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Don’t Envy – Improve

A few years ago, when I finished Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin while doing the eleventythousandth revision of my own novel manuscript, I closed her book and looked at mine and thought, “Why bother?” The bother is that I’ve got my own story to tell. It’s not Atwood’s story, or Melville’s or Twain’s, or even yours. You’ve got your own story, too. Because it’s your story, the issue isn’t whether you write as...

Many Beginnings

Many writers start from a brilliant opening line – an inspiration to craft an entire story from a dazzling line of prose. Other writers use the opening line as a placeholder, knowing they will revise or replace it when they finish telling the story. Although I prefer the second approach, there is no wrong or right way to write an opening line – truly, deciding must be the best and worst of times for a...

A word about self-publishing for writers so inclined.

The fact that no one in the legacy publishing industry knows what makes a best seller is indisputable. That fact does not mean everyone in the legacy publishing industry is an idiot. Even if J.K. Rowling experienced a dozen rejections before selling Harry Potter, and even if James Redfield self-published and sold more than 80,000 copies of The Celestine Prophecy from the trunk of his car, traditional (sometimes...

Heroes, Old and New

“When I talk of the triumph of Nietzsche, all I mean is that do-it-yourself morality, informed by personal passion rather than old-fogey morality, is the new norm.” Jonah Goldberg in “Empty Integrity,” in the November 17, 2014, issue of National Review.   This article has some ideological and religious references you can skip over because they aren’t particularly relevant to the...

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,...

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...

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