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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...

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...

Tick Tock

Author Jody Hedlund – a mom of five who home-schools them – offers solid advice on making time for writing. If she’s doing any, you know her advice must be spot-on: 1. Schedule writing time. 2. Prioritize our activities. 3. Don’t wait for the perfect moment. 4. Plan alone, extended and uninterrupted writing for once a week, if possible. 5. Get your family [or whomever has a claim on your time] behind your writing....

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...

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...

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