One Way to Learn to Write

When I decided to get serious about writing, I took a correspondence course. It was my first step in one way to learn to write. As I mentioned in my earlier post, “Writing is Easy…Until It’s Not,” this course was by mail. It doesn’t matter much which course it was, what matters is how I chose which course to take. This is one way to learn to write. It’s not the only way. I loved re-reading old childhood favorites and science fiction. So I figured I should learn one of those two genres. I thought writing for children would be the easier of the two genres. (Writing for children is not easy!) I looked for some one-on-one mentorship and studied each class syllabus. The structure of the class and what it covered had to make sense to me. I also weighed the course instructors. Criteria for instructors included: were they authors, what had they published when had they published, and did I like their work. Then I mailed in my sample writing and fees and waited for the first lesson. The lessons were not difficult for me, though by this time I was a new mom and had a hard […]

Conflict: Twist the Knife Slowly

Conflict: Week 3 of Re-visioning Your Story Violence is not Conflict. It is not action. It is not bickering, or worry, or dreams, or traveling. Unfortunately, many seasoned and novice writers mistake one or all of those things for conflict. Why is conflict so difficult for the writer? Because human beings naturally shy away from conflict. It’s uncomfortable and sometimes outright dangerous. But conflict is essential to storytelling for as Robert McKee says in his book, Story, “Nothing moves forward in a story except through conflict.”: So, you ask, if conflict is not action, violence, bickering, etc., is conflict an obstacle? Well, yes and no. An obstacle can present your character with something he must overcome, but if it does not present a dilemma, your reader may not care. Definition In How to Tell a Story: The Secrets of Writing Captivating Tales by Peter Rubie and Gary Provost, the authors give what I believe is the best definition of conflict I’ve ever read. “The idea of conflict can be reduced to the word no.” Someone or something is saying no to your character. Yet, compelling conflict is more than someone saying no. It’s more than an obstacle; it’s something that […]

Putting the Pieces Together

Part 8: Revisioning Your Story Wow.  It’s been a long haul, but you’ve analyzed your story for seven long lessons, from Character Goals to Plot Twists to the End and the Beginning. Now it’s time for putting the pieces together.  Finally, it’s time to fix it.  What?  You’re worried that you can’t fix it or that fixing it will destroy what you loved about it?  Take a deep breath.  You’ve done your homework, right?  No reason to worry.  You have all the tools you need to shine it up and fall in love with it all over again. For this lesson, you will need all of your notes from the previous seven lessons, a pen and paper, lots of it,  music, snacks and fluids, a three-ring binder or other organizing notebook, and uninterrupted time.  You see we’ve been working on preparing your mind, your muse if you prefer.  And now, you’re going to tell your muse that it’s time to work. Supplies Gather all of your notes and your manuscript.  You will need a large stack of paper and several pens (you don’t want to run out of ink in the middle of inspiration, do you?)  Lay in some easy […]