigrate Myself”
A Review of Alligators at Night by Meg Pokrass
There’s this thing that Meg Pokrass does in her new flash fiction collection, Alligators at Night (Ad Hoc Fiction, 2018). She drops you...
A Review of Alligators at Night by Meg Pokrass
“Ancient Oaks”
There is a picture of me. I am twenty-five. I don’t know where this picture is now, packed away after moving, but I remember everything...
“Ancient Oaks”
“Lost and Found”
Technology is great.  When it works. When it doesn’t, blood pressure goes up.  Angry words are spoken.  Denouncement of anything...
“Lost and Found”
Story Behind the Story: The Artichoke Dinner
The Artichoke Dinner was one of the first stories I wrote. It came to me one night after I had had dinner with my children, who were all...
Story Behind the Story: The Artichoke Dinner
“On The Artistic Temperament and a Writers Need For Privacy”
When I first think of the concept of artistic temperament, I think of the stereotype of moodiness, broodiness, and emotional explosiveness....
“On The Artistic Temperament and a Writers Need For Privacy”
The Story Behind the Story: “The Laundry Room Comes First”
When I worked in television news, I often had to produce two or three versions of the same report. I loved having the opportunity to begin...
The Story Behind the Story: “The Laundry Room Comes First”
Rejections are Gifts and Paths to Self-Reflection
It’s relatively common that writers experience swirling masses of thoughts sprinkled with hints of anxiety due to the worry and...
Rejections are Gifts and Paths to Self-Reflection
“Up Above”
I learned, further, that brain was likewise a commodity. It, too, was different from muscle. A brain seller was only at his prime when he...
“Up Above”
The Story Behind the Story: “What We Don’t Say Out Loud”
Back in 2011, I attended a seminar being taught by Amy Hempel and while I’d read her short fiction, I had not heard her speak or...
The Story Behind the Story: “What We Don’t Say Out Loud”
Why I Write: Rebecca Evans (“Writing Me”)
I wrote nonfiction in third person. It’s a strange method to approach narrative, essay and memoir. An unusual way to share a personal...
Why I Write: Rebecca Evans (“Writing Me”)
“The Secret Musicians Know That Can Help Writers”
I am grateful that I came to writing after years spent as a practicing musician, where I learned perspectives that make my writing life...
“The Secret Musicians Know That Can Help Writers”
“5 Steps to Better Worldbuilding”
Every writer and poet can benefit from a lesson or review in worldbuilding since no story exists outside of some form of time and space....
“5 Steps to Better Worldbuilding”
“A Writer, Not Writing”
Except for a sneeze muffled into the crook of an arm, a sigh here or there, an occasional cough, or the sandy shuffle of someone shifting...
“A Writer, Not Writing”
SCBWI – Keep On Truckin’ Conference
Over the weekend, September 21st and 22nd, I attended the Keep on Truckin’ conference for SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book...
SCBWI – Keep On Truckin’ Conference
“Maternal Instinct”
The fictional story “Maternal Instinct” was inspired by a news story that occurred a few years ago when a boy fell in a gorilla...
“Maternal Instinct”
“The Geppetto Complex” (An Essay Translated by Toti O’Brien)
*Translation of an essay by French author Jean Chavot.    A recurrent debate among screenwriters regards psychological versus...
“The Geppetto Complex” (An Essay Translated by Toti O’Brien)
Why I Write: Rebecca Evans
I wrote nonfiction in third person. It’s a strange method to approach narrative, essay and memoir. An unusual way to share a personal...
Why I Write: Rebecca Evans
“Summer Writing in a Tourist Town”
All my life I’ve lived in tourist towns or cities. Perhaps that is a positive thing. Nobody wants to reside in a Third World...
“Summer Writing in a Tourist Town”
“Deadline Walking”
As a child, I wrote an epic poem about a unicorn, planning to perform a recitation of it during the annual school talent show. I spent days...
“Deadline Walking”
Laura Goodman: Why I Write
I have written since I was a small child, even before I could manage the real reading and writing of actual words. So many days, I sat at...
Laura Goodman: Why I Write
“A Little Louder, Please – For the Listeners in the Back”
On many a list of terrible fears, among the snakes, spiders, drowning accidents, and bees (in my case), one non-lethal standout is speaking...
“A Little Louder, Please – For the Listeners in the Back”
“Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough Swag: Spring Break 2018 at the AWP”
The Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) annual conference is the largest writers conference in North America, attended by...
“Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough Swag: Spring Break 2018 at the AWP”
“Make It Fun”
Free write. Write with one color in mind. Write with one smell in mind. Write a four-line prose poem. Write a six-word short story. Write...
“Make It Fun”
“In Taos”
In Taos, late one summer afternoon, my wife Linda and I came upon a festival in the plaza. There were booths selling Indian crafts,...
“In Taos”
“Editing’s Many Layers”
Small presses don’t have the reputation that larger presses do of maintaining high editorial standards. But my experience with these...
“Editing’s Many Layers”
“The Assignment”
I am haunted by a writing assignment I first attempted as a senior-year final-semester English major at the University of Wisconsin in...
“The Assignment”
“Building the Homeplace: Misremembering’s Role in Creative Nonfiction”
It is unavoidable, the terrible, awful, diminutive questions of: what is your work about? The question is the writer’s albatross tied...
“Building the Homeplace: Misremembering’s Role in Creative Nonfiction”
Why I Write: Arthur Klepchukov
Rebecca Solnit described writing as a conversation across time with someone you haven’t met yet. Isn’t that the ultimate saving grace...
Why I Write: Arthur Klepchukov
Why I Write: Carol Guess
Writing keeps me company. I’m not a religious person, but like prayer, writing connects me to something bigger, to the world beyond...
Why I Write: Carol Guess
Why I Write: Maddison Langston
     When I was seven, I assured myself I was going to write another chapter of the Bible. I’d grown up in a Christian school my whole...
Why I Write: Maddison Langston
“Cinderella: Conflict and Resolution”
Whether you’re an old-fashioned traditionalist or an ultra-modernist, if you try your hand at nonfiction narrative, you can’t go wrong...
“Cinderella: Conflict and Resolution”
“Hearing Voices: Finding My Writing Community”
  At fifty-plus, I had started, but not finished, three utterly unrelated graduate programs before I found my way to the low-residency...
“Hearing Voices: Finding My Writing Community”
Why I Write: Suzanne Kamata
Work begins early in my neighborhood, here in Aizumi, a town in Tokushima Prefecture, on the island of Shikoku. The farmers next door crank...
Why I Write: Suzanne Kamata
“A Strange Favor”
I am no stranger to oddity. In the early 1970s, I was standing in a voting line in Little Rock, Arkansas, chatting with a southern lady who...
“A Strange Favor”
“Six Necessities for a Writing Life”
When people ask about writing, I tell them they should have contacted me many years ago, when I could have told them much more than I can...
“Six Necessities for a Writing Life”
“I’m Not a Failure If I Stop Writing”
“You fail only if you stop writing.” —Ray Bradbury  I’ve always known I was a good writer. Teachers complimented me on my writing...
“I’m Not a Failure If I Stop Writing”
The Story Behind the Story: “The Squall”
For a long time, I thought I couldn’t be a fiction writer because I’m a terrible liar. So I busied myself with personal essays...
The Story Behind the Story: “The Squall”
Why I Write: Charmaine Wilkerson
Storytelling has always been part of my life. I grew up surrounded by books and I love to see stories given new life on the stage or in...
Why I Write: Charmaine Wilkerson
“4 Ways To End a Story: Short Stories & Flash Fiction”
It’s difficult to describe good and bad art with accuracy. Creative writing suffers the same fate. What makes a polished story? How does...
“4 Ways To End a Story: Short Stories & Flash Fiction”
“A Scattering of Influences”
Ideas that Shape My Perceptions 1. Trees in Mind There was an ash tree clearly in view from my window. It was not far away. Yet I could...
“A Scattering of Influences”
Writer in Progress: The Writer’s Idea Book, Submission Notebook, and You
Much of what we do as writers is onscreen. While Word files, attachments, and screenshots are excellent tools, one of the resources my...
Writer in Progress: The Writer’s Idea Book, Submission Notebook, and You
“Not Alone”
By the time I was five, half the age of my sister whom I idealized the attention of, I became worried about being cast aside. I competed...
“Not Alone”
The Story Behind the Story: “Nadine’s Broken Heart”
There’s not always a clear story behind my stories, particularly my flash fiction, but “Nadine’s Broken Heart” began in my creative...
The Story Behind the Story: “Nadine’s Broken Heart”
“The Fiction of Credibility”
I’m writing a fictional story that takes place in 1969. When the main character, Patsy, is anticipating the arrival of the boy she’s in...
“The Fiction of Credibility”
“The Near Death of Literature”
When I was in tenth grade I had American literature for sixth period and it just about killed me. Whoever decided on what students to put...
