Daily, genre-inspired writing prompts for authors, teachers, and journaling
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Words Not Pages

I frequently hear from writers who are interested in a manuscript review or editing services, or who want to pitch an agent or publisher, and they tell me their book is 200 or 425 or howevermany pages long. When I’m feeling indulgent and patient, I’ll spend some time explaining why I don’t care how many pages their manuscript is – and why they shouldn’t, either. What counts is the number of words in the manuscript,...

News flash: Economics applies to publishing, too!

Virginia Postrel has a great article on publishing and Amazon’s new lending library (which works sort of like Netflix for e-books) that’s worth reading in its entirety: click here to read it. Here’s the most important takeaway: A former publishing executive recently told me he simply didn’t believe that “if I really want a book for $9.95 I don’t also want it for $10.95 or $12.95.” People in...

10,000 Hours

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers: The Story of Success, he details the concept of the 10,000-hour rule. That’s a reasonably well-accepted theory that to become thoroughly proficient at something, a person needs to practice for about 10,000 hours. Gladwell’s most famous examples include the Beatles and Bill Gates. Prodigies — the exceptions who prove the rule — are popularly known. However, they...

Story Masters and Hammer Heads

A couple of years ago, I spent a valuable weekend at a writing workshop, Story Masters, with three terrific authors who are also outstanding teachers: James Scott Bell is a novelist and Writer’s Digest favorite. Donald Maass is a literary agent and author of several outstanding craft books. Christopher Vogler is a story consultant and Hollywood icon for his work interpreting, among other things, Joseph Campbell’s...

Beat Your Muse with a Club

Inc. magazine has an interesting profile of the CEO of the country’s largest independent advertising agency in its November issue. Here’s what the reporter took away: Creativity doesn’t need a muse. It needs a drill sergeant. The article is good – worth reading – but doesn’t actually spend much time going into the counterintuitive nature of that headline (my thoughts on the...

Paradox: Limitations Drive Creativity

If I ask you to tell me a story, or to draw me a picture, what’s your first reaction? If you’re like most people, it’s another question: “About what?” Few things are as intimidating as a blank sheet of paper. All the hopes, fears, dreams, tragedies, climaxes, and denouements you plan to spill forth in lyrical and dazzling prose … where, oh where, to begin? That’s one reason prompts are such powerful, proven...

Bum Glue

In her craft book Write Away: One Novelist’s Approach to Fiction and the Writing Life, Elizabeth George spends an entire chapter on the value of what she calls “bum glue.” She defines it as that which keeps one’s bottom firmly attached to the chair in which one sits while writing. Although bum glue goes by many different names, the vast majority of successful authors confirm – or, at least, confess – it’s the...

Rube Tube

Author William Gibson has an essay on his web site in which he contemplates becoming “exactly the sort of introverted, hyper-bookish boy you’ll find in the biographies of most American science fiction writers … dreaming of one day becoming a writer myself.” It’s all interesting, even if you’re not familiar with his work, and he concludes with this compelling insight: “I...

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