“The Near Death of Literature”
“Qualia”
Raising my children has taught me how to apply critical thinking to a variety of situations, not the least of which is assessing...
“Qualia”
“Why Is a Raven Like a Writing Desk?”
The life of an author can be peculiar. Certain experiences ought to be grand events accompanied by trumpets and elephants, or at least a...
“Why Is a Raven Like a Writing Desk?”
George Choundas: “Why I Write”
Few things are better than writing. Writing is sitting with coffee and hatching plans. Many things are worse than not writing. But not...
George Choundas: “Why I Write”
“You Can’t Write and Make Pizza”
I had a small group of friends over on a summer night—not my writer friends, but one of them was a book editor I used to work with a long...
“You Can’t Write and Make Pizza”
“I Write to Rumble”
“No blogs?”, “Did you stop writing?”, “Too busy for your blog?” I was absent from my blog space for 100 days. And no, I did not...
“I Write to Rumble”
“Solstice Means Stillness”
Nearly a decade ago, I promised myself I’d spend summer solstice in the brightest part of the world. It wasn’t so much a bucket-list...
“Solstice Means Stillness”
“Ships In The Night”
I love a traditionally told story as much as the next reader, but as a writer, I enjoy bending the rules of storytelling structure. Playing...
“Ships In The Night”
“Just Short of the Words”
The land just east of the high school covers 22.4 acres, a slab of earth christened University Commons for its catty corner nature to a...
“Just Short of the Words”
“Unfaithful Writer”
I’ll admit it, I have problems committing. When I first met my current “amor” I swore I had never seen an idea so sexy,...
“Unfaithful Writer”
“Creative Writing: From the Outside In”
People finding out that I write poetry are oftentimes surprised, for any variety of reasons. Perhaps they don’t think it accords with...
“Creative Writing: From the Outside In”
Kiss Kiss: Flash Fiction by Paul Beckman (Review)
How flexible is the precocious genre-bending flash? To get an idea, check out Paul Beckman’s latest collection, Kiss Kiss, a master class...
Kiss Kiss: Flash Fiction by Paul Beckman (Review)
“What High School Students Learned at Career Day, i.e. What I Learned at Career Day”
“If I agree to speak at Career Day, could I get a better interest rate on my house loan?” I asked my banker who was a member of...
“What High School Students Learned at Career Day, i.e. What I Learned at Career Day”
The Story Behind the Story: “Broken Beneath”
At the beginning of 2016, I was feeling bored with my writing. I had been working on revising two separate novel manuscripts in the two...
The Story Behind the Story: “Broken Beneath”
The Story Behind the Story: “Repeatable Sequence #3”
The story behind this one? I wish I knew. Anymore I just try to find a solid beginning and follow the breadcrumbs. Of course, lately...
The Story Behind the Story: “Repeatable Sequence #3”
Why I Write: Robert Pope
I became aware of a strong impulse to write stories in the first semester of my sophomore year in college, when I took a creative writing...
Why I Write: Robert Pope
The Story Behind the Story: “For the Dachshund Enthusiast”
This story is basically my love song to New York. I am a native New Yorker living in Seattle and I pine for the city every day. Windows...
The Story Behind the Story: “For the Dachshund Enthusiast”
“Ambivalence”
Ambivalent best describes my opinion of whether artists have an obligation to address political topics. Some of the writers I admire most...
“Ambivalence”
The Story Behind the Story: “Void”
Years ago, I lived in a big apartment complex in South Korea that had its own ATM machine. It was an old machine, and for whatever reason,...
The Story Behind the Story: “Void”
“On Fearless Writing”
I’ve been writing fiction and essays for twenty years. Since 2010, I have tried to write fearlessly. Though I’m not quite there...
“On Fearless Writing”
Beyond Show Don’t Tell: The Poetic Image in Fiction
A few years ago, I came across a memorable TEDx lecture by Dr. Joe Dispenza titled “Our Three Brains: From Thinking to Doing to Being.”...
Beyond Show Don’t Tell: The Poetic Image in Fiction
“From Authors Remote, Alien, Diverse”
“A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest.” – T.S. Eliot When I...
“From Authors Remote, Alien, Diverse”
The Story Behind the Story: “The Spine Falls Away”
When I was three and my brother was one, my parents moved us into an old farm house on top of a mountain in Harrogate, Tennessee. It felt...
The Story Behind the Story: “The Spine Falls Away”
“My Sloshing-Around Snow Globe Brain”
I hear all these stories about the greatest writers of all time carrying around notebooks, jotting down their brilliant thoughts throughout...
“My Sloshing-Around Snow Globe Brain”
The Story Behind the Story: “To the Pool”
The genesis of “To the Pool” was an anecdote I heard from one of my mother’s friends. I was listening in on their Friday Coffee...
The Story Behind the Story: “To the Pool”
A Review of The Parthenon Bomber
The Parthenon Bomber Christos Chrissopoulos, translated by John Cullen Other Press, 2017   Across the United States, and especially in...
A Review of The Parthenon Bomber
“Balancing Freelance And Fiction: Seven Tips For Finishing Your Manuscript Without Sacrificing Content”
As a professional freelancer, how do you find a balance between keeping up with your own projects and maintaining your freelance business?...
“Balancing Freelance And Fiction: Seven Tips For Finishing Your Manuscript Without Sacrificing Content”
The Story Behind the Story: “Gail”
Gail was originally a piece I submitted for a writing exercise in a workshop I attended late last year. The class was asked to describe a...
The Story Behind the Story: “Gail”
The Story Behind the Story: “Frankenstein, Palmer, Michigan”
I’m not sure why I wrote “Frankenstein, Palmer, Michigan.”  It just spilled out of me.  I think I like masks....
The Story Behind the Story: “Frankenstein, Palmer, Michigan”
The Story Behind the Story: “In the Cutting Room”
I’m a filmmaker as well as a writer, and I worked for many years as a freelance video editor. “In the Cutting Room” is...
The Story Behind the Story: “In the Cutting Room”
The Story Behind the Story: “A Trail of No”
A writer’s life is fraught with rejection. In the face of continual rejection, of people telling you that your work does not...
The Story Behind the Story: “A Trail of No”
“Fat-shaming the Muse”
Like millions of young readers over the past half-century, I was enchanted by the pioneer stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder. I picked up...
“Fat-shaming the Muse”
Review of Daddy Issues by Alex McElroy
Daddy Issues, reviewed by Alex McElroy, published by The Cupboard Alex McElroy’s debut chapbook, Daddy Issues, to be published in...
Review of Daddy Issues by Alex McElroy
“Striving for Immortality”
Every night, my wife and I listen to an old time radio program. In the twelve or thirteen years we’ve been doing it, we’ve heard...
“Striving for Immortality”
The Story Behind the Story: “Re-Up”
I’m always looking for things to write about, and I’ve often turned to family memories as a jumping off point. This particular story...
The Story Behind the Story: “Re-Up”
“Never Stop Writing”
During the summer, I stay up very late. I love the early morning headaches and the Saharan thirst that hits your throat somewhere around...
“Never Stop Writing”
The Story Behind the Story: “Post-Apocalypse Postcard from an Appalachian Chalet”
I grew up in Tennessee and spent many childhood vacations in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which may be where I first imagined...
The Story Behind the Story: “Post-Apocalypse Postcard from an Appalachian Chalet”
Why I Write: Jolene McIlwain
Stories. My childhood home was filled with them. Mom’s drowned-puppy story. Dad’s ever-changing tale of his buddy jumping from a water...
Why I Write: Jolene McIlwain
“Tellers”
Stories. My childhood home was filled with them. Mom’s drowned-puppy story. Dad’s ever-changing tale of his buddy jumping from a water...
“Tellers”
“Up Front Characterization: Using the First Paragraph to Establish Character”
Common advice to short story writers is to “front load” the story, meaning to provide key information right away, in the first few...
“Up Front Characterization:  Using the First Paragraph to Establish Character”
“Chimney Flashing: How I Got Back into Writing”
I felt the need to accomplish something, so I climbed onto the roof and measured the chimney. I would build a flashing. I only recently...
“Chimney Flashing: How I Got Back into Writing”
Why I Write: Jenny Ferguson
I write because I can’t stop. And, yes, I’ve tried quitting. More than once. The longest time I managed to quit writing was for a...
Why I Write: Jenny Ferguson
“Writing Through”
The night of my first seizure, I was sixteen years old. I was taken to a hospital, scanned and poked. I trusted America’s healthcare...
“Writing Through”
Let the Story Teach you its Form: An Interview with David Ebenbach
–David Ebenbach, interviewd by Margaret Luongo   You have been successfully publishing short stories (three collections) and...
Let the Story Teach you its Form: An Interview with David Ebenbach
“Writing in the Fallow”
Why am I here? Not getting married, not finishing an MFA, not moving to Oregon. I’m heading into the deep freeze of Arctic-Iowa,...
“Writing in the Fallow”
“Another Shade of True”
Author Vivian Gornick1 once remarked memoir and nonfiction are literary artifacts—just as fiction—as they imply a coherent narrative...
“Another Shade of True”
Why I Write: Jeremy Warneke
Writing for me has always been a coping mechanism. When I was in Iraq in 2003, for example, I wrote home as much as possible. I was not...
Why I Write: Jeremy Warneke
“In Dreams, Reality”
Many years ago, a Fiction Writing student asked me an interesting question: How do you write something original? I asked him to let me...
“In Dreams, Reality”
“Creativity’s Marathon”
This morning, after dropping my daughter off for a playdate and beginning the walk home, I found myself thinking about something that has...
“Creativity’s Marathon”
“Curmudgeon Writer Expostulates on . . . The Prologue: Who Needs It?”
I used to teach “Novel Writing” at a college that has asked to remain anonymous. I had to give up teaching the class for my...
“Curmudgeon Writer Expostulates on . . .  The Prologue: Who Needs It?”
“Beyond The Fax”
I learned to fax at the age of twenty-six. As a receptionist for two publishers, inhabiting a little gray cubicle, I received calls, sliced...
“Beyond The Fax”
“This Writer’s Secret to Doing What She Loves”
Do what you love may be the most overused advice in the career-improvement world.  A blogpost on the complexity of this directive went...
“This Writer’s Secret to Doing What She Loves”
“Why I Write in the Digital Age”
Every day I find reasons not to be a writer. I’m not talking about doubts spurred by my inconsistent income or a string of failed pitches...
“Why I Write in the Digital Age”
Why I Write: “Writing to Understand”
My views on writing have changed through the years. As a kid, I wrote to gain some attention. As a teenager, I wrote to transport myself...
Why I Write: “Writing to Understand”
Writing Practice: The 15-minute Method
Why do writers sabotage their own success by creating unrealistic goals for their writing practice?  Deadlines and structure are good...
Writing Practice:  The 15-minute Method
The Story Behind the Story: ‘In Your Honor’
This story started off as a poem. It as about a tree our neighbors planted in honor of my father after he died. When I found it again after...
The Story Behind the Story: ‘In Your Honor’
The Story Behind the Story: “Pulse”
I originally wrote this piece in 2006 while taking a class at the University of Arizona’s Poetry Center. The class focused on hybrid...
The Story Behind the Story: “Pulse”
Why I Write: Paul Beckman
Writing is not my hobby nor is it my job–it’s an integral part of my being. I write to remember and to mold and change those...
Why I Write: Paul Beckman
“Five Stages of Writer’s Grief”
  Denial. I’m a notable, talented and prolific writer, and I can finish a story in a day, and any notable publication will accept...
“Five Stages of Writer’s Grief”
The Story Behind the Story: “On a Bridge, At Night”
This started as an experiment. I had been discussing the structure of storytelling and the way we spontaneously recount an event: the...
The Story Behind the Story: “On a Bridge, At Night”
Why I Write: Erin Armstrong
I write because I find the world to be a crazy place and writing is one of the few acts that makes sense to me. I write to find out who I...
Why I Write: Erin Armstrong
The Story Behind the Story: “Rainpainting”
Half a mile from my family’s home in the Appalachians of Southeast Tennessee, there is a woman who ties window frames from the high limbs...
The Story Behind the Story: “Rainpainting”
“Quiet Agony: Joshua Ferris’ ‘The Dinner Party’ Review”
Ten years ago, Joshua Ferris burst onto the literary scene with his wonderful, unique novel, Then We Came to the End — largely told from...
“Quiet Agony: Joshua Ferris’ ‘The Dinner Party’ Review”
The Story Behind the Story: “Dig a Sheet-rag a Hole”
I was participating in the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction contest in 2014 while living in Puebla, Mexico.  The parameters of the contest are...
The Story Behind the Story: “Dig a Sheet-rag a Hole”
The Story Behind the Story: Mea Culpa
I pulled from a few very real experiences when I wrote Mea Culpa. The first came from my ever-humorous dating life in my twenties. On a...
The Story Behind the Story: Mea Culpa
The Story Behind the Story: Why I’ll Never Buy Another Peacock
I was buying milk. There were eighteen registers and only two were open. One was run by a human. The other was a self-checkout. The line...
The Story Behind the Story: Why I’ll Never Buy Another Peacock
“Tips and Rules to Use in Writing Historical Fiction”
These are the lecture notes I used at Missouri State in W. D. Blackmon’s class and at the Creamery Arts Center. Have any of you written...
“Tips and Rules to Use in Writing Historical Fiction”
The Story Behind the Story: “Swing”
This story was the quick result of a confluence of weather and memory. Our house, like any house my wife and I will ever own, is fronted by...
The Story Behind the Story: “Swing”
Book Festivals: Why Authors Should Spend the Money to Travel to Book Festivals”
Book festivals are a tradition I’m thinking a lot about lately. By the end of the year I will have taken Some Kinds of Love: Stories to...
Book Festivals: Why Authors Should Spend the Money to Travel to Book Festivals”
“Cutting Down”
If you write flash fiction with any regularity, you need to master the art of reduction. You’ve finished your story, which weighs in at...
“Cutting Down”
“Being Away from What You Write: What Does Distance Do to Fiction’s Sense of Place?”
In Dr. Brooks Blevins’s class in Ozarks Literature and History, the first question a student asked struck at the heart of what I am...
“Being Away from What You Write: What Does Distance Do to Fiction’s Sense of Place?”
Why I Write: Glenn Deutsch
I write because six, seven, or however many decades may take a long time to live, but amount to a short time on earth. I write because my...
Why I Write: Glenn Deutsch
Why I Write: “A Hungry Squirrel in Autumn”
Writing gets me to the truth of things. I can’t fully speak the truth, like a poor waif from an old fashioned fairytale. In place of the...
Why I Write: “A Hungry Squirrel in Autumn”
“On the Value of Publishing with a University Press”
This week, November 11-17, is University Press Week, a seven-day celebration of what university presses are, what they do, and what great...
“On the Value of Publishing with a University Press”
Why I Write: Angie Pelekidis
This kid, at 8 years old, is already a reader. Because she learned that books are magic. You could open them up and disappear into them...
Why I Write: Angie Pelekidis
“Playing on the Ladder with Micro-Fiction”
It was a precocious high school freshman who introduced me to the adorable boxed set of flash fiction published by McSweeney’s, One...
“Playing on the Ladder with Micro-Fiction”
The Story Behind the Story: “We Can Go Faster”
This piece was originally a prose poem for a mixed genre class I took last spring. It was one long paragraph, windy and chaotic, with more...
The Story Behind the Story: “We Can Go Faster”
“Being a Reclusive Author in Today’s Publishing Industry”
Recently, I received the following comment from a writer: I have two questions regarding publishing and platform. I’m hoping you can...
“Being a Reclusive Author in Today’s Publishing Industry”
The Story Behind the Story: “Together”
Ever since reading Jeffrey Eugenides’ novel Virgin Suicides in 1993, I’ve been fascinated by the first-person plural voice and how it...
The Story Behind the Story: “Together”
Why I Write: DM O’Connor
You ask why I write? For all of it. To keep it going. To remember. To share. To fight injustice. Because when you find yourself in prison,...
Why I Write: DM O’Connor
The Story Behind the Story: “In The Shape Of A Small Bird”
“In The Shape Of A Small Bird” began with a fabulous tropical picture, taken by photographer Laurie Klein, of a small falling down...
The Story Behind the Story: “In The Shape Of A Small Bird”
“Your No One is My Everyone: Some Thoughts on Publishing and the Sage Advice of Businessmen”
The first time I fully realized the value of what I do for a living, I was stricken with the stomach flu. Illness is the one excuse to stop...
“Your No One is My Everyone: Some Thoughts on Publishing and the Sage Advice of Businessmen”
“Breaking into Freelance Independent Editing”
Recently, I received the following comment from a writer: Hi Victoria, I am a poet and the editor of a community journal of literature and...
“Breaking into Freelance Independent Editing”
The Story Behind the Story: “Visceral”
At the time when I wrote “Visceral” I had been spending a lot of time reading books about Buddhism, Hinduism, yoga, and meditation, as...
The Story Behind the Story: “Visceral”
The Story Behind the Story: “(there’s no telling what . . . )”
The wish to study physics with Boltzmann in Vienna brought me to Germany. You can imagine my upset when I learned that Boltzmann was long...
The Story Behind the Story: “(there’s no telling what . . . )”
“Finding the Right Editor for You”
 Recently, I received the following question from a writer: Your remarks on Twitter seem to say that you love editing as much, if not...
“Finding the Right Editor for You”
The Story Behind the Story: “What We Take, What We Leave Behind”
I was estranged from my father for more than 25 years. As a child, we didn’t have a name for his rage, followed by tears, and the...
The Story Behind the Story: “What We Take, What We Leave Behind”
Flash Fiction: The Defining Sentence
One of the things I love about reading and writing Flash fiction is that a story can turn or pirouette in one sentence from a standard...
Flash Fiction: The Defining Sentence
The Story Behind the Story: “Mom’s Goodbye”
About twenty-five years ago at a family gathering my cousin’s new husband mentioned in passing that he had walked into his dying...
The Story Behind the Story: “Mom’s Goodbye”
The Story Behind the Story: “Basement Love Story”
This story fictionalizes actual people and situations. I worked on it for about a year and a half (off and on, off and on!) in tandem with...
The Story Behind the Story: “Basement Love Story”
The Story Behind the Story: “Move Fast and Break Things”
This short fiction takes its title from a slogan originating in Silicon Valley’s start-up culture, a creative principle that embraces the...
The Story Behind the Story: “Move Fast and Break Things”
Why I Write: Richard C Rutherford
My father had coon dogs. When I was a kid I listened to coon hunters tell stories, whittling and keeping my mouth shut. I noticed that the...
Why I Write: Richard C Rutherford
Why I Write: Lish Troha
As a child, it came effortlessly. I’d sit down at our boxy PC and write thousands of words for nothing but the joy of exploring my own...
Why I Write: Lish Troha
Why I Write: Julia Strayer
I write for a father who no longer lives, and for myself in hope of outliving my life. I write to solve puzzles, then look at them upside...
Why I Write: Julia Strayer
Why I Write: Eunice Barbara C. Novio
(My Journey with Words) Since I was young, I vented my anger and happiness on words sometimes, I painted. But my skill in painting and...
Why I Write: Eunice Barbara C. Novio
The Story Behind the Story: “Picasso Painting”
Although I have struggled with weight issues myself, I have never been a binger. However, I think labels like “overweight” and...
The Story Behind the Story: “Picasso Painting”
The Story Behind the Story: “Lucky Strikes”
I don’t have any kind of filter that protects me from whatever emotional state other people are in, and am easily empathetic when...
The Story Behind the Story: “Lucky Strikes”
“The Secret Uncertainties of a Writer”
You know something? The inner critic is mean. It loves to play on existing insecurities and drill into them as if debriding an open wound....
“The Secret Uncertainties of a Writer”
“Critiquing the Critique”
I’ve found the most difficult part of writing is in receiving meaningful critiques—hell, who am I fooling? My problem is in getting any...
“Critiquing the Critique”
Writers Retreat – Interlochen College for Creative Arts
Conference Spotlight Submission to Fiction Southeast The Writers Retreat at Interlochen College for Creative Arts was my opportunity this...
Writers Retreat – Interlochen College for Creative Arts
“Plugged in and Feeling the Fiction”
Imagine wearing a vest-like device while reading a book, so that when you come upon a scene brimming with heart-racing tension, the vest...
“Plugged in and Feeling the Fiction”
Why I Write: Audra Kerr Brown
How a Girl Became a Writer, As Outlined by Nigel Watt’s “Eight-Point Story Arc”* #1 STASIS There once was a girl born amongst...
Why I Write: Audra Kerr Brown
Why I Write: N.T. McQueen
  Recently, my wife asked me why I wrote. Though a majority of writers would have a default or romanticized response, I found myself...
Why I Write: N.T. McQueen
“The Story Behind the Story: “What We Were When We Drew What We Drew”
Gabe, the faceless character in my story, has actually lived in my brain for about forty years now. He’s mostly quiet, but I have to...
“The Story Behind the Story: “What We Were When We Drew What We Drew”
The Story Behind the Story: “In the Dark”
“In the Dark” came out of pure nostalgia for me. I remember in middle school this theater where we went on weekend nights in my...
The Story Behind the Story: “In the Dark”
The Story Behind the Story: “The Kidnapper’s Journal”
This flash fiction was initially written as a poem in 2003 after Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her bedroom in Salt Lake City, and...
The Story Behind the Story: “The Kidnapper’s Journal”
Why I Write: Matt Tompkins
I am, above all, an inquisitive person. As a precocious kid, I was constantly asking questions. But I learned pretty early that if I asked...
Why I Write: Matt Tompkins
The Story Behind the Story: “Together”
Ever since reading Jeffrey Eugenides’ novel Virgin Suicides in 1993, I’ve been fascinated by the first-person plural voice and how it...
The Story Behind the Story: “Together”
The Story Behind the Story: “Wind”
A year ago, I wrote a one-page story based on an incident in my childhood. Then I wrote two more. These stories, I decided, were the...
The Story Behind the Story: “Wind”
“What is Flash Fiction”
A friend of mine recently asked about the difference between flash fiction and prose poetry and I found myself, somewhat embarrassingly,...
“What is Flash Fiction”
Corner Post: The Window Between
When writing projects come to an end, step back and recharge.  Allow yourself to write short, incomplete things, the fragments that help...
Corner Post: The Window Between
“What’s Your Book About? How to Make a Pitch”
When my first novel was complete, I sent it to an academic press. (You could do that then.) The editor liked the book, but decided it would...
“What’s Your Book About? How to Make a Pitch”
The Story Behind the Story: “School Bags”
In the Netherlands, where I was born and raised, your school years are divided in two: you start around age four, for eight years in one...
The Story Behind the Story: “School Bags”
The Story Behind the Story: “Thunder”
“Thunder” was written in the thick of my graduate studies. It was one of those rare gifts in writing—a story that skips conception...
The Story Behind the Story: “Thunder”
“Where Do Ideas Come From?”
Someone posed that question on an online fiction writers forum. The thread went on for months. Responses included the following sources of...
“Where Do Ideas Come From?”
The Writer and Her Time
The Writer begins when she is young. She doesn’t want to waste time. Reading is wonderful but writing feels better. After she finishes...
The Writer and Her Time
“Giving your Setting a Little Character”
I read somewhere that you should treat the setting of your story like a character. Give it a strong identity, allow it to have mood swings,...
“Giving your Setting a Little Character”
A Writer’s Writer: Colum McCann’s Thirteen Ways of Looking
Irish writer Colum McCann is best known for his National Book Award winning novel, Let the Great World Spin. Despite winning one of the...
A Writer’s Writer: Colum McCann’s Thirteen Ways of Looking
Ask an Agent Series: Tracey Adams
Tracey Adams is the Co-Founder of Adams Literary. For this installment of our Ask an Agent Series, we asked...
Ask an Agent Series: Tracey Adams
“Save Your Abandoned Art”
You are going to write a story so gripping that your readers will forget their problems and disappear inside your well-placed words. You...
“Save Your Abandoned Art”
“Stimulus and Response: Getting Down to the Nitty Gritty”
In fiction, stimulus and response work like a ping-pong game. They make you look at the line-by-line progression of a story. Stimulus is...
“Stimulus and Response: Getting Down to the Nitty Gritty”
“Time to Turn Your Flash to the Dark Side”
“Narrative,” writes Peter Abbott in The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative, “is present in every age, in every place, in every...
“Time to Turn Your Flash to the Dark Side”
“Of Mice and Men, America’s Mirror of Fallibilities”
“I am free of all prejudices. I hate everyone equally” -W.C. Fields In 1937, American writer and California native John Steinbeck...
“Of Mice and Men, America’s Mirror of Fallibilities”
“Use POV To Close That Distance in a Flash”
I never fully grasped point-of-view until I read David Jauss’s amazing essay “From Long Shots To X-Rays: Distance and Point of View in...
“Use POV To Close That Distance in a Flash”
“How to Craft Compelling Characters”
The source and exact nature of the curious phenomena we refer to as characters remains something of a mystery, but the craft of...
“How to Craft Compelling Characters”
“Want to Make Your Dialogue Sparkle?”
Have you ever finished writing a scene of dialogue, re-read it and wondered why it doesn’t sparkle? Below is an example of such a...
“Want to Make Your Dialogue Sparkle?”
Ask an Agent Series: Caryn Wiseman
Caryn Wiseman is a senior agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency. For this installment of our Ask an Agent Series, we asked Caryn what she...
Ask an Agent Series: Caryn Wiseman
Why I Write: Avital Gad-Cykman
I always had an urge to write. My diaries gave my everyday life a certain sense and importance that was lacking otherwise. Following the...
Why I Write: Avital Gad-Cykman
The Craft of Writing ‘Great’ Short Fiction
Don’t be fooled – writing great short fiction is no easy feat. Although, this form of writing is relatively brief compared with the...
The Craft of Writing ‘Great’ Short Fiction
The Story Behind the Story: “Okay But Will You Anyway”
First and foremost, this is literally how I proposed to my wife. Not as it happens in the story, of course, but by writing her the story...
The Story Behind the Story: “Okay But Will You Anyway”
“Making Your Scenes Work Harder”
When I started my novel, Cradlesnatch, I estimated it would be around 50,000 words, which is normal for a YA novel. However it’s...
“Making Your Scenes Work Harder”
The Story Behind the Story: “Therapy Dance”
I am fascinated by the index of psychiatric disorders commonly known as the DSM-IV, which is amazingly large and descriptive. In fact, with...
The Story Behind the Story: “Therapy Dance”
“How to Improve Your Odds of Sticking to Your Writing Resolutions”
On the evening news not long ago a fitness guru offered three tips to improve your chances of sticking to your fitness goals in the New...
“How to Improve Your Odds of Sticking to Your Writing Resolutions”
Why I Write: Rae Pagliarulo
I try to think about the motivation to become a writer – as though one day, you are not, and the next… Or as if there’s...
Why I Write: Rae Pagliarulo
What’s the Big Deal about Leading a Writers’ Workshop?
Well, I’ll tell you. It probably teaches you as much as it does the other participants. Perhaps more. I led a workshop Saturday for my...
What’s the Big Deal about Leading a Writers’ Workshop?
“Could Your Dialogue Be Doing More?”
Humans communicate by talking each other, it’s something we do all the time to tell each other things. So when it comes to writing...
“Could Your Dialogue Be Doing More?”
Why I Write: Yasmina Madden
I wish I could say that from a very young age, five or six, I knew that I wanted to be a writer, and that I write because I’ve always...
Why I Write: Yasmina Madden
“Make the Impossible Look Real”
In his book, Writing the Break Out Novel, Donald Maass states: “take that which is improbable and make it look...
“Make the Impossible Look Real”
A Review of The Art of Character
The Art of Character by David Corbett (Pengin, 2013)   Like most writers, I have several books in my bookshelves on craft. In...
A Review of The Art of Character
The Story Behind the Story: “From Adam”
Six years ago, I moved back to the town I grew up in because my husband was offered a job in radio. While initially the transition was...
The Story Behind the Story: “From Adam”
The Story Behind the Story: “Mrs. White in the Ballroom with the Lead Pipe”
I woke up at 2:00 AM one night with the title of this story in my head. I’m usually terrible at titles. I got out of bed, spent the...
The Story Behind the Story: “Mrs. White in the Ballroom with the Lead Pipe”
“Cutting Your First Draft”
Yesterday I reached the end of my second draft of Cradlesnatch. Three weeks ago the first draft stood at 92,000 words. Today the word...
“Cutting Your First Draft”
The Story Behind the Story: “He Had Vigor”
In this segment of The Story Behind the Story, Ben Shields talks about what motivated him to write “He Had Vigor.” I wrote...
The Story Behind the Story: “He Had Vigor”
“Why You Should Battle the Proofreading Ogre and How to Manage the War”
Proofreading is so much more than reviewing text for errors. It is a masochistic activity that follows close on the heels of the euphoria...
“Why You Should Battle the Proofreading Ogre and How to Manage the War”
“Pages in the Hands of an Angry Editor”
Thanks Nathan Sturgis for the title of this week’s blog, and thanks Jonathan Edwards for the sermon that inspired...
“Pages in the Hands of an Angry Editor”
“Why I Love Literary Citizenship”
Much is being written lately on the topic of literary citizenship. Since this was the topic of my Master’s final research paper, I...
“Why I Love Literary Citizenship”
“Ten Habits of Effective Writing Critiquers”
Creative writing workshops can be a place where writers help colleagues shape their written work so that it effectively communicates the...
“Ten Habits of Effective Writing Critiquers”
“Keeping it Short and Sweet- Flash Fiction”
Flash Fiction: For Life On The Go Short stories have long held appeal to readers who lead busy lives. Many of the works of Charles Dickens...
“Keeping it Short and Sweet- Flash Fiction”
Emerging Genius: The Early Stories of Truman Capote
They say the brightest stars shine too vibrantly to sustain. The most beautiful of creative talents dwindle too soon. Perhaps great artists...
Emerging Genius: The Early Stories of Truman Capote
Why I Write: Jason Half-Pillow
I write because I can’t really do much else. I can do other things but not things that require concentration. I can’t really work. I...
Why I Write: Jason Half-Pillow
“Use Writing as an Excuse to Travel to Beautiful Places (and other Confessions of a Conference Monster)”
Up in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the mornings were cold and the internet worked only after the sun came out and re-charged the cells...
“Use Writing as an Excuse to Travel to Beautiful Places (and other Confessions of a Conference Monster)”
The Story Behind the Story: “Mother-In-Law Collection”
The story was inspired by my Romanian grandfather’s stamp collection– four albums of stamps which chronicle Romania’s...
The Story Behind the Story: “Mother-In-Law Collection”
“Writing a Fight Scene”
It’s been a long journey, but I’ve finally reached the last section of my novel, Cradlesnatch, and what I need to do now is...
“Writing a Fight Scene”
Why I Write: Melanie Meyer
I have always had an insatiable thirst to write. Writing is simply my therapy for life; it is what grounds me, enlivens me, and fills me...
Why I Write: Melanie Meyer
“Teaching Editing–A Little Grammar Goes a Long Way”
I’ve still got my editing cap on this week. After my tiny proofreading tantrum a couple of weeks ago and completing those two jobs for...
“Teaching Editing–A Little Grammar Goes a Long Way”
Corner Post: “Get a Rhythm”
First thing in the morning read something—a poem, half a story, an essay, a thesaurus entry.  Just get your mind immersed in words....
Corner Post: “Get a Rhythm”
“The Writer’s Brain on Data”
There is always another email to answer, another link to share, another picture to upload, another article to read, and always another...
“The Writer’s Brain on Data”
The Story Behind the Story: “When She Comes”
Coming 'Round the Mountain" is a derivation of an African-American "spiritual" song known as "When the Chariot...
The Story Behind the Story: “When She Comes”
Ask an Editor Series: Hypertrophic Press
Lynsey Morandin is the Editor of Hypertrophic Press. Originally from Canada, Lynsey holds a degree and post-graduate certificate in book...
Ask an Editor Series: Hypertrophic Press
“6 Quick Proofreading Tips”
What a busy week! We had National Grammar Day on March 4, and today, March 8, is National Proofreading Day. For someone like...
“6 Quick Proofreading Tips”
Corner Post: “Getting Through the Dark Hours”
The thing about novel writing is that the old cliché about rolling with the punches is absolutely true.  Flash fiction and short stories...
Corner Post: “Getting Through the Dark Hours”
“How To Show Your Character On The Page”
When my first novel, Fury, went out to publishers it received several rejections giving similar feedback. They couldn’t connect...
“How To Show Your Character On The Page”
“The Magic of Storytelling: Films in a Flash”
Francis Ford Coppola says the earliest filmmakers were magicians. Today, the abracadabra that began the industry is clearly alive and...
“The Magic of Storytelling: Films in a Flash”
“Looking at the Big Picture – Are Your Character Motivations Working?”
Sometimes when you’re editing, you can find yourself spending so much time focusing on the line by line detail that you lose track of...
“Looking at the Big Picture – Are Your Character Motivations Working?”
A Review of 6 Books on the Craft of Fiction
Here’s the skinny on six of the “how-to” books for fiction writers in my bookcase – three on fiction generally and three on crime...
A Review of 6 Books on the Craft of Fiction
The Story Behind the Story: “Thieving Magpie”
In this segment of The Story Behind the Story, Laura Valeri talks about what motivated her to write “The Thieving Magpie.” Ever...
The Story Behind the Story: “Thieving Magpie”
“The Role of Historical Accuracy in Storytelling: Assassin’s Creed Syndicate”
The most obvious, yet, abundantly difficult aspect of writing a novel or script set in previous time period, is remaining historically...
“The Role of Historical Accuracy in Storytelling: Assassin’s Creed Syndicate”
Becoming a Freelance Independent Editor: For Young Writers”
I was contacted by a high school student interested in becoming a freelance independent editor. She sent me a list of interview questions...
Becoming a Freelance Independent Editor: For Young Writers”
The Story Behind the Story: “A Late Appointment”
I worked as a social worker for 42 years; 27 of those as a psychotherapist. “A Late Appointment” is a true story. The client is...
The Story Behind the Story: “A Late Appointment”
Ask an Editor Series: Tara Masih
For this segment of our Ask an Editor Series, we asked Tara about The Best Small Fictions 2015, her advice for aspiring editors, as well as...
Ask an Editor Series: Tara Masih
A Review of Two Books on Revision Techniques
My bookcase holds two books that deal with revising and editing fiction: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and...
A Review of Two Books on Revision Techniques
“The Art of the Book Review”
I just got off the phone with my friend, L. Marie, who recently created a blog, “Thoughts about writing and life.”...
“The Art of the Book Review”
Ask an Agent Series: Felicia Eth
Felicia Eth is a literary agent at Felicia Eth Literary Representation. For this installment of our Ask an Agent Series, we asked Felicia...
Ask an Agent Series: Felicia Eth
“Seven Reasons to Attend a Writers’ Conference”
If you have never been to a writers’ conference, you are missing great opportunities.  You don’t need to be a writer to...
“Seven Reasons to Attend a Writers’ Conference”
Hippocamp 2015
Going to a brand new conference is always a risk. It’s a big investment of time, money, and energy. But, after reading the list of...
Hippocamp 2015
An Interview with Alan Rinzler
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Alan Rinzler, who has had a long and successful career as an acquisitions editor and executive...
An Interview with Alan Rinzler
“Creating Memorable Characters”
Before you begin your new story, take a little time to create fresh new characters that are your own. Using someone else's...
“Creating Memorable Characters”
What’s the Big Deal about Your Inner Critic?
Well, I’ll tell you: she’s taking up space in your head that could be put to better use. And thanks to Robert Dugoni, I learned to tell...
What’s the Big Deal about Your Inner Critic?
Ask an Agent Series: Reiko Davis
Reiko Davis is a literary agent at Miriam Altshuler Literary Agency. For this installment of our Ask an Agent Series, we asked Reiko...
Ask an Agent Series: Reiko Davis
Why I Write: Seth Bennett
My journey into the world of stories commenced with countless hours immersed in my Lego’stm as a child. Heroes and villains covered a...
Why I Write: Seth Bennett
“Pick Up a Baton and Orchestrate Your Characters!
Are your characters earning their place in your fiction? When they appear on the page do they make your story move? If you said...
“Pick Up a Baton and Orchestrate Your Characters!
“Is It Possible to Teach Editing?”
I’m working on my syllabi for my fall classes. It’s always an interesting challenge. I like to use a white board–I can erase easily!...
“Is It Possible to Teach Editing?”
Why I Write: Michelle Ross
A relative recently wrote to me because he recognized another family member in a fiction piece of mine. He condemned me for making...
Why I Write: Michelle Ross
Eight Reasons to Consider Pursuing an MFA
  Okay, in advance, I confess. I have an MFA. You may detect a bit of bias in favour of MFAs in what follows.  So be it. Here are...
Eight Reasons to Consider Pursuing an MFA
Corner Post: “The Intangibles”
  In my last essay, I talked about the practical side to creating a writing life—balancing money, time, and place. This month I want...
Corner Post: “The Intangibles”
The Story Behind the Story: “Grow Grow Grow”
Once, in a reverie, I listened to the PJ Harvey song “Grow Grow Grow.” I sowed a seed Underneath the oak tree I trod it in With my...
The Story Behind the Story: “Grow Grow Grow”
Write Now: “Extending and Advancing”
Once again, Improvisational Theatre waves its hand from the back row – “Miss, miss!” “Yes Impro, do you have...
Write Now: “Extending and Advancing”
Why I Write: Rachel Peters
I hate writing.  Other people go to the gym after work, or see friends on the weekend, and they don’t walk around not realizing they...
Why I Write: Rachel Peters
Not Myself: On Writing Other Perspectives
This never-ending debate came up several times in my MFA classes: can a writer write from the perspective of another race, gender, sexual...
Not Myself: On Writing Other Perspectives
What’s the Big Deal about Public Readings of Your Writing?
Well, I’ll tell you: dry mouth, sweaty armpits, and the urge to call for your Mom. And the reason, of course, is that you are taking the...
What’s the Big Deal about Public Readings of Your Writing?
Ask an Agent Series: Deborah Schneider
Deborah Schneider is a partner at Gelfman Schneider Literary Agents Inc. For this installment of our Ask an Agent Series, we asked...
Ask an Agent Series: Deborah Schneider
Ask an Agent Series: Claire Anderson-Wheeler
Claire Anderson-Wheeler is a literary agent at Regal Literary. For this installment of our Ask an Agent Series, we asked Claire what she...
Ask an Agent Series: Claire Anderson-Wheeler
“The Hard Work of Writing”
  “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I’ve been guilty of saying just that to...
“The Hard Work of Writing”
The Story Behind the Story: “Wolf or Deer”
This past summer, I returned to my childhood summer camp to teach creative writing after having been away from the place for more...
The Story Behind the Story: “Wolf or Deer”
Ask an Editor Series: Michael Griffith
Michael Griffith is the Fiction Editor at Cincinnati Review. For this segment of our Ask an Editor Series, we asked Michael what he...
Ask an Editor Series: Michael Griffith
Why I Write: Phyllis Moore
I found my love for writing late, in my sixties. There were inklings earlier. I dabbled in writing stories for the children I worked with,...
Why I Write: Phyllis Moore
“What Is Your Daily Word Count?”
Many fiction writing experts advise writers to set a daily writing goal, usually 1,000 words per day. There are several benefits for...
“What Is Your Daily Word Count?”
“Lean & Mean-ing: Flash Fiction as Compromise Between Digital Impatience and Search for Meaning”
Studying creative writing, in particular fiction, is about more than just learning how to invent stories or passing time with an...
“Lean & Mean-ing: Flash Fiction as Compromise Between Digital Impatience and Search for Meaning”
Corner Post: “Gumption”
For me a writing life has always been determined by three things—money, time, and place.  And never have I had an abundance of all...
Corner Post: “Gumption”
Ask an Agent Series: Jill Kramer
Jill Kramer is a literary agent at Waterside Productions, Inc. For this installment of our Ask an Agent Series, we asked Jill what she...
Ask an Agent Series: Jill Kramer
“Lessons for the Genres”
As I examined my AWP conference loot, I pulled out a book called Creative Writing: Four Genres in Brief by David Starkey. A gentleman at...
“Lessons for the Genres”
“Don’t Tell Me What to Think or How to Feel: Avoiding Didacticism”
In my last article, I touched upon the importance of subtlety of theme in effective writing. This can also be understood as the avoidance...
“Don’t Tell Me What to Think or How to Feel: Avoiding Didacticism”
“Flashes On The Meridian: Dazzled by Flash Fiction”
Lately there are brilliant flashes of fiction almost everywhere you look. You see them in print journals, magazines, anthologies,...
“Flashes On The Meridian: Dazzled by Flash Fiction”
Why I Write: Katie Cortese
Because one of my earliest memories is my father reading The Hobbit out loud as I drifted off to sleep. He’s an electrical engineer....
Why I Write: Katie Cortese
Why I Write: Jacob M. Appel
When I was sixteen years old, I fell madly in love—as only sixteen year olds can—with a young woman who was madly in love with someone...
Why I Write: Jacob M. Appel
“Finding Your Voice”
One of the most difficult, but essential, questions for beginning writers is this: how do I find my voice? Giving guidance about finding...
“Finding Your Voice”
“Fear as Fuel for Creativity”
“The writers we tend to universally admire, like Beckett, or Kafka, or TS Eliot, are not very prolific.” —John Updike Despite the...
“Fear as Fuel for Creativity”
Write Now: “Playful Collaboration”
I was intrigued by a tweet from Margaret Attwood: “Margaret Atwood and Naomi Alderman: It might seem rather unexpected, but there’s a...
Write Now: “Playful Collaboration”
The Writing Room: Why Go Back?
Rejection and the accompanying crushing disappointment is something writers likely face daily and shrug off without much reflection. It’s...
The Writing Room: Why Go Back?
Write Now: “Dear Diary”
For my current YA novel, Still Water, I’m using a “diary” structure. This has its pros and cons. Some pros: The...
Write Now: “Dear Diary”
Ask an Agent Series: Jennifer Flannery
Jennifer Flannery is the founder of Flannery Literary. For this installment of our Ask an Agent Series, we asked Jennifer what...
Ask an Agent Series: Jennifer Flannery
Corner Post: “Dirty Your Hands”
Tapping on a computer keyboard always reminds me of when I played the piano as a kid. Back then the tapping made music. Now, words. Both...
Corner Post: “Dirty Your Hands”
Write Now: “The Art of Rewriting”
Often when we talk about the “rewriting” stage of a manuscript, we’re really talking about editing and polishing. We take...
Write Now: “The Art of Rewriting”
“What Makes a Main Character?”
Readers remember compelling main characters. Who could forget Harry Potter? Scarlett O’Hara? Don Vito Corleone? Dorothy Gale? What is...
“What Makes a Main Character?”
Why I Write: Rita Ciresi
Shhhh. Don’t tell anyone. But I’m a faux-academic. I teach my classes. Hold my office hours. Attend meetings. Push papers. I...
Why I Write: Rita Ciresi
Why I Write: Barbara Harroun
Because epilepsy was the first stone I threw. The first word that made someone who wasn’t family cry. And cry she did, snot and tears,...
Why I Write: Barbara Harroun
The Story Behind the Story: “Ravening Beasts”
I went to college in the South so I read a lot of Faulkner, both on my own, and also in class since I was an English major. I think I read...
The Story Behind the Story: “Ravening Beasts”
The Story Behind the Story: “Infamy”
In this segment of The Story Behind the Story, Grant Faulkner talks about what motivated him to write “Infamy.” I created the...
The Story Behind the Story: “Infamy”
A “Real Job”: The Legitimacy of Creative Writing
Over the course of my creative writing MFA, the topic of the work-writing balance has come up more than a few times. Some of my colleagues...
A “Real Job”: The Legitimacy of Creative Writing
Why I Write: Will Cordeiro
Gertrude Stein famously said, “I write for myself and strangers.” I write for many reasons. One of these is to become estranged from...
Why I Write: Will Cordeiro
“Conflicting Advice”
For most of my life, I’ve considered writing to be a solitary activity. When I began studying creative writing at university, I...
“Conflicting Advice”
“Fostering Literary Community in the Digital Age”
A writer is accustomed to solitude. Writing requires a certain amount of isolation in order for words to become stories, poems and essays....
“Fostering Literary Community in the Digital Age”
“Processing Feedback”
Here is what most writers forget. You are the boss of your own story. Not the other writers in your critique group. Not the famous author...
“Processing Feedback”
Corner Post: “When the Work Calls You To It”
A friend of mine told me this once. He is an artist and I was asking him about time, about finding, making time for art with everything...
Corner Post: “When the Work Calls You To It”
Why I Write: Katey Schultz
Right now I’m on a red-eye flight from San Fran to Detroit, where I’ll land at the ass-crack of dawn courtesy Delta Airlines, pick up a...
Why I Write: Katey Schultz
“The Reviews are In — And They Are Crafty”
A few weeks ago, I participated in a “boot camp” offered by Writer’s Digest, “Agent One-on-One: How to Craft Query Letters &...
“The Reviews are In — And They Are Crafty”
“Defining Such a Thing as Flash Fiction”
It’s an operation of mental classification and it requires much thinking inside the box. Even so, there are worse ways of thinking. The...
“Defining Such a Thing as Flash Fiction”
“Giving Your Tale a Twist”
In many ways, twist endings are the lifeblood of flash fiction, the sudden reversals that change everything. Flash fictions like this are...
“Giving Your Tale a Twist”
“The Digital Narrative”
Narrative nonfiction is tricky, full of emotional nuance and blatant subjectivity. Also, thanks to technology, we all write it all the...
“The Digital Narrative”
“Don’t Write Off the Comments of Workshop Readers—Even If They Are All Idiots”
In her article “Workshopping,” Stephanie Vanderlice sums up the phenomenon of the writing workshop in a four-word sentence: “Writer,...
“Don’t Write Off the Comments of Workshop Readers—Even If They Are All Idiots”
“Janina Gavankar Embraces Acting In Video Games”
In today’s world, technology dominates the little free time that the average person has throughout the day. Whether it is checking...
“Janina Gavankar Embraces Acting In Video Games”
“Are You Ready to Write?”
You’ve decided to write your first novel. Congratulations. You can’t wait to sit down and write. You’ve come up with a...
“Are You Ready to Write?”
Why I Write (Murder Stories): GC SMITH
Much of our culture may be fascinated with death, I’m not. In most of my writing murders (but not necessarily killings) take place...
Why I Write (Murder Stories): GC SMITH
“Avoid the Bog: Save Revision for Later”
I spent this past weekend being an academic. While I’ve presented at plenty of writers conferences, this past weekend I gave a paper...
“Avoid the Bog: Save Revision for Later”
The Challenge Beyond Craft: Slot-Filling (Part II)
In Part I, I discussed the challenge of content, of filling each “slot” with something, and the overwhelming uncertainty associated...
The Challenge Beyond Craft: Slot-Filling (Part II)
“Richard Skinner on Writing Flash Fiction”
Richard Skinner, is a poet, author and head of the Faber Academy's fiction programme. Amanda Saint had a chance to sopeak with him, and...
“Richard Skinner on Writing Flash Fiction”
“Instant Gratification: Sharing Your Creative Work”
Whenever I successfully complete a story, poem or creative work, my first impulse is that of a high school gossip with a secret: share it....
“Instant Gratification: Sharing Your Creative Work”
The Challenge Beyond Craft: Slot-Filling (Part 1 of 2)
A few weeks ago, in “Give Readers Something To Love,” I discussed the realities of your flash fiction submission being one of hundreds...
The Challenge Beyond Craft: Slot-Filling (Part 1 of 2)
Why I Write: Christopher Lowe
Memory’s a long-con. As we live our lives, events seem so indelible that they’ll never fade. In the moment – and in the...
Why I Write: Christopher Lowe
“Hook the Skimmers”
Congratulations! An editor loves your prose. You’ve sold your story. Feel wonderful. You should. After the euphoria collapses, you...
“Hook the Skimmers”
“The Overly Sensitive Writer”
Anne Lamott recently wrote an article titled “Me, the overly sensitive child,” adapted from her book, Stitches: A Handbook on...
“The Overly Sensitive Writer”
Why I Write: Becca Hawk
You've read it before; you have to in order to become one of us, right? Lorrie Moore's "How to become a writer"? She...
Why I Write: Becca Hawk
“Through a Glass Darkly: Crime Fiction as a Window on American Culture”
The author Tom Wolfe (The Bonfire of the Vanities) once said that the purpose of fiction was, among other things, to chronicle a...
“Through a Glass Darkly: Crime Fiction as a Window on American Culture”
“The Arc of the Story”
Read any popular novel and you are likely to find similarities in story structure. The classic story arc adheres to this structure: •  ...
“The Arc of the Story”
Why I Write: Lily Iona MacKenzie
Tonight I skipped my daily hour or more of writing. A discipline I’ve maintained for many years, it has resulted in four novels,...
Why I Write: Lily Iona MacKenzie
Why I Write: Anthony Varallo
I first started writing short stories my sophomore year in college, when I signed up for a fiction writing workshop for reasons I...
Why I Write: Anthony Varallo
Ask an Editor Series: Jason Jordan
Jason Jordan is the Editor-in-Chief of decomP magazine. For this segment of our Ask an Editor Series, we asked Jason what he typically...
Ask an Editor Series: Jason Jordan
Corner Post: Start a New Year Writing Cycle
In December I jot down what writing got done and what didn’t over the past 12 months.  Then I work on the house my wife and I...
Corner Post: Start a New Year Writing Cycle
Why I Write: Caroline Bock
Twelve Reasons Why I Write Nobody would hire me to cook. That’s a lie. I’m a pretty good...
Why I Write: Caroline Bock
Why I Write: Jean M. Cogdell
I wish, like George Orwell, I could say I’d envisioned myself a writer from an early age. However, as far back as I can remember, I...
Why I Write: Jean M. Cogdell
The Story Behind the Story: “The Trespasser”
This story started with a vague but familiar feeling. I sometimes have the sense that I’m trespassing in the world, and I wanted to...
The Story Behind the Story: “The Trespasser”
The Story Behind the Story: “Snowbirds”
Homesickness prompted the writing of “Snowbirds” as I was living in Australia when I wrote this and I missed the cold, quiet...
The Story Behind the Story: “Snowbirds”
“Giving Readers Something To Love”
If a flash has been workshopped, it has become accustomed to unique attention—that of a handful of writers giving it their...
“Giving Readers Something To Love”
Ask an Agent Series: Kimberley Cameron
Kimberley Cameron is the President at Kimberley Cameron & Associates, For this installment of our Ask an Agent Series, we...
Ask an Agent Series: Kimberley Cameron
“Location, Location, Location”
You're reading through the first draft of your story. You have an interesting protagonist, an engaging plot, and a terrific opening to...
“Location, Location, Location”
“Igniting Your Writing Core”
Sometimes our writing creativity can blaze up like a bonfire and other times it can sputter like a weak campfire. It may wane, flicker at...
“Igniting Your Writing Core”
Why I Write: Daren Dean
“The type of mind that can understand good fiction is not necessarily the educated mind, but it is at all times the kind of mind that...
Why I Write: Daren Dean
“Why We Read”
A skeleton key is created by eliminating certain ridges and notches. By stripping the key down so it fits only one of many necessary...
“Why We Read”
“The Caste System of Fiction”
"I distrust styles… To have a style is to be trapped." I love books. Reading probably kept me from teen pregnancy, heroin,...
“The Caste System of Fiction”
Ask an Editor Series: Jim Hicks & Emily Wojcik
Jim Hicks is the Executive Editor of the Massachusetts Review, and director of the Graduate Program  in Comparative Literature at the...
Ask an Editor Series: Jim Hicks & Emily Wojcik
Be Yourself: Memorable Characters in Flash
Lord of the Rings’ Gandalf, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Memorable characters are at...
Be Yourself: Memorable Characters in Flash
The Story Behind the Story: “Down at the Doll Plant”
"Down at the Doll Plant" was influenced by my time spent working in various factory settings and Larry Brown's novel "A...
The Story Behind the Story: “Down at the Doll Plant”
“How to Mine your Childhood for Story Gems and More”
If you were to write a recipe that, when fully cooked, would produce a complex result called you, what would the ingredients be? A while...
“How to Mine your Childhood for Story Gems and More”
Storytelling in Contemporary Video Games: “Welcome to Kyrat: The Story Behind Far Cry 4”
As technology and entertainment continues to advance at an unprecedented pace, the medium of video games are being tasked with the...
Storytelling in Contemporary Video Games: “Welcome to Kyrat: The Story Behind Far Cry 4”
The Story Behind the Story: “Net”
In this segment of The Story Behind the Story, Jessica Kinnison talks about what motivated her to write “Net.” I write about a...
The Story Behind the Story: “Net”
Corner Post: “Questions of Risk”
Main characters need a stake in their story.  The answer rarely comes in the first drafts for me, but at some point, I halfway figure...
Corner Post: “Questions of Risk”
Ask an Agent Series: Laura Biagi
Laura Biagi joined the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency Inc. (JVNLA) in 2009. She is actively building her own client list, seeking adult...
Ask an Agent Series: Laura Biagi
“Why Write Fiction?”
Passion is the reason I write fiction. Why else would I do it? It’s one of the loneliest jobs in the world. The payoff is not...
“Why Write Fiction?”
The Process of Publishing: An Exercise
When I teach my editing class, I always like to begin early with an exercise. The entire class becomes a publishing company, and we...
The Process of Publishing: An Exercise
“Write It Out”
Clichés can be accurate portrayals of certain situations. The phrase “[S/he] threw me under the bus,” for instance, invites the image...
“Write It Out”
“As Far As You Can Go”
Hopefully you’ve all read Lesley Glaister’s, As Far As You Can Go. I chose this as I’m going off on my own Australian adventure...
“As Far As You Can Go”
“The Rise of Storytelling in Video Games”
Graphically, video games have been evolving since the late 1980s. The Nintendo Entertainment System evolved into the prettier Super...
“The Rise of Storytelling in Video Games”
“TV Watching Does Not Waste Writers’ Time”
As writers, we probably won't feel guilty about watching primetime television shows if we've written eight straight hours and...
“TV Watching Does Not Waste Writers’ Time”
A Short Course in Short-Short Fiction
Short-shorts seem so simple. Also known by such names as sudden, flash or micro fiction, short-shorts are tight little tales packed into 1,...
A Short Course in Short-Short Fiction
The Story Behind the Story: “Stacks”
In this segment of The Story Behind the Story, Erica Plouffe Lazure talks about what motivated her to write "Stacks." I...
The Story Behind the Story: “Stacks”
The Story Behind the Story: “Re: Guilt”
In this segment of The Story Behind the Story, Eric Laster talks about what motivated him to write “Re: Guilt.” I wrote “Re:...
The Story Behind the Story: “Re: Guilt”
Why I Write: Karen Uhlmann
One of my earliest memories is of sitting with my father while he read. He was reading, and I was pretending – until I realized I...
Why I Write: Karen Uhlmann
The Story Behind the Story: “These People”
In this segment of The Story Behind the Story, Christopher Lowe talks about what motivated him to write “These People.”...
The Story Behind the Story: “These People”
The Story Behind the Story: “Shotgun Fog”
In this segment of The Story Behind the Story, Heather Miller Price talks about what motivated her to write “Shotgun Fog.” The...
The Story Behind the Story: “Shotgun Fog”
Write Now: “Proofreading”
Proof-reading, say all the self-help books, is vital. A manuscript riddled with typos and grammatical errors conveys a lack of respect for...
Write Now: “Proofreading”
“7 Tips for Writing Flash Fiction”
What is Flash Fiction? Flash forward to flash fiction, a form of fiction writing which is increasing in popularity day by day. Flash...
“7 Tips for Writing Flash Fiction”
“Components of a Good Opening Scene”
In The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile, writer and former literary agent Noah Lukeman...
“Components of a Good Opening Scene”
Write Now: “Ideas”
In Neil Gaiman’s Sandman #17 ‘Calliope’, Morpheus punishes a writer by overwhelming him with ideas for stories. ‘They’re coming...
Write Now: “Ideas”
Ask an Agent Series: Jennifer Unter
Jennifer Unter founded The Unter Agency, LLC in 2008.For this installment of our Ask an Agent Series, we asked Jennifer what she...
Ask an Agent Series: Jennifer Unter
“The Remarkable Reinvention of Very Short Fiction”
Is very short fiction a renaissance or a reinvention? Are these stories defined by length, and what does a story require? In this essay...
“The Remarkable Reinvention of Very Short Fiction”
“See Me”
Transparency is not art, but it is increasingly a part of life. There is no longer much of a choice when it comes to exposure. Writers,...
“See Me”
Letting the Small Magnify the Big: Symbols in Flash
When I mention flash fiction to non-writers, most have no idea what I’m talking about. “Flash? What’s that?” After...
Letting the Small Magnify the Big: Symbols in Flash
“Three Decisions to Make about Viewpoint in Fiction”
You have a fabulous idea for a short story, perhaps a novel. You have a rough outline — or not, but you know how the story is going...
“Three Decisions to Make about Viewpoint in Fiction”
“Learning How: Courses, Workshops and Tutors”
"Beginning writers must appreciate the prerequisites if they hope to become writers. You pay your dues — which takes...
“Learning How: Courses, Workshops and Tutors”
Ask an Agent Series: Joelle Delbourgo
Joelle Delbourgo is the President at Joelle Delbourgo Associates. For this installment of our Ask an Agent Series, we asked...
Ask an Agent Series: Joelle Delbourgo
Corner Post: “Stop Time”
What is your writing plan?  When I ask my students this question, some have the next ten years mapped out.  Some tell me plans...
Corner Post: “Stop Time”
“Stories in Your Pocket: How to Write Flash Fiction”
June 21st was National Flash Fiction Day – the first one ever – and it's an exciting day for me and many others who...
“Stories in Your Pocket: How to Write Flash Fiction”
“2014 National Book Award & Man Booker Prize: American Writers?”
For the first time in the going on fifty year history of The Man Booker Prize, novels from writers who are not citizens of The United...
“2014 National Book Award & Man Booker Prize: American Writers?”
“Flash Fiction and the Borg: In Praise of the Literary Still Moment”
For the past several years I have been teaching a flash fiction course to my college creative writing program’s advanced students....
“Flash Fiction and the Borg: In Praise of the Literary Still Moment”
“Turn Your Anecdotes Into Flash Fiction”
Stories, stories everywhere! You hear anecdotes and gossip at the office water cooler, over the backyard fence, at parties. You watch...
“Turn Your Anecdotes Into Flash Fiction”
Ask an Agent Series: Madeleine Clark
Madeleine Clark is an agent at Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc. For this installment of our Ask an Agent Series, we asked Madeleine...
Ask an Agent Series: Madeleine Clark
Ask an Editor Series: Jason Cook
Jason Cook is the Founding Editor of Fiddleblack. For this segment of our Ask an Editor Series, we asked Jason what he typically looks...
Ask an Editor Series: Jason Cook
Write Now: “Realistic Dialogue”
I recently read a draft of a colleague’s story. I was thoroughly enjoying the tension, the mystery, the literary craft of the tale...
Write Now: “Realistic Dialogue”
“Dysfunctional Parents in Fiction: The Mothers and Fathers We Love to Hate”
Why are readers so fascinated by fiction's infamous dysfunctional parents? Mothers and fathers who disappoint, coerce, betray, abuse...
“Dysfunctional Parents in Fiction: The Mothers and Fathers We Love to Hate”
“Creating a Masterpiece”
In the days when many professions were controlled by guilds, your masterpiece was not your best or most celebrated work.  It was your...
“Creating a Masterpiece”
Ask an Agent Series: Elizabeth Kaplan
Elizabeth Kaplan owns and runs The Elizabeth Kaplan Literary Agency in New York. For the first installment of our Ask an Agent Series,...
Ask an Agent Series: Elizabeth Kaplan
Corner Post: “Develop a Second Sight”
When I was growing up, working on fences with my father and my brother, the corner post was the most important. It determined how tight our...
Corner Post: “Develop a Second Sight”
“Flash Fiction: Bounded in a Nutshell”
That effective fictional narratives have for ages arrived in assorted sizes –  including those small enough to whisper, “Brevity is...
“Flash Fiction: Bounded in a Nutshell”
Ask an Editor Series: Grant Faulkner/Lynn Mundell
Grant Faulkner & Lynn Mundell are co-editors @ 100 Word Story. For the first installment of our Ask an Editor Series, we asked Lynn...
Ask an Editor Series: Grant Faulkner/Lynn Mundell
“The End”
… You don’t miraculously arrive at the ending. You have to have a sense of drama. And you discover the ending in the writing, or...
“The End”
“Budgeting Complication”
Google complication in literature and you will get a ton of results about just that: conversations about manipulating that part...
“Budgeting Complication”
“Who Matters”
I remember a rule from an undergraduate fiction workshop. Looking at my transcript, I must have learned it from Bret Lott. I worked with...
“Who Matters”
“Sweet Refrain”
I heard it twice this summer in Sewanee. The first time, it came from my fellow workshopper's flash fiction piece. The second time, it...
“Sweet Refrain”
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